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I’ve been using Daniel Smith watercolours for 23 years now – since soon after they started making watercolours (which was in 1993). I make up palettes for my students and myself and have bought hundreds, if not thousands, of tubes over the 23 years.
What I have noticed is that there are some heavier pigments that must be shaken well. These tend to be the more granulating and more opaque colours – Goethite, Buff titanium, cerulean chromium, Indian red, Potters Pink and some others. They need to be really shaken up and then you take the cap off carefully to let in some air and shake again. If there is any loose gum Arabic, stick a toothpick in and gently stir the paint, then shake again. It’s a bit of a fiddle I know, but it makes a difference. It doesn’t worry me – they only use pigment and gum Arabic so there is not artificial binder to hold the paints together. Once I squeeze out the paint into a pan or palette, I stir it again to make sure it is all mixed perfectly and wedged well into the space.
I did a tour of the factory and they weigh the tubes at random – not every one – so yes some may slip through that have an air pocket. I’ve had a few of those over the years but not enough to worry me.
I’ve also used Da Vinci for a number of years – their 37ml tubes are fantastic value and really great if you get through a lot of paint. I think they are about the most consistent paints available – I’ve only had 2 go ‘wrong’ with them in all my time – but they don’t have all the colours that I use in DS, nor can I quite make the same shade of grey that I can with DS so I have a mix of both brands in my student palettes. Their Benzimida Orange Deep is GORGEOUS. We are lucky to have access to so many great watercolour brands. Schmincke is another favourite – they also have a lovely Transparent Orange, and a much better range since they reworked their range last year.
I’ve tested pretty much every watercolour available and continue to use DS. But yes – as a company grows mistakes can happen. Hopefully you can get replacement tubes where there is a problem.
I hope these couple of tips might help.