A Gallo Handmade Watercolor Paint Review
A.Gallo offers professional handmade watercolors made by Alina Gallo and her small business team in Italy. They are produced in the medieval town of Assisi which A.Gallo describes as the "birthplace of Saint Francis and home to several of the most important fresco cycles by proto-Renniassance painter, Giotto. A place of unique natural, spiritual and artistic beauty." A.Gallo is an artist herself, primarily working with egg tempera and inspired by historical works. She creates high quality paints in dried-pan format, no tubes, and offers many unusual pigments (such as PB71 Zirconium Blue, genuine Lapis Lazuli, Hokkaido Orange PY216, and natural plant pigments such as Rose Madder NR9 and Indigo NB1). She also appears to sometimes offer limited edition colors, such as YinMin Blue PB86, Slate Grey PBk19 and Rattan Palm "Dragon's Blood" NR31.
Handmade paint suppliers often have a unique special touch, a character of their own, and these products do not disappoint. Each package is like opening a handcrafted gift made just for your birthday. The beautiful packaging is carefully attended to, wrapped with a hand painted swatch and packed with colorful marbled paper also handmade in Italy. The paint formula includes a high pigment load, gum arabic, local honey and rosemary oil as a natural preservative. These paints do have an aromatic smell, particularly when first opening a closed tin or upon re-wetting. This brand does not use toxic pigments (no cobalts or cadmiums) so you will see some "hue" equivalents as well as other unusual mixtures you're not likely to find in big brands.
-copper blue and pietra rosa image coming shortly-
In avoidance of Cobalt Teal and Turquoise - A.Gallo's "teal blue" is a mixture of phthalo blue, green and white and "copper blue" shifts that a bit towards green with the inclusion of hansa yellow. There are some stunning combinations such as the deep rich "Harbour Blue" made with PB15:3 and a very dark PBr7 earth brown, "Pietra Rosa" combining beautiful delicate granulating pinks PR233, PV16, PV15. While I'm not sure what to think about "Malachite" as it's not quite my preferred stone-accurate hue (I don't mind using diluted cobalt greens for convincing granulation) this A.Gallo mixture is made of PG7, PG36, PW6 and EGG SHELLS for subtle texture and pale filler which is certainly unique.
-harbor blue and deep earth browns image coming shortly-
While not extremely rare, I did decide that several A.Gallo earth browns are worth owning. Note that while many of the burnt umber colors are marked as PBr8, this is only because the manufacturer of this pigment has taken the time to distinguish the presence of manganese oxides (naturally occurring as manganite) in the brown earth powder being mined. There are times when Burnt Umber is lazily classified as generic PBr7 in other brands. DaVinci Paint Co, Roman Szmal and White Nights also have very similar strong burnt umbers marked as PBr7. Kremer pigments and Jackson's store also offers pigments like "Cyprus Burnt Umber" in powder form, but I'd rather not personally DIY it (time consuming, messy and breathing health hazards). I find that a great many other companies suffer from weak / pale single-pigment browns and I was pleased to see that A.Gallo chose such rich deep valued, gently granulating, browns for her catalog.
Is the high price tag worth it? Due to the much more intense amount of labor by hand and less bulk-discounted supplies that small handmade companies do, these paints are much more expensive than big factory-made brands. If the price is worth it can only be decided on an individual level. I will say that handmade paint makers work is a bit like art, unique to that artist - often unique in everything from the scent of materials, the pigments offered (often which are less commonly found, if at all commercially), packaging and performance. I personally justify spending more on handmade paints if I see rare pigment codes (ingredients) and unique mixtures (combinations I may not have thought to mix myself or I haven't seen anyone else do).
There is a lot of artist demand for these watercolors and they are often sold out. The company typically works for a few weeks straight restocking sets and individual half pans, brushes, wood cases, sketchbooks, dot cards and paper swatching supplies before setting a time for a shop update. You can find out when the next shop update is on their instagram or at https://www.agallocolors.com/ and be aware that newly released products often sell out in under 5 minutes. This is not a brand to buy if you need to rely on calm, casual, reliable restocking of colors as you need them, but they offer quite lovely unusual paints for periodic splurging.
These colors have been added to the pigment database, where each can be compared side by side to the same color from another brand.