Monday, May 4, 2009
Being a huge fan of Daniel Smith watercolor tube paints, I was thoroughly intrigued by their new Extra Fine Watercolor Sticks.
With a desire to test and review this new product, I was thrilled that DS sent me 4 of the 6 colors to test. They arrived in the sizes you see below, and it made me happy to know that they have a use for their "imperfections."
Although these sticks can be used in a number of ways, (drawn onto paper wet or dry, rubbed with a wet brush, etc.) I discovered that I was most happy using them as you would with pan paint - simply by running a wet brush over them.
This is how the sticks would arrive as new - with wrappers, much like a crayon.
As my sample bits do not have a wrapper, it was a challenge to figure out how to use them without having one stick cause transfer to another. I was hoping that DS would have created some kind of special box to house them while in use, but nothing is available at this time. I ended up wedging my 4 sticks into a tiny Altoid gum tin, then squeezing in a tissue to use as a blotter.
In my mind, the concept of these sticks is pretty brilliant, except when it comes to putting them away. Imagine you are painting plein air. It starts to rain and you pack up your supplies. If these sticks are still even the least bit wet, they are going to transfer onto anything they touch. I'm trying to be as careful as possible, but even with a small brush, I'm still getting paint transfer.
The set of 6 runs $68 from the Daniel Smith site, and considering their expense, I wish there was a way to use them where I didn't have to worry about wasting paint through transfer and because of this, in my mind, I think I would prefer to use DS paints in pan form.
Fingers crossed, maybe someday.
These are swatches of the Quinacridone Coral, Sap Green, French Ultramarine, and Quinacridone Burnt Orange. Each of these colors are as vibrant as you would expect from DS. They work well straight, mixed in a palette, or mixed on the paper. The color combinations from just these 4 make me very happy.
In a Moleskine Watercolor Book, the above image was created by using the coral, orange and blue. I mixed up an orangey red with the orange and coral, and a maroon with the blue and coral. Paints were mixed in the lid of the Altoids tin.
In the above image, I attempted to mix as many colors and shades as possible by using all 4 sticks. Paints were mixed with water in a seperate palette. Clairefontaine WC paper.
My tiniest paint kit. small Moleskine WC book, Niji waterbrush and tin filled with 4 Daniel Smith Watercolor Sticks.
DANIEL SMITH ExtraFine™ Watercolor Stick 6-Color Set
From the Daniel Smith Website
"DANIEL SMITH Extra Fine™ Watercolor Sticks are like nothing else, combining the intensity of tube paints with the convenience and portability of half pans. Packed with pure pigment—with just enough gum Arabic to form a solid stick—they produce vibrant, strong color as you wet them. They’re highly reactive and release rich, creamy color. For outdoor sketching, developing color values and bold expression, Watercolor Sticks are a truly unique addition to your watercolor experience. Handmade and hand-shaped, the sticks are approximately 3"long and ½" diameter. Experiment with them—you’ll feel like a kid again! All Lightfast Rated I – Excellent.
* Hansa Yellow Medium,
* Quinacridone Coral,
* Sap Green,
* French Ultramarine,
* Burnt Umber and
* Quinacridone Burnt Orange.
A few tips to get you started:
1. Create light washes by applying the stick color directly to your wet brush. This technique works well for establishing lights, as well as for darker passages using a more heavily loaded brush.
2. Mix colors directly on the paper within a painting. A Mix of French Ultramarine with Quinacridone Coral creates a rich purple, French Ultramarine with Hansa Yellow produces a clear green and Burnt Umber with French Ultramarine results in a complex gray.
3. Wet the paper, then draw directly into it. As the stick liquefies, it leaves a distinct but soft-edged mark. Sharpen the stick to create intricate line work.
4. Pre-wet the stick to apply saturated color and establish darks. If desired, you can then draw the color down with a wet brushstroke.
5. Liquefy the shavings to create rich color mixtures. Use a Lyra sharpener to make shavings of Quinacridone Coral and Hansa Yellow and mix them to create a highly saturated orange."