Marker Madness: Winsor and Newton Watercolor Markers

· by my blog · Read in about 6 min · (1133 words) ·

The Winsor and Newton company began with the partnership of a scientist, William Winsor and an artist, Henry Newton, in 1832. They developed the first glycerine based, moist watercolor cakes which they started selling to other artists in 1835. Prior to this, artists either had to buy their paints from a “colourman” or had to grind their own pigments and mix them with various mediums, such as gum arabic.

The Young British Artists movement spurred a renewal in the company direction in the late 1990‘s. It began with the launch of the Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour. Since it‘s 175th Anniversary in 2007, the company has relaunched it‘s old products and introduced several new ones.

Among those new products are a few new marker lines, including the Winsor & Newton Water Colour Markers, introduced in early 2014. I purchased a set of 12 of these, thinking they would be useful for taking on a trip. I got them from Amazon for $37.32. I also purchased a few extras from Jerry‘s Artarama for $3.59 each.

The markers came in a nice, metal tin with a hinged cover.

Inside were 12 markers in a nice, basic range of colors.

The markers were held in place by a piece of shaped plastic.

When I removed the plastic from the tin, I was able to fit in two more markers, a plastic palette and a couple of water brushes and still be able to close the cover.

These are twin-tipped, “watercolor” (water based ink) markers. There is a black cap at each end, and the body of the black, plastic, marker is wrapped with a sticker label indicating the company and the color name.

The other side has the color number and the barcode information.

There is a sticker with the color number on the end with the flat-topped cap.

The marker is 6″ long with both caps on and 5-58″ long with the caps removed.

One end of the marker has a felt nib for making fine lines.

The other end is a nice brush nib for painting espressive strokes.

The brush tip is very smooth and doesn‘t tear up the surface of the paper. It has a nice amount of flexibility to it and springs back well. The two different tips allow for a wide range of lines from very narrow to thick and juicy.

Coloring with the marker produced definite overlap lines.

However, the tests with water were different from all the other markers I‘ve reviewed so far. The water pull out for these is poor.

Notes: Substrate used for testing examples is Strathmore Vellum finish Bristol board.

The company makes these markers in 36 different colors. One nice thing about the colors from this company is that they are named the same as standard watercolor pigments. So you know what Cadmium Red is going to look like before you even test the marker. That‘s probably the nicest feature of them.

I also made my own color sheet, which you can see below.

Note: I made the color example(s) by printing the outline on computer cover stock which was then scanned into the computer and processed in Photoshop. Therefore, while all care was taken, the colors are probably not exactly as they would appear in real life.

While these markers serve a purpose, I don‘t think they are are ready for prime time yet.

To begin with, the biggest problem is that the ink dries so quickly, it‘s hard to get it to “move” when water is added. Granted, using watercolor paper will help, it doesn‘t help enough to suit me. It also means that, since the ink dries in about a minute, if you don‘t keep the caps on, the pen dries out quickly.

I bought a Phthalo Green (Yellow Shade) from the local Jerry‘s Artarama. I didn‘t test it in the store. I got home, and it was partially dried out.

Since it wasn‘t working anyway, I pulled it apart and added 5 drops of distilled water.

Here‘s the results.

It worked… sort of. The marker did get jucier, but the next day, it was kind of dried out again. I suspect it‘s going to hit the trash can soon.

I feel the physical design leaves a lot to be desired. First of all, there‘s the sticker label. I already have problems with a couple of mine. The corner of the label keeps sticking up and then it sticks to other markers. In the image below, both markers have labels with edges that are coming unstuck. And now the edges are sticking to each other! Not fun to pull apart.

It also happens to bug me that the color number is not where the name of the color is. So you have to roll the pen over to get it. I know it‘s a small thing, but it annoys me.

While the covers click onto the pens and make a nice seal, there is no particular indication of which cover goes on which end. They are not interchangeable. The removed cover doesn‘t fit over the other end. The pointed cover goes over the nib end. It has a single raised ridge to keep the pen from rolling around on the workplace. BUT, if you take it off, now the pen can roll because you can‘t put it on the other end! I also think the “pointed” shape should belong on the brush end because it looks more like it. The flat-topped cap does have a sticker with the color number on it, but the bullet cap has no indication of the pen it came off of.

Frankly, these won‘t work for a “travel set” of watercolors.

I have a box set of Winsor Newton pan watercolors that packs a better punch in about the same space. It was more expensive to add the extra color half-pans to it, but they will also last many times longer than the markers.

It holds two plastic palettes.

And a lot more colors.

There‘s room for a brush or two at the back by the hinge. I find this a lot more practical to travel with.

I didn‘t like these markers. I suspect they‘ll end up living with someone else. But I‘ll keep the tin, since it‘s a nice box for holding various art supplies.

In addition, I won‘t be buying any other types of markers from Winsor and Newton. Once burned, twice shy!