Problems with Daniel Smith?!

  • I’ve never been a huge DS fan, but there are a few colors that I use and enjoy. However, I just tried to squeeze a new tube out into a pan and I swear it’s half air and a gummy mess. I heard they recently changed manufacturers, so I wonder if anyone else has encountered this?

    By the way, it wasn’t just a bad tube. I test a second tube and again, lots of air. Not as separated and air-filled as the first tube, but more air than I like to see in a brand new tube.

    I’ve always felt a bit jilted because DS paints shrink so much in my palette that I feel like I never totally get out of them what I paid for them. And now air! 😀

    I haven’t bought any new tubes recently, but I’d certainly contact them and request replacements.

    I haven’t bought any DS tubes lately, but I think Kate has mentioned this problem. I didn’t get the impression that it was as bad in her case as it is with your tubes, so this may be a progression of the problem.


    I purchased some DS paints, and one tube was mostly a gummy mess when I squeezed out some to put in my palette. I contacted the company where I purchased them and they sent out a replacement tube which was just fine. This is the first time this has happened to me in several years using different brands of paint. I figured it was just a bad fill, but I will now pay more attention to all my new DS tubes and see if this recurs.

    I’m going to pay attention to this also. I rarely use DS so it’s hard to tell if this is a common issue or not. But ugh, what a disappointment in two different tubes of totally different colors.

    Sandra, I hope it’s not getting worse but it may be. If so, surely their quality control will catch this rather quickly, but if it’s a manufacturing issue, they may not can do much about it. DS has gotten so big that I think they are a basically a mass production company now, so quality may indeed suffer.

    It seems to be the way companies are going these days.  It’s kind of scary.


    I agree, Sandra. Everyone wants to get big and sell more, but there can be downsides to that sort of growth, and I think the consumer usually suffers the consequences. 🙁

    Very disappointing indeed. 🙁

    Half of my paints are DS brand (the rest W&N) and I have noticed some tubes are really sub par in quality. Just recently added in DaVinci paints, which I’m loving. So, if this issue with DS keeps up I may have to rethink ordering more.

    Beverly, if you and Kate have both noticed issues also, I have a feeling that subpar tubes now may be a common occurrence with Daniel Smith. Maybe they will get it under control, but I’m returning my tubes and sticking with the brands that don’t have issues. Like lovely Da Vinci! 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

    Hmm, the vast majority  of my palette is Daniel Smith, but I’ve only ever had some separation in a few colors (Cerulean Chromium and Malachite). I haven’t had any air issues, but I also haven’t bought a tube in more than a half year. (I recently got some American Journey, Holbein, Sennelier, and W&N options to try.) Maybe I should continue to try and diversify while I follow this thread and see what transpires. I’d be disappointed if it’s bad news, I love using their dot sheets, I don’t like ordering a new color on the guidance of computer swatches 🙁

    Hi all… So much that I’m going to comment all at once to several people.
    First of all I buy tubes 99% of the time…

    Daniel Smith sold the company out around 2006 to one of the people who had been part of the company for many years.  Being in the PNW, I’ve been buying from the store forever… Now you have to know that they are the best marketing folks on the planet, and also, Urban Sketchers began in Seattle, so they’ve had many many helper plug their product over the years.  They market like people selling a cookbook!  Totally take you to Verona, Tuscany, a cave in a far away place… and that is smart for sure.  Before I sat down and read’s many articles on pigments etc I bought too much because I’m also a good cook and am easily swayed by my senses!

    However, a decade ago I saw real changes in customer service, labeling and so forth.  When you ask a Daniel Smith customer service rep about a problem, you should not get, “duh, well, gee whiz,” which I have gotten too many times.  The good news is that they replace tubes.  Being that watercolor tubes last a long time, I hadn’t bought more than just replacements for awhile.  What I’ve noticed is more separation in colors, and more air pockets.  (Gads Tonya I so would return those gummy messes.)  Also I’ve been trying other brands, and what I’ve noticed (opinion) is that the pigment density is not always as good.  I’ve just spent three weeks of vacation playing with pigments and in reorganizing I realized that the DS paints are not all they are marketed to be.  Still good, but there are others, maybe better.   More on that with pictures below.

    About inevitable growth.  I am friends with the Gamblin owners and peeps there — through the conservation business.  They have decided to stay small or grow carefully.  They do not do fully mechanized fills, but use reconditioned toothpaste machines which require human oversight to make sure the filling goes properly.  In fact, all parts of their business require hands-on humans.   They fill orders more slowly.  (Blog post here, taken from my business blog for the conservation business: )  I assume DS has gone to a fully mechanized factory in order to keep up world wide needs, and so we see air pockets… I have them to some extent in nearly all my brand new tubes from DS.  I wish I had a tube of very old paint that I could compare to the new tube and will do this next time I order, to see if pigment content has been reduced to up the profit margins.  If so, they are stupid for sure. hosts a forum on this topic of DS selling out.

    SOME pigments will dry and that is that, so I have decided that with a couple of the dry Primateks (Sleeping Beauty Turquoise is one) I will empty the tube into full pans when I order.

    Various brand of Prussian, Indanthrene, Indigo, and Ultramarine in picture below.  In all cases the better pigmented square is not Daniel Smith.  The amazing Prussian and amazing ultramarine are both hand paint maker Matteo Grilli’s, and I think many small paint makers load more pigment into their squares.  Da Vinci faired better than DS in the Indan and Indigo.  I am going to be writing about this over the next month on my blog… musings after all this playing.  Bottom line for us here:

    I am going to buy more DaVinci.  I own about ten pigments (swaps and tubes) and am very happy with them.
    I will buy more MGraham.  My caveat is that they stay sticky so not as good for travel as they dry slowly — in my climate, which dang is theirs too (Portland Oregon) — and also my studio is in our upholstery studio so FUZZ.  I will be creating with fuzzy thangs in my paint.  I cannot figure out why Sandra has not got this problem…. and lives downt eh highway!
    I will buy more Sennelier, probably from Jacksons not Blicks, where I can buy 21mg.  I love Sennelier paints but have not had a good place to buy them and Blick’s are too pricey.


    Jill, Da Vinci has some color dot samplers you can get with DO points through Doodlewash. They come in cute little cardboard sets.  I could barely get myself to use mine because I didn’t want to mess them up, lol.

    I am not getting updates via email from forum comments.  Anyone else having this issue?

    Kate, when I visited the M Graham factory, it was explained that they could afford to add extra pigment to their colors because they were pretty small and it didn’t increase their cost that much.  But as a company gets larger adding that extra pigment becomes increasingly costly, and most of them HAVE to decrease the pigment load or keep increasing prices (probably why Qor is so expensive).  So a small company (what’s the term these days? Entrepeneur companies?) should be able to add lots of pigment without skewing their prices too much.

    I find that most of my M Graham never get totally hard, but solidifies on the outside, so you can easily touch without gettting any on your fingers, and it doesn’t run.  It usually takes about a two days to a week left in the open to get to that state, and the weather matters.

    I have a friend that lives in Gresham out by the Springwater Trail.  I squeezed some out for her and two hours later they were almost totally hard.  Another time we were making resin figures and the clear resin that usually takes 12-24 hours to cure was setting almost before I could pour it.  It is surprising how the humidity differs within a small distance.

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