I thought it was time to review the other American watercolour paints my parents brought back from their overseas holiday, so I finally dug the tubes out of my drawer, where they’ve been languishing for the last few years.
I wanted to get a red or a magenta but unfortunately the one I’d written down for my parents to buy was out of stock in the art shop they visited, so I don’t have as wide a range of colours here to test as I’d like.
EDIT: I just remembered that some time last year, I discovered I could order a dot set from Da Vinci’s site, which I did, but then promptly shoved it in a drawer and forgot about it because I was busy with uni when it arrived.
I’ve just dug it out and painted another chart with the 24 colours in the dot set and the two tube colours I had that weren’t included.
In terms of pigment concentration, they’re up there with other reputable watercolour brands, although perhaps at the lower end of the artist grade scale. They rewet reasonably well (I found the Cobalt Blue Deep was sometimes a little reluctant to budge but nowhere near as stubborn as Winsor & Newton colours after they’ve dried out), and the colours I tried were generally easy to lift off the paper without leaving much of a stain. They also seem to be slightly less ‘active’ when used wet-in-wet than other brands I’ve tried. What I mean by this is that when you drop a Da Vinci colour into a wet area of another colour, it spreads a little, but not as far or as quickly as my Golden QoR or my Daniel Smith paints. If you’ve used Holbein watercolours, the Da Vinci ones behave in a somewhat similar manner to those, though slightly more active. This may be good or bad depending on how you like to use wet-in-wet techniques.
While there are quite a few multi-pigment mixes in the range of just over 100 colours, there are still a decent number of single-pigment colours as well.
If you live in America, Da Vinci watercolours are among the cheapest brands available (for example, a 15ml tube of genuine Cobalts or Cadmiums will cost about $16AUD), but otherwise the currency conversion and postage costs mean you’re better off buying a brand that’s available locally.
The price and difficulty of obtaining them outside the US means that Da Vinci watercolours probably won’t be viable for a lot of people, but if you can get them, they’re a solid performer, and they’ll happily fit in with whatever other paints you have on your palette.