Friday, December 21, 2007

A Marriage Made In.....Irvine!

90-color line of Da Vinci Artist Watercolor

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!

48-color line of Da Vinci Artist Fluid Acrylic

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.

Better again.

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.

Still better.

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'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!


joel said...

ok. now this is interesting. some of my favorite (of my own) works have been done when i threw alot of paint and water on the paper and tilt the board and spray water.
sometimes these pieces look fabulous wet - but lose brilliance and "punch" when they dry.
i suspect that the davinci liquid acrylics will act like watercolor in the way they mix and run when wet.
i also suspect that they will retain more vibrancy after they dry out.
would that be correct Nick?
if so, i commit to you that i will buy my favorite palette in the da Vinci liquid acrylics and try some wild wet in wet painting.
i have never seen da Vinci in Australia - so i will order them through Cheap Joes.
i am thinking, cobalt blue, FUB, phthalo blue and cerulean. indian yellow, aureolin and raw sienna. phthalo green and viridian. permanent crimson. something violet-y.
what dya reckon? any "must have" colors?

-- Joel.

William K. Moore said...

Hey Nicholas .. thx for posting last October's field trip to Da Vinci. You ever get the quinacridone red out? I remember the drive to Da Vinci's headquarters and Marcello's generous hospitality. I got a real education while touring the facility as he explained the paint making process and the care necessary to develop a quality product. I tried some of the liquid acrylic samples at home and was impressed with the flow and saturation of pigment. Definitely a worthwhile experience.

Sandy said...

I agree with Joel! This is interesting....I also wonder is Da Vinci available here in Australia...will do some searching.

Nick said...

Joel - don't let anybody tell you that fluid acrylic looks opaque, leaves a plastic film texture, or can't be used like regular watercolor. That's a myth, and one that the close-minded and ignorant segment of the watercolor community has tried to perpetuate. A good indicator of the real facts is that the major watercolor societies - even those with fairly conservative standards such as American Watercolor Society and Royal Watercolor Society - have deemed "acrylic watercolor" an acceptable medium. This is significant because the rules binding those organizations have evolved over the years in accordance with the needs and demands of professional watercolorist worldwide. The people who really know this stuff realize that the thing that makes watercolor is...guess what....WATER. Pigments, binders, and chemicals are quite secondary. More on this subject in future posts.
Anyway, the increased vibrancy is something that the manufacturers have touted, and presumably their testing is accurate. All of the Da Vinci paint I've used the past year - watercolor and fluid acrylic - is vibrant and of the highest quality. I have been asked by Bruce MacEvoy to do a review of fluid acrylic for, and this vibrancy (after drying) issue is something I should devise my own test for. No promises about it being as conclusive or controlled as the manufacturers or Bruce, but I'll try.
RE palette - this is another area where Da Vinci has done us a great turn - they've built the fluid acrylic line around the watercolor palette. Most anything you use in w/c, you should be able to find in fluid acrylic, and I know about a dozen more colors are on the way (two of them at my suggestion).
Hope to see what you do with them!

Bill - what a great day that was, made so much more fun with you along. Weve watched the video several times at Larissa's request!

Sandy - not sure, might check the Da Vinci site, or order from Cheap Joe's.

joel said...

Nick, i looked at the da Vinci line at the Cheap Joe's web site.
the only color that was missing that i would need (like to have) is Vermillion.
what would you suggest as a substitute.

Nick said...

Joel - Regarding the Vermilion, the closest color in the current selection would be Cadmium Red Light (hue) since it's a red leaning toward orange. The Cad Red, however, is still a different tone and more opaque than vermilion. I think they might be looking into adding vermilion to the line. For now I would suggest keeping the vermilion from watercolor on the palette and use a combo.

joel said...

thanks Nick. good advice. i am slowly coming out of the Christmas haze. it is such a weird (yet joyous) time of year. it is just after noon on the 27th of december here - and i have come into the studio for the first time since the 23rd!