Let’s talk about Sennelier Watercolors.
Sennelier is a French company that manufactures quality honey-based watercolors for both students and professional artists. They have been operating for decades and have catered to the old masters as well. I heard from friends that if you visit their store in France, you can either get the prepared halfpans and paints or you can consult with them and let them know how much of a particular hue you will need- they will give you the exact amount of pigments (powder) that you will need to complete your art work. Their second floor is also brimming with all kinds of artists and archival papers where many artists today source their materials from. They also make different media such as oil, acrylic paints, pastels, papers, and varnishes.
To know more about Sennelier, visit their website:
What I have is the 12-color set with 6 free colors, which I heard was a promotional item they offered. It’s their artist-grade line. I got this set a few months back in Hong Kong for a fair price (around Php 3,700 or HKD600). I immediately grabbed this and calculated the cost conversion. I think 600 Signapore dollars is a good rate. I’ve heard really good reviews about this brand and I was delighted to see it had 6 free colors so I just had to get it since I trust that it would be a good investment. Later I would find out that the free colors is a anniversary promotional thing Sennelier did.
So this is how the box looked like complete with price tag:
Here is the inside of the metal case with a few additional pans I placed- bottom right area
The original colors are in the 12-color set are:
Lemon Yellow, French Vermilion, Carmine, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna,Warm Sepia, Green Light, Forest Green, FrenchUltramarine Deep, Phthalocyanine Blue and Dioxazine Purple, and Payne’s Gray.
I had fun swatching the colors here below. I used 200GSM Cold Press Canson Watercolor paper – a brand that is most accessible here to let others know what to expect using a common paper brand.
Most of these colors are either transparent or semi-transparent except for French Vermilion – rated opaque. I’m surprised at how it’s rated such when this is my go-to color for skin tones but I use it in diluted washes so I don’t mind its “opacity.”
The promotional free colors are:
Naples Yellow Deep, Bright Red, Cinereous Blue, Venetian Red, Raw Umber, and Ivory Black
All free colors are rated opaque except for Raw Umber which is rated transparent but the opacity of the hues are not a problem if you use the colors in watered-down mixes.
The set has lovely colors but I also wanted to get to know the full range of colors I can do with the “purest” primaries that it has so below is how the colors turn out using only Lemon Yellow and French Ultramarine Deep as constant colors while I changed the red hues.
I added in Opera Rose that I had (not from this set) just to see how its vibrancy plays with the colors. I’m mostly satisfied with using Carmine the most because of the clean mixing of all secondary colors. I least like Alizarin Crimson for that as it leans to a more to muddy mixes but great neutrals! I would love to keep using this for just gray mixes but I can achieve that all the same with different red. Plus the fact that most references tell us Alizarin Crimson is one of the most fugitive colors available (meaning the can’t withstand fading over the years) along with Opera Rose and Madder Red. Alizarin is a cool red but I observe that this hue in Sennelier feels like a maroon shade.
There is always a confusion about Ultramarine and Phtalo Blue, whether either is a cool or warm blue, and this may differ with various brands. So at first I am unsure if Sennelier’s French Ultramarine Deep is cool or warm since the don’t have descriptive labels unlike the “Green Shade” & “Red Shade” of Phtalo Blue of Daniel Smith to let us know towards which side of the spectrum it goes to. I am only sure that Carmine is a cool red and seeing as how Ultramarine and Carmine mixes nicely here I’d say we have a cool blue here.
So I think I will more likely use French Vermilion, Carmine and Bright Red.
Now let’s mix with Phtalo Blue!
French Vermilion is really an orangey red so it should naturally get a bit neutral mixed with blue but I did not experience this mixing Vermilion and Ultramarine (cool blue as I mentioned). However, mixing it with the Phtalo blue in this set made for a tad bit dull purple. Mixing Phtalo blue with the Carmine turned out good but like the previous experience in mixing with Alizarin Crimson, I got a very desaturated mixture again. So i have mixed feelings about using Phtalo Blue, I think it’s a cool blue but I keep seeing statements from different sources that it’s should be a warm blue. Perhaps it’s like Daniel Smith’s Green Shade Phtalo blue. I’ll still use this blue hue to add variety to my palette.
Stay tuned for my next article on how I use which particular colors for what subject matter!
For more info on other colors of Sennelier see the chart below (also available from their official chart)
Over all, I really love this set as I can achieve such a big range of colors and hues! After months of having this set I was able to create over a hundred paintings already and I still have a lot of the paints left. Here are some paintings I have made with these paints:
I especially love the vibrance this brand gives me while still giving me allowance to create more toned-down/realistic muted tones. Sennelier is now my favorite of the many paint brands existing to date!
If you are ready to leave your student-grade set and bring your art up a notch, this is a very reliable set so check out this listing on Amazon (each purchase through this link helps keep my website up and running):