Product Review: Daniel Smith Prima Tek Watercolors

Daniel Smith is an art store in Seattle. Their watercolors come in various packages–pans, tubes, watercolor sticks. The Prima Tek line are colors ground from pure earth minerals. The idea seemed brilliant, but were the colors brilliant, too? I ordered six tubes in colors I use, rather than in sets to mix.

Colors are listed top to bottom and left to right.

Six samples of Daniel Smith Prima Tek Watercolors

First Row, left to right: Piemontite is a semi-transparent, dark garnet with deep shadows.The mineral is mined in Italy.  In the sample I painted it dry on dry and then mixed in a bit of water. I love the transparency and the intensity of the tone. It has a bit of violet granulation that adds interest.

Kyanite is a blue gray gemstone with a bright sparkle. Here, the watercolor has a distinct shimmer and granulation that varies from blue-gray to fog. It is a transparent color that works well in light washes and darker night skies.

Middle row, left to right: Sugilite is a purple-gray gemstone that creates a transparent watercolor with a deep silver sparkle. The gray settles with a graphite sheen, and the fuchsia-pink rises in the wash to create a blended transparency. The amount of sheen and sparkle was surprising. I’m eager to try it on black paper.

Burnt Bronzite: Bronzite contains iron ore that adds a subtle sparkle and a big range of brown to orange. The information from Daniel Smith says that the color is good for use in skin tones. The effect in wet-on-wet application is worth trying.

Bottom Row, left to right: Bloodstone. A dark green jasper with flecks of red, it is translated here as a ground mineral that has a deep gray, almost purple coloring with distinct granulation. I think for night skies, it would mix well with kyanite.

Tigers Eye: The stone itself is shimmery in golds and browns. I was expecting the same from the watercolor, because it contains iron oxide. Instead, it is an olive drab with ash brown undertones, no sparkles. It was surprising, but not disappointing. The color separation between olive and brown is versatile and interesting.

The Prima Tek colors are not cheap,  from $7.89 (Mummy Bauxite) to $20.24 (Vivianite) in 15 ml. tubes (about 2.5 inches long).  There are a few in the $10 range, and most fall between $13 and $15. There are 36 colors in all, in a wide range of gem tones. I’m eager to use them as washes and backgrounds in my journal, perhaps as Chine collé,  because the colors are complex and textural.

They are not all the same texture, and I would advise opening them over your palette. I was too eager to open mine, which were hot from the delivery truck, and some of them ran out of the tube fast. Let them cool to room temperature first.

FTC disclosure: I purchased all of the paints from Daniel Smith.

Quinn McDonald is a writer and raw art journaler.

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4 thoughts on “Product Review: Daniel Smith Prima Tek Watercolors

    • Chine colle is two things–the first is method of making prints similar to monoprints. The second is creating a collage from painted papers or unusual papers rather than magazine or newspaper pieces.

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