Qor Watercolor Review Color Chart Swatch Cards and Lightfast Testing
Qor watercolors are made by Golden, the company well loved for their acrylic paints. They make some of the most unique and lightfast watercolors available. I have very mixed feelings about Qor due to the proprietary Aquazol binder. These watercolors are made without gum arabic and because of this unique binder they flow differently than any other brand. This can be fast and chaotic across wet washes, which can be a problem for those who desire precision and control of their paints. It can be a beautiful thing for those who paint loosely or abstractly. This binder is thinner, less gummy than the sap of the acacia tree (gum arabic) and therefore takes up less space as a water-soluble glue, allowing more pigment load per tube than other brands. Some Qor colors, particularly Magenta PR122 are some of the most potent of any brand I've seen. However, even considering this extra pigment load their paints are still very expensive. Because the rapid flow is not suitable for all art styles, you may notice that regardless of having a nice option for a certain pigment I may not recommend it as highly as others. As someone who appreciates building a multi-brand palette, where I pick and choose my favorites based on which brand has the most intense or granulating version of a color, Qor can introduce chaos when added to the mix. If you are a fan of controlling where the paint goes in a wet wash, these may not be for you. I have found that there are generally less issues when using these wet on dry, where flow is less of a chaotic factor.
Do all Qor watercolors flow fast / quickly disperse in wet washes?
Qor's binder is thin and ready to disperse in water with less effort than gum arabic. This can result in unexpectedly high flow as light weight/finely ground pigments disperse quickly across wet paper. While many pigments perform this way, leading to a generalization that all Qor watercolors have high flow properties, I'd like to point out that this is not always the case. Aquazol basically lets the pigment's properties shine unhindered by a thick binder. This means pigments that are prone to dispersing quickly will do so even more, those that are granulating, flocculating/clumping or prone to sinking in mixtures will do that more instead. This can cause some of their granulating colors to have unusual texture issues and travel less in wet washes than their other colors.
The price of high pigment load in Aquazol:
Golden claims that their Qor watercolor's contain a much higher pigment load than the more common gum arabic based watercolor. Aquazol binder takes up less space as a thin liquid vs viscous syrup/sap (gum arabic), so it makes sense that in a standard half pan you're getting more pigment load than most other watercolor brands. This can cause problems when working directly from half pans, where too much pigment can be picked up on your brush at once. Adding water to these paints in a mixing dish first can help alleviate this issue. Unfortunately, this means that some pigments that have unusual traits will have that problem amplified. This affects everything from wet to dry shift, sheen or clumping.
Some may say Qor is prone to drying dull or desaturated, but I've only seen this on pigments that normally have a wet to dry shift. Dioxazine Violet PV23, Magenta PR122 and Transparent Orange PO71 are good examples of colors that always dry more dull and often less reddish than they went down - regardless of brand. Qor's high pigment load may cause this to be more visible due to the intensity of color as it goes down compared to the dry state. When granulating pigments aren't dispersed properly, unpleasant texture effects can occur. This is eased with extra water, but Qor's paints straight from a tube/pan into a wet wash can cause clumping of particles. I've also seen a nearly metallic sheen happen on intense pigments, such as Phthalo Blue Green Shade PB15:3. This bronzing effect is visible when the paint is applied without enough water.
-bronzing image coming soon-
In 2022 four new pan sets were introduced to the Qor watercolor line:
-new set images coming shortly-
These dry half pan options allow for less costly collecting of colors vs tubes, but are still quite expensive compared to other brands. Due to the expense, I decided to purchase only one of these new sets. Almost all of these colors were already available in tubes, some of which I've already collected. I bought the "Reflective Set" because 3 of the 6 colors are new to the Qor line: Interference Violet, Blue and Green. Each set contains 6 watercolors, 6 empty half pans, a metal tin with a silicone insert (which holds the pans and provides additional mixing space).
- butterfly art coming soon -
The mica based (titanium dioxide coated PW20) watercolors are pearlescent, but not nearly as sparkly or reflective as those available from Coliro/Finetec or handmade watercolors using cosmetic mica (such as Iuile or Hydracolour brands on Etsy).
Swatches for Qor Mini "Reflective" set (6 half pan mica metallic colors). Shown photographed under lamp light for maximum mica metallic shimmer, painted on black and white watercolor paper:
-image for reflective-
Swatch cards for Qor Mini (original 12 color half pan set):
Swatch cards for Qor in TUBES (fresh, not from dry):
Qor paints are available on Amazon. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you :)
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.
If you'd like to see how these compare to other paints, check out the pigment database
to see each color side by side against the same color from another brand.
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