The city of Jingdezhen is renowned for their porcelain painting techniques. One of their famous enamel glazes is called Gucai. This set from Paul Rubens contains watercolors, not enamels, but they certainly capture the feel of porcelain painting on paper.
As soon as I opened this box of watercolors, I knew I had a problem!
They’re beautifully embossed, but as soon as I started using them, the embossing would be lost. I was eager to see what the colors were like, though, so I sighed deeply, and started a color chart.
GUCAI Pearlescent Watercolors – The Colors
I did lose the embossing on the paints, but had great fun exploring the colors. There are thirty-six pearlescent paints in the set, so there is a color for almost any purpose.
It isn’t easy to photograph or scan these colors and capture the way they shine, but even in the scans you can see the wide range of colors.
A couple of them are very light, but most have deep color. They are all very transparent but are highly concentrated so they can easily be used on their own, or as a glaze to enhance non-pearlescent colors.
On black, the colors are even more vibrant, but some appear closer in color.
Here you can see the water I used to clean my brush between colors. The colors are mixed with an iridescent medium (probably mica) and it’s mesmerizing, watching the shine swirl through the water!
All the text in this set is in Chinese so I had to rely on the information I found online. I was not able to find any pigment names or index information.
Online, the set is labeled artist-grade, and that the paints are made with natural minerals. They have no formaldehyde or benzene and have a certification of Environmental Protection, as well as passing ISO certification and Europe and America UL, CE.
There isn’t much color shift — the colors are pretty much the same dry as they are wet. However, since these are pearlescent they do look different in different light.
GUCAI Pearlescent Watercolors – Packaging
The paints come in a beautiful cardboard box with a traditional portrait from the Tang Dynasty. The pans are not attached in any way, so it is relatively easy to spill them out.
Fortunately, there is a number on the bottom of each pan, which corresponds to a number on the box, so it is easy to put them back in order.
The pans are larger than either traditional half pans or full pans from the Western style. Aside from getting more paint, they are excellent for large brushes.
Not all the pans had the same amount of paint. More were almost completely full than not. I’m not sure if it is because some colors are more expensive, or a quality control issue.
There was another difference that was notable. When you added water, some of the paints became very mushy, some stayed hard, and others rewet just enough.
The hard ones were the ones with the lightest color. I had to be careful with the mushy ones. It was easy to pick up too much of the paint and it would leave specks of color that could be peeled off later.
Most fell into the just right category.
I have to say that I usually have trouble painting with pearlescent colors. There was nothing about this set, that I haven’t encountered with other pearlescent pan paints. I did find it easier to rewet them. They were easier to rewet than the tube paints I’ve tried, once dried in the palette.
These colors are excellent for decorative work. With the right amount of water, they’re all easy to rewet and spread on the paper.
As I mentioned before, it’s difficult to capture the shine, and the colors look different according to the light. My ‘shine’ photos are more accurate in color than the scans.
The colors are so beautiful on black! Even the lighter ones show up with some color behind them.
The photo shows just how brilliant the colors are.
Sometimes metallic, pearlescent or iridescent colors are best used in small areas because they are all the same intensity. That can make a painting confusing to the eye.
With this set, I can paint larger areas because there is such a wide range of colors. I can pick and choose which ones worked best together.
With larger areas of these pearlescent colors, the scanner was able to pick up truer color and more of the shine.
You can see that both the scan and photo are almost the same in color and shine.
Although this set can easily be used on its own, the paints are also wonderful to add shine to other non-shiny paints.
Out of all my examples, you can see the most difference in color just because of the lighting.
The ‘shine’ photo here is closer to the real color. The pearlescents really fool the scanner.
GUCAI Pearlescent Watercolor – Overall
The Paul Rubens GUCAI Pearlescent Classical Watercolor Paints Set has 36 traditional colors with a pearlescent shine.
All the text in the set is in Chinese, but online information identifies the paints as artist grade, made of natural minerals, and having international safety certifications. There are no color names or pigment information available.
Most of the colors are highly concentrated, rewet easily, and spread beautifully.
- Paul Rubens GUCAI Pearlescent Classical Watercolor Paints Set
- Super Vision Watercolor Paint Set
- Paul Rubens Professional Wash/Mop Round Squirrel Paint Brush, Size 4
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I received this set of GUCAI Pearlescent Classical Watercolor Paints, from Paul Rubens, for the purposes of this review. I received no other considerations, though this post may contain affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.Recommended3 recommendationsPublished in