Saturday, 26 September 2015

Winsor & Newton change watercolour paint tubes - again!

A lot of artists will be very pleased that Winsor & Newton have listened to all the complaints about the design of the new tubes for professional water colour paints - and have changed them - again!

There's nothing on the website as yet - and I can't find a press release but the announcement is on the W&N Facebook Page (on 16th September) about their plans to change the tubes.

No announcement as yet as to when you will find them at your preferred supplier.

Below you can see the old 'new' tube on the left and the revised 'new' tube on the right.

Winsor & Newton Professional Water Colour - another change of tube
(image from W&N on Facebook
The main changes are:
  • Name of the colour: this is now much more obvious and much easier to read at the cap end due to the improvement in contrast between the text and the background. It's still in three languages as before - 
  • Actual Colour Swatch: much larger and goes from being a small brush stroke to being a much obvious block of colour at the cap end
  • W & N name and logo: moves down the tube so that all the core information is at the top. Slight redesign of text and more prominence for the griffin logo.
I think the changes made were much needed and a major improvement which I'm sure will be welcomed by very many artists who use W&N watercolours.

They may also get back those artists who decided to stop using W&N paints after they found they couldn't tell which tube they were picking up.

 With any luck W&N will eventually realise that:
  • quite a lot of artists would rather like to have the white matte background back as well. I've yet to find an artist who actually likes the shiny metal tube. Shiny when it comes to reading is 'bad news'.  As soon as the new tubes came out, one professional artist I know made a point of showing me how impossible it was to read any text on the tube under a bright light.
  • addressing the change in quality concerns are ALSO important. 
When I interview botanical artists who paint in watercolour at the RHS Botanical Art Show II always make a point of asking them which paint their prefer. It was the case for while that almost all used to say Winsor & Newton. However in the last 2-3 years, as they have replaced their 'old' tubes of Winsor and Newton Water Colour Paints with the new paints, I'm now hearing that people experienced disatisfaction with the quality of paint performance and are now also trying other brands to get the quality they require.

Winsor & Newton and the Manufacture of Water Colour Paints

The Winsor & Newton Paint Factory in Whitefriars Avenue, Harrow - which opened in 1937 and used to make all the watercolour paints - closed in 2011 after ColArt (who own W&N as well as a number of other famous brands) moved paint production to the Lefranc & Bourgeois factory in France.

(Do NOT be misled by this video of the old Wealdstone factory uploaded to YouTube in 2012 AFTER the factory closed)

Changes in paint were noticed by both retailers and artists after this. 

It's not entirely clear where watercolour paint is now made - the website is very curiously silent on the matter. However the ColArt website indicates that the company has two art material plants in China.

It's all very curious in an age when most of W&N's main competitors in quality watercolour production now make a virtue of how and where they manufacture. (e.g. Daniel Smith; M. Graham)

I don't think people mind the location of manufacturing changing.
What they do mind is when the quality of the manufacture changes.
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