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Rosa Gallery Watercolor Review + 1 YEAR LIGHTFAST TEST 21, 28 Metal Tin Set, Individual Full Pans, 10ml Tubes, 60 Full Range Color Chart
Rosa Gallery is a brand of professional watercolor paints made in the Ukraine. These colors are incredibly vibrant, finely ground, have a high pigment load, re-wet easily and many of the colors have very little wet to dry shift. They come in tubes, individual pans or sets. The pans are sized at 2.5ml "full" pans (which run slightly smaller than other brands that average 3ml). They are so affordable that it's not a problem that they do not offer the most common 1.5ml "half" pan size. This high pigment load, large pan size and low price is most similar to White Nights.
When deciding between these Rosa and White Nights I'd generally go with what is easier and more affordable to obtain in your area (also take into consideration current world events). I generally recommend mixing and matching brands, as each brand has certain colors they do best. I do prefer some of the single pigment selection of White Nights, as there are odd mixtures and weak earth browns in Rosa. If you're in the USA I recommend DaVinci's earth browns, which are often as cheap as $12 for a huge 37ml tube (DaVinci Burnt Umber is one of my favorites).
These 3 brands have a very nice Quin Violet PV19, though I was most impressed with the pigment load of Rosa for the price. If you're picking up some Rosa Gallery though, I want to really stress that I love #709 Magenta Rose PR122 - by far the BEST PR122 I have in my entire massive watercolor collection. It's much easier to control for smooth gradient blends and mixes well with my other paints compared to the quirky high flow aquazol binder in Qor brand. Rosa Gallery's Magenta Rose flows off the brush much smoother and has a more saturated pigment load than more expensive Daniel Smith, Schmincke or Sennelier. This has become my top choice for a cool red on my main palette and recommend picking it up if you see it available individually. I also saw a "botanical" set on Amazon USA that includes Magenta (you can see if it's still available here).
- Video overview for lighftastness and favorite colors with painting demo coming soon -
Lightfast selection? Mostly yes. There are a few fugitive colors (listed below), as well as a few mixtures that include a small amount of a fugitive color. Mixtures with PV3 have some fading, less so when the amount of the mixture was very small such as in Lavender or Black Grape. The "Opera Rose" has less fluorescent dye than most brands, meaning it's less vibrant and also less fugitive than the neon pink you may be used to.
Rare pigment:PG8 Green gets a bad rep for being marginally LFIII, though it fades far less than common problem reds like PR177 and PR170. I did have the same very minor fading experience with White Night's PG8 Green, but I feel like White Nights version is a more beautiful, deep saturated version than Rosa Gallery's. PG8 is not commonly used anymore, but it's a very unique deep dark single pigment green that is much more natural looking for botanical art compared to Phthalo PG7 and PG36. I choose PG8 when wanting a convenience green for personal work or sketchbook studies.
Six fugitive colors to avoid for art to sell/long term wall display (where light from a nearby window may cause these to fade over a few years):
Coral PR4, PR2, PW6
Lavender PB29, PV3, PW6
Madder Red PR177, PR264
Opera Rose PR122 + Fluorescent Dye
Why is it always the reds? It is more common for red pigments to fade. Red pigments have to be extremely durable to survive direct sunlight over time. Very few of them are chemically capable of being lightfast (due to warm colors absorbing more UV light, essentially breaking apart their molecules quicker than cooler colors). Looking for reds that won't fade? The most durable red pigments available in most watercolor brands include the LFI rated PR108 Cadmium Red, PR255 Vermilion Hue, PR254 Red as well as earthy brown-reds like PR233 Potters Pink and PR101 Red Iron Oxides. There's also quite acceptable LFII rated (minor fade eta 50-100 years indoor light) PR122 Magenta, PR209 Quin Red and PV19 Quin Rose.
Here are the results of my 1 year window sunlight test:
Purchase availability: Limited outside of Ukraine. This brand has not yet been picked up by many major art stores (like Blick or Jacksons) making the availability limited to many parts of the world. There are 3rd party/independent resellers who often stock these paints on Etsy/Amazon USA, but availability fluctuates. Here are some Amazon USA listings that were active as of 2022:
The company claims that their paints are made from pigment and gum arabic. The package implies that the binder portion of the paints is 100% gum arabic, though I am not totally convinced there is not also some level of honey and chemical anti-microbial to keep them from getting moldy, as well as the small possibility of ox gall for flow. I'd like to believe that they do not contain additives, I've just never seen another brand behave quite the same way. Some of the unique salt reactions and flow characteristics of these paints is definitely due to their finely ground pigments.
In my first test of these paints (an older unbox, swatch and paint demo video above) you can see the unusual flow of certain colors. There were several colors that disperse wildly when they hit wet paper. This type of dramatic flow is often only seen in paints like Qor that use Aquazol a vegan flow additive, or paints that use ox-gall an animal based cholesterol flow additive in brands like Winsor & Newton or Schmincke. With that said, I do believe there is a possibility these do NOT have any additives and that this flow is due to their uniquely tiny pigment particle size having an easy time floating across water.
An indicator that backs up this "small particle size theory" is the dramatic salt reaction in colors like ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow and zinc white (see swatches below). These particular pigments do NOT usually react to salt in other brands (often due to the purposefully larger particle size to promote granulation and/or opacity). This is quite the selling point for Rosa Gallery. Super finely ground pigments make for a better painting experience overall. They will flow off your brush and over your paper easily (glide), with smooth color laydown and often superior transparency. Colors are sometimes a different hue when a pigment is ground down to a fine powder before mixing it with binder, compared to chunkier particles such as those used in gouache.
Their classic 28 pan set doesn't offer enough unique or single pigment additions compared to the 21 set I originally bought. If I had been able to purchase individual colors at the time I would have bought more single pigment pans to build my own custom palette. There were a few complex mixtures included with the pan sets that I did not need. I later collected new colors individually through 3rd party sellers on Etsy. RusArt Canada is an online art store that may be able to help you locate harder to find individual colors.
Problem colors: Several colors had odd textural issues and two had a binder/additive imbalance which ate through the surface sizing (coating) of my cheaper watercolor papers. This caused some splotchy effects in "Golden Yellow" and "Turquoise". This may have been a bad batch issue. No other colors were problematic.
Issues with this line include no transparent (non-cadmium) lemon yellow options, though they have recently added the deeper, more powerful mixing yellow PY150 as "Aureoline" (Aureolin Hue). While I love Nickel Azo Yellow and its mixing potential regarding botanical greens, there is definitely room for a cooler bright yellow in this line. They do not currently offer any single pigment black, only offering PBk7 within mixtures. I'd rather have the PBk7 to mix my own Indigo, Paynes Grey, Mars Brown, Sepia and Neutral Black myself. There are a decent amount of convenience mixtures, which some may prefer to avoid in preference of their single pigment selection.
There is the potential of longer term fading in some colors due to ingredient PR177. This red pigment is prone to becoming lighter over time in tints. It is often more stable in masstone, rather than when diluted. This may eventually cause minor fading in colors like Sepia, Neutral Black (it is extreme fading due to being a larger part of the mixture in Madder Red). I found an error on the color chart (but not the pan wrapper) - Payne's Grey was mis-spelled as "Peyne's". The chart and the wrapper both say PB19 as a pigment, which as far as I can tell does not exist. This is far more likely to be PV19, as this color is just a slightly darker (more PBk7) version of their Indigo (made of PV19, PBk7 and PB15:1). Otherwise their charts seem accurate.
Where to buy? USA/CANADA: Try Etsy or RusArt.biz!Spain? Try Artmiranda! I was able to purchase my Rosa Gallery pan sets on Amazon USA, but also found individual pans on Etsy. Where to buy in the future will depend on which individual sellers happen to be offering them after importing them from Ukraine. No major store with easy global shipping currently carries them. If the Amazon link is inactive/now broken, you may want to check the manufacturer's website for more information. For anyone living closer to the Ukraine, check Rosa's website for info or alternate vendors at https://rosagroup.com.ua/
2020-2021 color chart - the "NEW" colors released at different times mid 2020 to early 2021. I have highlighted all single pigment options from this company in yellow in the color chart below:
The swatch cards on this page can also be compared side by side with the same colors from other brands. Check out the pigment database to see the colors organized by pigment ingredient.
Note: this page contains affiliate links. All product opinions are my own. I am committed to honest reviews showcasing both the pros and cons of each product. I have not received payment from any brand for a review. I earn a commission from sales made through this web page's clickable banners or links to Amazon, Arteza, Scrapbook, Jackson's and/or Blick Art Materials websites.