Some time ago, I received a package from Golden Artist Colors. It contained a sampling of their brand new QoR (pronounced Core) watercolors. All of the Golden Artist Educators and Golden Working Artists were asked to experiment with QoR and then give feedback on how it performed and how it compared to other watercolor brands.

I sat on the goods for quite awhile since my watercolor experience is almost non-existent and I wasn’t sure how to proceed. The only watercolors I had ever used were inexpensive cake watercolors when I taught elementary school art. And then only to help the children create their own fabulous artwork. I myself had little luck using the watercolors. I figured right off that this wouldn’t count as a legitimate comparison to QoR.

I went to the library and picked up several books on the subject but just couldn’t manage to get started.

Then a flash of brilliance hit my brain. I thought to myself, “I’ll call on the WEGOs”.  And so I did.

WEGO stands for Watercolor Exploration Group of Oracle. The WEGOs are a remarkable group of seven women who have gotten together every Wednesday afternoon for the last 6+ years (to be precise, their journey started on May 28, 2008 but who’s counting) to create with watercolor. Over the years, the group has accumulated a vast amount of knowledge and experience with the medium. They assign themselves a project/experiment every week to be completed for the next meeting. They attend workshops in the Tucson area and around the country as individuals or in groups. Then they teach each other what they learned. Most remarkable of all is that they remain close friends, supporting each other in their art and personal lives. They say they’re not competitive with each other at all. Amazing!

The WEGOs were kind enough to come to my studio on a Wednesday afternoon several weeks ago. Their task—to experiment with the QoR, to compare it to the other watercolors they use, and to give me feedback. Plus have fun of course. And as a big bonus, I would be able to observe and learn and do some experimenting myself.

For starters I had no clue what to do with tubes of watercolor. My first surprise is that this group (as well as many other watercolorists) doesn’t use the watercolors straight out of the tube. Instead, they use palettes with dividers in which the tube colors are allowed to dry, each in their own separate little space. Each time they’re used they are moistened with water. When the painting session is over, the watercolors dry and are packed away ready to be used next time. Voila!

In order to get set up, Nyla Butler came over a few days before the get together with a supply of styrofoam plates she’d subdivided into sections using silicone to create a barrier between each section. Nyla and I had a mini-party applying a blob of each QoR color into its’ own little section on enough plates for each of the participants.


Two days later, the watercolor blobs had dried. The WEGOs arrived at my studio. Above, you can see them poised and ready to jump into their task.


Each person took a different approach to their experiments. Above is a chart comparing QoR to several other brands of the same color. And you can see the nifty plate with with its silicone barriers.


Since the group uses a variety of different brands of watercolors, there was a lot of chart making and comparing going on. On the left is a previously made chart and on the right is a new chart including the QoR watercolors.


And here is another participant’s chart.


Washes and charts.


Working away…


Here’s a chart in progress with a sketch of the pears included. Lovely isn’t it!


More experimenting.


Working from a magazine illustration.



The WEGOs took a well deserved break to refuel. Above is my famous (in Oracle) guacamole with chips, apples straight off our tree and last but not least further down the table and not visible here are homemade cookies.


Back to work. Having fun.


Above, Jill is concentrating on pears, experimenting with washes and lifting the paint.


A  landscape in progress.


I thought this was an interesting way to experiment with the colors. Each band is being build up with layers using a variety of techniques.


The pears again.


Apples. The texture is the result of QoR Watercolor Ground. The ground can be applied to all kinds of papers and a variety of other materials, such as canvas, to create an absorbent surface suitable for watercolor. Before the workshop I coated some big sheets of Arches 88 paper with 2 coats of QoR watercolor ground. Arches 88 is a smooth, heavy printmaking paper. You can see the texture created by using a coarse bristle brush, applying a coat on direction, letting it dry and then applying a second coat going the other direction. Lots of interesting possibilities for experimentation with this stuff.




More pears.


Experiments using Yupo.


Poppies in progress.




At the end of the afternoon, everyone commented on their reactions to QoR. There was a lot of enthusiasm. The group felt that the intensity of the QoR colors was remarkable. They liked the liftability as well as the blending capabilities. There were lots more specific observations, too.

So there you have it. A great afternoon with a great group. Many thanks to the WEGOs. And to Golden, of course.

I don’t think I’m on track to becoming a watercolorist, but I do think I’m going to have fun experimenting. And I’m going to bring QoR along next time I travel—so portable, such beautiful colors—maybe I’ll finally get around to creating a travel journal!