Rosa Gallery Watercolor Review, Lightfast Test, 21, 28 Metal Tin Set. Individual Full Pans, 10ml Tubes, 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 1.5ml "half" pan sizes so common in professional watercolors. This high pigment load, pan size and low price is most similar to White Nights (who they shared a factory with before the company separated).
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 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.
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 thicker particle size typically made to promote granulation 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 better with smooth color laydown and 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.
------- video coming soon for 28 pan set ------
The 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 over a dozen new colors individually, and plan to buy more when their new colors come out later in 2020. Swatch cards:
Color notes: the Magenta Rose is a spectacular example of PR122. This version is similar in hue to Schmincke's Purple Magenta, but Rosa's is capable of a deeper masstone with less wet to dry shift. It is currently my favorite version in any brand, and if I were making a multi-brand master palette this would be one of my primary mixing colors.
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 it's 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 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 and Madder Red. I am currently running a lightfast test. 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: Try Etsy! Spain? Try Artmiranda! I was able to purchase my Rosa Gallery pan sets on Amazon USA, but also found individual pans on Etsy from a seller called Omnia Pro. 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. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For anyone living closer to the Ukraine, check Rosa's website for info or alternate vendors at https://rosagroup.com.ua/
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.