Mission Gold Watercolor Review Lightfast Test and Mission White Gouache Hybrid
Lucky for me, Mission Gold was my first large set purchase of watercolor tube paints about a decade ago when I started my watercolor journey. This Korean paint from the company Mijello (later sold to Chartpak for distribution to other countries) has set the bar very high in regards to quality for price. The biggest concern with these paints is the tendency to have misleading names and some complex mixtures of multiple pigment ingredients. They do have plenty of single pigment colors though, and enough generally awesome performance to look past these issues.
On average, when you buy this brand in sets instead of individual tubes, the per-tube cost breaks down to a third of the price of other professional paints like Daniel Smith. While I personally love Daniel Smith, I'm glad I got this Mission Gold set first so I could narrow down just which colors were worth spending more on D.S. tubes. If you're looking for tube paints (which are the most economical way to build dry pan palettes that you can refill over time) look no further.
Mission Gold has many of the basic, non-granulating, non-specialty mineral colors covered. In their pure pigments set they also expand to offer Cobalt Turquoise, but overall the thing they are lacking are pigments like cerulean, potters pink, and gemstones/minerals like ground up tigers eye, hematite, bloodstone, sodalite etc. that you can mainly only find in Daniel Smith's range. For the basic primary mixing colors like magenta, yellows and non-granulating blues, Mission Gold paints are one of my favorite brands. They offer vibrant, clean colors with finely ground pigments comparable to other top quality brands. There is no reason to spend a lot more on common colors like Phthalo blue and greens (pb15, pg7, pg36 etc.) when Mission Gold offers them so cheaply in sets. Single tubes is a different story, those are VERY much more expensive individually, where their price becomes comparable to Daniel Smith.
Their single pigment colors mix very well, creating vibrant clean secondary colors when mixed. If you want to tame them down a bit, mixing neutrals is easy with some color theory practice (start by mixing complementary colors or blue + brown to make grays and black). All of them dilute well with water to pale pastel-like colors. The warm browns were lovely for making rust effects and the salt reaction for texture was dramatic. I loved using them with a clear glaze pen for layering multiple colors, as all of them glaze beautifully.
I have read some artists complaints about this brand being too vibrant, too staining, but this is sometimes a misunderstanding of which pigments are in this set. For instance, all brands of phthalo blue or green are insanely strong, like marker colors. There is however, a point to mention that I feel is actually a PRO in this regard. Their paint somehow avoids some of the wet-to-dry shift common in watercolors. That is to say, the color while wet is close to that when it dries, where some brands lose vibrancy. Some pigments always have a wet to dry shift, such as PR101/102 red iron oxide/caput mortum which looks vibrant and dries dull. Overall this is less of the case in this brand which could be the way they do their binder, or how finely they grind their pigment powders before mixing them, I can't be sure.
The only complaint I've heard that is worth passing along is caution about misleading color naming. It's far more important to learn pigment codes (the ingredients list, basically the same as knowing you're looking for something made with sugar not aspartame) early on, rather than to expect that one company's cerulean is the same as another brand.
Typically all brands write "hue" at the end if it's suppose to be a cerulean-like color, but not actually have the cerulean pigment (pb35 light or pb36 chrome dark as the ingredient). Mission Gold fails to label hues in several colors, so it's important to look at the swatches rather than deciding based on written color names. This also goes for their earth tones, which sometimes have odd mixtures instead of being simple Pbr7 for an earth brown. This problem however, is not exclusive to Mission Gold. Even Schmincke's prestigious Horadam aquarelle has mixtures like red iron oxide + black to make up a burnt sienna.
Where to buy:
If you'd like to buy this set, you can find it several places online, but I've consistently seen the best prices from Amazon. They have sellers from Korea who directly ship it to Amazon's warehouses for quick prime delivery. This means you cut out some extra middle man prices that you may see when shopping with the bigger art supply chain stores. I'll put the link to Amazon below. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Note * This set is the Asian market version. * This comes in several different color selections for distribution in other countries. I have gotten the set shown here multiple times and it has always been the original Korean version which does not include a black and white color. I can not guarantee that will always be the case, so be sure to look over any listings.
I used the above set in this video for the animal artists collective.
I also added a touch of mica glitter watercolor by Paul Rubens on top of the Mission Gold base colors.
Early in my lightfast testing at only 4 weeks, the most fugitive colors become apparent in this chart:
1 YEAR UPDATE = Long term tests also showed slight fading in "burnt sienna" and "light red" bringing the questionable color count to 6 in this set. This is due to the pigment PR112 being fugitive. You can look for PR112 as an ingredient to avoid. However, both PB27 Prussian and Indigo have recovered their original color state once removed from light exposure (stored in shade for 3 months). This is a natural UV reaction of iron salts common to all brands of Prussian paint. I personally prefer not to use Prussian watercolors since I don't like the idea of taking my painting off the wall for a nap here and there.
Option #2 ----------------------------------------------------------
Mijello also makes a pure pigment set where you can get some of their colors that are specifically a single pigment ingredient per tube. No surprise mixes here! This is also a good way to find a few of the more expensive pigments not found in their other sets. Their green gold color along with a perylene maroon are some of the perks of this set being great for florals. This set overall uses very stable lightfast pigments, and is less prone to fading or muddying colors due to complex mixes of multiple colors. While not as amazing as far as amount of paint in the first option, the deal is still quite good at 24 colors at 15ml large tubes and 2 bonus colors (black and white) at 7ml tubes for a total of 26 colors.
I highly recommend the gold box version of the pure pigment set (which is the Asia distribution one) as it includes the beautiful cobalt turquoise color. You can find that here:
Be aware that depending on where you buy this, there are different versions for different countries. This listing also says pure pigment, but when you look closer it's a blue box version (the preview is outdated) and the color list does not include cobalts. Many of the colors are the same otherwise, just a few have been swapped out for non-toxic alternatives. Some countries have certain rules for labeling toxic paints like cobalts and cadmiums, so USA stores in particularly tend not to carry those colors. When buying on Amazon, of the 3rd party sellers, I can only say I had a good experience with the seller called "CrushOn".
More about this set coming soon.
Option #3 ---------------------------------------------------------
I've also tried the Mission WHITE class, which is not to be confused with their SILVER student grade line. The Mission White is a hybrid of gouache and watercolor, with opacity and extremely vibrant colors including some fugitive ones, made specifically for illustration. This set is ideal for capturing any possible color, rather than just natural more lightfast ones. Think painting neon signs and logos. Each color can be diluted to work similarly to regular watercolors for washes, but thicker layers can be used similarly to gouache for final touches.
More about this set coming soon.
Mission WHITE swatch cards: (HYBRID watercolor-gouache semi opaque colors). Note, this set is like "designer gouache" (like Winsor & Newton or Daler Rowney) which contain vibrant dyes meant for digitally scanned work such as product packaging, prints, magazine/book illustration. They should be expected to be fugitive.
--- Mission White swatch cards coming soon ---
Mission Silver (Student Grade) swatch cards:
---Mission Silver = not currently owned. I have decided that these pan sets are too expensive for the lesser quality pigments they used. If you are considering one of these sets, and do not care about lightfastness, I would instead get the much much cheaper Miya HIMI set. ---
Mission Gold (Professional Grade) Swatch Cards:
Mission Gold can also be found individually at Blick or Jacksons:
If you'd like to see any pigment compared to the same color in another brand, check out the pigment database where the swatches are organized by color.