Review of Winsor & Newton Cotman Field Plus Set

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This is the Cotman Field Plus Watercolor Set that I ordered for sketching and journaling.

Curry's had it for $40 plus shipping, which was about the same as if I had ordered it from the US.

The problem with ordering from the US is that unless the supplier ships by the US Post Office you're likely to find a delivery guy at your door demanding some outrageous brokerage fee if you want your merchandise.

I had ordered this particular model after checking out everything that was available out there -- in m price range, that is.  I liked all the features, including some that other sets just don't offer:

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    ◆    Three separate mixing trays;
    ◆    A small water bottle that fits into its own little space when put away, and can hang from the palette when you're working if you wish (as in the right, on my photo). The bottle holds 1/3 of a cup, enough to fill one of those little cups six times;
    ◆    Two water cups that clip right onto the palette, with four slots to choose from;
    ◆    Thumb rings on both sides (the one on the right is for lefties);
    ◆    A good selection of pigments in half-pans;
    ◆    A small synthetic brush and two different slots for it;
    ◆    A compact design. When closed, the kit measures 5-1/2"x4-1/2"x1-1/2" (14x11x4 cm) and weighs 8.6 oz  (243 g).

Those were the Pros. Now for the Cons.

1. The kit I got had two major flaws: (a) it didn't close properly, so that if you turned it upside-down, everything would fall out; and (b) the bottle leaked.

It turned out that Winsor & Newton had received a defective batch from the manufacturer, and a replacement shipment is on the way. W&N promised to replace my box as soon as the new ones are available. (They offered me the option of receiving another model instead, but it didn't suit me.) In the meantime, they have sent me a replacement bottle, which doesn't leak.

2. Remember, this is a Cotman set. Cotman is Winsor & Newton's "student" line. So that the pigments are not "artist quality", but they're good enough for now, as I learn to sketch on location. When I'm ready to switch to artist quality, the half-pans are the same size, so I can just switch the pigments that matter. Or do what many artists do, just squeeze some tube colour into the empty pans.

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One pigment that doesn't work is the Cobalt Hue -- it just looks like a weak Ultramarine, as you can see on this sampler that I made. The idea of having two blues is to have a cold one and a warm one, and so I replaced the Cobalt with Prussian Blue from the Artists line (top, right).

I doubt that I will ever use the Chinese White. Should I want a white paint, I would use gouache, or maybe one of those gel pens which I have yet to try. I'm tempted to just fill that slot with another green pigment.
Winsor & Newton were very nice about the whole thing, though they took forever to answer my email. I had to ask Curry's to give them a little push.

I haven't had good luck with Winsor & Newton products lately: a couple of months ago I purchased several tubes of their watercolours and received a mail-in coupon for a free sable brush. The brush -- a No. 3 round from their Artists Water Colour Sable line -- arrived very nicely packaged in a large tube, but unfortunately it was defective. It's very thin, and the point is double and it ends in a curve. It's unusable. I suspect that's how they get rid of their "seconds". I hope I'm wrong, as that would not be worthy of that famous name.


Amazonhas a terrific price on it -- I wish I had looked there first! Check them out!

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