In 2011, this watercolour range, highly regarded by North American artists, was introduced into the UK by the mail order specialist Jacksons www.jacksonsart.co.uk . 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.
Cascade Green (PBr7/PB15)
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 www.artsupplies.co.uk 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 www.premiumartbrands.com ,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.