Daniel Smith Watercolor Sticks are a fantastic artist’s tool made from artist quality colored pigments and Gum Arabic. It has no fillers. The watercolors are vibrant and bold! These sticks can be used as a watercolor pan, which is what I personally use it for, and can be used for drawing. Draw with it dry or wet for different effects.
I recommend beginning with four colors, as these sticks are a bit expensive to just dive into without personally experimenting to see if you like them as much as I do. The following four colors will give you similar mixes that the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK) effects of modern color printers have.
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Hansa Yellow Medium
While it will take a bit of experimenting with these four colors to get the desired tones, it is well worth it because it will teach you how to mix colors! This is very important to know how to do, particularly if you intend to create many watercolor paintings on a budget using high quality artist materials.
These four colors are available in any medium and by most art material manufacturers. So, in effect, once you get the hang of mixing with these colors, you should have no trouble mixing colors with acrylic paints, oil paints, or even colored pencils, pastels et cetera.
Drawing with the DS watercolor sticks left a bit of wanting. Since each pigment has its own characteristics, it is difficult to get consistent lines and color strength. Drawing with watercolor sticks is not as good as drawing with watercolor pencils. I know they were trying to go for the oil paint tubes vs. oil bars, but it is just not working on that front. If you worked it with water, the colors draw better, but the stick will saturate and start bending and moving like gum! Plus, your fingers and anything else that the watercolor sticks come into contact with will become part of the colorful clean up. 😉
However, with that said, I hope they never change this formulation, because these sticks make for the best traditional watercolor pans I have used EVER. You can use the watercolor sticks in addition to watercolor pencils, as well as watercolor tubes and pans. So, the artistic experimentations are endless.
As previously stated, these sticks are initially pricy, but the fact that one stick gives you six half pans or three full pans, it pays for itself quickly! One half pan of a typical Winsor & Newton will set you back about $10, for around the same price you can get a Daniel Smith watercolor three-inch stick.
Getting a metal watercolor box is an excellent addition to your arsenal of supplies. You can cut the Daniel Smith watercolor sticks to fit within the full pans, or pour existing watercolor tube colors into the pans. Daniel Smith watercolor sticks works with regular watercolors as they are made from pigment and Gum Arabic, just like tube watercolors (less the glycerin). Daniel Smith watercolor sticks are about three inches long, and makes three full pans each. These are very economical in the long run.
If you do not want to sport for a metal watercolor tin just yet, consider purchasing a Daniel Smith Watercolor Stick Case which is plastic container that holds five watercolor sticks.
If you need a brush, and can only afford or only have room for ONE brush, I HIGHLY recommend the Winsor & Newton Series 7 number 2. I swear by this brush, I’ve had mine for 10 faithful years and it is still going strong. The brush is worth the money.