Thursday, 5 April 2012

Daniel Smith Watercolours Pt.1

 In 2011, this watercolour range, highly regarded by North American artists, was introduced into the UK by the mail order specialist Jacksons . Previously, we could only speculate about them, unless brave enough to try and purchase direct from the USA.

 The 66 Dot Try-it Card

This is the largest range of watercolours with a number, currently at 238, which continues to grow. The complete range is not necessarily available from UK stockists with some variation in the number each stocks. This is because the UK distributor, Premium Art Brands, offers a number of different options. Jacksons and the SAA appear to offer the most. This list just grows and grows and a recent addition is Quinacridone Purple, a new pigment of very recent introduction which isn't yet available  in the UK. 238 colours is enough to make one gasp but the  huge number needs an explanation. There are basically three or four groups. The first and largest group might be described as the `standard' watercolours, mirroring those available from Winsor & Newton, Schminke and several others. Even so  it is still a substantial number with many exclusive to Daniel Smith. They cover the whole spectrum with plenty of variation and alternatives in the popular colours. The other groups are the Interference, Duochrome and  Primateks. In order to make sense of this Daniel Smith offer a limited number of Try-it' cards, on watercolour paper, which have three blobs of colour literally to try out. They are free but also on offer are the 66 Dot card and one for the whole range a 238 Dot card, both also on watercolour paper. The latter two you have to buy, the largest being around £15.00. I have all three and while very useful they do have drawbacks. The dots are small, some smaller than others and I found it was difficult in many cases to produce swatches of sufficient intensity, which is why I washed them out as in the 66 Dot card above. 

Moonglow (PG18/PB29/PR177)
Cascade Green (PBr7/PB15)

Amazonite Genuine

Opera Pink (PR122)

Rose of Ultramarine (PB29/PV19)

Quinacridone Burnt Orange (PO48)

Quinacridone Fuschia (PR202)

Transparent Pyrrol Orange (PO71)

These are examples of what is available, some mirroring what is on offer from other leading makes like Winsor & Newton, some exclusive to Daniel Smith. The paints are offered in 15ml tubes, W & N 14ml, plus 37ml in a limited number of sizes, in six series, although there is only one paint in series 6 Rose Madder Genuine at a stunning £20.70p!

In those offered by Ken Bromley there are 68 standard colours in series 1  plus  another 48 Duochrome, Interference, Pearlescent and Iridescent, all priced at £8.30p. Series 2  59 colours at £9.90p, while Series 3, mainly Cadmiums and Cobalts, has 15 priced at £11.69p. Series 4 has only 8, all Primateks at £13.48p. Last but one Series 5 has 3, Lapis Lazuli Genuine, Smalt Genuine and SB Turquoise Genuine all £18.02p - I make this 202. Prices are higher than most other makes.

Two or three of the members of my Avon Valley Art Group have bought some of these paints and I asked Yvonne and Jan for an opinion. Jan has yet to reply fully but I know is very impressed with the colours she has. 

 Yvonne said: "I like the fact they remain beautifully moist and flow really easily across the paper. The colours are stunning and there are a fantastic variety. I like the test Try-it cards, essential when spending so much money. They are expensive but not compared to the advantages. I have Hookers Green, Apatite Green, Moonglow, Pyrrol Red, Quinacridone Magenta, Opera Pink, Paynes Grey, Alazarin Crimson and Rose of Ultramarine. The only one not much used at present is Hookers Green where I don't see much difference from the one already in my box. I do find the wealth of colours a bit overwhelming and, as they are so expensive, am afraid of making a mistake when buying. I also wish they used the old original names for some of the pigments as I get confused with what to buy to replace the tried and tested standard colours. Maybe I didn't look carefully enough and they do use these names." (Check pigment numbers! PW)

In the UK Daniel Smith are distributed by ,where you will find a list of UK suppliers. At the moment they are few with Jacksons, Bromley, the SAA plus a small number of mainly retailers. In Europe only one supplier is shown.

I have more to say about Daniel Smith and will post  Pt 2 shortly. This will contain more swatches including the 238 Dot card which comprises four sheets.


Mick Carney said...

I sense a book emerging from all this research. Fascinating, Peter.

Ray Maclachlan said...

You are spot on Mick, there is so much information that it would be a shame not to go further. Well done Peter, a great review.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Mick but my book writing days are over - I think.
Thanks Ray more to come.

Rui said...

Hi Peter,

Once again thank you for taking the trouble of going through art materials testing and commenting. You do make people's lives so much easier.

Just a couple of comments about DS watercolours:

1. They are the brand with the widest availability of paints made with quinacridone pigments. I think they have around one and half dozen paints made with quinacridone pigments. I have been a fan of quinacridone for many years with the quin gold being a standard colour in my palette.

2. Their Lunar colours are out of this world on their own or in mixtures. In my opinion it is worth one's while to invest in the Lunar Black (and probably also Lunar Blue) although they have other paints which produce the same sort of effects.

Looking forward to your next article on DS paints as well as your usual analysis of the various paints.

Have a great Easter break.

Kind regards,


Peter Ward said...

Thanks Rui. I have already purchased Lunar Black, althouh not used it yet. I was intrigued by these Lunar colours, more so after your comments. I'll probably get the blue any other `specialities?

Rui said...

Hi Peter,

LOL You are as curious about pigments as I am.

A little secret, I have my usual palette (one of those from Spain that you reviewed sometime last year) and I have a smaller one albeit with more wells where I keep my granular specialities(all DS unless otherwise stated):

1. Da Vinci Manganese Blue
2. Sennelier French Vermillion(this is not granular but I use it when I want a very bright Ferrari red colour as it is a pigment difficult to mix with
3. Lunar Earth (imagine a not so warm Burnt Sienna with the texture of Lunar Black)
4. Lunar Violet
5. Lunar Blue
6. Cascade Green (fantastic on its own and on mixtures as DS describes in its website)
7. Undersea Green ( a very useful dark green but one has to be careful what to mix with)
8. Serpentine Green (same qualities as Cascade Green but much lighter and yellowish)
9. German Greenish Raw Umber (it has replaced completely Raw Umber with a lot more texture)
10. Moonglow
11. Lunar Black
12. Potter's Pink (a very dense brownish/pink colour with a lot of texture)
13. Rose of Ultramarine
14. Holbein's Opera, also not granular (When it is finished I am tempted to try DS as per your Blog)

Kind regards,


Peter Ward said...

Thank you Rui. I'll incorporate your views in the Pt 2 I'll be posting next week. Much appreciated.

L.W.Roth, said...

You are a busy fellow Peter. No doubt do I have that an ultimate book is coming out soon from your findings and observations. But don't get so serious that you neglect your painting. Put that new black on some paper and let it mingle with the other colors to see what it can (and can't) do. All work...

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for commenting LW. There won't be any book. There is a hiatus with my painting just at present due to school holidays bringing on the grandparenting duties. Another post imminent though.

Rui said...

Hi L.W. and Peter,

Talking about books, have you checked the Daniel Smith demo on their "DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Project Book Starter Kit"?

They clearly show a use for their Lunar colours. The granulation is just plain gorgeous. My seascape rocks will never look the same...



Peter Ward said...

Not yet Rui but thanks to you I soon will.

Meda said...

Thank you for this post. Watercolor is a serious addiction to have. I need to something about it.