Mijello Titanium Class MISSION GOUACHE For Design Review, Lightfast Test, Color Chart Swatch, Pigment Info.
Mission Gouache is a professional quality, mostly lightfast, opaque watercolor paint. The unusual selling point is that the formula includes enough gum, honey and other binder additives to allow for drying in empty pans without cracking. It easily reactivates with the touch of a wet brush and most colors retain opacity even when re-wet from dry.
This is one of, if not the only, brand to advertise their gouache as suitable for use from dry. Normally there is so little binder in gouache that colors will crack apart when dry (basically pigment powder with little to no humectants, flaking apart in little pieces similarly to desert ground - aside from M.Graham which also uses honey).
The benefit to this binder ratio is mainly convenience. Mission Gouache can be used from dry, just like a watercolor pan set. You can squeeze a little fluid paint out from the tube, let it dry and it will still be usable months later. This means you can pack a dry palette for travel, urban sketching or just taking up very little desk space. It's time saving, you can get to work with the paint quickly with just water and a brush, instead of spending time squeezing out paint from tubes onto dishes before painting.
They do retain a good degree of opacity if re-wet from dry, but like all gouache - they are at their most opaque when used straight from the tube (adding water at any stage will always dilute the paint more towards transparent).
Mijello, the South Korean manufacturers of popular pro grade watercolor "Mission Gold", student grade "Mission Silver" and the watercolor-gouache hybrid featuring vibrant fugitive colors for design called "Mission White" has now expanded their line to give us something closer to traditional pro grade gouache. These "Titanium Class Gouache" paints are still basically a watercolor-gouache hybrid compared to other brands of gouache, but they are more opaque and have many more lightfast pigments compared to Mission's White class hybrid paints. These can definitely be described as opaque watercolor, but fail at being completely matte.
Re-wet from dry, these provided excellent coverage on toned paper (shown below on "Paint On" gray, which is a fugitive dye based mixed media paper by Clairefontaine):
Good or bad? This product is overall great quality, useful to serious artists who require mostly lightfast pigments and those looking for an opaque watercolor that can be used from dry pans for convenience. The bad things include a few fugitive colors, glossy shine when dry on some colors and limited availability.
I purchased the 34 tube set (15ml) on Amazon USA. This set was released in South Korea in 2022, but has started popping up on sites like Amazon and Ebay in April of 2023. They average just a few dollars a tube, far cheaper than many pro grade gouache brands that can average about ten dollars per color - the drawback is you have to buy a whole set instead of individual tubes.
Gloss problems: The negative to the extra moisture-retaining binder is that not all colors dry fully matte - there can be some glossy sheen especially when applied thickly. Some of the colors that dried glossy in masstone, went down fairly matte when water diluted. This brand says you can use these in a thick, impasto-like fashion. I would only paint high ridged brush strokes if you don't mind the shiny surface effect.
These paints are quite usable from a dry pan, but a major down side to this brand is a gloss finish in about a third of the colors. Normally gouache is very matte (velvety, non-reflective) in brands with a higher pigment load/less binder additives. Being matte is desired by artists who want to scan their work for print reproduction, because the paints are more photogenic when they don't have any glossy reflections.
The bright side to Mission Gouache is that all of these dried with very little bubbling or cracking. This resulted in a very portable palette without any crumbling. They stay slightly tacky to the touch and minorly glossy even after several weeks drying in empty plastic pans (watercolor palettes or bead/rhinestone containers). Because of the gum, honey and possibly other additives like glycerin acting as a humectant to retain moisture, they will remain extremely easy to re-wet. Likely for many years in most climates (my mission gold watercolors reactivate just as easily as the day I poured them over 5 years later). Just a gentle wipe with a damp brush will provide a nice stroke of color from these dried gouache.
Rare pigments: This set contains mostly common, reliable pigments found in many brands. However, Red-Brown PBr25 is fairly uncommon in watercolor and unheard of in gouache. I've used it for the acorns and branches in the squirrel painting above. Mission might be the only brand to carry such a high pigment load option for PBr25. It's one of my favorite pigments to mix with Phthalo Blue PB15:3 for creating smooth deep blacks, paynes gray and shadow colors. In the video below I show what PBr25 is like in mixtures using watercolor. You can create even more saturated, deep valued color mixtures using Mission Gouache instead. When mixed with white gouache (for opacity) or water (for transparency), pale peachy-tan skin tones are possible. Because Mission Gouache "Indigo" and "Mjello Blue" both use the questionable pigment PB27, I recommend mimicking these Payne's/Indigo-like colors using PBr25 (Red Brown) + PB15:3 (Cerulean Hue) for art that may be hung in rooms with a lot of natural light:
Professional quality: The Mission Gouache packaging is excellent. The sturdy cardboard box is laminated with color charts and contains 34 fully filled 15ml metal tubes, labeled with pigment ingredient codes and lightfast ratings. Most of the pigments used in this set are reliably lightfast and suitable for professional art.
Fugitive pigments are present in 6 of 34 colors. If you plan to sell art or potentially display your paintings on the wall long term, I would avoid the following pigment codes: BV7/BV10 blue-violet fluorescent dyes added to Bright Rose (a tame opera pink for vibrant florals), PR176 is sensitive in mixtures/tints/diluted range (less fading in masstone only) and PR112 in the vermilion mixture causes the red to fade while orange remains. Three colors contain PB27. Prussian Blue PB27 sometimes returns to the original hue after storing in a dark space after completing lightfast testing. It's often marked as LFI or 5of5stars on paint labels, but I consider PB27 fugitive because Prussian iron salts are very UV reactive. Prussian fades from nearby window daylight and later recharges some of the color in shade. After 3-6 months of daily sunset light beams through window glass, this fading is sometimes irreversible and no longer recovers in shade.
Lightfast test results: The following test strip had the left side stored in a shady drawer, the right side was exposed to 1 year of daily window sunlight. This south facing window averages 3-5 hours a day of direct light, with only evening sunset intensity. This test goes several months past the average time frame it takes to complete a blue wool scale test (to BW8 in this FL climate). Note that all BW6-7 or LFII colors may show minor signs of fading (typically begins at 6-12 mo.) but are considered lightfast for artist use. Colors like Qui Perm Magenta PR122 take about 50 years to show fading in shady indoor environments. Most LFI colors remain perfect without fading for over 2 years of direct daily window light. Most of my watercolors from this brand (Mission Gold) are going on 5 years of daily sun exposure without fading. It's a pretty reliable brand, but please take note of the pigment codes that are prone to fading (which would happen in any brand) listed below.
Color chart with pigment codes prone to fading highlighted:
Opacity, fillers and additives: The colors are in this set are all opaque to semi opaque. The opacity in pigments that are not always naturally opaque is suspicious. There is likely a small amount of opacity additive, or cloudy matte binder agent (like dextrin), chalk or other ingredient added to the binder to ensure coverage on dark papers. This should not effect the paint quality or lightfastness. It may be noticeable as subtle differences in color mixtures, especially to those used to more transparent versions of these pigments from other gouache brands.
While "gouache" is generally referred to as "opaque watercolor", this is an over simplification as not all gouache is fully opaque. It's just more opaque than the watercolor version of that same pigment due to a higher pigment load (less binder/dispersing agents). Gouache is often noted as "matte" because the extra pigment powder in it causes a powdery, velvet-like non-reflective surface when dry. Watercolor is often slightly shiny when dry due to more glossy gum arabic binder.
Watercolor is usually manufactured to provide more transparency for glazing/layering and have greater flow in wet washes. Because of that, watercolor often contains more gum arabic, glycerin, honey and flow agents like synthetic or genuine ox gall. Some pigments are naturally opaque, such as ochres, cobalts and cadmiums - those are often opaque even in watercolor form. Other pigments are naturally transparent like phthalos, quins, dioxazine etc. It's quite unusual for nearly every color be opaque in a pro grade gouache line.
Most professional gouache brands will offer some semi-transparent colors in their catalogs, which contain no added white or chalk filler. This results in greater color mixing freedom on the artist's end. White is one of the most important mixing colors in gouache painting. It can dramatically change the opacity of a transparent color, providing coverage on dark papers. In most brands it also removes the sheen from semi-glossy paints, but the Mission Gouache white was quite a disappointment in that regard. This white gouache was not matte, so I've started using other brands of white gouache with this set.
As an important mixing color in gouache, PW6 white being glossy when dry is a serious nuisance. If you buy this set, you may also need a replacement for the white. The tube in my Mission Gouache set seems to have too much binder throughout, it dries shiny even after using a needle tool to stir deep into the tube. There was no obvious binder separation but I stirred it all anyway hoping it would help. White is so vital for mixing with other colors and sadly anything I mix it with also becomes glossy. There were a few additional colors in this set that also dried glossy. Those were less important colors for me, but I want potential buyers to be aware of this issue:
I recommend supplementing this set with an economical XL 60ml tube of white PW6 gouache from Holbein or M.Graham. This will allow for many pale light-valued pastel-like mixtures that are matte and opaque. Some of the Mission Gouache colors are slightly transparent and semi-gloss when dry. This can be a problem for coverage on dark papers/over other colors. Switching to Holbein's white gouache resulted in a velvety matte finish for non-glare photo/scan print reproduction. Titanium White PW6 is the main way to increase opacity when mixing gouache colors. A tiny touch of PW6 can increase covering power without drastic changes in hue. If you want a pale value "pastel" like color, more PW6 is mixed with any color to lighten the value while adding opacity.
My favorite places to shop for economical large 60ml/2oz tubes of White (PW6) gouache by DaVinci, Maimeri, M.Graham or Holbein is Blick USA here. You can often find Holbein slightly cheaper and Schmincke Horadam much cheaper at Jackson's UK/worldwide here. These brands are often on sale between $12 to $20, usually much more affordable than purchasing 4 smaller 15ml tubes. There is a primary mixing set by Holbein available as a discounted bundle which may also be of interest. You may also find need for a larger tube of black gouache for creating opaque dark value mixtures. M.Graham has the least cracking when dry compared to these other brands, due to their use of honey. However, Holbein is my favorite gouache brand due to it's superb flow and lack of binder separation issues in long term storage.
Shop around for the best price. Sometimes Amazon USA has a great sale:
Looking for places other than Amazon or Ebay to shop for gouache and other fine art supplies? Both Blick and Jackson's carry Mission Gold watercolors, but none of the other Mijello paint lines as of 2023. They are not yet widely distributed. For now there appears to be limited availability on Amazon USA:
There are not many reviews online as of 6-23, so I can't tell if my batch was unusual regarding the glossy sheen problems. I will make video demonstrations for this brand in the future once I've created more paintings using them. I will check suppliers again at that time. Until then, you can see a video demonstration of these paints below. This portrait from a lovely artist (Semorim on YouTube) who tested these when they were initially released in South Korea in early 2022:
My favorite American art supply chain store is Blick. They have a massive catalog and competitive prices, with quick shipping options here in the USA.
One of my favorite places to shop for a world-wide selection watercolor paint and brushes is Jackson's. They have affordable shipping to the USA and a lovely selection of items not easily found in American stores.
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