Turner Colour Beginnings Historical 12 wholepan Watercolour Box


In our continued search for unusual and specialist art materials we are pleased to introduce, this set of 12 wholepan watercolours modelled after Britain's foremost watercolourist JMW Turner (1775–1851). Turner, or the 'painter of light', made hundreds of colour beginning  (a term coined by art historians much later), loose colour studies, where he applied large areas of muted, translucent, pastel washes. Today, with the benefit of hindsight, these works seems strikingly modern, anachronistic references to Rothko, who reportedly declared in 1966 "This man Turner, he learnt a lot from me". Most likely these were preparatory and technical studies for larger representational works - but they do possess the dynamism and expressionist bare energy of light and darkness for which Turner was famed. Knowing further that Turner owned a heavily annotated copy of Geothe's Theory of Colour, one can presume that Turner approved the German philosophers' idea that colours imparted a state of mood and emotion. 

Consider the above background to contextualise this set - the paints having been purposefully created to emulate Turner's own paint materials, their feel and texture, utilising historical pigments of the day. Expect a harder consistency where the colours will need to be worked in using hot water, to help 'pick-up' pigment. Each pigment is delivered in a bare bone recipe, using the finest binding ingredients (Sudanese gum arabic and Tuscan Acacia Honey) giving each hue a free rein at self-expression. 

Included: 12 watercolour wholepans, a ceramic palette and wooden box. 
Consider adding a paintbrush which can be purchased here
Vegetarian: yes
Vegan: No (contains honey binder)

Each pigment has a special story and has lovingly been sourced by Rebecca and Pip - here is some background to each colour. 

To see the palette in action, please watch Victotostudio's beautiful unboxing and demonstration (not sponsored, not gifted)

Madder Lake; used as a textile dye by the ancient Egyptians, madder is one of the most widely used pigments in antiquity. A deep red-brown; it becomes a warm red-rose as a wash. This is an exceptional small batch production. 

Oxford Bluestone Green Earth; the British answer to 'terre verte'; a colour used since antiquity, often for underpainting lighter flesh tones to neutralise the effects of pinks and reds. It is hand dug and carefully processed to produce this unique, transparent tone. Heavy granulation. 

Oxford Ochre: iron-rich stone is milled from a working quarry in North Oxfordshire to be processed into this semi-transparent deep yellow-orange shade. Ochre is in fact a prehistoric pigment not out of place in cave paintings. 

Gamboge: a deep saffron yellow that is traditionally used to dye monks robes, the colour representing the earth and the nourishment it provides, apart from materialistic whims. The pigment itself is extracted from the resin of the evergreen gamboge tree. 

Davys Grey; named after 19th century artist and engraver Henry Davy, this gentle green-grey is very transparent and is often used to moderate strong colours and control staining pigments. The mudstone is extracted from a working quarry in North Oxfordshire and then carefully pulverised.

Cinnabar; a bright, strong vermillion made from crushed Cinnabar 'strawberries' - mineral deposits found at the Tuscan volcano Monte Amiata. This colour was used as the principal red in painting until the 20th century and the introduction of Cadmium red.  

Azurite; A deep, bright and semi-opaque blue made from natural copper carbonate - only stones of the highest quality are carefully ground, washed and then sieved by hand to produce this which was once the most important blue throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Lapis Lazuli; a gentle mid-shade of the more commonly known ultramarine colour, this South American Lapis is a pure, clean pigment. Historically rare and often seen as sacred, Lapis is often found on the dress of the Madonna. 

Indigo; whilst there is written evidence of the use of Indigo in Ancient Rome, its first reported use in India was by Marco Polo in the 13th century. Still produced in India today, this natural Indigo creates a dense, dark blue which is quite permanent and semi-transparent. 

Bloodstone Grey; a mix special to Wallace Seymour of Lapis Lazuli, Davy's Grey and Florence Red. This pigment works best as a wash where the 3 colours reveal themselves...

Vermilion; like its counterpart Cinnabar, this gentle yet bright red has been essential pigment to the artist's palette for centuries. It is dense and opaque with good covering power. 

Pictured here:
Courtesy of the Tate Collection:
A Beginning (after c.1830) (Tate ref D36044)
A Beginning (after c.1830) (Tate ref D36304)
Hulks on the Tamar: Twilight (c.1813) (Tate ref D17169)
Sunset (1845) (Tate ref D35990)

Courtesy of Royal Academy:

Travelling watercolour box and test paper owned by J.M.W. Turner, R.A (ca. 1842)

Swatches and illustration courtesy of Claire Fletcher