Before starting my big gouache comparison project, I had no idea this gouache existed! I am still getting familiar with brands in the UK, and when I found out Daler Rowney is based here (as “local” as it gets for Scotland) I instantly bought it. My only experience with this brand is that I have a few of their brushes and I use their hot pressed Aquafine watercolor paper for gouache paintings.
At $5.95 per tube, this gouache is on the lower-to-middle end of the price spectrum. The 15 ml tubes are standard size compared to what’s available on the market.
The company states they use pure pigment in a gum arabic binder with calcium carbonate to improve opacity, flow, and shelf life. This is a common paint additive (along with dextrin) and to be honest I’d much rather they use this than deal with transparent gouache!
I purchased a variety of colors because I was so curious about this brand. I immediately noticed that they don’t have any lightfast reds (they are all considered marginally lightfast). Instead, I opted for Burnt Sienna, a very earthy ‘dirty’ red. It will have to do. I tried to purchase the colors that seemed to be more lightfast than others. Tests will show how they look over time!
- Permanent White (PW6)
- Neutral Grey 1 (PBk7/PW6)
- Velvet Black (PBk7)
- Lemon Yellow (PY3)
- Burnt Sienna (PBr7/PR101/PBk11)
- Brilliant Blue (PB29)
- Turquoise (PB15/PG7)
- Opaque Oxide of Chromium (PG17)
- Copper (PR101 Trans.)
This was the first time I’ve seen an iridescent gouache in person. Since gouache is meant to be opaque, I wondered if it would still look shiny, and yes it really does shine!
As I was painting I was pleasantly surprised. When I saw they add calcium carbonate (the same ingredient in chalk) I wondered if this gouache would be dull or ‘chalky.’ But the opacity held strong even when adding a tiny bit of water. The color remained vibrant and didn’t get milky after drying.
The blues were slightly more transparent than the others, but this worked great for tinting powerful greens. However because of their transparency, you need more of the paint (so if you mix a lot with blues you may need to purchase an extra tube sooner than the others).
I also did a black and white value sketch because I was curious how opaque the white is. A value sketch is a great way to test the power of the titanium white because typically black pigments are very overpowering. I also used their neutral grey 1 to see if it truly looked neutral. It does.
As expected, I used much more white than black – you only need a tiny bit of black to get the deep value. But it was easy to get the results I needed, and it was very opaque on the toned paper.
Conclusion: I was extremely pleased with how opaque and vibrant this gouache is. The consistency was silky and flowed well without the need for extra water. I will wait until the lightfast tests are farther along to confirm the pigment quality, but as for performance this gouache was a joy to use. I was able to easily layer opaque color, and spread the gouache evenly as needed. Definitely recommend!
Color Notes: The Opaque Oxide of Chromium was extremely stiff straight out of the tube. I had to squeeze with a lot of effort to get it to come out. This may be a faulty tube, or the nature of the pigment. As soon as I added a tiny bit of water, it softed right up and was extremely opaque – probably the most opaque of all the colors.
I was also surprised at the ‘Brilliant Blue’ which is PB29, typically called Ultramarine. It seemed more like a deep phthalo blue to me. They have an ultramarine on their list, which contains PB29 and PG15 which would indicate a phthalo blue and now I’m wondering if they mixed up their naming system.
As I said above, they don’t have any very lightfast reds on their list, or pure cadmiums. This makes me wonder if that is an environmental choice or a cost effective choice. Either way, it makes choosing a red difficult, because according to their own lightfast star rating, all of their reds are considered either “normally permanent” or “moderately permanent.” When I see ‘normally’ I assume this is because many pigments are less lightfast in tints and when diluted, which means you have to be careful with your other color choices.