Adventures in Daniel Smith Dot Cards II: Earth Tones

Swatches of earth tones overlaid over Daniel Smith dot cards on a messy desk.

Previously: After swatching out all the colors from my 238-color Dot Card, I gave my thoughts on all the exciting color categories: yellow, red, purple, and so on. Now, I give my thoughts on the earth tones and grays. I know these can be important colors, especially in realistic landscape and portrait paintings (neither of which I have admittedly really done), but gosh, it’s hard to get excited about them.

Since I started painting I have actively resisted getting into earth tones and browns; the closest I get is having Quinacridone Gold which many people would consider more of a warm yellow. I just always want bright colors instead! Which is honestly not a bad impulse in watercolor, because you can always make muted tones from brights (by mixing complementary colors), but you cannot go the other way around. Anyway, life’s too short to buy paints that don’t spark joy.

But maybe I am missing something? Maybe earth tones CAN spark joy? Will this dot card change my mind??!

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Adventures in Daniel Smith Dot Cards

Daniel Smith dot cards

This Christmas, my Secret Santa gave me the Daniel Smith 238-color dot cards, a sampler that lets me paint just a li’l with (almost) all of Daniel Smith’s colors! This has been amazing, because I was previous learning about colors one-at-a-time, and I always felt like there were more Daniel Smith colors that I didn’t know about appearing from the ether all the time.

With these dot cards, I have been obsessing about color, trying to figure out the optimal palette for me. I’ve almost lost sight of why I’m doing it (to paint pictures). It’s all about the color baybee! Color for its own sake. Who cares about paintings. 

To make my hyperfocus episode not totally feel like a waste of time, I thought I’d share with you some of my experiments in color. I spend hours (days) swatching out colors so you don’t have to! 

Settle in with the beverage of your choice (not to be confused with your dirty paint water) while I summarize my takeaways, one color family at a time.

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Why I love watercolor.

I’ve tried various types of art, but there’s something special about watercolor: it feels like all the skills I’ve honed in various other art forms – photography, pen and ink, colored pencil – are coming together into one perfect mega-medium. Why does it appeal to me so much?  The real answer is that it’s totally … Read more

I am not a watercolor teacher.

I’m a learner, like you. I got my first watercolor paints last Christmas 2020, didn’t open them for three months due to laziness/fear/what if I’m not good at it, and then finally picked up a brush and… wow. Got hooked. Over the last 9 months, I’ve learned how to achieve certain effects pretty reliably, and … Read more