If you’ve ever read any of my reviews, you know I’m brutally honest when it comes to what I think. There’s no sense in sugar coating things – if the quality isn’t there, it isn’t there. And with Arteza, it’s not there.
The first time I tried Arteza was in 2018 (I think) when I was asked to review their acrylic paint specifically for use in acrylic pouring. You can find that review here. At the time, I chalked up the quality of the paints I was sent to an isolated issue, since I’ve seen other reviews of their products that are stellar. After all, if I’m willing to strain Floetrol to remove the nasty white snotty lumps, I could strain my paint too, right?
Except…no. I’ve used their paint a few times since and every time, I’m disappointed. It’s vibrant, sure – but the clumps are too much. Plus, Arteza acrylics are pretty thick, so straining them isn’t exactly easy.
If you follow me on Instagram (@studioblackwater), you’ll see that I’ve been creating more watercolor pieces lately. I don’t sell them or anything, watercolor is just really meditative for me. I love the softness of the colors and the way the colors fade together and interact. Last year, when I decided to give watercolors a try, I bought an inexpensive set of paints from AC Moore (RIP) and I was hooked.
A few of the colors were running low, so I decided to give Arteza another try and purchased a palette of their watercolor paints from Amazon. I figured, it’s been about two years. Companies improve in weeks, let alone years. Additionally, watercolor paint can’t really be clumpy.
Nope. It can’t be clumpy. But, Arteza has shown me that it can certainly be grainy.
I set out to create a mountain scene situated in the silhouette of a horse. I’ve been trying to limit myself to one or two colors, challenging myself to create depth without the aid of a full palette. For this project, I decided to stick with black.
Having just gotten my Arteza watercolors, I decided to use those first. I laid down a nice, thin coat of water, picked up some pigment from the tray, and gently began to build the grey base color. But, the paint didn’t act the way I expected. Instead of spreading smoothly and evenly, the watercolor pilled, creating a grainy, lumpy appearance. I thought that perhaps I added too much water or overworked it, so I left the piece alone for the night to thoroughly dry with the intention of revisiting it the next day.
I sat down the following evening and tried again. The second layer, a bit more pigmented, pilled even worse than the lighter layer. I was left with an uneven, grainy color that looked absolutely hideous. I waited until the watercolor dried, and then took a pair of tweezers and had to pick every granule out by hand.
In the end, I switched back to my old $4.99 palette to see if the black would perform the same; it didn’t. It spread smoothly, without graininess or texture.
Arteza has been getting a lot of buzz because they offer a lot of different products, and they’re reasonably priced. As a matter of fact, prior to using the watercolor paints, I had considered buying a set of their Everblend markers to try in place of my beloved, but expensive, Prismacolor markers that have started to run out. I’m glad that I didn’t. I’m afraid that I would have been just as disappointed – but I would have been out a lot more money.
Ultimately, I know that every artist has specific preferences and maybe some of you love Arteza. To those of you who haven’t used it yet, all I’m saying is, be careful. Don’t go ham on a big, important piece until you test the products on a smaller surface first to make sure you like the consistency. Really, this should be your methodology for every supply you purchase.
So, off I go again to find more watercolor paints that won’t break the bank, but still remain good quality. Wish me luck.