My Favourite Botanical Watercolour Books

Today I endeavour to be more succinct! I know I have a habit of writing very loooooong blogs.

I cannot wait to introduce you to my favourite botanical watercolour books.

“But”, you might say, “I’m not interested in Botanical art!”

However, these books teach bucket loads on technique. So even if you are not interested in Botanical Art, you will still find a colossal amount of value in learning the techniques.

So, which are my favourite Botanical Watercolour Books?

Admission time: I love botanical art and I love botanical art books. Even if I didn’t paint, or wasn’t a keen botanical artist, I would still have bought these books. They are artworks by themselves.

I knew, when I first saw some of Anna Mason’s Youtube videos, that I would have to buy her books at some point.  Then I stumbled on Billy Showell! Needless to say, they are not the only botanical artists whose work makes me drool like a Bull Mastiff.

I knew, from reading reviews, that both Billy and Anna’s books contain a lot of information about technique. That is where my interest lays. Their books also contain step-by-step instructions for replicating their own work, and I know that these projects are very popular with a lot of people.

However, I see a greater value in learning techniques. When an art student learns a technique, they are free to apply it any way they see fit, to any artwork. They can also adapt those techniques, because they only learn the technique. They learn to problem-solve when there are issues, and they become inventive with solutions.

I am not such a huge fan of the step-by-step method, simply because I feel that students do not always learn to think for themselves. Even though capable, they often lack confidence to strike out on their own, and continue painting by number, instead of allowing their cognition and creative thinking to kick in.


I guess it would be fair to say that even though Billy Showell and Anna Mason are both brilliant photo-realist botanical artists, they approach their work from very different perspectives.

They even use different brushes!

Anna works wet-on-dry and creates vibrant, intensely coloured blooms. Billy is a big proponent of wet-on-wet painting, and produces an illusion of subtle, translucent delicacy. One is not better than the other. They are simply, completely different.

Both artists give useful advice concerning colour and colour mixing, which is always enlightening. They each use their own favourite colours. No artists can own every colour, but you may wish to add additional colours to your palettes once you have read their books.

What did I learn from each artist?

From Anna’s books, I learn how to make the most of bold colours, and not be intimidated by values. I have always been terrified (without reason!) of making my darkest values too dark.

From Billy’s book, I have absorbed so much about technique, especially how to use wet-on-wet techniques, because I am a dry watercolourist and have always been a little intimidated by the unpredictability of wet-on-wet painting.

The verdict

Will I be applying what I have learnt to my work? ABSOLUTELY!

Over the years, I have learnt to analyse my artwork and decide what needs to be done for the betterment of the painting. I no longer feel apprehensive about using techniques, because I am better informed how to use them, and now apply these to illustration work that is not botanically related.

Just because these books focus on painting plants doesn’t mean that the techniques cannot be used for painting costumes, or animals, etc. They can, because I use them for more than painting cosmos or autumn leaves.

Please join me this time next month when I review a couple of lovely picture books.

Until next time…


Mijello Mission Gold Pure Pigment Watercolours Review

Mijello Mission Gold Pure Pigment watercolours – 24 colour set

Please note:

  1. I am not being paid to review any products or books.
  2. I only review products, books, etc. that I like; however, I may mention aspects of the product that I struggled with.
  1. Why did I purchase Mijello Mission Gold Pure Pigment Watercolours?

I had been very happy with my basic Winsor Newton Profession watercolour palette for a while. I liked how well the watercolours rested on the paper, and I liked the colours in my palette; however, the more I understood Colour Theory, the more I realised that I was never going to be able to mix the colours I wanted from the palette I had.

Yes, I could go and buy additional Winsor Newton, or other brand colours and add them, and I did, but I starting calculating the prices of 15ml tubes (my preferred form of watercolor) and felt rather ill at the expected total for my basic palette. (Basic palette requirements: cool and warm shades of red, yellow, blue, magenta, turquoise-cyan, black, ochre, burnt umber/sepia, burnt sienna.) At least in New Zealand, Winsor Newton Professional, Daniel Smith and Maimeri Blu watercolours are pricey, and my budget doesn’t stretch that far, and I couldn’t afford to save up for them, as I needed to paint straight away. I suspect I am not the only artist that has this problem.

I tried other brands (student grade) watercolours and was frustrated by the muddy or pale colours they produced. This is not the fault of the product. They are not intended to produce the same results as highly pigmented professional paints.

Since I do have decent colour theory knowledge, I knew that my only option was to keep looking for professional watercolours I could afford. I bought, online, a Mijello palette and that palette had arrived with two complementary Mijello Mission Gold pans and I loved how pigmented the colours were, and was sorry they did not appear to be available in my local art stores.

While watching a Mind of Watercolor tutorial on Youtube, Steve Mitchell talked about his set of Mijello Mission Gold Pure Pigment watercolours. He discussed the problematic areas of his set, but I was very interested in them anyway. It sounds like these watercolours are very pricey in the USA, however, when I did a quick Google search, I found a set for sale on Ebay, and they fitted into my budget very nicely. I took the plunge and ordered them.

I was interested in this set, as each colour contains a single pigment only, which means clear, bright colours will result after mixing. It is possible to buy single pigment colours from other brands. I liked that I could buy a set. And the 24-colour set was cheaper than other brands.

Mijello- Mission Gold watercolours are manufactured in South Korea. I am a fan of their lower levels of toxicity than some other brands of watercolours. I figured that even if they are a little less transparent than western watercolours and have an abundance of reds and yellows, at the price, I would manage with what was in the set.

Since they are open stock paints, I was happy that I would be able to replace tubes when needed – in saying that, the open stock paints are more expensive than when sold in a set, but they are still roughly half the price of the professional watercolours available in Christchurch. And, frankly, I feel the colours are very marginly more opaque (is opaquer a real word??) than my Winsor Newton colours, and I can happily live with that.

Since receiving my set, I have bought additional colours and will probably expand my palette again the future.

Now that I have used the Mijello Mission Gold watercolours, I will not go back. The only time I will buy other brands of watercolour is to extend my colour palette. For instance, I would love to use neon colours. I have Mijello Mission Gold Bright Opera and Bright Rose (which are extremely bright!) and not part of the Pure Pigment set. I have looked into brands that sell neon watercolours and have found that there are Japanese brands that are worth looking into.

Both Korea and Japan have ancient histories of watercolour, so I have no doubt that it is sensible to investigate Korean and Japanese products in the future.

2.So what have I discovered about Mijello Mission Gold Pure Pigment Watercolours?

a. Because they are so pigmented, a little bit of paint goes a LONG way!

b. Initially I thought that these watercolours were no good for glazing. But after some research I discovered that not all PIGMENTS are suited to glazing, and by changing my choice of pigments/colours, I was happy with my attempt at glazing. Swatch your colours and glaze them in practise to figure out which colours can glaze and which lift. I found the cobalt colours lifted.

c. The paints are not super granulating, but that is a good thing for me, since I seldom want granulation. If I do, I can always try mixing paint with salt water or Epsom salts and see what happens then.

The watercolours respond beautifully to sprinkled salt, and react very differently on rough watercolour paper to smooth. I found a granulation-like effect was achieved on rough paper, and I loved how the colours retained their beautiful intensity on both cellulose and 100% cotton papers.

The Mijello Mission Gold Pure Pigment set of 24 colours:

Mijello packaging is beautiful – like a box of luxury chocolates!

Additional colours I bought:

Lovely extra colours for my palette. Violet Lake is paying off big time! Love, love, love this colour!

Colour swatches

Swatches of all the stunning colours

My lovely, very capacious new palette

Examples of my first work completed using the Mijello Mission Gold watercolours.

I love these watercolours and will keep using them with great enjoyment for a very long time.

Please join me this time next month when I discuss the merits of Clairefontaine PastelMat.

Until next time…