Saturday, 27 May 2017

Watercolour Painting on a Budget - Paints Update

Up until recently my recommendation for Artists Quality paints has been Daler Rowney and Lukas. This is based on a combination of quality allied to price. I have been buying Daler Rowney from an art shop in Bath at better than mail order prices, which even so were very competitive. I realise personal preference plays a part in choosing and others may have different ideas. In addition prices vary country to country so this recommendation only applies to Europe.




Last week I went into the Bath shop and to my horror saw the prices were now £12.75p for series 1 and 2 and over £17 for Series 3 all 15ml. There was a notice saying 'would you buy at these new prices'? I politely told the lady in the shop that I wouldn't. She was obviously concerned and said there had been a price increase and presumably - although she didn't say so - the extra discounts that enabled them to sell so competitively had been withdrawn. I then checked Jacksons prices and found they had increased to just over £10 Series 1/2 and £14 for series 3. As a result I did a round robin of the various makes to see how they stacked up.

My new recommendations are 1st choice Lukas (24ml) closely followed by Sennelier (21ml) Maimeri  (15ml) is also in the mix. I believe Lukas are now owned by the Daler Rowney group so this may not last we shall have to see. Sennelier, with the largest range, has to be a serious contender.  Scmincke, although more expensive with the new improved and enlarged range are also on my radar and I've just ordered Perylene Violet and Perylene Green (both £9 for 15ml) to try out. The cheapest Daniel Smith is now in excess of £10 and Graham and Da Vinci are not considered because they are only available via Lawrence of Hove who have a fixed carriage charge. Although I've gone off Graham due to various problems with the paints I am intrigued by Da Vinci and if I was close enough to visit the shop would probably buy some. In the USA I know prices on Daniel Smith, Da Vinci and Graham are much more competitive but as usual in the UK we get ripped off. I haven't mentioned Winsor and Newton who are (or used to be!) regularly offered at extra discounts. You can mix makes don't let that old chimera that you shouldn't put you off doing so.

My comments only refer to Artists Quality. There are alternatives. The Korean Shin Han and Mijello are very competitively priced but I have reservations about them.  Many other artists seem to find them satisfactory but be selective in which ones you buy with a preference for single pigment paints. There is  also  the Japanese Turner from Jacksons at very keen prices. Lots use St Petersburg quite happily. We now have some house brands which are worth a try. There are also Cotman, Venezia and Van Gogh in the budget makes. Take your pick.

Before closing I note papers have also increased in price. Prices are now £32.60 for Waterford and £35 for Fabriano - blocks I should add. My favourite block size is "16 x 12"  Fabriano Artistico and Saunders - although Fabriano have this strange size of "12 x 18". We watercolourists are being taken to the cleaners!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Latest Paintings

The following were done over the last two to three weeks, mostly at AVA Thursday sessions.



16" x 12" Lanaquarelle 140lb (300gsm) not Subject : Trees.  This is an apple tree. We are allowed considerable leeway in our interpretation of the subject. Various greens, reds and orange/yellows with some blue.



16" x 12" Lanaquarelle 140lb (300gsm) not. Subject: Single Flower. This was the second of two. I had about 40 minutes left so did this one which I'd already drawn. Mainly mixtures of red and blue to get this mauvish colour. I used some masking fluid around the white area in the centre. A mix of green again.


16" x 12" Fabriano Artistico 16" x 12" Extra White not. Subject: Single Flower. The original Fabriano block is 18" x 12" but I don't like that size so reduce the painting area to 16" x 12". Mainly reds, yellows and orange colours.




16" x 12" Fabriano Artistico Extra White not. Same as above reduced the painting area. Subject: Farm/Domestic Animals.



16" x 12" Lanaquarelle 140lb not. Same subject as above. This was a thirty minute painting. I had done the drawing the previous day.

I'm not too displeased with most of these although my favourites are the animals. I even like the little pig - a minimalist painting! You may note I've photographed them with a surrounding mount. This is an experiment to see if I can make them look better! I need all the help I can get.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Medicine Crow

This is my latest Amerindian portrait of a warrior called Medicine Crow. I don't know what tribe. Added 16/05/17 Actually he is a Crow Indian.


Medicine Crow - 16" x 12" Lanaquerelle 140lb (300gsm) not

This is based on another of the old black and white/sepia photographs and is an interpretation of it rather than a straight copy. I'm not great at copying and avoid doing so as much as possible. This is one of the hardest things when painting from photographs as the tendency to try and copy has to be resisted.

Some of my indians are too light in respect of the skin colour but here the result is closer to this dark-skinned individual. Colours used were limited with various mixes involving Ultramarine Blue, Translucent Brown (Schminke PBr41), Burnt Umber plus some Cadmium Red Light. There are touches of one or two other colours like Raw Sienna and Gold Ochre. 

This was painted at home, first a pencil drawing using a Pentel mechanical pencil, Size 7 2B. I then painted it in two stages, first of all the features beginning with the eyes, then the nose and mouth followed by the remainder of the face then the hair. I completed the painting the following day.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Khadi Watercolour Paper

 I was in Foyles bookshop in Cabot Circus Bristol, a while ago and noticed they were selling Khadi watercolour paper in a variety of sizes. As the prices were very good for a handmade paper I couldn't resist buying an A3 pack of 20 sheets. Weight is 320gsm, slightly over 140lbs. The surface is moderately rough. 

Khadi is an Indian handmade paper from 100% long fibered cotton rag. I read somewhere else that it was recycled cotton and they have a mill in Southern India. They do a range of papers and have expanded considerably since the original launch in the 1980s, so they obviously have their adherents. Google 'Khadi' to get to the website.


Apart from Moldau the only other handmade paper I've tried is one under the Jacksons name and I wasn't very impressed. It soaked up paint like blotting paper and was very uneven. Khadi is  a little like this but then so is Moldau. I've not stretched so whether others do this I  don't know. The initial attraction about Khadi is the price which is cheaper than the quality mould-made cotton papers. I have looked up some reviews and they are mixed. This thing about the paper soaking up paint rears it's head again. Obviously the lighter weights would not be so prone to do this. Nevertheless many artists would appear to use it and availability is widespread.



Amerindian Cowboy circa 1900 - A3 Khadi 320gsm

The above is only one painting but I thought the result promising. Until I've done a few more with this paper I can't make a definitive statement  - at least from my own experience - so I'll reserve final judgement until then but will report in a future post.

To quote one example Jacksons (Jacksonsart.com) do a huge range in sizes and weights , from 1000gsm to 210gsm! The A3 size - slightly larger than 16" x 12" - pack of 20 sheets  costs £14.40p. When you consider a block of  20 sheets Waterford (my preferred choice 100% cotton mould-made) 16" x 12" costs £28.60,  this is very reasonable.

I'd be interested in readers experiences if they have tried this paper.
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Monday, 1 May 2017

Watercolour Paintings (30)

Here are the latest batch to start off May. A bumper crop. Once again a very diverse group showing the wide range of this underrated medium. As I've often said my personal preference is impressionistic and loose watercolours - even minimalist ones. That doesn't mean I don't admire the more detailed works shown here. It is simply that I have neither the skill,  inclination or patience to do such detailed works. My guru Charles Reid- actually I have three - said in a workshop I attended that some people said he couldn't draw a straight line!  As this just about sums me up  - except with a ruler - I rest my case.




Diann C Benoit

A favourite artist of mine



Catherine Rey

Another favourite artist - I have so many!



Nigar Deniz Damir



Mahmood Samandarian



Joan Coch Rey

Amazing detail. How do they do this in watercolour?


Zhon Tianya

Not certain I have the correct artist here



Yuko Nagayama

The fabulous Japanese artist - so delicate



N B Gurung. The Master Nepalese artist



Gerard Hendriks

I love this! The contrast between the colours of the bird and the grey- greens of the surrounding area - wow!



Laurin McCracken

This is an amazing watercolour. Not my taste but wonderful skill and look how the red of the cherries sets off the greys.



Edward Seago

The British Master . This is a typical Seago landscape and he did many similar ones. This type of painting isn't as popular these days but again not much detail and very powerful.





Catherine Rey - again!



Rose Ann Hayes




Judith Farnworth

I like Judiths work a lot




Rukiye Garip

Amazing detail





Andrew Geeson

A new artist to me - love the looseness of this. Has some videos on Youtube.



Michael Jasiewicz



Andrew Geeson

Another very loose one - some think this type of painting is easy but I can assure you it isn't. I know from bitter experience. I've been trying to master it for 18 years.



Shyam Dongarwar



Gn Madhu



Aud Rye

The birds are the only real detail here but don't they hold it together.




Judith Farnworth

A more abstract painting from Judith. I love the colours and had to include it!



Stan Miller

The Master of portraits and much else. See his demos on Youtube.




Thats it folks. Hope you like them.










Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Latest Efforts

The following are recent efforts. Mostly done at AVA sessions, although I've missed the last two due to family commitments. Struggling to concentrate a bit at the moment.




St Kilda - 16" x 12" Lanaquarelle 140lb not

This was a 30minute sketch including drawing and painting. It was based on an old black and white photograph - very hazy and gloomy.  St Kilda is the remotest island off the Orkney isles from North West Scotland. It was inhabited for centuries and the last dwindling inhabitants were removed at their own request in 1930. Life was very harsh and sea birds formed an important part of their diet.  The subject  was buildings which I don't do these days - not a favourite of mine. Colours as you can see are basically puddle colours mainly mixed from Ultramarine Blue and Translucent Brown from Schmincke. This latter has been re-named Transparent Brown in the recent updating of the range. I don't like this paper much.



Tropical Bird - Fabriano Artistico rough 12" x 9".

I'd drawn this one a while ago and as I finished early and quickly painted this. (I always seem to finish early and usually wash the cups up).  






The next subject this Thursday is farm/domestic animals so I drew this composite from three photographs. I quite like it  and intend to view the painting of a cockerel on Gerard Hendriks DVD before I paint it.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Schmincke's New Paints (Pigments). Pt 2.

I have now looked at the remainder of the new paints from Schmincke.  I stress I have not bought any as yet so this is purely my analysis of the pigments from a purely non technical viewpoint. My source is the The Art of Color database.




Quinacridone Purple. Pigment Violet 55 (PV55). Organic.."bluish violet to violet blue". Claimed to be superior to Quinacridone Violet PV19...."Hue closer to PV23 than PV19 or PV29".  PV55 was first introduced by Daniel Smith, and I bought a tube very soon after it was introduced. Not an essential colour and it lay for a while in my paint drawer without being used. When I came to squeeze some out found it had solidified. I know there are various ways of resuscitating such paint but to
 my mind this is a negative.

 Ultramarine Blue  PB29 "The colour of Ultramarine Blue can be varied all the way from a pale greenish blue through to violet". We know this from the chart of the various shades that Zvonimir von Tosic supplied. Schmincke already have an Ultramarine "Finest' with this pigment so presumably it is one of the other shades.

Phalo Sapphire Blue. PB15:6.  Epsilon Copper Phthalocyanine. "Intense deep blue in mass tone, reddish to greenish bright blue in shades....staining". Phalo blue comes in several versions including- it is said - a 'yellowish' one. PB15:6, amongst other PB15's, is listed by Lukas who call it simply Phalo Blue. PB15 appears in most makers ranges, often in more than one version. PB15:3, a greenish shade, seems most popular.

Cobalt Azure Blue. PB35. Cerulean Blue. "light red to greenish blue with a grayish cast".  A very common pigment with several versions, mostly called Cerulean Blue.

Viridian. PG18. Inorganic. "Dull or deep mid green to bluish green". This is common in other ranges and tends to be on the weak side. The artist Trevor Chamberlain said he had tried many and eventually found one by Talens (Rembrandt) that he liked.

Transparent Ochre . PY42, Yellow Iron Oxide. This is a very common synthetic pigment, an earth colour substitute "Dull reddish yellow to yellowish brown orange...Colour, transparency can vary widely depending on manufacturer variables .... PY42 and PY43 exist in almost any shade of yellow, orange, red and violet brown to green brown". The choice is yours!

Transparent Sienna. PR101. "Synthetic iron oxide red, inorganic.....various brownish yellow to orange to red shades with violet undertones....transparency depends on particle size and other factors, grinding, additives, binder etc". You will find PR101 in most ranges but  there can be considerable variation between different makers versions.

Transparent Umber. PR101. See above comments.

Transparent Green Gold. PY154/PBr7. Green Gold is usually made with PY129. This is a convenience paint made with PY154 Benzimidazolone Yellow and PBr7. PY154 is described as `'bright, light greenish through to yellow...claimed by some as good primary yellow". PBr7 is brown iron oxide "yellowish brown to brown to dull red....transparency varies widely depending on mineral content and other impurities....exists in almost any shade of yellow" , This Schmincke is an  unknown quantity until tried.

Spinal Brown. PY119 Zinc Iron Yellow. Inorganic "Dull yellow to brownish".

Maroon Brown. PBr7. See Transparent Green Gold for description of PBr7.

Mahogany Brown. PBr33. Mixed metal oxide.. Zinc Iron chromite brown. "Dark brown to reddish brown".

Mars Brown. PBr6. Iron oxide hydroxide brown... 'inorganic...natural and/or synthetic Ferris oxide...brown to dull red. See comments under PBr7.

Green Umber. PBr7. See comments earlier on PBr.7.

Graphite  Grey. PBk10. Graphite. Inorganic...crystalized carbon...dark grey with metallic sheen"

Hematite Black. PG17. Here we have a mystery. According to my information PG17 is Chrome Oxide Green. ...dull yellowish green to mid green". How therefore can it be called Hematite Black? I checked on the pigment number and indeed PG17 was confirmed. Convinced this couldn't be correct I contacted Schmincke and received a very prompt reply from a lady called Claudia Moller.. " 14 789 hematite black contains the pigment"hematite", a black chromium oxide pigment which is named PG17." Make of this what you will. Perhaps Zvonimir will comment.

Mars Black PBk11. Mars Black..." Bluish gray to black". Inorganic. Synthetic or natural black iron oxide.

Cobalt Violet Hue. ?. I have so far no details of the pigments involved in this ;paint.As it is described as a 'hue' I assume more than one pigment is involved.

Perylene Violet PV29. Perylene Violet. ..."Organic Dark dull red purple"

Perylene Green PBk31.Paliogen Black. ..."Inorganic Intense Very dark bluish green - almost black in masstone". First introduced by Holbein and I don't know if anyone else offers this pigment.

Overall I'm not sure what all this proves as we now know that variation in pigments of the same number is considerable and the way the manufacturers formulate the paints also has a large influence on the final result. Nevertheless I hope this will enable some of us to determine whether or not we wish to explore these paints further and indeed try some that seem interesting. I think the Schmincke range is very good and with these additions even more competitive.

A word or two about PBr7. This designation or whatever you call it covers a wide range of earth pigments, in other words coloured rocks that  were and are mined, crushed and turned eventually into paints. According to Handprint - now seriously out of date (sadly) - manufacturers have been replacing true earth colours with the synthetics PR101. PY42 and PY43. What many are not doing was changing the information and still saying  "PBr7". Trading standards? It also seems more and more might be changing pigments and /or adding them without letting us - the buyers of these paints - know what is going on.  I don't know the extent of it but it is definitely happening in certain instances.  We have been told that the earth colours are running out and they had to seek alternatives ie synthetics. I don't believe this for one minute. Just in my own experience there is a mine in the Forest of Dean  that still mines earth pigments and when I was in Provence, France not that long ago you could buy tons of the stuff with shops selling nothing else. We also have Daniel Smith with the Primateks. I'm told pigments are now being mainly sourced from China and the Alibaba conglomerate will supply an much as you want in metric tons. Who is kidding who?

If you want more information see https://janeblundellart.blogspot.com/  and put Schmincke in the search box. Fantastic.

Added: 14/04/2017. There are changes to the Schmincke range that go beyond introducing these new colours.  Two of my favourites , Translucent Orange and Translucent Brown have been renamed as "Transparent Orange and Brown. I suggest if interested you consult Jane Blundells blog and also the Schminke.de site where there is a complete online brochure in great detail. In fact if you like Schmincke this is a must. There are other changes. 

A comprehensive INDEX for the blog is in June 2014. Type June 2014 in the top left hand search box and this takes you to it.



Saturday, 1 April 2017

Watercolour Paintings (29)

Here are Aprils batch of watercolour paintings. Another selection showing the huge variety possible with this underrated , at least in the UK,  medium. My aim is to show the vast range of paintings possible with watercolour. Obviously, like everyone else, I have my particular favourites and also tend towards paintings that are loose with the mantra 'less is more'. However that doesn't mean I don't admire and marvel at paintings done in styles and techniques different to those I aspire to. Many of these artists are unknown to me but you can look up most of them on Facebook, which is where the paintings originally appeared.



Milind Mulick

Milind doesn't usually do flowers but the colours tend to mirror those in his other paintings.



Gerard Hendriks 56 x 76cm

A slightly unusual subject for Gerard but I notice some of his recent paintings are moving into different subjects. 



Daniel Guilbert 120 x 80cm

This reminds me of the Trevor Chamberlain painting of a large tanker. I think this not quite up to that standard but not a million miles away. 





N B Gurung

A fine Nepalese artist.





Judith Farnworth




Aleksandrs Neberekutins 20 x 30cm

An example of a very loose but effective painting. 




Miguel Torres Garcia

Amazing painting this with stunning detail. I don't know the size but obviously quite large.


Orhan Gurel

This is a sketch - wonderful!




Zhou Tianya




Nora McPhail

I like her loose colourful paintings. No overworking.




The wonderful Bev Jozwiak, I like her jackdaw paintings as well as many others.




Jean-Luc Decron

The only details here are the eyes, nose and lips but look how they set off the rest of the painting. Great colour choices too.





The great Gerard Hendriks

This may well be the cockerel painted on his DVD. Contrast this with the previous painting by him I've shown..


Michael Reardon

Obviously another large one (?) but very atmospheric. Look how the river contrasts with the many greys of the rest.



Ali Abbas Syed







Celal Gunaydin

Wow!



Sun Yu

Wow again!





I love this but seem to have mislaid the artists name - nevertheless I decided to include it. I love the approach.




Lars Eje Larsson

I only recently became aware of this artist and love his work.