Da Vinci Dot Cards Part 5: Earth Tones & Neutrals

Da Vinci Dot Cards – all Earth Tones

We’ve reached the final stretch! I’ll finish up the DV dot cards today by exploring the earth tones (DV has some of my favorites!) and neutrals like black, white, and gray. I’ll also answer the question: which Da Vinci colors are not in this dot card set?

Read more

Da Vinci Complete Dot Cards Part 1: Yellows & Oranges

When I originally swatched Da Vinci, the only dot card they offered was a tiny one with just 24 of their 100+ colors. They finally released a full dot card set of all their colors, so naturally I jumped on it, as Da Vinci is one of my favorite lines!

The 110 colors come in a set of five 24-well clamshell boxes.

Da Vinci dot card set

Just like the 24-color set, the dots are very generous – you could do a whole painting with one, and I did multiple swatches instead of the barely-one I could do with the DS and WN dot cards. 

Da Vinci yellow, orange, and red dot card

I ended up going a bit deeper in this dot card exploration than in previous dot card posts – because I have a pretty solid paint library already, I was able to compare several of the colors in the same light to colors I already have in order to make comparisons on-the-fly. So, I’ll be breaking this out into several posts to be able to give each one more attention.

First up: Yellows and oranges!

Read more

Winsor & Newton Dot Cards!

I got more dot cards! I’m dotty for dot cards!

Winsor & Newton dot card

Overall Brand Impressions: This is the smallest of the dot card catalogs I’ve tried so far, 109 colors to Daniel Smith’s 238 and Schmincke’s 140. Still, I didn’t swatch them all out because I was running out of room in my color sketchbook, so I started to triage colors I was most interested in. Either way, I didn’t notice any colors missing. 

The colors I swatched out tended to be pleasingly vibrant with a high pigment load, and they were easy to handle even for my inexperienced hands (much easier than Schmincke). Most were non-granulating, which I prefer. I was overall pleased!

The only thing that gives me pause about the company from my experiences so far is their price (a bit on the high side) combined with my impression that they’re sort of nickel-and-dimey. The dots were pretty flat and less generous than other brands’, so I couldn’t do more than basic swatches; I couldn’t make the larger color spotlights, or test-drive a painting with them. Also, standard WN tubes are 14ml, unlike the 15ml of every other brand, driving the price-per-ounce even higher when you take into the account the higher price tag.

Overall, I’m unlikely to choose a WN version of a color unless I have a distinct preference for it over Daniel Smith. So… will it happen??

Below, my dot card journey.

Read more

Schmincke Horadam Dot Cards!

I just can’t get enough dot cards! Last time, I explored Daniel Smith’s, and now I’m onto the German company Schmincke, named for its 1881 founder Hermann Schmincke. Horadam is the name of their artist grade watercolor line, named for another of their founders, the chemist Josef Horadam.

The Dot Card in question, complete. They got it all done in 2 pages!

General Brand Impressions: Schmincke has a smaller catalogue than Daniel Smith (140 colors vs 238), but still quite extensive, and nothing feels like it’s missing. (I think DS just has 100 useless colors, tbh.) All of the hits are here, as well as some interesting mixes. I found the line overall quite internally consistent, with most colors being highly pigmented and non-granulating. There were very few duds. On the other hand, as a beginner, I found them comparatively difficult to swatch out because they are easily to over-dilute, creating harsh paint lines. Basically they’re huge drama queens about too much water. I think if I were better at water control, this might be my favorite line, but Daniel Smith is friendlier for a person of, ah, inconsistent quality.

Allergy note: All Schmincke’s paints contain isothiazolinones (presumably in the binder), which some people are allergic to.

Pull up a chair while I swatch out every color!

Read more

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??!

Read more

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.

Read more