As I was saying - I was recently asked by the SAA(society for all artists) to take part in trialling some pigments manufactured in Italy by MaimeriBlu.
The reason being that this range of artist's materials will be available through the SAA soon.
In my case I received a small sample pack of their "Superior Watercolours" as shown above.
Maimeri was founded nearly 100 years ago in 1923 by Italian artist Gianni Maimeri and his brother Carlo an industrial chemist. From the outset, we are told, their philosophy was to seek perfection and purity in their pigments using traditional mixing techniques which they still use today.
I received five 15ml tubes from their range of 73 watercolours to test their colour strength, handling consistency, ease of mixing, expected transparency or opaqueness and the overall experience of using the pigments.
The pigments they sent were Cadmium yellow deep, Cadmium red light, Burnt sienna, cobalt blue light, and Burnt umber.
At first I was a little disappointed that both cadmiums were, as expected, opaque, and the other three are described as semi-opaque, whereas I really prefer to use transparent pigments where possible.
However, the tubes are a lot easier to get into as they have a much more user-friendly cap which can be unscrewed without hurting one's fingers ! First good point !
I started by making a colour chart to familiarise myself with the pigments. Straight out of the tube they felt a little weak and scratchy, but after pushing them around the palette with my brush, they soon cheered up and showed me their full potential. Some interesting mixes too, for example the yellow (Giallo di cadmio scuro) and blue (Blu di cobalto charo) gave some useful greens which I could make darker by the addition of a little Burnt umber (Terra d'ombra bruciata). The Umber is a little darker than I expected and mixed with the cobalt blue produced a lovely near-Indigo.
Both cadmiums are certainly rich in pigment and equally certainly opaque and together provide a vibrant orange.
Some good greys from the blue / red and blue/brown combinations
Of the five I thought the Burnt Sienna was the weakest, but a little of the Umber added to it gave it a bit more oomph.
On the whole, I was pleased with the intensity of hue and their ease in mixing given that mixing two or more opaque or semi-opaque pigments is never going to be the same / as interesting / as exciting / as beautiful as mixing transparents.
In this small sketch of Nectarines, I was happy with the handling of the pigments BUT found myself battling with their opacity and wishing I could have tried some of the other slightly romantic-sounding hues such as Arancio di Avignone (orange), Rosso primario - Magenta or a Violetto permanente bluastro ( permanent violet blueish) as seen on Maimeri's hand painted colour chart - another good point !
Small landscape with barn has an autumnal/wintery feel to it as I tried playing with greens and greys from the chosen selection
My final experiment, Field with poppies, has a brighter feel to it and the opacity of the Rosso di cadmio can easily be seen.
With the opaque/transparency issue in mind, I would say that MaimeriBlu Superior watercolours are easily comparable to other manufacturers which I have used, and the more I played with them the happier I became with their handling. I look forward to trying out some of their transparent colours as I have a feeling they may be even more exciting !
My thanks to SAA (www.saa.co.uk) and Gemma for allowing me to play. Contact saa direct if you want to know when they will be available from their catalogue.