Product Review: Prima Complexions Palette and Jane Davenport Pastel Palettes

Yesterday I posted photos of two mixed media paintings I did in Andrea Gomoll’s Faceinating Girls Around the World class. It was a great class, and I took it for several reasons.

First, I like Andrea’s style of teaching. She’s perky and explains what and how she is doing what she is doing with detail and enthusiasm. You can tell she loves what she does.

Irish girl watercolor Hollifield
Irish mixed media girl by Suzanne Hollifield created in class Faceinating Girls Around the World

Second, I wanted to practice using watercolor on portraits, and this class focused on skin tones for different races. I’ve done a class like this in acrylic, but watercolor seemed really interesting. Andrea was using Prima Watercolor Confections, of which I have several as well as all of the Jane Davenport watercolors. I printed the pigment sheets for both brands and substituted or mixed for the complexion colors if I needed to. I ended up ordering the Prima Complexions palette as it was easier to have it than to keep mixing.

It turned out that I was really glad I made the purchase. While more experienced watercolorists can create flesh tones by mixing primaries and/or complimentary colors, I enjoyed having the premixed palette. Of course, these watercolors are not Daniel Smith quality. Neither are they Daniel Smith prices. They are around $24 for the palette of twelve half-pans. I thought they were good quality at a reasonable price. They had enough pigment to cover smoothly and were not overly grainy for portraits. They both blended and layered easily.

Third, Andrea is really a mixed media artist. Although watercolor is her primary medium, she uses other media, too. She’s fond of stamping and has her own line of clear stamps that feature her signature cute girls. She uses stencils with both acrylic paint and modeling paste or gesso in her backgrounds. She is fond of bling in the form of glitter and sparkle gel. She always adds pen in the end. In this class, she used Pan Pastels to enhance the complexions of the girls.

Light skinned African American girl by Hollifield
Light-skinned African-American girls by Suzanne Hollifield created for Faceinating Girls Around the World

I didn’t want to shell out the bucks for Pan Pastels. I’ve lusted for them, but I don’t do enough pastel work to justify the expense. Fortunately, Jane Davenport has just introduced a Pastel Palette line, and I was lucky enough to find them on sale at Michaels for 60% off. Needless to say, I bought all four palettes, and since each has eighteen colors, I ended up with fifty-four pans of color.

The JD Pastel Palette worked great. I don’t know how it compares to Pan Pastels, but for my purposes, I was quite pleased. They didn’t seem a creamy as Andrea’s Pan Pastels, but after I got the “new” off the top, they spread well. On the page, they added the color lightly enough that I could layer and not worry about ruining the piece with a streak of color that was too intense. Once I applied fixative, they stayed put.

If you are on a budget like I am, I recommend you check the JD Pastel Palettes out. Michaels has frequent sales on them. You might get a deal like I did. You might want to go the Jane’s website as well. She has some great videos on how to use these and other of her products.

Chinese girl by Hollifield
Chinese girls by Suzanne Hollifield created for Faceinating Girls Around the World

Finally, I took the class because I wanted to work on my own style of faces. Andrea paints girls you recognize when you see them. I could name a hundred other artists whose portraits are immediately identifiable as their work. Some are whimsical; some are realistic; some are illustrative.

I think I’m more illustrative, or at least that’s what I aspire to be. I don’t have the patience for purely realistic works, and I like cute girls. Real people are rarely cute. I love those old forties and fifties posters and ads when artists drew the models and actresses instead of photographing them. I wish I could paint like that. The books I go back to over and over are by Andrew Loomis and Jack Hamm. The hair is wrong, but I love their faces. I have real trouble with wonky-ness though. One side is always a bit off.

Nevertheless, using the Prima Watercolor Confections Complexions palette and the Jane Davenport Pastel Palettes have helped me achieve my goal of creating my own style a little more I think. I recommend both products to you.

11 thoughts on “Product Review: Prima Complexions Palette and Jane Davenport Pastel Palettes

  1. fluidsign April 7, 2019 / 1:43 am

    Great job on those ladies! Mixing colors is not as simple as it sounds. I’m working on an acrylic portrait with only the primaries — it’s tough!


    • Suzanne Hollifield-Eller April 9, 2019 / 10:47 am

      Using primaries makes beautiful paintings, but you are right, it is tough. Good luck on your piece.


  2. createeverydayblogger April 5, 2019 / 9:12 pm

    I like my prima complexions paints too! I do love Daniel smith paints…I often use flesh toned gouache-I’ve not painted or drawn faces (big ones) for so many months now- I see yours and it inspires me to want to.


  3. Julia April 5, 2019 / 7:28 pm

    Beautiful ladies! I appreciate your insights to these products. I may have to try out those watercolors, because I am definitely no mixologist – though I aspire to it one day!


    • Suzanne Hollifield-Eller April 5, 2019 / 5:40 pm

      So do I. Every time I visit Michaels, I check to see what JD products are on sale. She is good about suggesting other products, too. Not just her own.


  4. TheForgottenMuse April 5, 2019 / 4:42 pm

    I don’t have a good set of watercolors. I cringe at the prices because they feel so out of my reach. Michael’s had a limited selection of JD stuff marked 60% off but was quite picked over and not what I was looking for. They did have some of her other stuff at 40% I think.
    I love your girls, they’re gorgeous!!!


    • Suzanne Hollifield-Eller April 5, 2019 / 5:42 pm

      Thanks for the compliment on the girls. I bought the set of Arteza watercolors just recently. They were more complete and lay down really well. I’m very happy with them. Maybe I should blog about them, too. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • TheForgottenMuse April 6, 2019 / 4:36 am

        I’ve been eyeing some Arteza things, but I wasn’t sure of the quality and don’t hear much from people about them. I’ve only heard once someone mention that their pencils were not as good a quality as Prismas, but good for the price and got the job done. I’ll have to watch their sales and see if I come across a good deal.


  5. Carmelita April 5, 2019 / 4:12 pm

    Oh I couldn’t agree more with you on the Prima complexion I could not get the colors I wanted from the primary either, at least not consistently, those are a good quality and good price. I am always a little wonky too, perception escapes me so I stay whimsical and I am happy. Oh how I would love to be realistic…but not in my talent! Giggle


    • Suzanne Hollifield-Eller April 5, 2019 / 4:29 pm

      I keep practicing to be more realistic, but painting the details layer after layer after layer finally bores me. I draw better realistically, but add the paint and it’s lost. I’m glad you like the Prima complexion, too. I almost didn’t buy them. Now I’m really glad I did.


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