REVIEW: Daniel Smith Watercolours

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been using Daniel Smith watercolours.  I’ve had them a couple of weeks now and have spent a lot of time trying to get to know them.  Here is my plastic folding palette that I use day-to-day with them.

All tests done on Cass Art 300gsm Cold Press watercolour paper. Paints purchased from Jackson’s Art Supplies.

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I think from here you can see the colours that I like to use most, but here they are in swatches.

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Ignore the incorrect spellings, I chose my colours based on the recommendation of Jane Blundell and Liz Steel.  I have a neutral yellow (Hansa Yellow Medium), warm yellow (Quin Gold), cool red (Quin Rose), warm red (Transparent Pyrrole Orange), cool blue (Ultramarine) and warm blue (Pthalo Blue GS) and 3 earth colours (Goethite, Burnt Sienna and Buff Titanium).

The first thing I noticed with DS colours is that they are really intense.  You only need a tiny bit to get a lot of juicy colour.  Pthalo blue and Pyrrole orange are particularly strong.  They also rewet better than any other paint I know.  They go as wet as tube paints when sprayed with my mister so you never have to scrub at hard cracked paint. The earth colours are more subtle but they, along with Ultramarine have the most beautiful granulation.  That being said, I use those earth colours the least.  They are not as strong as the primaries and I find my paintings look a bit dull when I use them (like the Bread in my previous post where I used a combination of Goethite and Burnt Sienna).  I thought the Buff Titanium would be good for food sketches, but actually it’s quite opaque and I rarely use it.

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I absolutely love how those primaries mix, I get such great vivid greens and purples and even the greys are lovely.  Pyrrole Orange and Pthalo blue can make a fantastic black or dark brown depending on the mix.

I don’t think merely having great paint can make you a great painter (definitely not the case for me!) but having paints that you love and want to use will definitely help you do more and ultimately improve.  I’d say they are great value and I’ll be replacing the primaries when I use them up, and maybe add one of their many many other colours to my palette.

Are you a fan of Daniel Smith watercolours?  Or maybe you have another brand that you simply love?  What does your limited palette look like, or is it an unlimited palette?  I love hearing about other artists’ paints!

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6 thoughts on “REVIEW: Daniel Smith Watercolours

  1. Maybe I should try them….I use Winsor Newton, alot of Cotman, which is their student grade and I not always happy with the vividness. I sometimes wonder if it is the paper that can also effect the color as well….

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  2. I think W&N and Cotmans aren’t really all that bad, but particularly Cotmans seem to work best straight out of the tube. Mine never seem to rewet very well. If you buy Daniel Smith just start with one colour to try, it’s surprising to see how differently they behave from W&N. Paper also makes a huge difference, good quality white watercolour paper seems to take the pigment differently and makes the paint glow.

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  3. I’m using Luma dyes because that’s what was in my supply closet, left over from textile design work years ago. I’m not even sure they make them anymore, although there are other brands available. So I have a limited palette, but so far it’s worked out OK. I also have a couple of inexpensive watercolor paint boxes my kids had for school, partially used, but I haven’t tried them yet. And a lot of gouache in tubes (also from textile design use), although some is dried up. I’ve painted with that once since I started painting again, with mixed results. I’ve come to like working with the liquid paint.

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  4. I love most of the Daniel Smith range and found it made a huge difference when I used 100% cotton paper, Arches especially makes the paints more vibrant. Other papers seem to suck the brightness out 😦

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  5. I will have to try Arches. At the moment I’m using a more affordable paper in bulk to get my skills up, but I’d love to try getting a big sheet and cutting it down to see how it differs.

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  6. i’ve used it front & back; then rinsed it totally off and started again. but i hear you on costs, supplies have gotten beyond a joke in the last 5-6 years. 😦

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