Daniel Smith Watercolor: Moonglow

Without a doubt my favorite watercolor is Moonglow by Daniel Smith. I hesitate to even admit this because once you know you’ll see how much I use it in all my paintings. Sometimes I have to reign it in because I use too much. 


As you can see in the picture above there are two colors that comprise Moonglow. There is a blue pigment and a red pigment. Together the create a lovely purple, but in washes they separate a bit. When this happens the blue granulates in a really attractive organic way. 


In Half Baptism you can see the range you can get from this color. The darkest part of the hair would be the mass tone (the almost undiluted color). You can see the lighter values in the flesh and back ground in the bottom half of the composition. Moonglow works as a great shadow tone in realistically colored flesh too. You can see it in the facial hair and in the curve of the nostril. 


In Broken Vessel you can see that I used moonglow extensively in the shadowy half of the figure. Even from the picture you can see that granulation that gives a natural unevenness that really works well in flesh. Moonglow is perfect for a white shadow. Everyone knows white shadows are never grey. I think Moonglow keeps a really fresh shadow that communicates the idea of a pure white. Its also great because even though you are using one color from the tube you are actually getting two pigments that mingle together that create many colors. 


Detail from “e19″ by David Castle

Moonglow isn’t a color I would have ever thought to buy. A while back I was reading David Castle’s blog and he outlines his favorite colors. I had a a few extra bucks that were burning a hole in my pocket so I purchased Moonglow and Undersea green, which Daniel Smith says are complimentary hues. 

Look how pretty the metallic copper looks mixed with moonglow. I need to try that!

My Watercolor Primaries

Here is a repost of an older blog:

So everyone knows their primary colors: red, yellow, blue. As anyone who has been to an art supply store can tell you that there are about 30 shades of each of those colors. Everyone has their own preferences but here are mine:

Quinacridone Coral


Quin. coral is a bright pink color, even pinker than the above picture. Undiluted its like Barbie pink. This color is terrific for skin tones. Its a very crisp and clean color that makes for glowing skin tones. I like that its ungranulated, because I don’t think that would look the best as a base for skin tones.

New Gamboge 


New Gamboge is a very traditional primary. Historically Gamboge was not a permanent pigment, but New Gamboge has been reformulated to have the light fastness that is expected of modern paint. Its a great buttery warm yellow.

Ultramarine Blue


Ultramarine is a great go to blue. Its a granulating pigment, which looks good in shadows. This color is very fresh which keeps the darker areas on skin from looking muddy.