Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Rosemary & Co


Rosemary & Co are one of the leading British brushmakers with probably the largest range, the other specialists being Pro Arte who are major and smaller operations like Luxartis. Pro Arte  are strongly represented in British art shops whereas Rosemary, who is the main brushmaker, sells only by mail order and at Art events. I think there may be one or two smaller operations as well. Of course companies like Winsor & Newton, who are famous for Series 7, and Daler Rowney also offer brushes but where  are they made these days? I believe Rosemary also makes some own label brushes.

Originally Rosemary and her then husband ran ABS brushes and when they parted she soon started again  as Rosemary & Co. The catalogue was virtually identical but has now been expanded and is very comprehensive with a huge range covering all types of brushes and mediums. She has a large and loyal following of British and overseas artists and works closely with a number in developing brushes.

The catalogue, approximately 6 1/2 by 9 1/2, has 95 pages in full colour. It offers 18 different types plus travel brushes and some speciality brushes. She also offers two special sets with artists names attached, something I'm not too enthused about. She's also on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube! Brushes within the UK are free postage over £40, otherwise £2 and there are other rates for next day delivery and bulk orders. Current prices overseas are listed on her website. www.rosemaryandco.com






As you can see the information is extensive and there is much useful stuff about brushes, what they are for and how to maintain them. The catalogue is a mine of information.

 Series 8  Kolinsky were a favourite with many artists but Kolinsky prices are now really only for the very well-healed or top artists. For amateurs to pay these prices, especially with a restricted budget, is difficult to justify. The obvious choice is Red Sable with a Size 8 round £11.59p, compared to £39.95p for  Kolinsky Series 8 round. There may be a difference but  I doubt it would be much to most  artists. She also offers a range of synthetics that are very good.

I have, in the past, paid a lot of money for brushes but not at the current eye-watering prices. I have enough new ones to keep me going BUT should I have to buy any more (unlikely) I would choose 
Red Sable blend, a mixture of animal hair and synthetics. This is Series 401/402 in rounds with a Size 8 costing £6.90p to £7.30p! Rounds, Daggers , Riggers, Sword Liners and One Stroke are also offered in this blend. 

The best artist in my Avon valley Artists group is Yvonne Harry, who mainly paints flowers, and can compare with most professionals. She mostly used Pro Arte synthetics , often purchased as seconds at art events, but was persuaded to try Jacksons own label sables (made by Rosemary?). She didn't like them saying she found them too soft. However recently she tried the Rosemary 401 series  and has really taken to them. Although this is fairly recent she likes the better stiffness  with the mixed blend and also likes the way they point well. Should I have to buy any more brushes they would be my choice.











Thursday, 5 April 2018

Book Review - Ann Blockley's Watercolour Workshop

This is the latest, and apparently the last book Ann Blockley intends to write. I have her 'Watercolour Textures ' (Collins 2007), which is quite similar except she goes even more abstract in this one. Ann was originally known as a very good flower painter and my sister, who lives not far from her, has two of her flower paintings. They are beautifully done but more realistic, although not botanical or super realistic. The interesting thing is the way she has changed direction, something her famous father the late John Blockley also did. John Blockley was in the same group of British artists as Seago and Wesson and considered an exceptional artist, who painted mainly landscapes and other outdoor subjects, often bleak ones with a predominance of grey and earth colours. Later he changed direction becoming much more colourful and became President of the Pastel Society.  She has also done something similar - although always colourful - in that her style has altered and her subject matter has widened to include landscapes and tree paintings.



128 pages, approx 9 x 10 inches Batsford 2018. UK £19.99, USA $29.95, Canada $39.95











Above are typical examples of the projects in the book. The contents have a number of chapter headings as follows: - Getting Started, Flowers and Field, Trees and Hedgerows, Landscape Features and Towards Abstraction. She also covers materials, paints, paper and brushes but also other things like granulation medium, crayons, lead pencil, watercolour pencil, gesso and tissue paper, collage, pieces of card etc - in other words the whole gamut. including techniques and  how to use them. There are a number of projects which are on a step-by-step basis,

Some of my paintings friends, including Pauline who loaned me the book to review, and has attended her workshops, are ardent Blockley fans. I think her work is very interesting - really pretty amazing actually so this isn't a putdown, but you need to buy into it to benefit from this book. It isn't for the faint hearted or beginners, as achieving this level of expertise and the ability to emulate her work requires really hard graft and determination. Rather like my fascination with Charles Reid, which although nothing like her style and apparently much simpler isn't actually when you get down to it. It's taken me years and I'm still not there although, in each instance, I stress I'm not talking about copying exactly how these artists work but being influenced by it with your own input.

A nice useful book? Yes with the qualifications I've made.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Watercolour Paintings 41

With the beginning of Spring here is another batch of watercolours from around the World.



Robert Wade

The doyen of Australian watercolour artists Bob is also a very nice man. I had contact with him a few years ago via e mail. He well remembered Bristol as his son had been a medical student here.



Yuko Nagayama

This lady is an amazing artist. I don't think there is another like her. Her paintings have this wonderful ethereal quality. 



Bijay Biswaal

Wow!



Sarah Yeoman

Sarah has done several similar paintings. Catches the subject (and turmoil) of birds competing with one another very well. An unusual subject.




Stan Miller

This is a good example of Stans portraits. I think this was a demo.



Amit Kapoor

Fantastic detail. I imagine this is quite a large painting.



Aud Rye

This is so evocative! Mother (or is it father?) and children.



Vickie Nelson

Typical of Vickies work. Loose and colourful with just the right amount of detail, mainly the yellow and white Iris slightly left of centre. which attracts the eye.



Jonathan Kwegyir Aggrey

Different from much of Jonathans work which often entails large panoramas.




Nikhil Girl

A new one to me, almost abstract but set off by the two tiny figures in the centre.



Gerard Hendriks

The wonderfully colourful and prolific Gerard. Colour and movement. What more can I say!



Charles Reid

This is a typical pose and good example of Charles figure paintings. I've been trying to emulate him for years (with only moderate - if at all - success!) Small areas of detail - large areas of generality.



Cao bei An

This fine Chinese artist was featured in Kees van aalst's book 'Realistic Abstracts'. He also has some videos on Youtube, which is a rich source of inspiration and demonstrations for artists.



Trevor Lingard

One of the best British watercolour artists of the modern era.



Robert Brindley

This almost seems like a pastel but it is said to be watercolour  from this British artist.



Roberto Zangarelli

I very much like the work of Roberto and this is a typical example. Three large shapes, the building to the left, the trees on the right and most important the tram at bottom front with it's yellow colour highlight. Look how he creates depth.




Diann Benoit

This is a typical Diann  painting from her Monday night class painted from a live model, bold and colourful.


That's it folks another batch of highly individual paintings which I hope has something for everyone, regardless of taste. My personal preferences  are towards  the looser end of the spectrum but I can - and do - admire other styles, even though I wouldn't want to emulate them even if i was capable of it. Each to h or her is own. What a wonderful and underrated medium watercolour is.


Monday, 26 March 2018

My Paintings

Here are my most recent efforts.



30 x 40cm Cornwall 210lb/450gsm Rough -Spring Flowers

This was a recent subject at my AVA group. I used Cornwall rough paper which has a very pronounced pattern that not everyone will like. I don't normally use this paper but bought some a while back to try as Yvonne, the best artist in my group, had made complimentary remarks about it. It is slightly unusual as well in being a heavier weight than I normally use. I'm not sure what it is made of but isn't cotton, This is one of the large Hahnemuhle range. Colours used were Rowney Cobalt Magenta (PV14) for the flowers with some Perylene Maroon ( PR179 Rowney or Graham) for the darker areas, I masked the stamens with Pebeo Drawing Gum  using a ruling pen. The greens are Sap Green (Lukas PY153/PG7)), Green-Gold (Rowney PY129 ), Oxide of Chromium (Rowney PG17) and Perylene Green (Schmincke PBr31).  I also used some Lukas Cobalt Violet (PV14) but this is an extremely weak colour of a very pale greyish violet shade. Although I like Lukas generally I'm not impressed with this one. I like Lukas both for quality and price, but avoid this colour and earth shades, like Burnt Umber, where multi-pigment mixes are used.




Tropical Finch - 9 3/4 x 11 1/2. Not

This was a subject I did some while back at the AVA but after studying the colourful bird paintings of Gerard Hendriks I had a look at it and decided I would introduce more colour. Initially I Increased the darks on the head and under the beak and strengthened the red colour. I also added the blue, and a touch of Turquoise (Lukas PB16) plus Cerulean (Rownery PB35) on both sides of the bird. I then added more varied colour on the branch he was sitting on.

I've now collected some bird photographs and intend to paint some more. I need a break from my Indian portraits as I've torn up the last two.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Latest Efforts

These are my most recent paintings. I've also trashed a couple. My policy now is to destroy any that are going wrong and start again, not in every case as for example I started one of the Nez Perce chief Looking Glass. The drawing was fine but the painting turned out very dull so I trashed it. I may try again but not sure on this one as the guide photo is a very murky one with poor detail. Trying to interpret it proved beyond me.

I pick photos that appeal to me unless it is an AVA subject, in which case I (mostly) stick to the subject although we are allowed leeway in interpreting the subject. Some subjects are more specific, others less so.


Hipah - Mohave Woman c 1900.
 One of Edward Curtis photographs, all are black and white.



Feeding Time.

I found this one on Pinterest. I like drawing and painting birds and  this little bird had made this amazing nest in an old hanging lamp, with the original glass missing.




Mainly Red. 

This was an AVA subject so I looked at red flowers. The one I found was of Dahlias, although the colours were brighter than the above, but I couldn't match them even though I have a lot of reds.  Possibly Vermilion would be more accurate but I don't have that one. The foliage was a very black-brown which also appealed with some subtle green also in the background. I used Perylene Green (Schmincke) a very blackish green, Lunar Black from Daniel Smith. and another darkish green. I also sprayed the background with a very fine mist of water and let the colours mix. Some Molotow masking fluid was used on the flower centres which are Burnt  Umber. The one  I used was Lukas which is a three pigment mix. Why I bought this one I 'm not sure as Burnt Umber is usually a single pigment and this Lukas version is a very dull Brown. I do like Lukas overall and at current prices they are a 'best buy' - not Burnt Umber though!




King of the Jungle 

The guide photo really appealed to me and this is the third study of a great ape I've done recently. This guy had a very pensive expression - staring into space. After I finished I kept looking at it and  finally realised the eyes were too human-looking. I then added Transparent Orange (Schmincke PO71) and then a touch of Cadmium Red (PR108).



Young Amerindian Girl. 15" x 11"





Cree Chief Big Bear in captivity after the Riel rebellion in 1885 in Canada. The Metis people, mixed race French speaking, rebelled together with some Cree and Assiniboine indians. Louis Riel, the leader, was tried for treason and hanged, leading to deep resentment by the French-speaking population that continues to this day



All the above are approximately 16" x 12", except for Hipah and the young  girl who are  11" x 15" Khadi.

New Watercolour Papers from Jacksons

Some interesting new watercolour papers have recently been offered by Jacksons. Two of those below have been available for a while.  I've not tried them but my interest has recently been aroused.  As I paint mainly on blocks those below are in this category but you can get sheets or pads of some.

The above is a paper new to me called 'Stonehenge'. I first heard of it when reading that it was now Bev Jozwiaks favourite paper, the hot press. It is available in a variety of sizes and surfaces including cold pressed (not). In my favourite size of 12" x 16" the cost for 15 sheets is £25. Comprehensive information is on the Jacksons website.



This is the Strathmore 400 series . Strathmore is an American brand very popular over there. A variety of pads are offered, called "Field' spiral, "Softcover" art journal plus a glued pad. Sizes vary. They don't appear to do a 16" x 12" with an 18" x 12" the closest to this size. The blurb states 'wood free, acid free but nothing about it being 100% cotton so I assume it isn't. They do a series 500 in an imperial sheet which is described as 100% cotton for £7 - quite pricy.

This one - Yupo - has been available for a while and is a controversial paper as it is unlike any other. The surface is white, smooth like glass and hence doesn't absorb the paint which you can move around. Some artists appear sold on it and it would seem it is selling well judging by the range of weights and sizes being offered. The reason I say controversial is that a painting friend described it as an 'abomination'. However that fine artist Stan Miller recently tried it and was quite impressed as it enabled him to loosen up and get effects not available on normal papers. Funnily enough I was looking through some old 2014 copies of the American mag Watercolour Artist and lo and behold a small trial sheet of Yupo was included!  Jacksons offer an 11" x 14" gummed pad of 10 sheets at prices that range from £18.40p for the 200gsm to £33,.0p for the 390gsm. See details on the website. Interestingly enough the SAA (Society of All Artists) in their comprehensive 170 page materials catalogue (Society?) have an 85gsm version in loose sheets A2, A3 and A4 as well as 25  sheet pads in A3 and A4. With the lighter weight the prices are cheaper sheet for sheet. The 25 sheet A3 pad is £22.25p. You are supposed to be a member to get these prices and I can as my AVA group has an associated membership as well as public liability insurance with them. Some prices are listed as 'members only' but many others would seem to be on offer to non members.

This is a new range called 'Fluid Easy'. It is said to be manufactured in a European mill that dates from 1618 and blocks are glued on two edges. Cold pressed and hot pressed are available in my favourite size of 16" x 12,  15 sheets costing £19.00p. The smallest size is 6' x 8'. There seems to be quite a range offered by Jacksons of this new 'Fluid Easy'.

I have not tried any of the above yet. The ones that interest me most are Stonehenge and Fluid Easy but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If you are interested look them up on Jacksons where there are many more details than I have given above.

Looking at prices  Stonehenge is more expensive (per sheet) than my current favourite Waterford High White, while Fluid Easy is slightly less. 

Sunday, 11 March 2018

INDEX

I have just updated the Index. To access it you have to scroll down to JULY 2014. I know this is a bit of a bind but I'm not clever enough to make access any easier, although there have been attempts to help me. If there is an easy way to make it more accessible I'd be delighted to hear.

There is some good stuff in the back posts, including contributions from John Softly.