About two years ago, our friends at Daniel Smith announced a “new color”…and then came out with YET ANOTHER BLACK! We had a warm black and a cool black and neutral tint and so forth and we wondered how this would fit in. It’s hard explaining to someone why they’d pick any particular black without letting them handle it so we started playing around with samples and showing the new McCracken Black to our watercolorists.
People loved it. It wasn’t a gouache; it has some transparency, but it is velvety and just a little granular. It isn’t particularly chromatic, but it had some color…but what colors? We shot off an email to Daniel Smith and they told us it has seven pigments (They keep the amount of each a secret). Heck, that’s like what an artist might mix up for shadows using all the colors on their palette…but unlike using the wapatui, mix-em-up method, you’d get the same fantastically useful black out of the tube every single time!
These people know their artists well.
And then the lightbulb. We asked Daniel Smith if they’d make us a set that selected from all the blacks they produce; a set that would be useful and challenging, and not just a bunch of oddities in a box. It took a while because they needed to select the right six out of the near dozen blacks and neutrals they make, plus get new tint photos and descriptive packaging to help tell the story of each color. We also asked for the set to be comprised of full-size, 15ml tubes - enough paint for you to really explore what a Mayan Yellow can do with the granulating texture of Lunar Black; enough to get full mastery of both of the Jane’s Blacks using them as chromatic neutral mixers with each of your favorite colors. The Lamp Black is very strong. It may be what you use as the “black” in this all-black palette for illustrative lines and dark shadows. And if you’ve passed up the Ivory Black because it isn’t as dark, have a look at its warmth and see how the transparency allows it to tint and mix with softer shades.
There’s a range of opacity, color, texture, and temperature in this set that we hope inspires you to not only paint dark scenes but also blend in shadows to add volume to areas with light washes and draw deep lowlights that punch up those brights!
We were delighted that the sets arrived bearing Auguste’ Renoir’s quote; “I’ve been forty years discovering that the queen of all colors in black.” We hope that you can skip the forty years and get right into having the queen of color at the ready on your palette.
Includes one 15ml tube of the following colors:
- McCracken Black
- Jane's Black (Red/Green)
- Jane's Black (Blue/Orange)
- Ivory Black
- Lamp Black
- Lunar Black
I'm not one to buy into rules Willy-nilly like "no white" or "no black" on watercolor palettes. I have tried a number of blacks and near-blacks over the years. I realized I was spending a lot of time mixing deep darks and saw this set about the time I got two black kittens! What timing.
I encourage folks getting this to swatch it out on good paper so you can see the range of dark color you now have available. It's amazing. I find I pick one that goes in the direction i want to go and add a dab to my mixing area. Now I can push colors or push darks toward warm/cool by understanding the dark/black I'm starting with. I appreciate that some are granulating and some aren't. Many thanks for the nice usable set.