Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith Artists' Materials or Daniel Smith Art Supply are two names for the same company that produces and sells art supplies of the very highest quality. At Stelling, we have chosen to carry the company's watercolor paints in pans as well as on tubes and color cards, as they are some of the absolute best watercolor paints being made in the world.

In addition to the high quality, one very special aspect of Daniel Smith's approach to watercolour paint manufacture is the use of pigment from unique and valuable minerals and rocks, mined from their native homes in American states such as Alaska, Minnesota and Utah, or imported from countries such as Afghanistan and Brazil.

You will therefore find paints in our wide range of Daniel Smith products that contain pigments from geological deposits such as amethyst, rhodonite, serpentinite and turquoise. Because of this special formulation, many paints in the Daniel Smith range are also granular, which is normally a negative feature in watercolour painting, but which can be used here to create stunning and unique textured effects.

The combination of unique pigments and the availability of metallic and interference colours sets Daniel Smith apart from all other watercolour paint manufacturers.

The company's history began when Dan Smith, by then a well-known face in the printing industry, founded Daniel Smith in 1976 in Seattle, Washington, USA. Smith's goal was to produce artist-quality inks and printing inks, as he had discovered through his work as a printer that industrial products had low light fastness and dried too quickly to be used for artistic purposes. Over time, acrylic, watercolour and oil paints were added to the company's range, which has now been slimmed down slightly.

It was reportedly necessary for Dan Smith to sell his motorcycle to start up the business and if this story is true, then today we are all grateful for Dan's sacrifice. In time, however, the deprivation of just engines became too much for Mr Smith, who sold the company on to its current owner, John Cogley, and subsequently set up as an automobile designer in South Dakota.

Whether Dan or John is at the head of the company has not mattered much, however, as both men considered themselves "(...) working in a pigment company that also sold paints". This particular focus away from paint and towards pigments has defined Daniel Smith from its infancy to the present day. Both in the company's quest to be innovative and unique, but just as much in a steely determination to use only the very best ingredients.

Daniel Smith has summed up this vision in three very specific rules for their pigments:

  • They must be safe
  • They must be lightfast
  • They must be reliable

To ensure that the first rule is observed, the company uses only pigments that are completely safe for their employees and for the artist. This has meant, for example, that Daniel Smith has completely abandoned the use of cadmium, which is both toxic and carcinogenic, and instead offers similar shades based on harmless pigments.

In terms of light fastness, Daniel Smith was one of the first companies to embrace modern and highly light fast pigments. These being the quinacridones, pyrrole red, hansagul, anthraquinoid red and perinone orange.

In addition, each paint is tested by placing colour samples in a machine, called a Xenon Arc Fadeometer, which over a 10-day period exposes the paint to ageing equivalent to 100 years of sunlight. The results of these tests are Daniel Smith completely transparent about, which is why all of their paints carry an American Society for Testing and Materials lightfastness rating of either I (Excellent, 100+ years), II (Very Good, 100 years), III (Fair, 50-70 years) or IV (Fugitive, 15-20 years).

Finally, there's the paint's reliability. At Daniel Smith, paints are produced in small batches at a time, which are continuously tested and examined to ensure that the paint matches up perfectly with the desired properties. Daniel Smith has also chosen to buy and stockpile large batches of colour pigment, guaranteeing that they do not run out of any rare pigment or face the undesirable situation that a new batch of pigment does not match up perfectly with an older one.

Paints that are safe, lightfast and reliable fit perfectly with Stelling's own quality standards and if you're interested in trying your hand at Daniel Smith watercolour paints, this great colour card is a great place to start. The colour card comes with 238 different "dots" - almost the full range of colours, so you can easily test which shades and tones are just right for your upcoming project.

283 products

283 products