New Daniel Smith Watercolors

April 10, 2009

Right: some color swatches from the new Daniel Smith watercolors. Top left to right: Enviro-Friendly Brown Iron Oxide, Environ-Friendly Red Iron Oxide, Enviro-Friendly Yellow Iron Oxide (darker swatch immediately below), Garnet Genuine (darker swatch immediately below), Cerulean Blue (which is different from their Cerulean Blue Chromium). Second Row left to right: the colors from above mixed with Schmincke’s Dark Indigo which is PB60. Bottom center: another attempt at a Cerulean Blue swatch. On Fabriano Artistico 90 lb., traditional white, coldpress watercolor paper.

I mentioned a while ago that Daniel Smith is sending out sample cards of watercolor paint (dabs of paint on a watercolor card, attached to a brochure about the paints). Wet Paint, since it is selling this line of paints now, also has these sample cards for walk-in and mail order traffic. Well the other day when I was in Wet Paint I picked up a couple to try out. They are shown on the swatch card that starts this post.

With the exception of the Cerulean Blue I was positively impressed with all the paints I sampled. Let’s just say I’m not a bit Cerulean Blue fan in normal times. I couldn’t get the rich deep blue shown in their brochure swatch (printed), so I found it rather a wimpy color. But I will say this, it is less skewed to green than most CBs I’ve tried, and it is much less opaque and chalky. In fact they list it as semi-transparent. It also has nice granulation. So if people are accustomed to having this blue on their palette but want a bit of a change this might be a paint to look at.

I really loved the Garnet Genuine (and not just because Garnet is my birthstone!). It has a lovely warm pinkish cast to it in dilution. Not unlike real Pipestone (I have some rocks in my drawer), which is a color I love in nature. In full strength Garnet Genuine has a lovely almost burnt maroon look to it. Very yummy indeed. The brochure says that it is a “gorgeous, warm reddish-orange with similar hue but more texture than Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet.” This was exactly my thought when I saw it wash out onto the paper, as I use Quin Burnt Scarlet on my larger palette. When it comes time to refresh my stock I think I will switch to this textural paint.

On another card I was given samples of three Iron Oxide paints. These are all “enviro-friendly” watercolors. Daniel Smith has teamed with a scientist, Dr. Bob Hedin, who developed a way to recover iron oxide from abandoned mine drainage via a waste-free process. Their brochure says that these pigments are “readily interchangeable with other iron oxide pigments, which must otherwise be mined or produced synthetically and offer the added benefit of being the result of an environmental restoration effort.”

I don’t use a lot of heavy earth pigments in my palette, but I thought I would give these three a try as they are all rated as semi-transparent. From the swatches I made you can see that they have interesting granulation and are an interesting trio of hues. They tout the red iron oxide as useful for portraits as a natural looking red for cheeks and lips.

Of course the most important mix for me is with PB60. I had my Schmincke pan watercolors out by the table for another project, so rather than get out some Daniel Smith Indanthrone blue (which is a glorious paint and highly recommended), I simply used the Dark Indigo which is PB60 in the Schmincke line. I was exceedingly happy with the browns and neutrals that resulted from the mix of these iron oxides with PB60. The added granulation is just icing on the cake for me. I look forward to adding these to my extended palette.

Another sample card included Spring Green (too brilliantly bright for me, even to add to mixtures), Black Tourmaline Genuine (a grey with interesting granulation, but I never use such a color, preferring to mix my neutrals), and Rare Green Earth (which yes, is the hue of distant evergreens as their text suggests, but I’d prefer to mix that color on my own as well; though it does provide interesting granulation).

All the paints mentioned in this review were given a lightfastness rating of 1, which is the best rating.

There is still enough paint on these sample cards for another tester to give them a try, so the first person at a United States address (outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, because you can go to Wet Paint and pick up a sample card) who writes in to me at will receive the cards and attached explanatory text. See first hand whether these are paints you would like to add to your palette. (NOTE THE PAINT SAMPLES HAVE BEEN CLAIMED.)

  1. Reply

    Hi Roz,

    I’m curious about the cerulean blue you sampled here. I know you find it wimpy, but I like it. 🙂 That mix with Genuine Garnet is just luscious.

    On the DS website they list two different CBs. One is DS Watercolor Cerulean Blue (PB 35), and the other is DS Extra Fine Watercolor Cerulean Blue. They are both described as “less green” but the second one leans far more toward violet to my eye. Do you know which of these was on the sample card you had?

    • Janine
    • April 18, 2009

    After reading this post, I requested a sample card. Oh. My. God. Prior to its arrival I’d been using a Cotman pan set as I’m a newbie to drawing and painting. Well, I tried the Smiths and I have crossed over. These paints are SO gorgeous! I got a card with a dot each of Indigo, Quinacridone Burnt Orange and Hansa Yellow. The colors are so vibrant and vivid. I’m speechless with joy! :0) Can’t wait for my order to arrive…

    • Roz
    • April 18, 2009

    Janine, you are going to love these paints from Daniel Smith. They are so superior and wonderful. Glad you’ve made the transition from Cotman. I am so happy for you!

    • Leslie Schramm
    • November 4, 2010

    Just found your blog and enjoying wandering around. WetPaintArt is one of my favourite shops but as it’s a 9,000mile round trip from Sunny Scotland I;ve got very good at e-mailing a shopping list a couple weeks before I arrive( don’t ask how well I stick to the list though ) I;ve recently got some Cerulean Blue from Barvy Umton in half pans it’s absolutly gorgeous, and decidely not whimpy, and pretty good for transparancy as well. Love the Daniel Smith paint though, always stock up on the way home. The only supplier in Europe charges list price plus 60% for it

  2. Reply

    Leslie, I’m so glad that you know about Wet Paint, even though you are in Scotland!!! That is a long round trip for art materials shopping.

    I don’t know Barvy Umton but it sounds like you got a great Cerulean Blue.

    Thanks for stopping by the blog!

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