Grumbacher Academy Watercolor Review Pros Cons Compare to Van Gogh Student Grade

Grumbacher Academy, a student grade watercolor paint is made in the USA and distributed by Chartpak. The most similar brand to compare it to is Van Gogh by Rembrandt. Both have a low price point and come in small tubes aimed at students interested in learning watercolor painting without breaking the bank. I have noticed that Grumbacher offers much more unique, and sometimes fugitive pigments.


They offer Perylene Maroon, Chromium Oxide Green, and Magnesium Green (Cerulean Chromium) which is very rare in a student grade. Those pigments tend to be only found in individual tubes from professional brands, and rarely even in pan sets. However, they also offer some fugitive colors, such as Alizarin Crimson. In contrast Van Gogh brand is very reliable, choosing only the most lightfast pigments. However, Van Gogh does not typically offer much in the way of unique or granulating colors.


Please note that if you are considering Grumbacher's professional brand (also available rebranded as Blick art store brand) - I do NOT recommend them. Overall all of Grumbacher's paints use pigments that have not been ground finely enough. These coarse, gritty pigments do not give you proper texture or flow compared to other brands.


Pros: The colors I tested were lightfast. They offer some pigments rarely found in student grade paints (such as the normally expensive cobalt chromite PB36 or the unusual choice of PG17 chromium oxide green). 


grumbacher academy watercolor paints blick art materials store lightfast test 

Every one of them had an unusually large pigment particle size, almost gouache like. None of the colors would react to salt, which typically only happens if there is an odd binder additive, or the pigments are heavy/large/coarse/easily granulating colors that don't move the same way in water as most watercolors. Be aware that the pigment load is extremely high, and while these paints performed well in wet on dry strokes of mastone or diluted, they did not flow well for wet on wet washes. Though some pigments that I tried are naturally odd with an unusual flocculating texture across all brands (such as the PV29 in Thio Violet), these felt particularly gritty. I have not experienced these issues with their competition, so I prefer Van Gogh.


Available to purchase here.


Swatch Cards:
PY65 PY3 Grumbacher Academy Cadmium Yellow Deep Hue Watercolor Swatch CardPV19 Grumbacher Academy Carmine Hue Watercolor Swatch CardPB15:4 Grumbacher Academy Thalo Blue Watercolor Swatch CardPB36 Grumbacher Academy Magnesium Green Watercolor Swatch CardPBr7 PG18 Grumbacher Academy Green Earth Hue Watercolor Swatch CardPG17 Grumbacher Academy Chromium Oxide Green Watercolor Swatch CardPR179 Grumbacher Academy Perylene Maroon Watercolor Swatch CardPV19 PV29 Grumbacher Academy Thio Violet Watercolor Swatch CardPB15:4 PB29 PBk6 Grumbacher Academy Payne's Gray Watercolor Swatch Card


Blick art materials typically offers these paints at a very low price within the USA. Grumbacher Academy is available to pick and choose individual tubes here:


I have also seen some colors, but mostly starter bundle sets on Amazon. I'll put the links to those options, which may contain other colors below. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.



Note: this page contains affiliate links. All product opinions are my own. I am committed to honest reviews showcasing both the pros and cons of each product. I have not received payment from any brand for a review. I earn a commission from sales made through this web page's clickable banners or links to Amazon, Arteza, Scrapbook, Jackson's or Blick Art Materials websites.