Monday, October 21, 2013

Maybe I do like Watercolor Painting Afterall :: Prang Ticonderoga Product Review

Let me just preface this by saying that watercolor painting is my least favorite medium to use and so I rarely use it in my classroom. The way you should take this is to know that I already come from a place of not liking watercolor paint/painting and that means it would take A LOT to "sell" me on the idea that it's worth my time to even try out or even consider. Does this all say that I am stubborn? Probably. That's the truth though. I am. OR... it means that I have very sharp abilities to discern what is worth both your time and mine. All of this said, here is my review of the Prang Watercolor set sent to me for review.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided Dixon Ticonderoga company

Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative 
of the opinions or positions of Dixon Ticonderoga.

Dixon Ticonderoga sent me the Prang Watercolor paint set alongside a competing set by Rose Art.


Right off the bat, I will say that I was not a fan of either and can tell you nothing of experience with either before this review happened but my own preconceived opinion of both was this: I am about as much of a fan of either brand as I am of watercolor painting. First inspection of both products though? I was almost immediately a fan of the Prang set over the Rose Art one.

Something else to dislike about the Rose Art set (left): See that cardboard sealed over top of the one color? That was from the Rose Art label and it was stuck on there just from me trying to disassemble the product to do the review.
The packaging/case alone on the Prang one is so much more sturdy that seems like it has a much greater likelihood to last over time. While I didn't try and break them at the hinges, I feel like I should have made that attempt and taken pictures to prove it. Why? Because student artist - no matter the age - like to fiddle with things usually until they break and it would have been interesting to discover just how much "fiddling" each of them could have taken before they would succumb to being dumped into the trash can. Even just looking at the picture above should tell you that the hinges on the Prang set are just so much better than the ones on the Rose Art set.

Let's compare the brushes that came in the sets now, shall we? See below for a side-by-side comparison of the brushes included in each set. The purple one came with the Rose Art set and the red one came with the Prang set.

While the picture cannot very clearly show this, let me tell you that the Rose Art brush has a plastic handle and the Prang one has a wooden handle. Both have metal ferrules. The Rose Art brush has synthetic bristles but the Prang one has natural bristles. The Prang brush is also significantly larger in size - both in length and in diameter at the head of the brush and at the handle. Just by outlining all of these differences, I feel like the clear winner is STILL Prang over Rose Art. I mean, at this point, I haven't even put any paint to support and just the design and structure of the brushes that were included says that Rose Art is very obviously inferior to Prang.

Let's get what the colors look like when they are applied. I tried my best to use every color that was included in each palette and in order of the way the colors of the competing palette were used so that you could see the top and bottom comparison. If it's not obvious enough, the sampling below that reads "BLAH!!!" is of the Rose Art brand (which should tell you already how much less I like it than the Prang) and the one that reads "PRANG!!!" is the now (much beloved) Prang watercolor set.

Rose Art on the top, Prang on the bottom
The saturation of the colors look pretty similar but the Prang palette and semi-moist paint cakes (vs. the Rose Art that had very dry cakes) but I feel like the one place where you can always tell how much more truly color (in a company brand) is saturated over competitors is looking at how they do their yellows. Prang's yellow is clearly more highly and intensely saturated than the Rose Art. Rose Art also didn't have a purple for me to really try out because that was the one paint cake that ended up covered with the Rose Art label and kept me from trying out that color. Could I have peeled off that cardboard? Maybe. In my opinion though, that's not worth the time that I already don't have much of to do this series of reviews anyway.

Another thing about Prang that is better than Rose Art, having used the brushes (and you seeing the marks they make) I feel like the marks made with the Prang brush are WAY better than the ones made with the Rose Art one. It was easier for me to do a classic watercolor wash with the Prang brush than with the wimpy Rose Art one. My only single complaint so far (of Prang) is that after I used the brush and paints, some of the bristles came out into the yellow paint cake and I could not very easily get it out without having to dig into the cake. You can faintly see a few of the bristles there in the yellow cake below.

And now let me stop talking about Rose Art because even with the minor issue of the bristles getting stuck in the yellow cake it seems to me that Prang has won out in this review.  Now I can actually get into the things of the Prang watercolor set that the Rose Art set didn't even have to be able to compete in the first place.

One of the things that has already been pointed out in the reviews of this same product by many other art teachers before me is the fact that you can pop out the paint cakes if you want to...

I probably never would have even noted this because I have such limited experience with watercolor sets and so I didn't realize the importance of such a thing as this. (I always use paste kind to do gouache type work in my classroom IF I do anything of the watercolor sort.) Being able to pop out the cakes is a good thing though because it allows for rearrangement of color palettes if you would want that, saving of certain colors so that students are focusing on using a restricted palette (cool or warm colors) vs. an open one or replacing ones that are otherwise damaged. Being able to pop out the cakes also makes it easier to clean up and wipe down the cases/holders if and when they get too grimy - something that definitely happens quickly in an art studio classroom!

Another thing I love a lot about the Prang set is the fact that the case is white and when you take the set of cakes out (because it is modular and can be removed), the whole case can be used as a palette for mixing and holding colors that have been mixed.

See the Rose Art on the far left? It has a clear top and a red bottom and neither is ideal for mixing colors. 
The Prang watercolor case has both an open area (on the bottom) and a divided portion that is inside the top of the case. This means that if students want to attempt to mix and hold onto colors (at least while they are actively working on their projects) they can, for a limited time, hang onto the precious mixtures that they work hard to create for a little bit longer at least OR they can share them with fellow artists within the class! (I love to encourage sharing of materials like this.) When all of the mixing of colors is done though, the Prang case can easily be cleaned/wiped out and it doesn't seem like the staining will be all that bad that it would ruin the nice white background (of the case) perfect for mixing colors and seeing them as they should be. 

And this brings me to the conclusion of my review. Just to recap, let me give you a list of the major highlights of what I like so much about Prang's watercolor set more than the Rose Art one:
(+) Semi-moist color cakes were promised to be that (in the labeling) and actually were!
(+) Color was highly saturated when applied
(+) Brush has has a wooden handle and natural hair bristles
(+) Case is white which is great for color mixing
(+) Case seems nice and sturdy and easy to clean/wipe out
(+) Cakes pop out for rearrangement, saving, or replacement 
Tomorrow I will share my review of the Prang broad tipped markers. Don't miss out on it and others like pencils, colored pencils, and then me finishing this week of reviews out with a bang where YOU can get your hands on some of the "good stuff" that I have been so blessed to review. Hint: this Friday I will be doing a giveaway of the one Prang item that I only first discovered and loved the most. 

Disclosure: Compensation was provided Dixon Ticonderoga company
Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative 
of the opinions or positions of Dixon Ticonderoga.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you..This was very helpful as I am looking for beginner watercolors to buy for myself and my grandchildren .
    Blessings, Tamara


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