Review: Daniel Smith California Quail Watercolor Triad

The budget's been really tight this month, and I was resigned to not buying any new art supplies.  But I had budgeted for a friend's birthday gift, and she collects Quail memoribilia.  Lo, and behold!  Daniel Smith issues a new triad--The California Quail.  I've been curious about those Triads, so the timing seemed right to indulge. Some of you may ask "What is a Daniel Smith Triad?"

It's three tubes of watercolor paint, in colors selected for their compatibility.  You get a line drawing, and a picture of that drawing painted in the three colors of the triad.  There are no instructions per se, but you are given suggestions in how you might use the colors to re-create the painting yourself (this isn't a paint by number or anything close to it).   The Triads are priced at $18.95, so depending on the colors in question, you save 40%-60% or more.  Usually one or two of the paints are unusual, lesser known colors, so this is a great way to become familiar with them.

By the way, you can download the line drawings and color information/suggestions at any time.   Click on the video for any triad color, and the PDFs are available.

The colors in the California Quail triad are French Ochre, Lunar Blue, and Quinacridone Burnt Orange.

The colors are beautiful, and I can't wait to use them in other paintings.  Because there was no recommendation on paper or brushes to use, I used the paper I had on hand-- Strathmore 140 lb Watercolor, and a waterbrush, because I can handle it the best, and that made my test more about the color than my ability with brushes.

The pigment in these paints wasn't quite as intense as with my M. Graham paints.  That didn't surprise me.  All my M. Graham are staining colors, and these three are all granulating.  That made it easier to lay down a very pale wash, and build the color slowly.  I blended on the paper rather than pre-mixing the paint, and it was fun to see how the color changed as I added each wash.

I didn't get quite the same granulation effect as shown in the example, and I assume that was either the paper, the brush, or my pigment to water ratio.  If I have any discontent with the triad, it is in the sparseness of information.  But on the other hand, not giving more specifics also keeps the artist from merely copying what they see instead of experimenting.  I tend to like lots of information. It might not be as important to someone else, especially if they have more experience with watercolor than I do.

The California Quail triad is a great value, and I'll be buying more triads in the future.  I look at the line-drawing and example as a much more interesting test of the colors than creating a chart, and I'm going to try something similar with my other colors.  And I finally have the colors to create a beautiful black!

The line-drawing that comes with the colors is about 3 x 3 inches, so I used the PDF download and sized it to about 5 x 7.