Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith Artists' Materials or Daniel Smith Art Supply are two names for the same company that produces and sells artist supplies of the highest quality.

At Stelling, we have chosen to carry the company's watercolor paints in tubes, as they are some of the absolute best watercolor paints made in the world.

Daniel Smith - watercolor of the highest quality

In addition to the high quality, a very special aspect of Daniel Smith's approach to making watercolor paints is the use of pigments from unique and valuable minerals and rocks. These are 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. Due to this special formula, many of the paints in the Daniel Smith range are also granular, which is usually a negative characteristic in watercolor painting, but can be used to create amazing and unique textured effects.

The combination of the distinctive pigments, as well as the fact that they offer metallic and interference colors, sets Daniel Smith apart from all other watercolor paint manufacturers on the market today.

The history of Daniel Smith watercolor

The company's history began when Dan Smith, already a well-known face in the printing industry at the time, founded Daniel Smith. This happened in 1976 in Seattle, Washington, USA. Smith's goal was to produce artist-quality inks and inks, as he had discovered through his work as a printer that the industrial products had poor lightfastness and dried up too quickly to be used for artistic purposes. Over time, acrylic, watercolor and oil paints were added to the company's range, which is now slightly narrower.

It was reportedly necessary for Dan Smith to sell his motorcycle to get the business off the ground. If this story is true, then today we are all grateful for his decision to do so. Over time, however, the lack of engines became too much for Mr. Smith, who sold the company to its current owner, John Cogley, and subsequently settled down as an automotive designer in South Dakota.

The special vision behind Daniel Smith watercolor

Whether Dan or John is at the helm of the company hasn't mattered much, however, as both men saw themselves as "working in a pigment company that also sells paint".

This particular focus on the pigments rather than the paint has defined Daniel Smith from its early days to the present day. Both in the company's quest to be innovative and unique, but just as much in a steadfast determination to use only the very best ingredients.

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

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

Safe watercolors

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

Lightfast watercolors

When it comes to lightfastness, Daniel Smith was one of the first companies to embrace modern and highly lightfast pigments. These included quinacridones, pyrrole red, hansa yellow, anthraquinoid red and perinon orange.

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

Reliable watercolor paints

Finally, there is the reliability of the paint. At Daniel Smith, paints are produced in small batches at a time. Continuous testing ensures that the paint perfectly matches up with the desired properties.

Daniel Smith has also chosen to buy and store large batches of color pigment to guarantee that they do not run out of any rare pigment or face the undesirable situation where a new batch of pigment does not match up perfectly with an older one.