Watercolor Review: Boku-Undo Gansai Aurora Palette

Review by Tina Koyama

I always say (to myself and others) that I’m not a sheeny, shiny, glittery gal (I’ve only ever purchased one bottle of shimmery ink, and I gave it away soon after). Obviously a liar, I recently found myself craving some sheeny, shiny, glittery watercolors. The Boku-Undo Gansai Watercolor Palette in the Aurora colors (6/$14.75) looked mouth-watering.

Before I plant my face into the sheen, I thought I’d mention that I’m already a fan of the Boku-Undo mini palettes of unique watercolors. The E-Sumi palette I reviewed a few years ago are a lot of fun to use when I’m in a dark mood. While the e-sumi palette is subdued, the Aurora set is on the opposite end of the scale: It’s all about the dazzling light.

The set includes (from left) gold, silver, red, green, blue and purple. I used both my scanner and my phone to photograph swatches in direct daylight on black and white papers. Each time, the swatches look very different! 

On white paper, the shimmer is apparent in direct light, but the hues are difficult to differentiate and even seem to change. I’m not sure they are worth using on white paper. 

On dark paper, however, the effect is entirely different. The sparkly, metallic particles glow on black paper. I rubbed a finger across the dried swatches, and some sparkly flecks smeared a bit like powder.

It was obvious that I had to make a test sketch on black paper, so I used a black Stillman & Birn Nova sketchbook. And I had just the right reference photo to use! During the summer months when the sun doesn’t go down until 8 or 9 p.m., my spouse guy and I take after-dinner walks through the neighborhood to enjoy the light. The gorgeous “golden hour” is too brief to sketch on location, so I snap a lot of reference photos to sketch from later (like the long, dismal winters when the sun goes down at 4). The photo I used wasn’t as dark as my sketch appears, but the low, warm light gave everything a lovely glow. 

Whatever gives these paints their sparkle also makes them thicker than typical watercolors. I applied them fairly thick to retain as much concentrated shimmer as possible, and they felt a bit creamy rather than watery.

Oooh, these paints are fun on black paper! I have fully embraced my inner glitter gal.

Tina Koyama is an urban sketcher in Seattle. Her blog is Fueled by Clouds & Coffee, and you can follow her on Instagram as Miatagrrl.

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