Friday, November 5, 2021

This month I am reviewing items that will be perfect for capturing the essence of autumn color, which is a nice departure from October’s monochromatic Inktober series. Spooky and moody transitions to the brilliant and cozy shades of nature. This week I am going to review a few products that I have not used before: Windsor & Newton watercolor Promarkers, the Art-n-Fly Premium watercolor pad, and Canson’s Artist Series Mix Media pad. 

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Image of Windsor & Newton set of Basic watercolor Promarkers from
W&N Promarker Basic tones set
(image from

 Windsor and Newton Watercolor Markers 

I bought two sets of the Windsor & Newton watercolor markers and two individual shades earlier this year. I have used them more for coloring books than to make artworks with them. I have loved using them in my better coloring books because they do not bleed through the paper as easily as alcohol markers do. Here are the sets and single markers I have bought:

Landscape Set of 6 Amazon link:

Basic Tones Set of 12 Amazon link:

Gamboge Hue individual Amazon link:

Pale Rose individual Amazon link:

Compared to typical brush pens with water-based ink, these markers put down more pigment, which can take a lot more water than the more translucent brush pens. I have been able to make washes by “drawing” in the wells of my porcelain paint pallet and adding water, but this is a very wasteful endeavor if you are washing a large area. In my opinion, the W &N watercolor markers are best used for travel and plein air painting with small works of art. They give you the control of a marker and work well with your water brushes (I mean the refillable ones with water wells, not brush markers).

While these markers have excellent pigments and high-quality nibs, they are pricey. That comes with the Windsor & Newton name. That said, I have layered these with traditional watercolor and gouache paints, watercolor and InkTense pencils, brush markers, and dry media with very few problems. The colors mix well with one another, so you can get away with a basic color set at first and save some money. The markers are double ended with a finer bullet tip for details and a solid but flexible brush- like tip that can cover larger areas with some pressure. While the watercolor Promarkers look a lot like alcohol markers, they do not fill solid areas without streaking. You can create some lovely textures with them, but do not expect to get solid cartoon cell type of coloring out of them.  

Image of Art-n-Fly Premium watercolor pad from
Art-n-Fly Premium Watercolor Pad
(image from


Art-n-Fly Premium Watercolor Pad 

 I have talked about the difference between cotton rag and pulp watercolor papers in a past post where I went into some detail, and I recommend reading that older post if you are interested. I was interested in this Art-n-Fly Premium Watercolor Pad because it is 100% cotton paper, which is hardier than pulp and can accept more wet washes and surface scrubbing. This watercolor pad contains 15 sheets of cold-press acid-free 140 lb. paper that is glued on two sides to ensure your work stays flat while you are painting and dries flat for presentation. The back is a heavy cardboard that provides adequate support for painting on the go, and the fold-over front can be tucked neatly behind the pad to stay out of your way while working. The 9 x 12-inch size was only about $17, which is much more affordable than Arches and Windsor & Newton watercolor blocks of the same size and weight.

I tried the W & N markers on it, and I should warn you that this paper will suck the life out of them if you draw directly onto the dry paper. I doubt that is the suggested way to use the markers, but I wanted to try it out to see what happened. The paper takes traditional watercolor washes rather well, and you can “erase” areas with extra water without destroying the surface.   

image of the Canson Artist Series Mix Media pad from Amazon. com
Canson Artist Series Mixed Media pad
(image from

Canson Artists’ Mixed Media Pad 

I have posted about the Canson XL mixed media pads previously because I have used so many of them over the years, but Canson also makes a higher quality Artist Series Mix Media pad that I decided to test out for comparison. First and foremost, this pad has heavier paper (148 lb. versus the 98 lb. XL paper) so it can endure a little more surface scrubbing and water. The acid-free paper offers two surfaces: a medium tooth front and finer back side. This means you can layer more dry media and apply more water with your wet media, but you still have the smoother surface on the reverse side that will work better for pen and ink and marker. I bought the 8.5 X 5.5-inch size wire-bound pad to try out, but there are other sizes available, including a hardback version that is great for preserving finished works.

This pad is not glue bound, so there is a bit of warping with water techniques, but the paper flattens nicely after it is dry. I would normally use a bit of painter’s tape along the free edge to keep the page flat as it dries, but I experimented with leaving it free, and there was no permanent warping. While this is a pulp paper, you don’t get those dreaded dingleberries as easily from the surface when you rework areas. I think I am going to buy the Artist series from now on, after I use up the XL pads I currently own.

I will keep playing with my watercolors on the new papers and give updates, but I love what I see so far. What are your favorite color media for autumnal art? I look forward to your replies!