Blick Artists Watercolor AND Grumbacher Finest Review Lightfast Testing and Color Chart
Dick Blick is an American art supply chain store with a large presence throughout the USA in both brick and mortar stores as well as online. They carry Grumbacher Academy and Finest (student and pro) watercolors by an affordable American paint company owned by Chartpak. Many years ago Blick hired Grumbacher to manufacture a store brand paint for them, simply re-labeling some of the Grumbacher Finest watercolor line with a Blick logo.
These are overall NOT good paints though. I love Blick's store, but wish they had gone with a higher quality company to make their store brand. It appears they wanted them to be a cheaper price point vs a higher quality. This is not an unusual practice in the art industry. Many brands in China repackage the same supply with different brand names all the time. In the USA, I like what Cheap Joes (another USA store with an online presence) did with their store brand called "American Journey
". They paid Da Vinci Paint Co.
to make their paints which are top of the line quality. It's not cheap, but it's good stuff, and in addition to that they also made Da Vinci produce some custom mixtures just for their line. This way, there are a little less duplicates between their color ranges.
Cons: Both Blick and Grumbacher, using the same pigments, have major draw backs. The watercolors are gritty, streaky, lack flow and often contain complex mixtures. They don't have a normal salt reaction, also indicating a lack of movement in water which will effect your ability to get smooth wet washes. Even the ultramarine blue starts to speckle with an unusually gritty granulation and refuses to make color separating mixtures (as it would normally such as with magenta to make separating purples).
After testing a few colors from each Blick and Grumbacher, I refuse to waste any more money on their paints. Unfortunately, they are hurting artists opinions of their store and other brands. Namely Utrecht, a company purchased by Blick in 2013, has been avoided by some who assumed it was another "Blick store brand". Utrecht however was a well-established company before this purchase and has continued to make their own paint the way they always have in a separate factory. If you are shopping at Blick store specifically and debating picking up Blick, Grumbacher or Utrecht - UTRECHT IS THE SUPERIOR PAINT
Blick and Grumbacher swatch cards:
If you'd like to see how any of these individual colors compare to the same pigment in another brand, check out the pigment database
Where to buy?
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