Unboxing the St. Petersburg White Nights Watercolor Set

Earlier today I grabbed the mail and found a package waiting for me. I assumed it was a gift that I had ordered for my boyfriend, so I went ahead and opened it so I could wrap it for him before Christmas.

Much to my surprise, however, it was the St. Petersburg Nevskaya Palitra White Nights watercolor set – a very generous gift to me from my parents! I have been wanting this watercolor set for a long time and am so excited that they got it for me. I’m definitely a lucky girl!

Nevskaya Palitra White Nights Watercolor Set

I’m not sure exactly what drew me to these paints over all the other brands on the market. I guess part of it is that I had read some really great reviews of them on other websites. More than that, though, I think it had to do with the color selection. This set in particular has 36 colors and seems to cover just about any shade you would ever need.

Even though I am just getting started with watercolors, I wanted to get professional-grade paints. I had been using some student-grade paints, but I really believe that the quality of your materials can make a huge difference in the final outcome of your projects. I am hoping that these paints will help me improve as I continue to learn how to paint.

St Petersburg White Nights Watercolors

Here’s what the box looks like when it’s closed. It measures about 5″ x 8.75″.

Nevskaya Palitra White Nights

It came with a blank color chart that you can use to paint samples of all the colors. Most of the printing on the box and the enclosed card is written in Russian. Thankfully, however, the names of the colors are printed in English on the wrappers. Here’s a closeup of all of the colors that come in the set:

White Nights Palette closeup

It took me forever to get them unwrapped, but it was a lot of fun to try each color out as I unwrapped them. By the time I was done I had a huge pile of wrappers and foil on the table. It looked like I had devoured a giant bag of candy (I wish!) 🙂

St Petersburg Watercolors

Here’s the little chart of colors that I made. They look pretty close to the actual colors on my monitor, but there is no guarantee they will look right on yours since monitors display colors differently. I will say I was thrilled by how pigmented the colors were. I also really like that there are less saturated versions of some of the colors — especially blue. All of the colors in the chart are mixed at pretty much full strength.

St Petersburg Watercolor Swatches

I was really surprised by how generously sized the pans are in this set. I think it is going to last a really long time. If you are looking for a great professional-grade set of watercolors that doesn’t cost a fortune, I would definitely recommend this one. The name of the set is the St. Petersburg Nevskaya Palitra White Night palette. They also have several smaller sets, or you can order colors individually. Now, enough writing…I’m off to do some painting!




  1. just wanted to say thanks for posting your pictures above! i bought myself a set of these for my birthday, and was SO EXCITED when they arrived, i sat unwrapping them one by one. i drooled over their gem-like beauty, and spent time dreaming about what i would do with them…. and CAREFULLY stacked their wrappers in neat little piles for each row, so i could make my color chart as soon as i got home to my brushes, water, and table.
    getting out of the car, the bag fell to the ground. the paint set opened, and the wee paint tubs scattered all around. the papers fluttered off like leaves in the wind.
    i tracked them all down, but now everything was such a horrid jumbled mess, i had no hope of getting every color perfectly matched to their wrapper, and have been using them without REALLY knowing their names- just hazarding a guess, and figuring ‘close enough’…. which only works if one can let go of their obsessive nature long enough to complete a painting!
    ANYWAY- a lesson to all! MARK THEM DOWN as you open them! the tubs do NOT have names on them, like Winsor Newton and others, so they are very easily mixed up.
    Small price to pay for such an incredibly beautiful set of paints, though. 🙂 🙂
    Thank you again for this great article and your photos- you have made my day!

    • Yay! I’m so glad that the pics helped and that you managed to get everything straightened out. I hope you love your new set of paints as much as I love mine! 🙂

  2. Thank you for your so generous sharing of info. I too have ordered a set – 48 pan one – and am eagerly awaiting their arrival. Plan to take them to Indonesia to paint landscapes etc. Love the notion (absurdity perhaps) of using Russian hues to render tropical scenes.

    • I still really love them – far more than my Cotman set. The colors are rich and vibrant, the paints are semi-soft so they liquify almost immediately when you add water to them and the color selection is great. I find that I mostly use the reds, yellows and blues and mix my own colors from those. However, it is nice to have a wide selection available to pick from when you need it.

      I still use the Cotman set, too, but mostly for when I am painting outdoors and just want to do a quick sketch or something. It is a good set — I just find the St. Petersburg set to be a lot better. The colors in the Cotman set are far more limited (the primary colors they included aren’t great for mixing since they are kind of weird shades), and the paints are far less saturated than the White Nights set.

      I also really like that the replacement pans for the White Nights set only cost a couple of dollars. The only downside is that the only place I have found that sells the pans is located in the UK. That means that you need to plan ahead a little since the shipping time can be a bit slow. I stocked up on the colors I use the most, though, and it hasn’t been a problem for me. In fact, I haven’t even had to replace any of the pans yet – even after nearly two years of using them. My yellow is almost out, but other than that, they are still relatively full. Granted, I don’t paint every day. However, I think it also has to do with the fact that the pans are relatively big and the paint is so saturated that you don’t need to use a lot of it at a time.

      Hope that helps! 🙂

  3. Hi Beth,
    Thank you for doing such a great review on these paints. The color swatch you did was very helpful. I was wondering where did you purchase yours and where would you recommend purchasing this set?

    Thank you!

    • I haven’t really noticed a problem with hard edges. The only time I run into trouble is on hot days. Sometimes the paint dries before I have time to go back and soften the edges with a damp brush. I’ve found that the most effective way to soften edges before they dry is to use a clean, damp brush with just a little bit of water on it. Rather than painting along the edge with the damp brush, I push the brush into the edge at a 90-degree angle. It’s a little hard to explain, but it seems to do a far better job of blending out the edges than any other method I have tried. I saw someone else do it on a YouTube video last year, but I can’t seem to find the video now. If I happen to run across it again I’ll post a link here so that you can see what I mean.

      • Julia, Have a look at Susan Harrison-Tustain’s watercolor video she explains how to soften the edges as Beth has described

  4. hello,Thanks for the lovely pictures and beautiful article.I would love to know few things as i am so badly wanting to buy white nights
    1.what difference is Yarka and Nevskaya Palitra Russia Petersburg?

  5. Thank you for this! I’ve been researching for days (feels like longer) for which watercolors to purchase…pros and cons of tubes vs. cakes, etc. I didn’t want to spend too much as I would consider myself a beginner, but was hoping for affordable “middle of the road” paints to hold me over for a while. I will be purchasing this set (the 24 colors) thanks to you!

  6. Nevskaya Palitra, makes all of these brands: Yarka, Sonnet, St.Petersberg White Nights (formerly Leningrad), Master Class (Oils, Acrylics and Gouache,) Ladoga, Decola, Цветик (Tsvetik, these are mostly for children and honey based (though I have some of these and the colors are very rich and seem to be light fast)) and they also make the Jack Richardson’s St.Petersberg Professional watercolor pans by Yarka sold here https://www.dickblick.com/products/yarka-st-petersburg-professional-watercolor-pans/ (these are equal to the St.Petersberg pans sold here http://stpetersburgwatercolours.com)
    You can read more in this article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/yarka-watercolours-other-trade-names-elena-perelman (though she does not have all the names for all of Nevskaya Palitra’s brands but you can find more on their website: http://www.nevskayapalitra.ru/eng/brands .) Hope this helps all of you who love or are interested in St.Petersberg White Nights.

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