Product Review: Daniel Smith Watercolor Sticks

Daniel Smith Watercolor sticks. Image © Daniel Smith.

Daniel Smith, the art supply company, has introduced a set of watercolor sticks. Almost pure watercolor, these sticks have multiple uses. They are a bit spendy at $12.49 each, so I took advantage of the two-for-one Indanthrone Blue and New Gamboge, a warm yellow. I added a Quinadcrinone Red so I could mix my own colors.

If you travel or take classes, having stick watercolors is a big advantage. The flip-top tubes pop open in flight or in a bag, and while you can control damage, it still makes a mess and you lose paint. The sticks are clean, compact, and easy to carry.

The Daniel Smith watercolor sticks put down a lot of color very well. Below is the result on Canson

Daniel Smith watercolor sticks applied dry, then wet with a brush. 3 colors used: red, blue, yellow

Cold-Pressed 90-lb. watercolor paper. I rubbed the sticks over the paper, then used a wet brush to blend the colors together. The colors went down rich and the water made blending easy and color-true. The yellow is transparent, but the red was more opaque.

After I applied the colors directly to the paper, I dipped the sticks in water and used them wet. As expected, the color went down even more intensely. Because the ends are blunt, control was a little shaky. No worries, you can buy a pencil sharpener for these sticks. Don’t waste the shavings, put them into your palette, spritz with distilled water, and you have more watercolor. (Distilled water is especially necessary if you live in a hard-water area and want to keep the excess calcium carbonate from leaching into your images.

There are 40 colors available. Image from Daniel Smith's website.

The sticks are made with almost no binder, and are almost entirely watercolor. This means there is no waxy residue and longer life. That makes the price a bit easier to take. It also makes it easy to use a wet brush, wipe it against the sticks, and paint directly onto your paper. Want to blend colors? Sure, just transfer the color from your brush to palette, mix colors on the palette, and paint from there.

These colors are rich and apply well. For travelers or art journalers, they are worth the extra price.

FTC-required Full disclosure: I purchased 3 watercolor sticks and the Canson paper from Daniel Smith.

Quinn McDonald is a writer, artist and life- and creativity coach. She is writing a book for art journalers who can’t draw. The book will be published in June of 2011 by North Light Craft Books.