Opus Resource Library
Where Nature Meets Art - Daniel Smith PrimaTek™
Opus Resource Library

DANIEL SMITH PrimaTek paints are literally made from the ground up. From prehistoric times to the Renaissance and beyond, artists have relied on pigments mined from the earth, and we are truly proud to have revived these time-honoured colours for today’s painters.

Where Nature Meets Art

The PrimaTek line at Daniel Smith began in 1998 with a cache of Lapis Lazuli—the gold-speckled blue gemstone seen in King Tut’s mask—that they found, ground and formulated into artist-quality watercolor paint. The response was great, and soon they had hired a mineralogist to travel the globe in search of other exciting natural pigments. Finding these minerals involves Indiana Jones-worthy journeys by plane, jeep and even mule to remote locations, identifying high-quality veins of ore and then negotiating procurement from local miners.

The large minerals or “massive” as they are called are then processed to reveal the colour within. From this pigment, their chemist and paint makers blend it with the perfect ratio of medium, grind and re-grind it to bring out the natural beauty of each colour. Because of the care they take every step of the way, they are able to bring you the best: truly professional-quality paints with consistency you’ll rely on tube after tube, year after year. Daniel Smith offers 37 PrimaTek colours, from subtle neutral pinks and browns to vibrant jewel tones of red, blue and green. They bring natural beauty and rich texture to your palette, along with the unique history of pigments that are literally millions of years old.

“I have always been fascinated by rocks. In fact, some of my earliest memories are of finding rocks with unique colours and qualities, or of the smooth ones I could paint pictures on. I never dreamed then that I would one day be able to paint with them! From the first brushstroke I knew that DANIEL SMITH PrimaTek paints were going to be an amazing addition to my watercolour palette. Hello rich natural colours, fascinating textures and the delight of the magical combination of water plus pure mineral pigment. My students are thrilled with how simple it can be to create really exciting paintings. Landscapes nearly paint themselves! I’ve found they add an extra dimension to watercolour that captivates both beginners and seasoned artists alike. A painting experience not to be missed!” 
— Julie Karlsson

Get a behind–the–scenes look at the raw materials used to produce some of your favourite watercolours!

John Cogley, Owner of Daniel Smith, discusses how his team of mineralogists and chemists create their luscious and vivid watercolours. Enjoy a brief history lesson and see these pigments in action as a group of engaged workshop–goers at Opus Langley put paint to paper. Discover what your watercolours looked like before they were paint and see how they shimmer when water and artist bring them to life in our video!

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