Renesans Watercolor Review Intense Tubes and Extra Fine Pan Professional Paints
Renesans is a company in Poland manufacturing many types of paints including watercolor, oil, inks, gouache and pastels. Their watercolors are made using gum arabic, powdered pigment and a generous amount of honey. Many of the colors dry with a glossy shine. If you attempt to achieve a deep masstone you end up with a transparent glossy surface coating. This combination of honey and tree sap does not dry sticky, but can be quite shiny and distracting in certain lighting. I can only see these paints working out for those who consistently dilute colors, rarely using them in masstone.
They make 54 colors available as half pans (1.5ml 1/2 godet) as well as 70 colors in tubes labeled as "Intense" (15ml). These cost less than other "professional" quality brands, with an average of $4 per half pan or about $8 per tube. This can be quite the reasonable price point depending on the pigment, especially Cobalt blue and green colors (PG50, PB28 and PB36) which tend to run between $12-$18 in other brands. They mention using "genuine Polish cadmium and cobalt" in their products, so the colors may look a bit different compared to other sources.
The formulas have recently changed, and the etsy shop still has older pigment information compared to the main company's website. There used to be more overlap/consistency between the pans and tubes, this is no longer the case:
As far as brand identity, this is a very confusing company. Every other major manufacturer has more consistency in their catalogs than Renesans. Some of the color names available in tubes are also available in pans but there are certain colors exclusive to one format or the other and many with a different fomula altogether. Then there are colors that are titled differently (yet seem very similar) such as Cobalt Green "Pale" in a tube versus Cobalt Green in a pan. As of mid 2020 Renesan's website has color charts done in a different style for tubes vs pans, causing even colors using the same pigment in the same hue to appear different (one swatch was clearly using less paint). The USA distributor on Etsy has a different color chart that shows how these paints look when painted out in the same manner. This inconsistency in swatch representation makes decision making on the buyers end needlessly difficult:
There are colors with the same names between tubes and pans that vary in ingredients. Such as Yellow Ochre PY42 tube, is a mixture of PY42 and PY83 in pan format. This is very unusual to see from a professional brand. Since both are identified as pro-grade, it's hard to say you recommend x color without having to clarify which version. That could be very confusing to those collecting a tube, then later restocking with a pan. There is also a numbering problem, where in most brands the number matches the color name across tubes or pans (ie. color #616 is always Viridian in a Tube or a Pan from Rembrandt). You can see how the "Hooker's Green" in a tube varies from the pan formula in addition to the color ID number:
The quality seems to vary substantially by color. Some of the colors are actually quite nice, but when the line is looked at as a whole there are too many quirks. Many colors used thickly (diluted as little as possible to remain close to masstone) will dry far more glossy than others. Some re-wet well while others take scrubbing. Overall, these are not as high-end as Daniel Smith, Schmincke, Winsor & Newton etc. nor do they have the extensive pigment offerings of those other companies.
This is an entry level professional paint, and I would only get this brand if there is a specific color you want to try and it's more affordable to try Renesans vs any other brand where you live. With other honey based paints like White Nights and Roman Szmal offering full size pans for about $3 - $5 each with low cost worldwide shipping through Jackson's, there are very few colors worth seeking out specifically from Renesans. I can not see buying the whole color catalog because of how hit or miss each color seems to be.
My handmade swatch cards using these paints from dry:
There are a few beautiful colors in their full catalog made of rarely used pigments. As a collector of colors I find value in seeing them. Unfortunately, most of them are not very lightfast. These include pigments PR63:1 Bordeaux Madder Lake, PR48:4 Permanent Carmine, PG8 Hooker's Green (which is also available in White Nights and Rosa Gallery, but is overall uncommon in professional watercolors).
I am intrigued by the unusual offering of two different hues of PBr25 which they called Brown Madder and Polish Brown. The darker, burnt umber-like hue of the Polish Brown version is uncommon compared to the lighter reddish one. I have only seen this darker version available in Art Philosophy (Prima Confetti pan set). However, be cautious of the differences between their swatch representations and reality. The two images above left show their etsy shop's swatches for Brown Madder and Polish Brown. In actuality the Brown Madder is no where near that orange-ish red. (See my swatch card earlier to see a more accurate representation. I make sure to digitally adjust for accuracy when a photo or scanner does odd saturation changes, as this company should have.)
Sadly it appears that the older PR63:1 Bordeaux Madder Lake is either being discontinued OR being changed from a beautiful magenta color to the new "Mineral Violet" purple in pan form... (not to be confused with their Mineral Violet in Tube form which is supposedly PV23)... This seems incorrect. I have a suspicion that this Mineral Violet pan in the center image below is just mis-labled as PR63:1 and is just PV23 as their tube version. Also a good example of how they didn't swatch the pan (middle) the same way as the tube (right).
The Potter's Pink is definitely not made to be re-wet from dry. It may be slightly better from the tube than shown in the swatch done after the tube was allowed to dry. I own a few other brands of Potter's Pink PR233, and none of them are quite this weak despite Potter's Pink always needing more work to reactivate from dry. The pan version of Winsor and Newton seems to be well formulated to work from dry, so I would look to them for this pigment if you like pan sets instead of working directly from a tube.
Where to buy? See the Polish company website and their Etsy USA supplier. Though in my opinion you'd be better off trying White Nights , Roman Szmal or Rosa Gallery instead for their affordability, high pigment load, ability to re-wet well and dry matte instead of glossy.
A special thank you to Kinetic Color Foundry for sending me samples of these paints for my pigment database project (where you can compare any of these colors side by side with other brands). They have an amazing 3d printed color wheel style palette, you can check those out here.