Review and Giveaway - Aquanut Handcrafted Watercolor #Aquanut #XanaduArtStudio #Watercolor

A while back I won a cool set of handcrafted watercolors from Margaret Zaleski of XanaduArt Studios in Woodstock (you can see the review here).  You can find her on Facebook and Instagram and she sells a full range of art supplies as well as her watercolors at Shopify.

At the time of the giveaway, Margaret had just begun making watercolors. She's expanded her color range, and now makes watercolors using the old standard gum arabic, and some using the newer binder Aquazol.  The brand name for her watercolors is Aquanut (not to be confused with Aquanaut!).

She was kind enough to send me a set of four colors in one her designer tins, as well as 12 Aquadots for my review, and I decided to buy another tin set of four colors, so that I could have a giveaway, too!

Although Margaret made swatches for each of the colors, I decided to make a chart of my own and I discovered something that was more apparent when I did.

All of the colors that I received are transparent or semi-transparent.  Even yellow ochre, which is usually an opaque color.

It's really hard to scan these colors properly because ... they ... sparkle!

The sparkles come from mica.  Some of the colors, like copper and gold, are have a high glitter and others like the Dreamcycle barely sparkle at all.  This means you can paint whimsical creatures that are almost holographic and also paint realistic pieces that only sparkle if the light hits them just right.

Although, all the colors I received have some mica, not all of the colors that she has available do.

The paints are sold in half-pans, vials, and as sample Aquadots.

The Sample Aquadots
If you've ever bought sample dots from other companies or seen photos of them, you know that most are tiny amounts that only let you get a slight idea of the color.

The Aquadots(currently sold for $2 a piece) are not  small. Each dot is approximately a 2 1/2 ml size (about a quarter pan).  In this photo, you can see two of the Aquadots compared to a sheet of Daniel Smith dots.

The Aquadots are dried watercolor and need to be reconstituted before use.  Margaret recommends water and a drop of glycerin to help soften them, but water alone will do the job.  It may just take a little longer.

You do need a container to put the Aquadots in.  I had an empty plastic watercolor palette that had just the right number of wells for all mine.  Once the Aquadots are reconstituted, they look pretty much the same as any other paint that you might have squeezed from a tube.

I almost hated reconstituting the Aquadots- they're cute.  I suppose you could just run a brush across them, but I don't think you'd get much color that way.

Out of the sixteen Aquadots I was given, one dot was broken.  This makes absolutely no difference to the quality of the paint - you're going to smoosh it all up anyway.

So if you are curious and want to try out these paints without investing much money - you can buy a few Aquadots for $2 each, and see how you like them.  You can also buy half-pans for $7 and 5 ml. Vials for $9.   In some cases, the prices may vary because the paint has more expensive ingredients. Not all colors will always be available.  You can buy these here.

If you buy $20 worth of Aquanut watercolors, you get a designer tin.

The Tins 
The watercolor sets come in designer tins that are cute as a bug.  They hold 4 half-pans and fit easily in the palm of your hand.

The Paints
From the website: "Handcrafted Watercolor, Highly Pigmented and made from Williamsburg Pigments. Contains: Gum Arabic or Aquazol, New Zealand Honey, Glycerin, Ox Gall, Clove Oil May Contain: Mica  Lightfastness: Not Yet Rated  Semi-Translucent  *Prices may vary based on pigment cost per ounce"

I mentioned that Margaret uses gum arabic in some of her watercolors and Aquazol in others.  I didn't notice too much difference in how the paints handled but it seemed as though the Aquazol brands dried harder and took a little more time to rewet.

There was some difference in consistency between colors. In that respect, they seem more like paint squeezed from tubes and allowed to dry, then if you bought a set of pan-filled watercolors.  Some of the paints stayed fairly tacky.  That would be the honey - it's something that also happens with M Graham and Sennelier and other brands that use honey.  On the other hand, honey makes for brighter colors and smoother washes.

Some of the colors become very liquid when you use them, so you would need to be sure and keep the containers upright until they dry out again.

One of the things I like about these watercolors is that I choose the intensity that I want. When I'm painting animals....

...or nature studies, I often go for lower key, earthy look, and I can get that by reducing the amount of water I use.

Or I really work up the paints and get deeper values and more intense color  like I did with this Ragbag Bear.

None of the colors I received were staining, so they make for easy lifting.  I did a lot of it with this painting, to show the colors underneath and soften edges.

There is a caution that comes with these paints. Even though they're sparkly and pretty they aren't meant for children.  "Caution: Not for human consumption. Some pigments may be toxic. Keep away from children and pets."

The Pigments
For those who like to know the Pigment information, these are the colors that Margaret gave me.  She has many other colors available.

Color Name
Pigment Index No.
Binder Used
Tree Moss
Gum Arabic
Cosmic Turquoise
PBr24/Jaquard Teal
Gum Arabic
Gum Arabic
Gum Arabic
Cherry Bomb
PR112/PV19 (RS)
Gum Arabic
Red Violet
PV19 (RS)/PV14
Gum Arabic
Gum Arabic
Toad (formerly Frog)
Gum Arabic
Blue Moon
Gum Arabic
Gum Arabic
Yellow Ochre
Christmas Pine
PG7/Pale Gold
Ultramarine Blue
J.Fuchia /PV19/PV14
No info available

About the Giveaway Prize: Aquanut Primary Set D &amp & a Galaxy AquaDot

Pigments in Prize Package
    • Ultramarine Blue-PB28  
    • Quinacridone Red-PV19   
    • Cobalt Yellow-PY40
    • Gold
  • Dot colors: NAME-PIGMENT INDEX #
    • Galaxy-PB28/Galaxy Mica


Examples of colors in the Primary Set D tin and the colors you can mix with them

Who Can Enter? Must be a resident of the United States and over 18 years old.

What Is the Prize?  One winner will receive: 
  • Aquanut watercolor Primary Set D: half-pans of red, yellow, blue and gold 
  • a designer tin 
  • a pillbox tin
  • Galaxy Aquadot  
  • a Koh-i-noor Waterbrush/water bottle set
  • a cloth bag to bind them all

If you don't want to wait to see if you won you can buy Aquanut watercolors at the Xanadu Art Studio online store.

How to Enter?  

  • I am running this giveaway here at my blog and also on Instagram.  You can enter at one or both places.  
    • To Enter from the Blog: (worth 5 entries): Type or cut and paste these words: 'I want to win Aquanut Watercolors' into the subject line of an email, and send it to me at  LifeImitatesDoodles [at] gmail [dot] com. 
    • To Enter from Instagram go to my post here

When does the giveaway end? The giveaway ends Tuesday, May 8, 2018 at 11:59 PM PDT.
 I'll notify the winner on Wednesday. If the winning entry came through this review post, I'll respond to the email sent to enter.  If the winning entry comes through Instagram, I'll notify the winner by  Instagram DM.

Winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be drawn. 

Who is Giving Away the Prize? I bought the tin of Aquanut Primary Set D, Waterbrush & bottle set,  for this giveaway.  Margaret threw in the Galaxy dot, and was so generous with the paints that she gave me, so she deserves most of the credit for this giveaway.

Margaret at XanaduArtStudios sent me the gum arabic Aquanut tin of  tree moss, cosmic turquoise, bark, dreamcycle, and Dots in red violet, cherry bomb, blue moon, tree frog, and toad, and Dots of Aquaszol solar, yellow ochre, ocean wave, ultramarine blue, ultraviolet, copper as a gift.  She did know that I would review them, but all opinions are my own. I received no other consideration.