About a year ago, sick of paying waaaaaaaay too much for quality artist watercolors and after hearing very good things about Da Vinci Paint, I switched. I was impressed with the quality and Da Vinci's commitment to achieving highest lightfastness ratings. (for example, they were the first to come up with a permanent Alizarin Crimson) The pigment load, consistency, and packaging are first class. And the price is unbeatable. Now I'd rather fight, than switch.
But it got better.
While attending an art expo in the D.C. area last summer, I visited the Da Vinci booth and met Marcello Dworzak, third-generation leader of the company, and a very cool guy. We hit it off immediately, and it was clear we're on the same page regarding the state of contemporary watermedia, its trends, and what could lie ahead if people with a vision are willing to blaze some trails. The traditional Institution of Watercolor, as a rule, is resistant to change and innovation - in practice and materials. So-called Purists, while thinking they are preserving something, have actually hurt the medium, stunted its growth, and largely alienated it and themselves from the art world at-large. But that's another subject we'll explore in more depth another time. Anyway, it was a pleasure to encounter someone in this business who has built a reputation on the positive aspects of tradition, yet has an open mind and is keeping an eye to the future.
Yes, it got better.
I learned that day that Da Vinci had just developed a line of fluid acrylic artist colors! I had been painting with fluid acrylic for a couple of years, using it in the transparent watercolor technique, alone and in combination with regular watercolor. I love the stuff (more on this subject soon) and was thrilled to see Da Vinci not only manufacturing it to their exacting standards, but they also smartly built the line around the watercolorist's palette. Hallelujah!
A company that was obviously thinking what I had been envisioning all along: the inevitable convergence of the watercolor and acrylic worlds. Sacrilege, heheh....the unthinkable.... the watercolor purist's worst nightmare! That is, until they actually give it a try. I've observed this innumerable times in my workshops; the stunning quality of the colors, the unparalleled mixablility, the worry-free permanence, and the sensible, convenient packaging are a wonder to behold for watercolorists tired of the same old thing. And.....did I mention price??? No contest. No other paint medium provides the bang-for-buck of Da Vinci Fluid Acrylic.
While in Los Angeles for the National Watercolor Society show in October, Marcello invited me to Irvine to tour the Da Vinci factory. So I went down with my wife, our daughter, and L.A. brushslinger Bill Moore to check it out.
I had never been in a paint factory (contrary to the claims of a certain watercolor "artist" - I use the term loosely - who opined that my paintings look like "explosions in a paint factory," heheh) It was fascinating to follow the process of mixing raw gum arabic, polymers, oil, etc. with various pigments, through the necessary sequence of steps, testing, and final packaging. It was there that it dawned on me why Da Vinci beats everybody on price: no importation duty - it's all made right there in sunny California.
Da Vinci Paint has started to sponsor me , and I am thrilled to be associated with them! They really care about artists and listen to their needs; I had ideas about a couple of colors to add to the fluid acrylic line, and they're actually going to make them. They're also expanding the watercolor line, and asking me for input. It's great having one brand of paint that satisfies all of my needs.
We have some exciting plans that I think will brighten the future of watermedia artists who want to expand their horizons. Look for me to appear in upcoming Da Vinci advertisements in magazines and catalogs, and give Da Vinci a try if you haven't already....you'll be blown away by the product and you'll save a lot of money... which might encourage you to do more experimentation, buy more paper, and work larger. You learn how to handle paint when there's a lot of paint to be handled!