Latest Videos - Art Supply Reviews & Tutorials

New Van Gogh Metallic & Interference Watercolor Pan Set + Art Nouveau Painting

Being a long time fan of Van Gogh paints manufactured by Royal Talens, I was very excited to hear in late 2018 that they were planning to release new colors. Van Gogh is the affordable, student grade version of their professional quality paint line "Rembrandt". I say "student" pretty loosely because Van Gogh has been known to pop into professional artists palettes for the last decade side by side with the likes of Schmincke and Winsor & Newton Pro. This is for a darn good reason - their tubes are cheap, yet they only use lightfast pigments and some of the highest pigment loads available at the student price point.

Van Gogh NEW WATERCOLORS metallic interference mica colour paint 2018 2019 release pocket box 

I was finally able to get a hold of some of the new colors they released last fall within the USA. This happened to be a pan set, but I'm on the lookout for the tubes and will let you know if I see them pop up anywhere! Luckily, the metallic and interference pan set is here, and it is gorgeous.

Color Chart new van gogh metallic watercolor swatch interference gold bronze copper

The 12 colors include silver, light gold, bronze, graphite, deep gold, copper and interference blue, yellow, violet, white and red. Unlike the metallic colors which are pretty opaque, the interference colors are nearly invisible on white, but are beautiful over other colors especially black. They are great for adding a gentle shimmer over paintings of insects or birds. If you have ever tried Coliro (previously known as Finetec) then you may be familiar with the reflective mica watercolors often used in Calligraphy and decorative accents in watercolor paintings. Recently Paul Rubens brand also put out a mica shimmer "glitter" set too. While that one is less expensive than Coliro or Van Gogh it has some drawbacks.

Dip Pen Calligraphy metallic gold bronze watercolor van gogh paint drawing

Paul Rubens uses a variety of pigments mixed with their mica, so when you paint you are not just getting a shimmer you are getting an underlying color. For instance a copper paint from Coliro or Van Gogh would be just that - copper shimmer. You can rely on it being lightfast and mixable with any color of your other watercolor paints. Paul Rubens however may have a copper-red, where the copper shimmer is the 2nd ingredient to an underlying red-pigment. That can be nice when you want a pre-mixed rainbow set, unfortunately that may also fade away over time (and about 7 colors in my Paul Rubens Glitter set have faded so far).

Art Nouveau Gustav Klimt Gold watercolor painting Kimberly Crick Van Gogh 

The metallic colors were so opaque, and the interference had a gentle shimmer, when used on dark colors. These would be amazing to paint with starting on a black surface, and Van Gogh also just released BLACK WATERCOLOR PAPER to do just that! I was extremely impressed with these paints and the quality of the box they came in. It was a custom molded plastic box with a high quality travel brush and removable palette tray. For roughly the same price point per-color as Coliro, the case and brush were definitely a better deal with Van Gogh.

 

My Coliro cases with the clear-acrylic plastic tops have often cracked easily over time and the circular pans are impossible to use with other common watercolor sets you might own. I also noticed that the Van Gogh seems to be more densely packed, vs Coliro's paints that when wet become a paste easy to use too much of at once. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you would like to buy any of the supplies I used in this review, the Amazon links are below.

 

How to use Alcohol Inks and Lift-Ink stamp pad on plastic!

Today I played with Tim Holtz alcohol inks and lift-ink stamp pad on a variety of slick non-porous plastic surfaces:

 

I used laser cut acrylic charms, domino game tiles and Yupo paper to create some rubber stamped jewelry examples including earrings, necklaces and magnets.

 

 

Tutorial video:

Materials used: Alcohol inks and stamp pads here. White beads and flat laser cut acrylic charms here. Leaf and flower beads here. Other materials like Yupo plastic paper and varnishes that won't make alcohol ink bleed before applying your glue, resin or other sealer for durability can be found on Amazon below. I use Krylon Kamar Varnish, but the Golden polymer UVLS brush on is a good option if you do not mind minor brush strokes. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

 

Happy Crafting :)

Kimberly

Jerry Q Art Professional Artist Grade Watercolors 12 Half Pan Review

Looking for a cheap watercolor travel set, inexpensive enough for kids or a student, but doesn't contain terrible quality paint? This may be worth a look:
Cheap Jerry Q professional quality artist grade watercolor half pan travel set
This set is priced low, I expected the quality of paint to be poor - but that was not the case. The color selection however, leaves a lot to be desired. For a 12 color travel set you really want it to have a Magenta in order to have floral pinks and to be able to mix purples. Instead you get Prussian Blue (sadly a fugitive color) and two convenience greens. It would have been perfect if they swapped out Prussian and one of the Greens to give you Magenta (or Permanent Rose) and Phthalo Blue.
Jerry Q inexpensive artist grade watercolor travel set color swatch cards
Color selection aside, the paints re-wet easily, were creamy, flowed well and reacted to salt as expected. I had no issues with the paint quality. This is a nice way for younger people and students to be able to afford an artist grade professional quality paint without a big price tag. Useful for those just starting to experiment with artist grade paints, who are learning watercolor basics or don't yet know which colors they will reach for most often.
Art Nouveau painting watercolor review cheap inexpensive half pan travel set
What I did have problems with is the packaging, case and brushes. I admit, I am not a fan of metal travel tins, especially with the sharp edges this one has. Not all corners are rolled over, so the tin is razor sharp in several spots. The packaging looked a bit dingy and banged up when I received it, and the tin had a minor dent. The travel brushes included had nice brush heads that held a lot of paint. The small one fit together snugly, but the large brush fell apart in half when doing gentle motions like dipping it into water for rinsing. You could glue it, but then it wouldn't be a travel brush. You could still use it just holding the small half of the brush while traveling. Those few things that were not paint related I took a star away for. In the end, it's still a great value for the money.

 

 

Materials used in this video: Jerry Q 12 watercolor set, Princeton Herirage paint brushes, ceramic cat brush rest, bee paper cold press, waterproof Rohrer & Klingner SketchInk, Rotring Isograph technical pen, Uni-Ball signo gel pen. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

 

KimCrick.com LAUNCH - TheEnchantedGallery.com is getting a makeover!

About me, a story about a tiny home art and crafts business established in 2004:

 

I can hardly believe it is already 2019! Technology has drastically changed with the times since my original website was created at www.TheEnchantedGallery.com. The internet was a new experience for most people, and having a home computer had just become common. Ebay was a new way to clean out your garage by selling antiques and random household goods. Writing checks, sending money orders and paper catalogs were still quite common. That all changed a lot after 2010!

 

When websites were created back in 2004, it was a simpler style of html, with page layouts that were not designed for mobile phones or tablets that became so popular for web browsing about a decade later. Over the past few years my customers have shared their experiences with my outdated site, mostly including issues with display and cart errors while using an I-Phone, Apple's Safari browser, tablets and other mobile phones. Over the years I've had my share of challenges as a single-person art and craft business keeping up with technology changes.

 

Art by Kimberly Crick www.TheEnchantedGallery.com becomes www.KimCrick.com

I started this business as a way to work from home when I developed a serious illness. I was in college at the time, hoping to also teach art classes. I had to drop out suddenly when diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkins Lymphoma. With massive debt from cancer treatments and the inability to work outside of the house for several years, I put forth my best effort to improve my artwork and start a home business. It was a scary time of not being sure I could make ends meet.

 

In recent years, major companies like Shopify, Squarespace and Wix have made creating a mobile-friendly website easier than ever before. Gone are the days where I had to teach myself how to use complicated image editing, managing shopping cart programming and website building software with limited functionality. All the while being the sole proprietor in charge of all products, paintings, photos, publicity, invoicing, packaging and shipping. This was particularly difficult back when I was very sick from chemotherapy. I thought there was no way I would be able to handle the amount of work hours that goes with running your own business.

 

If it weren't for the support I've received from my deeply appreciated customers, I may not have endured through my struggles. A big THANK YOU for your help in making my art and craft business a success. Due to that gratitude and wishing others to have the option to craft as their job, I am an "angel company" (meaning purchases you make of my artwork's digital files, rubber stamps and other supplies can be used to create goods for sale).

 

If you have feedback about any of these site changes, please feel free to comment below! I look forward to many more years of sharing art and supplies for your DIY creations, so that you too may have success with turning your creative hobby into a business:)

 

Kim Crick

Open back pendant trays for resin products new website update mobile friendly


Pretty Excellent MeiLiang Watercolor Review - Best affordable paint set for beginners and card making!

I confess, I'm an art supply junkie. I've been playing with paints and pencils since I was a kid and over the years I've gone through a great deal of art supplies. Many of them could not compete with the high quality of this set. If you are interested in watercolor painting - this is the single BEST DEAL on the market. I only wish it was released years ago to have saved me all the money I spent on lesser quality artist materials!

 Pretty Excellent MeiLiang watercolor paint set 36 color chart review affordable beginner cheap

It's also the watercolor set I would recommend to anyone who has always wanted to TRY watercolors, if you're a crafter making art journals or greeting cards, or even wanting to help a child cheaply upgrade from Crayola/Prang kids grade sets to their first student grade set. Heck, it's so good that even I, spoiled by my artist grade Daniel Smith, Schmincke and Mission Gold paints, still managed to be downright IMPRESSED by this set. At a small fraction of the cost of other paints (you can get this set of 36 colors for the cost of 2 tubes of artist grade paints) it performs almost as well.

I say almost as well as the best artist grade paints for two reasons: One, is all the colors are fairly staining. This can be true for any watercolor brand for certain colors, but this was the majority of them. Now, this can be a good thing for people who like to glaze, as it creates stable bottom layers for going over once the previous layer is dry. It is not good for people who like to use the LIFT method (erasing with a damp brush). However they do otherwise perform well with wet washes, pigment load and the pans are incredibly easy to rewet with a damp brush.

Pretty Excellent MeiLiang Watercolor set review painting color chart swatch rose floral 

The other minor issue is that the color chart was confusing (badly translated) and several colors appear to have optical brighteners (or dye filler). While all colors resulted in beautiful clean mixes, they are not all single pigments and a couple of the colors are not lightfast. If you're familiar with Mission Gold and Qor watercolors, these rival them in vibrancy and intense colors. Some people prefer things muted and natural, or want to use watercolors in a very light pastel tone sort of way. Winsor and Newton Cotman's watercolors are less pigmented than this set, and less vibrant, but they are overall more lightfast. More on lightfast testing coming soon, but so far it appears only 4 of 36 colors are showing any issues.

Pretty Excellent color chart 36 watercolor paint set MeiLiang Amazon review demo

 Watercolor swatch color chart Pretty Excellent MeiLiang paint 36 set travel tin

That being said, this is a remarkably inexpensive set rocking 36 colors in a beautiful tin WITH a travel water brush. It is ready to throw in a purse/backpack and take on an adventure. Personally, I just use it to have a convenient set to paint with when I'm limited on time. There is no need for a separate palette and tubes. Nothing to clean up or set up, just a beautiful set to sit down and CREATE with!

 Pretty Excellent watercolor color chart correct NOT THE ONE FROM BOX

CORRECT COLOR CHART ABOVE - Is different from the one on the back of the box on the physical product. Two colors are different, highlighted on the chart are the ones you will receive instead. A minor issue, mostly because the ones they show you when you order online are actually correct. It's only the box in person and the written codes on the blank chart inside the box that are confusing.

This is the only set most kids, students or crafty adults would ever need to do impressive watercolor paintings. The color selection is robust, with plenty of slightly different colors for mixing new colors (ideal for getting that warm or cool hue just right). With permanent rose and a variety of blues (that thankfully is not limited to ultramarine commonly found in cheap sets) you'll be able to mix other purples long after your purple pan runs out.

Professional artists who sell their work may require greater control over knowing pigment ingredients, an entire line of lightfast paints or the ability to restock colors individually via tubes. Though, the artist grade version of "Pretty Excellent MeiLiang" is "Paul Rubens", which is a little more creamy (just the right amount of gum arabic and low amount of fillers) and shows all pigment ingredients. The Paul Rubens set is on-par with my Schmincke, Rembrandt, non granulating Daniel Smith and other high end paints for a fraction of the cost of those brands.

For everyone else, this set could last you through many many projects and give you the quality needed to not be discouraged. (No one likes wondering "Is it the paint, or is it me?") As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. You can find this set, an affordable paper option, and the Paul Rubens professional quality upgrade, on Amazon through the link below. 

 

Paul Rubens watercolor review - Affordable professional quality artist half pan sets in 12 24 or 48 colors

Paul Rubens watercolor half pan 48 color paint set dry pigment color chart

If you're a serious watercolor painter, this new brand might make you regret buying other professional paints in the past. I've been painting with Sennlier, Schmincke and Rembrandt for a few years and those paints can cost a small fortune in 48 color sets. Not Paul Rubens though, these are roughly 1/3 the price... but are they good?

Paul Rubens compared to Rembrandt Sennelier Schmincke watercolor paints quality

Not just good. They are great. So great in fact that I am so sad they weren't released to the USA sooner to have saved me a lot of money. There is overall very little granulation in this brand (outside of the normal for Ultramarines, Umbers and Cobalt Teal) so I will not directly compare them to my Daniel Smith paints who are known for that characteristic.

Paul Rubens watercolor painting berry leaves floral sky blue clouds tutorial review

However, they are every bit as good as every other professional quality brand in performance, pigment load, salt reaction, flow, lifting and glazing. Let's not forget almost entirely LIGHTFAST too! Paul Rubens paints have been around for a few years now in China, but it wasn't until mid 2018 the half pan sets started being easily obtained on Amazon.com.

 Paul Rubens watercolor lightfast test fade fugitve high quality sun testing light fastness

The 12 and 24 color standard (and also the mica sets) are available here now. The 48 color set is supposed to arrive mid 2019. The importer for Paul Rubens (and their student brand Pretty Excellent "MeiLiang") has been allowing those of us in the states to purchase these safely and quickly. They are even introducing their watercolor papers and brushes now, which are also amazing.

 Paul Rubens 12 and 24 color chart selection set information watercolors

WARNING about buying from China: I tried to get some of the Paul Rubens tubes and other full pan sets that aren't available in my country directly from 3rd party Chinese import sellers. I ended up having great difficulty (between month long shipping times, import duties and sadly a rip-off artist on the Chinese version of Ebay who slapped a fake tracking number on my order and it took months for me to recover the cash!) So I can tell you from personal experience, it's worth the wait for them to become available on from good ol' reliable Amazon.

 Best professional artist watercolor paints Paul Rubens 48 color chart set

Note --- 05-2019 --- 48 SET NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON USA. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. They also have a lovely mica based glitter shimmer paint set, which really sparkles on both light and dark papers! 

Daniel Smith Ultimate Mixing Set Watercolor Half Pan Review

This 15 color half pan selection was picked by artist Jane Blundell. If you are a fan of hers and like her color mixing charts or book, then this set was made for you. Unfortunately I do not believe there is a one size fits all "ultimate mixing" selection for all artists, especially if you like bright and unique colors. This set contains too many browns for graphic design, abstract art and vibrant non photo-realism artwork. The price is high for being filled with cheap pigments. D.S. tube paints vary from about $11-$20 a tube, and these colors are all in the $11-$14 range. To put this in perspective, each pan is costing you about $5 when you can get a whole 15ml tube for about $11 that would fill that roughly 2ml half-pan tray about 7 times.

Daniel Smith color swatch Goethite Buff Titanium Ultimate Mixing Set Jane Blundell

You may think this is a great way to try Daniel Smith paints without having to invest in a lot of tube colors, resulting in a higher upfront investment. However, I would take a very close look at the color selection and decide if you think it is worth this price. They are not unique outside of Goethite brown. You can get sets from other companies with these basic colors for a lot cheaper. If you want to see what makes Daniel Smith so special, I highly recommend the primatek granulating mineral color tubes or the 6-half pan sets instead that contain some hidden gems. Such as the Blues set on Amazon full of granulating minerals and the very expensive "sleepy beauty turquoise" which would run you $20 just for that color if you bought it in tube form).

Daniel Smith Ultimate mixing set half pan color swatch cerulean blue chromium jane blundell

The case is compact - that is the best thing to say about it. You can fit many in your purse, a couple in your pocket. The lid does not lay flat and there is a gap so colors can just run out of the case if you try to mix on the lid. I fixed this for myself using Elmers white school glue or a glue gun to create a grid (see picture).

Ultimate mixing set Daniel Smith watercolors palette case glue fix

 

The paints are high quality, but the price and case were disappointing. Many people assumed this set was ready for travel, then learned the hard way that the paint will end up all over your table (or worse, all over your work) if you use the lid as a palette. Landscape painters seemed to approve of the color selection, while people who love bright or hard to mix colors (looking at you Cobalt Turquoise) were confused by all the browns and a convenience gray (an easily mixed color in a set designed for mixing colors?) While I love Daniel Smith paints, this set just didn't add up in value for me.

 

 

Materials used or mentioned in this review: Daniel Smith Ultimate Mixing Set, Primatek Watercolors Set, Blues Half Pan Set, Bee Cold Press 140# Cotton Paper, Princeton Neptune Paint Brush, Rotring Isograph Technical Pen filled with waterproof Rohrer & Klingner sketchINK, Uni-Ball Signo UM-153 white gel pen. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

Daniel Smith Half Pan Sketcher Watercolors by Urban Sketch Artist Liz Steel

Review, color swatch cards, demo painting and video:

Daniel Smith Sketcher set color chart pigment color code transparent opaque granulate

While you can mix some greens and purples with this set, the blues are more muted than a Phthalo would be, resulting in olive to spring green (no deep emeralds) and a muted floral purple (no deep royal purple). Both blues are granulating, an important note because all colors you mix with them will have a texture effect. There is a lot of potential for realistic skies and landscapes. Create neutral grays to blue-grays with the ultramarine/transparent red oxide mixes, which is great for shadows or darkening other colors. I think it works well for buildings, and vague landscape details, as intended by urban-sketcher artist Liz Steel that picked the selection. Overall it is a versatile set for color mixing, though I prefer the cleaner vibrant color mixes of the floral set instead of this sketcher set. All paints re-wet easily, the only 2 that are very staining are quin rose and hansa yellow, while the other 4 lift pretty well (erase).
Daniel Smith watercolor cerulean blue chrome ultramarine quin rose swatch card paint sample
Color swatch cards showing the salt reaction, masstone, diluted, transparency and lift (erase) ability of the six colors in this set. Includes Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue Chromium, Quinacridone Rose, Hansa Yellow Medium, Monte Amiata Natural Sienna, Transparent Red Oxide.
Watercolor paint swatch chart color monte amiata natural sienna, transparent red oxide, hansa yellow medium daniel smtih paints
Unfortunately for a set with an urban sketching theme, the case makes it difficult to work with the paints outside the house. The case is very simple, without any mixing areas. This disappointed quite a few people who wanted a travel-ready case that would not leak (the lid does not seal on the bending side, so paint will drip out). The lid does not open flat, so it can be difficult to mix large pools of paint without them running down the lid and onto the table. I paint small and did not have a problem with that, but you could decide to use a couple of the empty pan spaces for mixing to make it work for larger washes. Using a waterbrush, or mixing your colors directly on the paper, along with painting in a sketchbook/small format make working with this case A LOT easier. There is one very nice perk to this case - it is absolutely tiny. The most compact case I've ever seen for watercolors, measuring just 3" x 4" and 3/4" thick. This will easily slide into a pocket. You can fit several sets into a purse. If you use a water brush, or you mix your colors on paper instead of in a palette, this case can work out quite well for you. Because it is made from plastic, not a metal tin that may have sharp edges, there won't be any rusting over time or accidental cuts. It also has a beautifully embossed metallic logo on the front of it, giving it an elegant appearance.

The pans pop out, allowing you to reorder the colors if you wish. With the empty space below the pans you are free to decide to move the inserts into another case or altoids tin, then use this case without inserts for tube colors. As it comes, it is not ideal for shaky hands or laps, as you can dump the paints out. I found the lid to close securely, but it is easy to open if you lift from the edges (not the center). I've seen a few reviews saying they handled this roughly and spilled the pans out on the floor, but if you know ahead of time what to expect this should not be an issue in controlled environments. However, for this particular set aimed at outdoor sketching, I can see fumbling with these paints outside to be very problematic.
For those new to watercolor, almost all commonly available pan (dry) sets are in a small size format called "half pans". The tiny 18x11x10mm rectangles of paint should last through dozens of small paintings. I do not recommend half pan sets at all for people who like to paint large (over 8x10"). If you paint large, tube watercolors and a dedicated palette are better for cost, mixing, and allowing large brushes the room they need to pick up color without damaging them. These small sets are good for artwork in the ATC to 5"x7" range using round brushes up to size 8, or roughly 1/4" flats. Knowing these things ahead of time helped me make an informed purchase, and be happy with what I received. I hope that you found this review helpful :)

Daniel Smith watercolor painting Sketcher set floral fairy artwork by Kimberly Crick art

If you do a lot of ink drawing, find yourself going through a lot of pens, and want your art to be lightfast - I highly recommend Rohrer's SketchINK in a technical pen (I use Rotring Isograph 0.20mm tip for fine detail, but these also work in fountain pens for a flexible width stroke). They are totally waterproof, easy to refill and won't fade (unlike expensive micron pens).

Materials used in this video: Daniel Smith Sketcher watercolor set, Princeton Herirage paint brushes, ceramic cat brush rest, bee paper cold press, multiple colors of lightfast and waterproof Rohrer & Klingner SketchInk, Rotring Isograph technical pen, Uni-Ball signo gel pen. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Daniel Smith Watercolor Half Pan EARTH Desert to Mountains Review

"That's a lot of browns. Are the colors different enough to be worth buying this set? I don't usually use black..." Those are the first thoughts I had debating this purchase. I'm glad I decided to buy this set, as it would have cost me just over double this price to just try these colors in tubes.

 Daniel Smith desert mountains earth half pan watercolor set travel case

If you paint desert scenes, animals, or particularly love the pigments in this set, the tube prices are better in the long run (a tube would fill a half pan about 7 times, but only be about 2 times the cost of one of these half pans). If you don't paint super often, or you don't always reach for the same supplies, and are discouraged by time consuming set up/clean up of using tubes/palette this was a nice convenience item. While I enjoy these paints, I am not prone to using pre-made browns often enough to have a whole tube sitting around. For me, it was worth satisfying my curiosity at a lower initial money investment. Especially for the unusual color "Bronzite" a glittering, mica-like, sparkly brown mineral that I may use only on special occasions. Lunar Black is a granulation delight, it will amaze you with the effortless texture you can create and it looks stunning mixed with other colors. I used Lunar Black to darken the Burnt Sienna to a deep brown, and to give a gritty textured look with Raw Sienna on the sparrow bird beak.

 Daniel Smith color chart swatch card burnt sienna indian red raw sienna light

(This set contains Burnt Sienna Light, Venetian Red, Raw Sienna Light, Lunar Black, Bronzite Genuine and Buff Titanium colors as shown in these swatch cards)

Daniel Smith Lunar Black Bronzite Genuine Buff Titanium watercolor swatch card color chart
This ended up being a really nice portrait set, as you can create lovely skin tones with the burnt sienna and buff titanium, blush and lips using venetian red, lovely blonde hair with the raw sienna.... and the colors are perfect for many common birds too (see my example painting in the images). Daniel Smith dry pans are the same formula as their tubes, and both formats are remarkably pigmented and re-wet easily.

Watercolor painting review example demo portrait earth half pan daniel smith


The case is very simple, without any mixing areas, and not made to be a stand-alone palette. The case could have been easier to use, and would not have cost them much more money to create. This disappointed quite a few people who wanted a travel-ready case that would not leak (the lid does not seal on the opening side, so paint will spill out), however there is one very nice perk to this case. It is absolutely tiny. The most compact case I've ever seen for watercolors, measuring just 3"x4" and 3/4" thick. This will easily slide into a pocket. You can fit several sets into a purse. If you use a water brush, or you mix your colors on paper instead of in a palette, this case can work out quite well for you. Because it is made from plastic, not a metal tin that may have sharp edges, there won't be any accidental cuts or rust spots over time.

 animal art bird sparrow portrait woman lady watercolor painting daniel smith artist materials


The pans pop out, allowing you to reorder the colors if you wish. With the empty space below them you are free to decide to move them into another case, and use this case for your own custom 15 tube colors. It is not ideal for shaky hands or laps, as you can dump the paints out. I found the lid to close securely, but it is easy to open if you lift from the edges (not the center). I've seen a few reviews saying they handled this roughly and spilled the pans out on the floor, but if you know ahead of time what to expect this should not be an issue.

 

For those new to watercolor, almost all commonly available pan (dry) sets are in a small size format called "half pans". The tiny 18x11x10mm rectangles of paint should last through dozens of small paintings. I do not recommend half pan sets at all for people who like to paint large (over 8x10"). If you paint large, tube watercolors and a dedicated palette are better for cost, mixing, and allowing large brushes the room they need to pick up color without damaging them. These small sets are good for sketchbooks and preferably artwork in the ATC to 5"x7" range using round brushes up to size 8, or roughly 1/4" flats.

 

Materials used in this video: Daniel Smith earth pan watercolor set, Princeton Herirage paint brushes,  bee paper cold press, waterproof Rohrer & Klingner Black Pigment Sketch Ink, Rotring Isograph technical pen, Uni-Ball signo gel pen. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

Daniel Smith Blues Watercolor Half Pan Set Dramatic to Serene Review

Daniel Smith half pan set BLUES serene to dramatic plastic travel slim half pan case set

This set is all blues. While it should not be considered a stand-alone set (they expect you to fill in the blank spaces with other colors you own) it is possible to use just blue for a painting. This is a nice sampling of what Daniel Smith has to offer in the way of blue colors that are not usually included in a set. Typically pan sets come with Phthalo Blue, Ultramarine, and sometimes the terribly fugitive Prussian Blue, which I am thankful are not in this set. While any one color could create a monochromatic painting, this selection definitely covers more than just one shade of blue. Three of the dark blues may appear similar at first glance, especially in masstone (full strength) but they perform differently from each other when used in wet washes. Four of six colors granulate. All lift well (erase). Lunar Blue and Sodalite are capable of extreme texture and color separation effects in wet washes (especially when using a lot of water on cold or rough press textured papers). I find this set really helpful for painting underwater scenes, mermaids, night time and winter landscapes. For those who paint abstractly, they can be used for great contrast and texture effects that only Daniel Smith as a brand can provide. Several of these colors are not available by any other paint manufacturer, as the pigment ingredient is a D.S. exclusive. All are lightfast, re-wet easily with a damp brush, and only cerulean seems weaker than the other colors (but that is pretty normal for this pigment in dry pan form).
Mermaid watercolor painting blue underwater Daniel Smith sodalite sleeping beauty turquoise
If you're looking for a non-toxic alternative to Cobalt Teal, the Sleeping Beauty Turquoise genuine is a similar but slightly softer blue-green. For a single tube of that color alone you may spend a large portion of the cost of this set. This is really worth it if you are just really wanting to TRY a color. I don't need 6 tubes of non-primary blue paints, nor was I sure which one of them I would like the most. After I use these for a few months, I'll see what colors I continue to reach for over time. If I use up a pan of paint, then it is time to consider buying a tube of that color. While they cost more up front, tubes will always be better price-wise per ml (15ml tubes can fill a half pan tray about 7 times). I'm trying to not hoard too many supplies I won't use, so I appreciate this little sampler until I know I'll use a color often enough to warrant a whole tube. Overall because of the specialty pigments used in this set, I think the value was better than the other sets they put together (especially compared to their "ultimate mixing set" that contained mostly common cheap colors).
Daniel Smith color chart swatch Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Cerulean Lunar Blue

(This set includes the colors Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Genuine, Cerulean Blue, Lunar Blue, Sodalite Genuine, Indigo and Payne's Blue-Gray.)

Daniel Smith Watercolor Indigo Paynes Blue Gray Sodalite Genuine color chart swatch card

The case is very simple, without any mixing areas. This disappointed quite a few people who wanted a travel-ready case that would not leak (the lid does not seal on the bending side, so paint will spill out). The lid does not open flat, so it can be difficult to mix large pools of paint without them running down the lid and onto the table. I paint small and did not have a problem with that, but you could decide to use a couple of the empty pan spaces for mixing to make it work for larger washes. Using a waterbrush, or mixing your colors directly on the paper, along with painting in a sketchbook/small format make working with this case A LOT easier. There is one very nice perk to this case - it is absolutely tiny. The most compact case I've ever seen for watercolors, measuring just 3"x4" and 3/4" thick. This will easily slide into a pocket. You can fit several sets into a purse. If you use a water brush, or you mix your colors on paper instead of in a palette, this case can work out quite well for you. Because it is made from plastic, not a metal tin that may have sharp edges, there won't be any rusting over time or accidental cuts. It also has a beautifully embossed metallic logo on the front of it, giving it an elegant appearance. 

 The pans pop out, allowing you to reorder the colors if you wish. With the empty space below the pans you are free to decide to move the inserts into another case or altoids tin, then use this case without inserts for tube colors. As is, it is not ideal for shaky hands or laps, as you can dump the paints out. I found the lid to close securely, but it is easy to open if you lift from the edges (not the center). I've seen a few reviews saying they handled this roughly and spilled the pans out on the floor, but if you know ahead of time what to expect this should not be an issue. For those new to watercolor, almost all commonly available pan (dry) sets are in a small size format called "half pans". The tiny 18x11x10mm rectangles of paint should last through dozens of small paintings. I do not recommend half pan sets at all for people who like to paint large (over 8x10"). If you paint large, tube watercolors and a dedicated palette are better for cost, mixing, and allowing large brushes the room they need to pick up color without damaging them. These small sets are good for artwork in the ATC to 5"x7" range using round brushes up to size 8, or roughly 1/4" flats. Knowing these things ahead of time helped me make an informed purchase, and be happy with what I received.

Materials used in this video: Daniel Smith blues pan watercolor set, Princeton Herirage paint brushes, bee paper 140# cold press, waterproof Rohrer & Klingner Sketch-Ink, Rotring Isograph technical pen, Uni-Ball signo gel pen. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.