Earth Watercolours

Pigments in this group owe their name to the fact that most of them are made (or were made historically) of clay and earth minerals. The most common designation for these pigments is “PBrXX“, meaning “Pigment Brown”, but there are some yellow and red pigments in this group too. The Xs in the designation are digits which correspond to a certain chemical substance (or range of similar substances).

Naples Yellow usually ends up in this group, but I refuse to include it here, because it was a synthetic pigment originally (in fact, it’s one of the oldest synthetic pigments, as it dates back to 17th century; the real deal is no longer being made because it is toxic). I also don’t include sepia here, because it was historically made out of ink of some oceanic cephalopods (like squids or cuttlefish). Quinacridones are also absent, obviously.

Below, you will find the swatches of all the various earths that I have or had in my possession, imitations included. Swatches have two areas, the upper one to demonstrate the range of tints (diluted paint), and the lower one to show the mass-tone (the paint taken straight from the tube without diluting or, in case of the pans, the thickest concentration I could get). On each swatch you will notice a black line – I made it to give the idea about the transparency of the paint.

Single Pigment Paints

Mixed Pigment Paints

Daniel Smith Dot Color Charts

My moving to Canada got me exposed to American watercolor brands, and I’ve always been curious about Daniel Smith. They have ginormous color chart with many unique pigments. Besides, this paint happens to be the cheapest here in Vancouver (the company is based just a couple of hours drive from here, in Seattle), which makes it my future brand of choice in case I lose easy access to my beloved White Nights.


The other day I decided to amuse myself with Daniel Smith dot color charts. What a marvelous idea, these charts are! Some paints I had craved for turned out to be uninteresting, so here I saved myself some disappointment; I’ve also found several wonderful colors, which hadn’t appealed to me before I actually tried them. I’m dying to do some mixing now!

However, I think these charts are pretty expensive for the amount of paint you get (I would guess rather 12 bucks for these charts, really), because some dots are so freaking small that I barely was able to swatch the colors, let alone to do any mixing. I was particularly upset about Quinacridone Gold, because Daniel Smith is the only manufacturer who got the real thing, PO49. I was so curious about it 😦 Oh well.

Rich color chart and unique pigments aside, I’m not jumping out of my pants over this brand. This is a good quality paint, but I don’t notice any sharp contrast with White Nights, to be honest. So far, that is. I will hold my final judgement until I actually get my hands on a tube or two of Daniel Smith.

So, I have added Daniel Smith swatches to my collection, and you will see them when I post earth colors and blacks/whites. Primateks will get a separate post. I also will update my old posts with greens, blues, yellows and reds (I will leave the links). Hope it will be of interest and of help!