Another Groupon! Jerry’s Artarama, ends 8/20 (Tomorrow)

Groupon is giving you two Jerry’s Artarama options:

  • $15 for $30 worth of art supplies
  • $24 for $50 worth of custom framing

So you either get $15 free (Or “saved”), or $26 free in-store.



Groupon for Plaza Artist Materials:

Whoo boy. The back to school sales are in the air for art students (or non-students)! Thankfully we’ve scoped the Groupon $10 for $20 voucher at Plaza Artist Materials. So technically you get $10 off your next in-store Plaza purchase.

My suggestion? Plaza also has an on-going sale for the Plaza brand Oil Paints, which are actually the Richeson Shiva line, and artist quality:

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You can grab some 37 ml tubes of oil paints for $4.48 and under.

Gouache Single Paint Tubes vs. Sets

It can be hard to tell if a single tube of paint is “worth” its price. Even more so if tubes of paint don’t seem to come in the same sizes!

Here’s a quick comparison using gouache paints as an example:

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This 5 color set of M. Graham Gouache paints on Amazon is $25.99 – say about $26, meaning it’s about $5.20 a tube. Each tube of paint is a half ounce.

Now compare with another brand:

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Holbein 5 color mixing set – with 15 ml tubes, for $20.90. So about $4.18 a tube.

But wait – we’re comparing a half ounce to 15 mililiters. Luckily, that’s almost the same weight, if you do a conversion. A half ounce is about 14.7 ml, so they’re more or less the same amounts of paint.

Holbein’s paint set is cheaper all around.

But let’s also compare sets to single tubes. That same M. Graham Gouache paint tube of a half ounce of Cobalt Blue paint? If you buy it alone on Amazon, that’s now $6.65 – so in this case you’re paying $1.45 more to buy a single tube of the color. If you look at the single tube in the Holbein set, it’s about $6.89. Buying open-stock (or single tubes, in this case) is usually only cheaper in Art supply stores and when you’re buying more than a few colors, not on places like Amazon.

In any case, both of these sets are cheaper than buying the same single tubes, so if you wanted all five primary mixing colors of a gouache, try a set.

And in case you were wondering, it’s fair to check pigments against each other. The cost of a pigment can determine how expensive a paint ends up. These two blues are actually different pigments – Holbein is PB15 (Pthalo Blue), and M. Graham’s Cobalt is PB28 – which is Cobalt pigment. You can compare the Reds/Magentas in these sets as well: Holbein’s primary Magenta is actually Quinacridone Magenta (PR122), whereas M. Graham’s red is Naphthol Red (PR112). The former is a magenta (pinky-blue cool red), and the latter is a more scarlet (warm) red. Both are good, and they’re both good single pigment mixing paint colors. The difference in price here might just be pricier pigments included in the M. Graham set. And knowing that, you can choose whatever’s best – or cheapest.

Where to start: Watercolor sets

Watercolor is a medium of contradictions. Portable and simple. Difficult and muddy. Cheap and expensive. It’s easy to be confused as to what to buy, and without fail, most professional artists like to state that there’s no sense in buying student or “craft” grade watercolors. The cheap stuff, so they say, is no good. 

And they’re not entirely wrong. Artist grade watercolors are obviously of a higher quality than the “Cheap” stuff. Why? “Cheap” watercolor is made with more fillers and binder to pigment ratios. (This is true of most cheap things, the ratio lowers pigment/color to “other stuff” in the art supply.) But that’s no reason to break the budget in order to break into watercolors. 

Here’s how to find your best buys for a “beginner” watercolor set.


I’m going to divide these between Craft grades, Student Grades, and Artist (Studio) grades. I’m skipping past “Children’s” products – like Crayola, for example.

All my prices are listed at the time of writing.

Continue reading “Where to start: Watercolor sets”