"Mayan" watercolors: Daniel Smith / Greenleaf & Blueberry

This topic contains 24 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Lisa Spangler 16 hours, 45 minutes ago.

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  • #106359
     Kate Powell 
    Participant

    I finished my review of “Mayan” paints.  I lumped together two brands, Daniel Smith and Greenleaf & Blueberry, a handmade paint company.

    Disclosure, I am not a person who enjoys opaque paints often — I use them sparingly.  I love the brilliance of transparent watercolors.  Still, I’m not a fan and part of this is that, in my opinion, the whole “Mayan” thing is a bit of a gimmick unless these were made as the historical paints — which they are not.   Many opaque paints react in much the same way.  French Ochre, Iron Oxide, Vermilion, WN Caput Mortem — all are very claylike watercolors.  The difference is, while I may prefer transparent watercolors for their brilliance, I can manipulate these paints easier than the “Mayan” paints.

    To use them to their fullest capacity it is best to use them out of the tube as a thick mixture… almost like an acrylic.  With acrylic paints, you have to learn to use them in ways that creates washes by using additives — otherwise, they are a thick matte or glossy paint out of the tub.  Watercolors, on the other hand, are rarely used in a thick manner, such as shown in the image below, in the lips (Mayan Red) and the necklace (Mayan Orange.)

    “Mayan” watercolors are very hard to move, unlike the primateks.  They don’t suspend in a wash and drop in a lovely manner on the paper even if you don’t try to manipulate them (shown in the image below, the sky, Lapis Primatek, and the earth, Minnesota Pipestone Primatek, above.)  With no tricks, the two Primateks fail into a pleasing pattern on the rippling wet paper.  The “Mayan” paints, on the other hands, take a lot of manipulation if you don’t use them thick out of the tube… note the streaky Mayan Violet mountains, and her Mayan Orange pants.

    IF I wanted the thick colors, I would go back to acrylics.

    I welcome others to disagree with me, enlighten me, teach me about these paints, which I find diffiult (read my review to see why

  • #106371
     Sandra Strait 
    Participant

    I’ve only tried the DS Mayan Blue and wasn’t moved to try the other colors.  Mayan Blue is also one of the colors that dries out in my palette to a tiny pebble.  Definitely one you have to use fresh from the tube.

    • #106408
       Sharon Nolfi 
      Participant

      I enjoyed the full review on your blog – especially appreciated the photos of the plants from which the dyes are derived. My question is: Who is the manufacturer of each of the swatches in this post?

      • #106460
         Kate Powell 
        Participant

        Ah I meant to put that in!

        Daniel Smith made the Mayan Violet (very pinkish), Orange, Yellow, and Blue.

        Greenleaf & Blueberry made the bluer Mayan Violet and Mayan Red.

        Thanks for reminding me…

  • #106571
     Kate Powell 
    Participant

    BTW, I am willing to sell the Daniel Smith Mayans for $25 shipped.  Daniel Smith made the Mayan Violet (very pinkish), Orange, Yellow, and Blue.

    PM me if you are interested.

  • #109370
     Susan Cuss 
    Participant

    Thank you so much for this review. Since I love transparent watercolours, I now know to steer clear of the Mayans.

  • #109441
     Teri C 
    Participant

    Now that I’ve read your review I understand why I don’t care for the Mayan colors either. I happen to have Greenleaf’s Mayan Blue and never use it. 😜

    • #109442
       Kate Powell 
      Participant

      Yes.  I love the color, but don’t love the flatness of Mayan… I don’t often encoutnre that with the Primateks.  I am doing some videos on using Primateks.

      • #109444
         Sandra Strait 
        Participant

        I’m looking forward to watching those videos.  I’m finding that the Primateks really love the Hahnemühle paper!

  • #109447
     Tom Cunliffe 
    Participant

    What an interesting post – and article.  I have never heard of these colours and at first glance I don’t think I would like to use them myself, being very much a lover of transparent and granulating colour (oops, sorry, I’m probably spelling color wrong for you good folk).

    I have grown to love some of the colors in my pallette which is now a mixture of W&N,  DS and Graham.  I looked the Greenleaf and Blueberry website but everything seemed to be out of stock – are they trying to work on the “scarcity” principle of marketing I wonder?  It all seems a bit of a hype when everyone has to go on the website at a particular time and date and then can then browse for an hour before the shop opens!  When there are so many beautiful colours available from manufacturers like those I list above, and many others, I’m not sure I see the point!  (cries of anguish from G&B’s fans!).

    Anyway, I don’t want to be negative – I kind of guess that having painted all these years and now being in the last quarter of my life (fifth, sixth, tenth, hundredth?) I’ve got to understand the paints I use and much as I love the vibrancy of pzazz of these Mayan colors I think I’ll probably pass on them for now.

    • This reply was modified 1 week ago by  Tom Cunliffe. Reason: typo correction
    • #109462
       Kate Powell 
      Participant

      Tom I think G&B is not posting pigments lately — very odd.  I do know that small hand-made paints come in rounds.  I was not impressed with their paints, particularly, but someone asked about the brands.  I do like MatteoGrilliart (etsy) and have ordered more than one round from him.

      • #109687
         Tom Cunliffe 
        Participant

        Kate – when you think how much time and money the big companies put into sourcing pigments its bound to be difficult for smaller companies to keep up.  When you think of all the industrial use of pigments, even the big artists paint companies find it difficult to compete against car manufactures, building companies and so on.  The only way an independent can survive is by finding local or rare pigments that the bigger companies don’t bother with. Having said that , G&B seem to have found some great uses for well-known pigments which other companies have stopped using – eg PR102 (natural red iron oxide) which occurs in their Violet Hematite and Purple Ochre.  However, Daniel Smith use this pigment in Roasted French Ochre and Burgundy Red Ochre – which are both rather like the G&B colors.

      • #110238
         Kate Powell 
        Participant

        Yes.  In fact, I bought MatteoGrilliart paints because he had some odd pigments.

      • #110243
         Sandra Strait 
        Participant

        I think one of the Greenleaf & Blueberry team has been very ill so they haven’t been able to make up their paints of late.  I’ve never tried them, but always wondered what they were like.

  • #109460
     Mary Roff 
    Participant

    Thanks for the review Kate!  A lot over very good and helpful information.

  • #111517
     Lisa Spangler 
    Participant

    Hi and happy Saturday! This is my first post here on Doodlewash and the timing couldn’t be better because I just started working with Mayan colors! 🙂

    I have Mayan red, blue and yellow by Daniel Smith and the monarch butterfly dot sampler from Greenleaf & Blueberry.

    Here’s the G&B dot sampler painted out on the big global arts materials sketchbook for size (the 8 1/4″ square one)

    Greenleaf & Blueberry Monarch dot sampler

    Here are the G&B dot card colors painted out on the warm up exercise in the G&B Monarch digital file:

    The Mayan yellow is a very light lemon yellow and was hard to get variations. It has this glow, tho! The Mayan red IS kinda streaky — here’s a closeup of the wing so you can see it better

    BUT then! I painted out some swatches on Fabriano paper and the streakyness goes away!

    Then, here are Daniel Smith Mayan swatches for comparison in my Canson XL sketchbook — I have Mayan yellow, red and blue and mixed the others:

    That DS Mayan red is such a pretty, warm red. I don’t really have anything else to compare it to. I thought this would make a great mini travel palette so made some full pans and whoa they really shrunk…

    I’ve found that adding a drop or 2 of water to the pans a few minutes before I start painting really helps them. Next time I think I’ll try mixing in some glycerin.

    Anyhow…here are my findings in no particular order! 🙂

    • G&B Mayan rewets better than DS — even from the dot card! There was no cracking or shrinking and the dots were really generous
    • DS shrinks a ton in pans, but I still like this little mini palette!
    • In both cases I like to mix the color with water on a palette to get the color even instead of using it straight from the pan
    • I’ve found that there’s less streaking in the G&B Mayan red when using fabriano artistico paper in comparison to the Canson XL
    • I’ve also found that wetting the area to be painted first helps with the streaking too
    • The DS Mayan colors that I have are less streaky/easier to control on lower quality paper
    • The Mayan colors in general are growing on me — I like the earthiness of them and the colors are so rich

    Also wanted to share this mini Greenleaf & Blueberry sketch palette for comparison that I scored back in spring — even tho they’re not Mayan colors they are really opaque. I’ve taken it on a few trips and love it! It has graphite and magnetite full pans and it’s great for quick sketches with a brush instead of a pencil. They are really generous with filling the pans too and after about 6 months of Texas heat they haven’t cracked yet

    Okay sorry for the long post but I had a ton to share! Hope you all have a great weekend with time to watercolor!

    • #111519
       Sandra Strait 
      Participant

      Thank you, Lisa, for the great information on the Mayans.  Did you see that there is also a thread on DIY Palettes? I know I won’t be alone in wondering what tin you are using for the palette in your post.

      • #111526
         Lisa Spangler 
        Participant

        Hi Sandra! Ooooo off to check out the thread on DIY palettes! I have been working on palettes to take lightweight backpacking for a while now but still haven’t settled on one!

      • #111529
         Sandra Strait 
        Participant

        Jennifer and I kind of hi-jacked that thread about half-way through, but there is a lot of good information down towards the bottom.  I wish there was a way we could delete the discussion we got into, because we wandered far afield of the subject.

    • #111524
       Kate Powell 
      Participant

      Thanks for that review!  I didn’t cotton to them, but am always interested to see how people use them.  I think good paper is essential —

      And I LOVE my Greenleaf and Blueberry charcoal-y colors — I have three. note to everyone who may try to check them out, rumor has it that they are dealing with family/medical issues and so not making paints well.

      • #111527
         Lisa Spangler 
        Participant

        Hi Kate — yes I think you’re so right on the paper and it’s always interesting to me to see how other people think about supplies!

        I heard the same thing about medial issues a while back, hoping for the best for them.

  • #111525
     Tom Cunliffe 
    Participant

    Great review Lisa – I love your Daniel Smith Mayan swatches – a work of art in itself.  So useful to see the transparency too.

    I love the mayan red colour.  My go-to earth red is Winsor and Newton Light Red but I also have M Graham Terra Rosa – a very powerful colour I find but so useful.  Also W&N Perylene Maroon and Indian Red.  Its nice to have these variations isn’t it.

     

     

    • #111530
       Lisa Spangler 
      Participant

      Hi Tom — thank you! I haven’t tried the Winsor & Newton light red yet or MG terra rosa. I have DS perylene maroon and find it really useful. I also have W&N Indian Red and it’s another one that dries super hard in the pans but it’s such a lovely color. I mostly use it at home at my desk. We’re all so lucky to have all these colors to play with!

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