Watercolours: Daler-Rowney Artists Watercolours (review)

Travelling between various university campuses for research and teaching purposes can sometimes be a drag, but I can usually find something good about each one. For my ‘base’ campus, it’s the fact that the bookshop also sells art supplies. Though it’s fun to look at them, a lot of it is overpriced, so I usually don’t end up buying anything. Occasionally, though, they’ll have a special, or – even better – a tub of clearance items marked right down. Any time I see that plastic clearance tub, I always have a rummage through it to see what I can find, and on one occasion I was lucky enough to dig out a pretty nice selection of Daler-Rowney Artist Watercolours (the Daler-Rowney Georgian paints in the top left were ones I already had, which my Nan had given me some time earlier; they have not been reviewed here).

Daler Rowney Watercolours

Here is the colour chart for the Daler-Rowney paints I bought.

DR WC Chart

As you can see from my swatches, the colours are generally strong and vibrant, with the exception of Nickel Titanate Yellow and Terre Verte Hue (though I’m not sure if these colours are weak because of low pigment concentration or because of the nature of the pigments themselves) although some of them had a slightly ‘chalky’ look (which doesn’t show up in my scan but is visible to the naked eye). I’m not sure if this is due to fillers in the paint or just how they were mixed. Even though some of of the ‘cadmium’ colours were only hues, they were still strong and performed as well as their genuine cadmium counterparts, though possibly slightly less opaque. While some brands can easily be lifted without leaving much residue on the paper, I found the Daler-Rowney watercolours did stain the paper a little when lifted off.

Though these paints had been sitting in my cupboard for a couple of years before I got around to writing this review, none of them had solidified or hardened in the tube, which I was happy about since it seems to be a big issue with some other brands (*cough* Winsor & Newton *cough*). The Cobalt Green Deep had begun to separate in the tube, but not to the extent I’ve seen with other watercolour tubes. When I left some blobs of the paint to dry in my palette for a few days, I noticed that they generally rewet quite well and it didn’t take too much scrubbing to get them going again (with the slight exception of Mars Violet; I had to put a drop of water on it and let it sit for a minute or two, but then it was fine).

When purchased from a normal art supply retailer, Daler-Rowney Artists’s Watercolours range from about $7-12 for 5ml tubes, with 15ml tubes costing a little under double for the equivalent colour series. This makes them about half the cost of Winsor & Newton watercolours when bought locally and competitively priced compared to most other brands, so it might be worth trying a few colours to see if you like them, as they are certainly comparable in terms of quality. Daler Rowney watercolours are also available in pans and half pans, though you’d have to buy them from the US or the UK as it seems that local art supply stores only carry the tubes.

I couldn’t use all of the Daler-Rowney watercolours as I have sold some of them on eBay since taking the first photo in this post (many of them were similar to colours I already had in other brands). The only colours I had left were Perylene Red, Cobalt Green Deep, Transparent Red and Mars Violet, but I thought this limited selection would still allow me to paint some cherries.

Cherries DR WC

Daler-Rowney watercolours are a reasonably good choice in terms of quality and price. Depending on where you live, the cost might make them less viable if you have access to local brands that are cheaper, but I think most people won’t go far wrong if they use these watercolours.

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