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.


Paula Valencia said...

I agree with Katherine Tyrell that a white background for the paint tube would be easier to read in all circumstances.

Unknown said...

They should have just stuck with the artist's watercolour design. Much more attractive and told you which pigments were in the paint rather than just the pigment codes.

njart73 said...

I do not understand why Col Arts decided to switch production to France. I guess that
production costs are lower. Yet with the UK leaving the EU who knows how that will
affect W & N . This also applies to Liquitex which is made in France. As far as I
know the only paints produced in China, {Col Arts}, would be Galleria Acrylic and
Basic Liquitex acrylic paint. I also think that Cotman watercolors are now made
in China. I have begun to paint with Basics since I have to stay on a budget. I have had
good results and no problems painting with them. I have only a few tubes but the quality has been consistent with each tube. I have used Dick Blick Stdio which are their
student grade paint. These acrylics were made in India but they are now made in the
Mauritus. I have found them to be a good student grade acrylic. I would recommend
though if one is on a budget to consider Amsterdam Standard acrylic or Daler Rowney
System 3 Original. I like both of these acrylics very much. Hobby Lobby , {US}, sells
the larger tubes {with flip top caps} at a very good price. While the Daler Rowney Cryla are very good paints both they and the System 3 smaller tubes have some of the worst caps I have seen. When screwing them on they can break. DR needs to re engineer these paint tubes caps asap. Amsterdam is made in their Appeldorn Holland facility and DR is made in
their UK plant.
I do not buy W & N watercolors for I think that for the price they are too
expensive. Watercolor is not my primary medium though but if I purchase watercolors
I gravitate towards Daler Rowney or Maimeri and sometimes Cotman. W & N has brought
new products, watercolor and paint markers to the market. I doubt that they will
bring back their soft pastels. I have been painting for a long time and have many
back issues of American Artist magazine. I can go and read the W & N ads one which
featured a W & N employee who was in charge of the production of W & N Rose Madder
oil paint. Thinking about that ad I wonder how many W & N employees were fired
or had to leave when production moved to France ? I hope that Col Arts will not
let the quest for the bottom line cause the quality of their paints to suffer.
I also use W & N Artisan oils and the W & N oil paint sticks. I have had good
results with each and I found that the Artisan oils have strong pigment content.
Again I can only keep my fingers crossed that ColArts doesn't mess up these
products. Regarding the new tubes-I ask why ? The older design was fine and
I saw no reason to change. Who knows what goes through the minds of marketing
executives. Instead of changing the tubes why not keep improving the product.That
in my opinion is just good old fashioned common sense. I have some London oils
I do not know about anyone else I liked the older tubes with the numbers.

Melusine Leigh said...

At last I have found some information about what has been going on with Windsor and Newton. I always used their Artists range of tube colours until I was running out and bought the Professional range as a replacement. This was as expensive as ever but seemed a completely different paint from the Artists range,extended with a lot of vehicle and thus poorer in quality and economy.
(I had enough of the originals left to swatch them side by side to provide a comparison.)
I wrote to Windsor and Newton asking why they hadn't made it clear that the paint had been reformulated as well as repackaged, didn't get a reply, then wrote to Colart with the same query and response.
I discovered that most of my fellow professionals I spoke to had moved over to Schminke or Daniel Smith because of the same concerns and followed suit.
I have been left not only saddened but also furious that the Winsor and Newton publicity keeps emphasising the history of the company for all it is worth and its proud heritage whilst being very quiet about where it is now produced.

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