Still More on Blue and Orange—Daniel Smith’s Mayan Colors

May 15, 2010

More orange and blue paint.


Above: Test swatches of Daniel Smith's Myan Blue Genuine, Mayan Dark Blue, and Mayan Orange. On Strathmore Aquarius II watercolor paper. Blues are actually a tad more green in life than the image portrays.)

The other day I received a new Daniel Smith catalog and read about Mayan Dark Blue and Mayan Orange. I wanted to give them a try. A call to Wet Paint (where the line is sold locally) turned up a tube of Mayan Blue Genuine. I didn't communicate clearly on the phone and didn't realize there were two different Mayan Blues. I brought the tube home to try out and found Mayan Blue Genuine is one of Daniel Smith's Primatek paints. These are made with authentic mineral pigments.

Here's the thing—I don't like the Primatek paints. I've tried them before and with the exception of Serpentine Genuine (which I adore, a green paint with purply tones, yes purply tones) I find this line of paint to be sludgy in movement, gummy, and weak in coverage. Now the thing they have going for them is the granular nature of the pigments and the interesting texture that can give to your washes.

Check the swatch of Mayan Genuine Blue in the top left corner of the test sheet. You can see how sludgy the paint is—with clear brush strokes, but you can also see how lovely the granulation is at the right end of that swatch. Primateks might be just what you want, so go for it.

But besides the weakness of the color in dilution the Mayan Genuine Blue also didn't work for me as it was too green. I really don't like greenish blues at all.

As soon as it was out of the tube I realized that I had the wrong paint—it wasn't the smoky color in the catalog. That's when I realized that there were two NEW Mayan colors that were not in the Primatek line.

So Wet Paint got Mayan Dark Blue and Mayan Orange for me and I tested them out, as shown in the swatches above. Both are interesting colors, both work like the regular Daniel Smith line (with the Mayan Orange having a slightly more sludgy feel than my other Daniel Smith paints—not nearly as sludgy as the Primateks, but just slow and more viscous on the paper).

The Mayan Dark Blue has a wonderful smoky quality to it. It is greener in appearance than Indigo and other smoky blues of that sort (I can't say "and Payne's Gray" because it really depends what company you're getting your Payne's Gray from, but in general…).

Will I be adding these two paints to my palette? Well not my travel palettes. I have a better working range with my PB60 alternatives and the transparent orange I already use. But I can see using these in the studio for some applications.

Perhaps they are just the orange and blue you are looking for? If so check them out. If you're local you can find all three paints at Wet Paint. If you aren't local you can order them all from Daniel Smith.

    • Gina Lento
    • May 17, 2010

    I use the Rhodonite Genuine and that one isn’t too bad. I have had gummy Primatek paints, one tube pretty much solidified and I couldn’t squeeze anything out…. I order directly from Daniel Smith Co (there are no decent art supply stores on Long Island) and if you have an issue or want to tell them about the performance of their paint, they are VERY customer friendly. I am glad you demo’d the Mayan colors here, I’ve been wanting to try them.
    Have you tried their watercolor sticks yet? I’ve been wanting to.

    • karen
    • May 17, 2010

    I love the Mayan Dark Blue. I’m gonna try it.

  1. Reply

    I may have missed you discussing about the sticks. I’ve only been reading your blog since I found out about you from reading Ricë’s book and you were one of the artists. I love sketching and you like birds so it was a no brainer to read your blog (I have lots of tweeters raising little tweeters around the backyard.)

    I love Daniel Smith’s watercolors, too.

    Funny, I’m a plein air pastelist. Check out Stan Sperlak (he’s on Facebook), he’s tried some stuff with water and regular pastels that you might like. I like Stan’s painting philosophy, too, he thinks different. I’d recommend his workshops.


  2. Reply

    Gina, I’ll check on Sperlak. I have friends who use dry pastels (chalk pastels, whatever they like to call them) and use them in “watercolor” type ways.

    However, pastels of that sort aren’t something I’m going to be able to use because of the dust/particulate issues. It’s why I use colored pencil instead of pastels. Scatchboard is the “dustiest” medium I use, and then I always wear a respirator! And clean up immediately afterwards.

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