Arteza Lightfast Tests, Metallic Watercolor, Mica Powders, Gouache Art Supply Review.

Arteza is an American art supply company that sources their goods from China and Korea. They offer watercolor, gouache and acrylic paints as well as a huge variety of papers, dry erase boards, color pencils, markers and pens. They mainly sell on Amazon USA as well as the Arteza website. I've heard this name pronounced Art-EH-za or Art-EEZ-ah, even varying in their own promotional videos, so you may hear artists say it either way.

They make "budget brand" products for kids and beginner artists. While the occasional color is lightfast, they overall make fugitive coloring materials suitable for student/practice only. These affordable art supplies are attractive to those looking for large color sets, mostly for those who are not interested in learning color mixing. (The 60 color watercolor and gouache sets often have redundant colors that are just mixtures of other colors in the set.) Their watercolor tube sets have some chalky binder issues that cause the paints to crack if dried in the pan, so if you want dry pans choose their pre-made pan sets instead.

The quality of their half-pan sized watercolors that come in metal tins is similar to other Chinese brands like Superior/Artsy/Tinge watercolors. The gouache tubes are better than the watercolor tubes, similar to the Himi or Arttx brand gouache sets. Some of their labeling makes their origin difficult to discern at a glance (showing a larger American flag, but in smaller text saying "Made in PRC" aka Peoples Republic of China). Of course you may choose to shop from any country you'd like, my problem with this is that it appears intentionally misleading. Like many companies at this time, they are basically a middle man that packages Asian made goods to sell in America. Here's how they label their goods:

They have a 24 half pan metallic watercolor set, made from mica powders mixed with mostly fugitive secondary pigments. Mica being a white/clear natural silicate mineral that is reflective / shiny. This pigment (PW20) is then mixed with other colors to create colorful glitter / pearlescent / metal appearance colors like silver, gold, copper and rainbow shimmer paints.

Here is the results of my one year lightfast test for the metallic watercolor paints. Many of these colors start to fade in as little as 3 months, with drastic fading by 1 year. Nine of the colors fade very quickly compared to lightfast paints (LFI rated paints remain unchanged for well over a year in this type of repeat daily window sunlight).

Arteza metallic watercolor lightfast test mica glitter pigment

They also offer mica powders, dry pigment in plastic jars. They can be used for mixing into resin or a paint binder (gum arabic for making metallic watercolor, linseed oil for oil paints or clear acrylic medium for acrylic paints).

---Mica powder lightfast test results coming shortly - similar results as the paints, with the majority of pink and orange colors fading. ---

I have also tested their gouache paints (opaque watercolor). These are very nice for the price aside from lightfastness. It's easier for gouache to be acceptable in student brands because of the opacity fillers, such as chalk, being acceptable for a way to make this traditionally opaque and matte paint. Like their tube watercolors, they break and crumble into chunks in a pan so I do not advise using them from a dry state. 

arteza gouache lightfast test paint pigment fugitive fading

You can find these products to buy on Amazon. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

I have used their sketchbooks (cellulose / wood pulp) for student/beginner use, as well as their professional "expert" level papers (including a cotton based watercolor paper). They have many types of paper with similar covers. Please pay close attention to the writing on them, as often it is hard to tell which ones are cotton, pulp, single sided or double coated (with a "sizing" starch or gelatin to accept watercolor paints equally well on both sides). The cotton paper is quite nice, however the price is not particularly competitive compared to the more reliable and easy to find Arches or Winsor and Newton Pro cotton watercolor papers. The Arteza pads that don't specifically say 100% cotton, but still say EXPERT, are actually tree pulp/cellulose and will not hold up over decades in the same way as the more durable cotton fiber papers. Their sketchbooks have a lighter, flimsier carstock-like paper. They are not a great product, as the binding seem tears over time and the pages absorb watercolor in a way that makes them fade/wash out/have a drastic wet to dry shift.

arteza watercolor paper expert cotton and cellulose tree pulp difference

I also bought some of their watercolor brush pens. They are filled with fugitive watersoluble dye based inks that reactivate and blend like "watercolor". The Ash Black and some of their gray colors have a formula made from multiple colors of dyes combined to make black, which can cause a neat color separation effect in wet washes.

In the past year I have heard increasing artist complaints about varying quality in their color pencil line. It's likely that old reviews for their products may become  irrelevant over time due to the inconsistent nature of these products. You can find out more about that from Lindsay The Frugal Crafter here.

View the whole Arteza catalog of products on their website:

 

Many more reviews on the brand by brand page, or check out how colors compare between brands in the pigment database.