Prodigal Son's Artists Pigments, Handmade Watercolor, PB33 Manganese Blue Genuine, Granulating, Rare, Historical Colors.
Prodigal Son's Artists Pigments is a small business offering handmade watercolors and pigment powders. The owner, Gregory Kuhar from Pennsylvania USA, is currently selling through Etsy with shipping available to many countries. I recommend looking into this brand if you love granulation texture, mixing your own color separating mixtures or collecting rare pigments of historical significance.
- brand overview video demonstration coming soon -
Special discount for you: I'm happy to pass along a coupon code, which the shop owner created as a welcome gift just for my audience - Yay! Receive 10% off any regular price items by applying the code " KIM10 " at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ProdigalSonsPigments
I gave permission to this paint maker to use my swatch cards and artwork in their listings, but please note that I am not affiliated with this shop or Etsy. I do not have anything to do with the production of the paints and I do NOT make any profit from sharing my opinions on these products. I am very enthusiastic about rare pigments and granulating colors though (especially PG19 chemical variants that range between dark grassy green to a deep teal and the stunning bright aqua Manganese Blue PB33). These paints made me quite happy as a pigment collector. I believe other artists may feel the same, so I want to support this independent sole-proprietor by helping to spread the word about his shop!
This shop provides artists with a current source for rare or discontinued pigments (several of which are no longer produced and only available as limited edition until his stockpile is depleted). The owner has invested in obtaining large amounts of pigment powders (such as the vintage PB33) to turn into watercolor via the tedious handmade method of mulling on glass with gum arabic, glycerin and clove oil, a natural preservative. In addition to Manganese Blue Genuine PB33 (perhaps the star of the show), he also offers historically significant paints, as well as gemstone / ore / mineral based colors such as Cinnabar PR106, Egyptian Blue (copper frit) PB31, a wide variety of Cobalts, Smalt in two particle sizes (Cobalt Glass PB32, genuine, unlike Winsor and Newton's Smalt "hue" based on Ultramarine Violet PV15), Azurite and Malachite. I plan to do several videos regarding the history of certain colors, the famous masters that created works with them and the reasons for their eventual decline in production.
My experience with this shop: After asking several questions about products (like where the vintage powders were sourced and if he could make a custom watercolor because I didn't want to handle the powder form) I received prompt, knowledgeable, polite and helpful responses. He listed 3 versions of PG19 in watercolor form at my request (slight chemical variants of one of my favorite pigments, which I had stopped using because Daniel Smith's Cobalt Green Pale version yellows so badly in the tube over time). This is part of what I love about dealing with a smaller business! I'm sure we've all asked a big business for a special request, or even just a question, to find that the employee can't help or doesn't know the answer. It appears great care, careful pigment sourcing and research went into each step of his paint production.
Packaging: My order came quickly and was carefully boxed with packaging peanuts. Each pan looks beautiful and is wrapped with care, like a present. An inner wax paper layer avoids leaking during transit and prevents you from accidentally getting paint on your hands during unboxing. If your package was shipped in hot or humid weather, you can help prevent color sticking to the wrapping by placing the pans in the freezer for about 20 minutes. The outer wrapping is colored with a hand painted swatch on watercolor paper. It's nice to see a real swatch before painting (not a printed representation of color). This packaging is similar to Roman Szmal Aquarius, providing you with an instant sense of what the paint will truly look like (exciting to see when opening a package or giving a gift). It was carefully folded so that each pan can be pushed out without having to rip up the swatch. The paper could even be cut up and taped onto cardstock for the quick creation of a color chart. This saved me time setting up my palette color chart, no need for re-writing all the color names and pigment codes before painting. Each pan had a little sticker on the side with an abbreviated color name with pigment code number (again something I'm used to tediously doing myself with other brands to make sure I can easily identify a pan should it fall out of place or be moved to another palette).
- Color chart set up and pan set image coming soon -
The paints are most similar to the look, feel and price of Kremer Pigments ready-made watercolors. As expected, there is evidence of being hand poured, such as a small bubble or ripple (instead of baked, extruded and sliced style mass manufactured paints). These liquid filled colors won't fall out of the pan, the paint touches all edges and are filled to the brim. The value of these paints for the price is reasonable considering the types and amounts of the pigments used. The pigment load is very high, resulting in opaque pigments being extremely matte and gouache-like. Many of these pigments, especially Cobalts are naturally opaque and the lack of gum arabic binder gloss can give them a chalk-like appearance. This no-filler, low binder to high pigment ratio style of making watercolor results in an unusually matte surface (complete lack of sheen). This should not be confused with being negatively "chalky" from fillers or the rubbing off of pastel-dust. These will not look like your average mass-manufactured watercolor - and that's a good thing.
- PB33 Manganese Blue Genuine video coming soon -
I appreciate Prodigal Son's for providing a unique product, worthy of seeking out a handmade paint maker. While PB33 and all three PG19s will be my top recommendations as some of my favorite colors ever made, I want to draw attention to the shockingly high pigment load of both Cerulean Blues (PB35). I feel like we've been lied to all these years by big brands (such as Daniel Smith) who provide gummy/lower pigment load/lack of easy-rewet Ceruleans and Potter's Pink as if it were an unavoidable, tricky pigment property. Plainly that isn't the case, as the two pans I tested here had zero binder gloss and were very strong with a lot of covering power. If you want these paints to look the same way as big brands, you could always add a drop of gum arabic onto your palette to mix in while painting (enhances gloss and transparency). The beauty of the lower binder to higher pigment load provided here is artist freedom - you can always add more binder if you see fit, but you can't go back to add more pigment load.
Since many of the pigments provided are uncommon, they may have handling properties artists are unfamiliar with. The unusually thirsty PV14 pigment may require more water or a pre-soak, and certain historical pigments can have odd chemical reactions when mixed with honey or other pigments on the palette. Most of the colors re-wet very well and the rare pigments that require a pre-soak "woke up" within minutes to provide me with beautiful color. I expect that this will vary depending on your local humidity. If there is a particular trait I'd like to call attention to, I will note it on the swatch cards with any known lightfast information below:
Chemical interactions, toxicity and safe handling practices: Please note that this brand includes many pigments that are toxic if ingested. They require care/mask/gloves when handling them in powder form (far more problematic if inhaled). Do not spray apply any color from this brand (same goes for any brand's Cadmiums or Cobalts). I generally only recommend them for careful adult handling (the pans are much safer than powder to handle, but please don't lick your brush, painting or drink your paint water ;) Definitely wash your hands after handling and keep them away from kids or pets. Many historical pigments contain free-copper particles which may yellow or otherwise discolor from interactions with acids or atmospheric sulfides (Malachite and minor ore of copper like Azurite, Egyptian Blue Frit, Han Blue, Vivianite). Mercury or arsenic based colors like Paris Green, genuine Cinnabar or Realgar should be treated with extra care, expected to be fugitive in direct sunlight and may darken in the presence of lead, sulphur (ultramarines, cadmiums) or on acidic papers /non-archival/ high PH surfaces.
Want to see how these colors compare to the same pigment in other brands? Check the pigment database pages here.