testing colors

Hey Everyone! Sorry I’ve been M.I.A. for a couple weeks now. The jet lag after getting back from Kauai threw me for a total loop!

Before I left for my trip, I ordered a couple of Daniel Smith watercolor try-it sheets. It’s a sheet of watercolor paper that comes with 66 dabs of different watercolors with selections from their various lines.

As I’ve been working more and more with watercolor, I realized that more often than not, the colors I mix get muddy really quickly. This might be a result of impatience or of my tiny palette, but I suddenly had the idea that it might actually be the colors themselves. I know that some colors and paints are better for mixing than others, and I’m not even sure what brand I’m using (I’ve been painting with a box of old watercolors that were my grandmother’s), and often I end up mixing more than just a couple in an attempt to achieve the color I want. Because of the way that I usually use watercolor (broad areas of color, not as much mixing or shading on the paper), I figure it’ll probably be easier to get the colors I want if I have a greater variety of “pure” colors, so I can just mix two or three to get what I want.

Since the paints I’ve been using are running low, I thought I might as well go ahead and try something new.

Daniel Smith came to my attention while I was in art school, and I guess their email marketing worked, because that’s how I found out about their watercolors. I love samples of stuff in general, so I was thrilled to discover their test sheets.

One of the first things I did when I got back from my trip was to try out all the colors.

I started with the Primatek colors which are all made from genuine ground up rocks and minerals.


Some of my favorites were the greens: jadeite, diopside, serpentine, fuchsite, and green apatite. They have some really dreamy blues, and a surprising variety of grays/blacks. All the reds were really earthy. A few of the colors even have some sparkle–of those my favorite is sugilite, a light lavender. I could go on and on, so suffice it to say i was very pleased with the colors. Very rich with some beautiful granulation.

Next I tried out some of their more vibrant, less granulating colors including the quinacrodones, cadmium and more.

bright dots

I’m very excited about the quinacrodone colors, especially the coral. It’s hard to tell from the scan, but they are very bright colors, and the coral borders on florescent.

The final group was the iridescent colors. I’m not sure I’ll order any of these, as I’m not sure they really fit with my style at this point, but they were fun to play around with.


Of these my favorite was the iridescent electric blue. It’s a very vivid blue and the shimmer is much more subtle. Maybe I’ll have to add that to my basket after all.

Since I’ve been back, that’s all I’ve been working on–testing out the colors and trying to narrow down what I want to actually order in tubes. I think I’m going to start out with a mixing set of ten pre-selected colors that they offer, and then supplement with some of the other favorites I’ve zeroed in on.

I have a coupon for 30% off which makes everything they offer even more tempting. I’ll have to make my final decision by tomorrow, and then I’ll have to wait for everything to arrive, but even now I’m looking forward to trying out some new colors!

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