There is a Facebook group, the World Watercolor Group, and the admin, Charlie O’Shields, created a website community called Doodlewash so that people could interact more easily. There are all sorts of fun features – beginner’s groups, original art stores, a supply store, and forums where you can discuss all things art-related. One of the fun features of Doodlewash is that you earn DO points when you interact on the group.
Recently, I earned enough DO points that I could get a free Da Vinci Watercolor 12-Full Pan Travel Set. This is a $56 USD value (more actually if you factor in free S&H), which is already a great deal. This particular DO item isn’t available at the moment, and I don’t know if it will be again, but there are other great items that can be earned.
At the moment, DO store items are only available for the U.S. and Canada, but Charlie is working to make them available for other countries as well.
So, today I’m reviewing this cool travel tin of Da Vinci watercolors that I got for free! I want to thank Charlie O’Shields and the Da Vinci Paint Co. for making this possible.
Paints: hand-filled, professional, full pan, Made in USA). There are six transparent colors, three semi-transparent, two semi-opaque and one opaque.
Colors: Da Vinci Yellow ( Benzimidazolone Yellow), Hansa Yellow Deep, Da Vinci Red (Pyrrole Red), Alizarin Crimson (Quinacridone), Permanent Rose (Quinacridone), Phthalo Blue (Red Shade), Ultramarine (Green Shade), Sap Green, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Titanium White
Tin: Enameled gray exterior/enameled white interior/two enameled white fold out palette sections
Bag: My set also came with a fabric Da Vinci bag. I’m not sure if that is always the case, or if I got in on a special.
Note: I replaced the Titanium White with Cobalt Blue in my set, so I’m including the Cobalt Blue in the review. More about that later.
Look & Feel
The Da Vinci Watercolor 12-Full Pan Travel Tin is enameled gray rather than the usual black. It holds 12 full pans rather than the standard 18-24 half pans. The metal is solid, with almost no flex or pop to it.
The lid and fold-out wing are white-enameled for mixing. There are four separate mixing areas in the lid and the fold-out mixing wing is beveled all around, except for the inner corners. A small cut-out in the center helps you open it out.
The bottom has a thumb ring to help you hold onto the tin while painting. It could easily be removed, but this one lies nice and flat unless you deliberately open it for use. The whole tin is very stable, and there is little to no rattling when you load your brush or mix your paint.
There is no official standard size for either half-pans or full-pans. To give you an idea of sizes, from left to right:
1) a 15 ml tube from which I already squeezed about 1 1/2 full pans;
2) one of the Da Vinci full pans;
3) an empty full pan – the size you get in most packs of empty full pans
4) an empty half pan – the size you get in most packs of empty half pans
At the price of this set, the full-pan is a good deal, and gives you a chance to try out the basic colors. However, as you use up the paints you might want to buy a tube instead. However, not all tube paint works well in a pan – it might be too runny or dry too hard. Since I seldom use white, I bought a tube of Cobalt Blue – which I use often – to see how it set up in the pan.
It dried to the same consistency, and re-wets the same way as the pan paints. If I didn’t know that I had squeezed it from the tube, I wouldn’t be able to tell it from the paints that came with the set. This isn’t a guarantee that all the tubes would work well. Pigments differ, but the consistency I’ve found makes me feel confidant enough that I’d buy tube replacements – at least until I got one that didn’t work.
EDITED to add: I heard back from the Da Vinci Paint Co., and this is what they had to say,:
“Thanks for the review. BTW, we only make 1 formula for each color. Da Vinci Watercolor pans are hand-filled with our tube paints. All colors are formulated to use straight from the tube or in pans – they won’t crack! Da Vinci watercolors will rewet easily when dried in pans so it feels like you’re working with fresh paint straight from the tube. Thanks again!
The set comes with a pre-printed chart with color name, pigment index number and transparency information.
The colors on the pre-printed chart are close to the actual colors, but I still made my own chart. My chart starts at a lighter value than the pre-printed chart because that’s the value I would usually start with.
There are six transparent colors, three semi-transparent, two semi-opaque and one opaque.
I also did a quick mixing chart. This a little deceptive, in that you can mix so many different shades from any two colors by varying amounts. But it gives you an idea of the colors you can mix. The chart was too large for my scanner and chopped off the last square (white) at the bottom. I didn’t use the Cobalt Blue in the mixing chart.
The set has a good selection of yellows, reds, blues and earth colors. The majority of the colors are transparent. This is a good set for beginners, for more advanced water-colorists looking for a good set to carry, and for those who collect sets as much for the tin as for the colors.
To test for flow, lifting and transparency, I did a negative painting of leaves. I didn’t worry about which colors I was mixing because I wanted to see which colors showed through, so the painting is a little muddy in places. Having said that, I never got an area where I really felt there was severe ugliness happening.
What I discovered:
- The paints softened immediately, ready to go with just a swipe or two of a wet brush
- The paint moved beautifully in the water.
- Some colors handled a bit differently than I’m used to.
- Phthalo Blue and Permanent Rose (Quinacridone) reacted to water about the same as the other colors.
- Ultramarine had little granulation.
If you are used to Phthalos and Quinacridones that explode in the water and move wildly or Ultramarine that granulates, you might not like these paints as well as another brand. But if you like more control, especially with plein air or urban skettching, you will be very happy with this.
I took what I learned from the exercise above, choosing my colors for areas where I would lift for light and ones underneath that would stain and leave interesting layers beneath. I did use masking fluid to reserve the dew drops and I used a little of the cobalt. I didn’t use any white, beyond that of the paper.
Some of the other paintings I’ve done with this set (plus the Cobalt Blue):
The Da Vinci Watercolor 12-Full Pan Travel Tin is a great value price-wise. The tin is well-made and sturdy with an attractive gray color. The colors included make a good basic starter set or carry set. The paints re-wet almost immediately and flow well on the paper. The pigments have a consistency in the way they react making them easier to control.
The one tube I added to my set dried to the same consistency and works the same as the pan colors.
The Da Vinci Watercolor 12-Full Pan Travel Tin can be purchased at the Da Vinci website.