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One persons attempt to become a good artist painting in watercolour, experiences along the way and discussion of all things connected with it.

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  • 09/23/16--08:53: Latest Paintings
  • These are the latest paintings I've done mostly at Avon Valley Artist sessions.  I reiterate I don't post these as good just my current work. The only 'serious one' - by that I mean I was really trying - is the first one. I did have a record of her name but have mislaid it. It wasn't very lyrical though just several short indian words separated by hyphens.

    Indian Maiden 16" x 12" Waterford High White 300gsm not

    This was partially drawn at an AVA session then corrected at home. I then commenced painting. Finally I completed it last Thursday at the AVA session. I'm fairly pleased with the final result. You can see there is a lot of blue in the hair and the reddish skin colouring is Cadmium Red Light with a little Raw Sienna. 

    Abstract ? Cornwall 210lb matt surface

    The subject last Thursday was 'Abstracts',  I decided to look at the book 'Realistic Abstracts' by Kees van Aalst for inspiration. In it are some watercolour portraits by Slawa Prischedko. I then looked up agnes-cecille (Sylvia Pelissero) of the Deviant Art movement. Her portraits are quite startling and not to everyones taste. I find them interesting but wonder where she gets her inspiration. They have the look of a tortured soul. Mine isn't so extreme but would fit (I think !) in the Kees interpretation of realistic abstracts. Comments welcome. It was fun to do though and is one way of loosening up. I used Cornwall paper for this one and it seemed generally ok.

    Hidden fawn 16" x 12" Waterford (?)

    This was a wildlife subject at an AVA session

    Butterfly 16" x 12" Centenaire

    Same as the above.

    Next week the subject is buildings - not my favourite subject - followed by Harvest Time. What I generally do is Google the subject then click on images, Usually something catches my eye, sometimes more than others.

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  • 10/01/16--02:59: Watercolour Paintings (23)
  • To start October - now we are into Autumn in the UK - are the latest batch of paintings. I hope there is something for everybody, and they are picked in part to show the diversity of the medium and the different styles and techniques that exist. There are a number of new artists not previously featured. I hope you like them.

    Slawa Prischedko - husband of Viktoria

    I absolutely love this - fabulous. How I wish I could emulate his work.

    Genevieve Buchanan

    A lovely lady who I met on a couple of Charles Reid workshops. She has developed an ultra loose style somewhat to the left of Charles!

    Orhan Gurel

    Another superb artist from Turkey I think.

    Charles Reid

    The above model is Joseph Wolfskill, a favourite subject, who has been painted by Charles on numerous occasions and features in some of his books - two of them are in `Watercolour Solutions'. He has changed over the years!

    Another from Slawa Prischedko

    Ewa Ludwiczak

    Ewa- a fine artist - is almost a clone of Charles Reid and emulates his style better than anyone else I've come across. Perhaps she should put more of her own stamp and individuality on her paintings.

    John Yardley

    The doyen of English watercolour artists - although he also paints in oils - this was painted in Brugge some years ago and features in his book 'John Yardley A Personal View'.

    Françoise Dupasquier

    Another new one.

    Bev Jozwiak

    The fabulous American artist. Bev paints in various mediums but I think this one is watercolour.

    Pasqualino Fracasso

    New to me. I like his depiction of light.

    Roberto Zangarelli

    Another new to me. The red umbrella is the attraction.

    Guan Wiexing

    The doyen of Chinese watercolour artists and teacher of many of the fabulous younger generation. I read somewhere that he uses Cotman paints and Bockingford paper. So much for the `very best materials'.

    Dusan Djukaric

    Dusan is a regular on Facebook and most of his work appears on there.

    Michal Jasiewicz

    Another I know little about. Possibly Polish. Look at how blue features in the above painting. Several shades though with coolness on the right hand side and warmer colours towards the left showing the light.

    Michal Jasiewicz

     A second painting from Michal.

    That's it then. Food for thought`? 

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  • 10/11/16--06:31: Primary Colours?
  • This post has been prompted by reading the Winsor & Newton Literature for their artist watercolours when I did the recent piece on them. This is an excellent leaflet that folds out and has much of interest, not just solely to do with the brand.   
    Before getting into things let me point out that the Handprint site demolishes much of the perceived wisdom promulgated by some- and others - of todays artists, those who write books and articles. It tends to be quite simplistic. Look up Color Theory on Handprint however. You may well find it impossible to take it in it's entirety and  much of it indigestible, but it's all there with the forensic approach that typifies Bruce McEvoys work. While he no longer updates the site this information remains current. Obviously there will be those who disagree  but I'm not one to argue. Essentially he says that much of current colour theory is a misconception and explains in great detail why. I'll leave it at that.

    I thought I read somewhere on Handprint that 'originally' there were four primaries which included green but I haven't been able to find the relevant quote

    What I thought I would do is cover what some of the leading makers say in relation to their own ranges. We know  as a starting point that the three primary colours are said to be red, yellow and blue
    but as McEvoy says which ones, as there are many to choose from. What are usually described as primary colours are actually the so-called printers colours Yellow, Cyan and Magenta. McEvoy claims that the technically ideal primary set would actually be Cobalt Violet (PV49), Cobalt Teal Blue (PG50) and Bismuth Yellow(PY184). Why are they not used? McEvoy says because of the nature of these particular pigments they would clog up the printers - and he gives other reasons - so they are not used. In other words the whole thing is a compromise as so often happens.

    Winsor & Newton recommend Winsor Lemon (PY175), Winsor Blue (Red Shade PB15) and Permanent Rose (PV19). To add to this and create the `split''palette recommended by Handprint are added Winsor Yellow (PY154), French Ultramarine (PB29) while  Winsor Blue (Green Shade PB15:3) replaces the Red shade and finally Scarlet Lake (PR188). This last is interesting as most makers don't offer this pigment.  This gives you both warm and cool versions of each colour. I must confess when I'm painting I don't suddenly exclaim ' oh dear I've put a warm colour down when it should be cool or vice versa' but maybe I do it automatically - I wish!

    Next we'll look at Schminke. The reason is that their literature is also very good - possible the best overall so the information can be gleaned from it. The suggested paints are Lemon Yellow (PY3), Cadmium Red Light (PO20), and Ultramarine Finest (PB29). Quite different to W & N. Added to this to give warm and cool versions are Cadmium Yellow Light (PY35), Permanent Carmine (PV19) and Prussian Blue (PB27). However if you look at the list of paints they also say Magenta (PV42) is the basic colour magenta in colour theory and also Hello Cerulean (PB15:3). in regard to Cyan. They do say in each instance 'close to' the basic colour tone. I might add the initial information comes from that given for their standard 12 colour paints box so it might be a little misleading.

    Maimeri. They list Primary Yellow (PY97), Magenta (PV19) and finally Cyan (PB15:3) as the initial three. I'm not sure about the next three but possibley Ultramarine Blue (PB29), Cadmium Yellow Light (PY35) and Cadmium Red Light (PR108). If you won't use Cadmiums then there is a problem. I might e-mail Maimeri and ask them what they recommend. I've actually done this so await a reply. My e-mail was bounced back saying it had been identified as 'spam'. That's one way of avoiding the question.

    Dale Rowney. The choices seem to  be either Lemon Yellow (PY3) or Bismuth Yellow (PY184),  Phthalo Blue (Red Shade PB15) and Permanent Rose (PV19). To make six add Cadmium Yellow Light (PY35), Quinacridone Magenta (PR122) and Ultramarine Blue (PB29) or replace the Red shade of PB15 with the Green shade.

    Holbein. Most of their yellows are mixtures so I can't determine which one would be the primary. They do several Cadmiums including 'yellow pale' and 'yellow light' but their Lemon Yellow includes white. Red is equally difficult perhaps Permanent Alazarin Crimson? Blue isn't a lot clearer Manganese Blue Nova (PB15) or Ultramarine Blue (PB29) our even Marine Blue (PB16).

    Graham. Yellow would be either Hansa Yellow (PY3) or Bismuth Yellow (PY184). Red Quinacridone Rose or Violet (PV19) and blue Phthalocyanine Blue Red Shade (PB15:0). Additional colours could be Cadmium Yellow Light (PY35), Permanent Alazarin Crimson (PR264) and Ultramarine Blue (PB29) with Phthalocyanine Blue green shade (PB15:3) replacing the red shade. Prussian Blue (PB27) would be an alternative.

    Lukas, Lemon Yellow (PY3), Magenta (PR122) or Genuine Rose (PV19). and Cyan (PB15:3). To make six Cadmium Yellow Light (PY35), Alazarin Crimson (PR176) and either Ultramarine Blue Light or Deep, Prussian Blue (PB27) or even Turquoise (PB16).

    Sennelier. Lemon Yellow (PY3), Carmine (PV19) and Phthalocyanine Blue (PB15:3). Add PrimaryYellow (PY74) or Cadmium Yellow Light (PY35), Scarlet Laquer (PR188) and either Ultramarine Blue Light (PB29) or Prussian Blue(PB27).

    Blockx. Primary Yellow (PY154) or Blockx Yellow (PY3), Magenta (PV19), Primary Blue (PB15:3). The next three might be Cadmium Yellow Pale (PY35), Quinacridone Magenta (PR122) or Crimson Lake (PR264) and either Ultramarine Blue Light or Deep PB29) or Prussian Blue (PB27)'

    That will have to do. I was intending to include Daniel Smith but with no clear guidance on the literature and with such a huge range I've decided not to risk it.

    Another complication is that there are different colours within a single pigment number, examples being PV19 that has rose, red, and violet shades. Ultramarine blue has also many variations as a recent post based on  research  from Zvonimir illustrated.

    This has proved more difficult than I anticipated because no-one other than Winsor & Newton give really clear guidance. Some of my assumptions may be incorrect so are open to correction. Please feel free to comment. These 6 colours are just the start as most artists will have at least 12 and often far more. What other colours to add? In a restricted number I imagine two or three or more  earth colours are a must plus a green. It's all a matter of personal preference as there are so many fantastic colours out there. If you favour a particular subject like flowers then you have to expand the number further. You could do worse than consult Handprint on 'palettes'. This has all (and more) information on how to put together your palette of paints and what to choose and why.

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  • 10/16/16--07:32: Watercolor. Made in China.
  • The above is the name of a page/site I saw referred to on Facebook so investigated. It is a celebration of Chinese watercolour painting, and while I only looked at part of the photographic albums there are a considerable number to peruse and enjoy. The number of Chinese watercolour artists continues to amaze me. Yes, it is a very large country with a huge population but not much is known of these artists in the West, and they are so good. Many it appears are proteges of  the famous Guan Wexing who is better known outside China. Enjoy!  

    Liu Shouxiang (b.1958)

    Lin Shaoling (b.1957)

    Liu Yaping (b.1954)

    Wang Hsin (b.1925)

    Ou Huanli

    Hon Yue (b.1972)

    Liu Yi (b.1958)

    Lu  Zaikai (b.1957)

    Jiang Yue (b.1958)

    Tu Weineng

    Gao Yaoming

    Li Qing (b.1982)

    I shall be further exploring this Facebook site and may well post more paintings in future.

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  • 10/21/16--07:50: New Products
  • I've recently bought two new items, basically to solve the same problem. This is my propensity to get masking fluid and acrylic white paint on my clothes. The problem is once it's on you can't get either off. This is due to my  clumsiness which seems to be increasing with age! The pleasures of growing old!

    Jacksons Adjustable Artist Apron £23.50p

    Getting acrylic white (Vallejo) on my trousers two weeks ago was the last straw. I had to do something about it. Two of the ladies in my group. Pat and Pauline, already wear them but they are a different shape to me and their aprons are on the short side. I wanted something to cover most of my trousers. Pat actually offered to make me one but as I didn't want to put her to the trouble I declined with thanks. Looking at what's available from our usual sources I saw that Ken Bromley had at least two different sorts and so had Jacksons. In the end I decided on the Jacksons because although the most expensive it seemed the most adaptable. It is designed to be unisex and  also adjustable. If you are interested Jacksons illustrates both front and back views. Most others seem a little shorter. It was a little fiddly at first (I'm clumsy) but you soon get the hang of putting the two straps over your shoulders and putting them through the large metal eyelets at the back, which then allows you to tie the straps as loosely or tight as you wish. My initial verdict is favourable although I've only worn it once so far.

    Zest-it Masking Fluid Remover. 50ml £4.30p

    Jacksons catalogue actually says clothes as well as brushes can be cleaned in claiming this stuff will remove masking fluid. As everyone know masking fluid is lethal in the wrong place and that includes your clothes. I would have thought acrylic paint would be no harder to remove but as far as I can see it just didn't work. In additon the small print on the bottle seems to indicate this stuff misused is dangerous as there are dire warnings about using it very carefully.   Nothing about cleaning clothes though. Hmmm!

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  • 11/01/16--04:19: Watercolour Paintings (24)
  • Here is the latest batch of downloaded paintings for this month. Actually more than usual - a bumper lot! Naturally not all will appeal but there should be something for everybody. Many of the artists are unknown to me but if you wish enquiries via Google should bring more information on the majority. 

    Slawa Prischedko - need I say more!

    Alex Bertaina

    Bev Jozwiak - as brilliant as ever!

    Genevieve Buchanan -a fellow student on two Charles Reid workshops. Genevieve is incredibly loose these days Very brave stuff.

    Chien Chung Wei  - this is a demo painting on his EPC workshop in Catalonia recently.

    Josef Wisniewski

    Dianne Benoit - my kind of Artist.

    Gerard Hendriks - even more my kind of Artist and a marvellous man.

    Edo Hannema - This may not be the final version but I like it as it is.

    Milind Mulick - brilliant as ever.

    Bijay Biswael - Stunning

    A very recent Charles Reid demo at one of his American workshops.

    Abe Toshijnks (spelling ?)

    Another recent Charles Reid demo.

    A closer look at the above.

    Sergei Kurbatov

    Jansen Chow

    Galina Gomzina - not sure if I've got this right?

    Angela Barbi - Angela a delightful lady who I had the pleasure of meeting when I attended her EPC workshop with Charles Reid a few years ago. A memorable experience which both I and my wife, as a non-painting partner, will treasure in our memories.

    That's it folks. Once again I marvel at the wonderful artists out there who paint in watercolour.

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    Rembrandt ( Royal Talens) the Dutch company, now owned by Sakura Color Products of Japan, was started in 1899 by Martin Talens as the 'Dutch Factory for Paints, Lacquers and inks', located in the  city of Apeldoon. In 1949 the 'Royal' designation was awarded, In 1963 Van Gogh (40 paints in pans and 10ml tubes) were introduced and Amsterdam in 1976.

     Just to explain Rembrandt are the artists quality range, Van Gogh a middle range and Amsterdam the student quality. Van Gogh is therefore in between and an excellent choice for those who don't want or cannot afford the dearest artist quality.   From amongst the 40 colours a very acceptable palette can be put together which would suit many people.

    In 1963 the Sikkem Group NV took over and a further change occurred in 1991 when the Sakura Color Products Corporation became the new owners

    The Rembrandt range comprises 80 paints of which 53% are single pigment.  All the colours are there and good pigments feature.   Apart from two fugitive paints using PR83, Madder Lake Deep and Alazarin Crimson, which are identified as fugitive, all others are said to be excellent in this respect. PY184 -Permanent  Lemon Yellow - however is rated by Handprint as fugitive, but then he has questioned the ratings of several paints in other leading makes. What does Handprint say about them?

    "Rembrandt paints are relatively inexpensive and of very good consistent quality". His criticisms are.... 5 pigments are involved in 37 different colours... too many mixed hues... an economy brand`'.

    Other reviews I've seen have been favourable giving them top marks and they are certainly superior overall to student quality ranges - so too is Van Gogh. I have said before however that there are many decent paints to be selected from amongst Cotman, Venezia as well as Van Gogh and the own brand makes are also worth investigation. The artist Trevor Chamberlain commented in his book, 'Trevor Chamberlain - A Personal View',  that he had found a really good Viridian, after trying many others, made by Talens. I actually bought some after reading this but wasn't especially enthused, but who am I to disagree with such an accomplished artist. 80 is a goodly number and nothing is really missing. See for yourself in the colour chart above.

    Whatever Handprint says they are used by many artists in Europe and available from most USA online companies.  Gerard Hendriks, the Dutch master, uses them and look how colourful his paintings are. Indeed they are marketed as 'Professional Quality', which has to be taken with a grain of salt in regard to some makes, but I am sure is reasonable in this instance.

    The Van Gogh range - 40 colours in half pans and 10ml tubes. 

    Rembrandt are available in both pans and tubes plus box sets. Tubes are 5ml with 40 colours  in 20ml. Not everyone stocks the 20ml and indeed Jacksons are selling them off 'while stocks last'. The only one that seems to sell the full range of sizes is the SAA  (Society of All Artists ) and you have to be a member to get the best prices. Jacksons seem to be dropping the 20ml size which is a shame. In the 5ml size the Cadmiums, which Handprint praises, only cost around £3.20 so are excellent buys if you only use them sparingly.  In fact this applies to many colours apart from the staples. The 5ml prices are very good. I certainly regard them, in terms of quality and price - which are the criteria I use - in the larger 20ml size as a 'best buy'.

    In conclusion I think Rembrandt are well worth consideration apart from the tube sizes which are out of line with most others. It would be better if they offered  either a 15ml tube size or a larger range of 20ml. Based on the current 20ml prices from the SAA, ranging from  £6.55 to £9.75, they are a top buy. My main gripe is the poor availability in the UK of the 20ml size. Even Great Art  only do the 5 ml size. This doesn't appear to be a problem in the USA.

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  • 11/22/16--09:23: Latest Paintings
  • The Avon Valley Artists autumn/winter programme is in full swing and the following paintings have - mostly - been painted during these sessions. I was in two minds as to post several because they are not, on the whole, anything special. I'm beginning to think I'm regressing with increasing age and painting less than previously. I read somewhere that you needed to paint at least three times a week to stand still and recently I'm down to two. 

    'World Wide Culture" 16" x 12" Fabriano Artistico Extra White 140lb not

    This was another painting from the Green man festival. An old Pagan ritual at Hastings.The first one I did is much better.

    "Fruit and Fungi" 16" x 12" Waterford High White  140lb not

    Here I combined fruit and fungi in a sort of collage. I quite like this for the colour,

    "Indian Maiden" 16" x 12" Waterford High White 140 not

    This was my own subject mainly painted at home. This one I rather like.

     " Movement" 18" x 12" Artistico Extra White 140lb

    The guide photo used the photo  technique whose name eludes me at the movement. It is the same bird obviously.

    'North West Coast Amerindian male' 16" x 12" Waterford High White not

    The American North West Coast spreading - at the top end - into Canada, originally contained over 150 tribes, many less than 1000 people. The majority are on the Canadian side where they have survived rather better than the American tribes. Some have disappeared forever but the remainder  seem to be thriving and have adapted to 'the white mans ways' while still retaining their identity and culture. I saw two TV programmes about them recently and subsequently bought a book called 'A Guide to the Indian Tribes of the Pacific Northwest ' by Ruby and Brown.

    'Perico' The last hostile Apache band. 30" x 40cm" Cornwall 210lb not

    Perico was a relative of Geronimo and part of his band, the last hostile Apaches to surrender in 1881 thereby bringing an end to the Apache wars and indeed, apart from as few other incidents elsewhere, the Indian wars. There was trouble of sorts for some years, indeed decades afterwards, but on a smaller scale. 

    Limited Palette (Two colours only) 16" x 12" Waterford High White 140lb not

    We were only allowed two colours for this one and I chose Turquoise (Lukas PB16) and Schmincke Translucent Brown (PBr41). For my inspiration I looked at  Agnes-Cecilles's work.

    'Experimental' Black and White with one other colour painting on newsprint approx. 16" x 12"

    The subject here was to cover the paper with newsprint, either pieces or larger bits. I did the latter and we were to use black, white and one other colour. I chose Cadmium Red Light and attempted a sort of 'pop art' result. It took 20 minutes.

    ' The Hat' 16" x 12" Arches Hot press

    This was not a subject just me. The hat and eyes are not quite aligned, with the eyes too far apart. Careless!!!

    'Sioux Brave' 30" x 40" cm Cornwall 210lb matt

    Another Indian brave in my continuing attempts to portray them. A bit muddy and the cheek on the right hand side is not right.

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  • 12/01/16--04:18: Watercolour Paintings (25)

  • This months batch of paintings follow and as usual I've tried to provide as varied a batch as possible. I hope you like them.

    Slawa Prischedko

    Charles Reid

    Chien Chung Wei

    Gilles Durand

    Tony Xu Min

    Bijay Biswaal

    Huang Hsiao - Hui

    Hercules Brabazon

    Thomas Schaller

    Faustina Martin Gonzalez

    Barbara Nechis

    Lin Shaoling

    Shirley Trevena

    Charles Reid

    Amit Kapoor

    Gilles Durand

    I met Gilles Durand - one of the best French watercolour artists - on two Charles Reid workshops. Shirley Trevena is one of the most acclaimed British watercolour artists while Barbara Nechis is a highly acclaimed American artist. Most of the others I don't know much about but they are on Facebook so should be traceable if they interest you.

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  • 12/06/16--07:21: Recent Paintings
  • The following paintings were in response to the subject 'Winter Scene' at a recent AVA session. After the last lot I posted on here  - including quite a bit of dross - were greeted with a deafening silence I determined to only  post paintings in future that I consider acceptable. In this instance I actually did two in a roughly two hour session, but took the trouble to do both drawings the previous day in my'studio' so I could concentrate on the actual painting. I find when I do it this way I get a better result. It allows me to be rather more careful in my approach rather than slapdash. This includes studying the subject (and guide photograph) at leisure.

    'Red Squirrel enjoying a winters meal' - 30 x 40 cm Cornwall 210lb (450gsm) matt surface

    I enjoyed painting and drawing this one. One of the main colours was the Graham Quinacridone Rust (PO48), which is a gorgeous paint. Annoyingly Graham is only available in the UK from W E Lawrence of Hove, who offer a good price when you buy 6 tubes but have a fixed carriage charge of  £4.95p. This adds nearly 82p to each tube. They refuse to budge on this citing 'superior service' whatever that means. I find the companies that offer free carriage over a certain value - typically £40 - give a perfectly good service. The same pigment PO48 is offered by Daniel Smith - available from Jacksons and others  as Quinacridone Burnt Orange, very similar  perhaps slightly darker. Although Daniel Smith paints are  dearer than Graham I'll have to bite the bullet and order a tube when I next place an order for the AVA. As for the Cornwall paper it produced a good result and was easy to work on. Being heavier than my normal 140lb Waterford it resists buckling as the blocks are very well made. In any event  I don't find this a problem as I don't use heavy washes. The size is slightly smaller than the 16" x 12" Waterford so I'll probably stick to Waterford. Because it is a heavier weight  Cornwall doesn't work out much cheaper.

    'Robin enjoying a meal' - Waterford 16"x 132" High White 140lb (300gsm) not

    This was done in the remaining time at the AVA session after I'd painted the squirrel. Less than an hour and as you can see it is a minimalist painting. I'm quite happy with it. If Hercules Brabazon did some of his best paintings in 30 minutes...........!!! I'm not foolish enough to compare my work to his though! Colours are Cerulean, Raw Sienna with the reds Cadmium Red Light and some Quinacridone Rust for the breast with Quinacridone Rose and Perylene Maroon for the berries. I think  that's it

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  • 12/13/16--03:38: Blockx Watercolours
  • Blockx are a Belgian company originating in 1865.   Blockx was started  by Jacques Blocks, a wealthy chemist. It is today run by Jacques Blocks, presumably the great grandson of the founder.

    The famous Salvador Dali writing about the founder said "50 secrets of craftsmanship...."This man who never painted, will contribute more to the painters of tomorrow that what we will have accomplished all the modern painters together". Some praise but remember this was in the 1860s.

    The current watercolour range, they were updated in 2008 ..."vastly improved"according to Handprint comprise 72 colours 82% of which are single pigment paints. Naming is the usual mix  with a few anomalies like Blockx Yellow (PY3), Blockx Green (PG7). They do two versions of Burnt Sienna 'Light' and 'Deep', Pyrrolo Vermilion (PO73), Quinacridone Red/Rose  (PV19) is called Rose Lake Pale and Rose Lake, also Magenta. Blockx Blue is PB15:1 which is Phalo Blue and so on. Overall not too bad but you need to refer to the pigment information to be fully aware of what you are getting. The pigments used are all good and in line with other major manufacturers. Blockx use gum arabic and a small amount of honey in their formulation.

    What does Handprint say about them - and here's the rub! The good bits are "a few gems....Viridian, Cobalt Violet."....."delightfully varied selection of 16 earth (iron oxide) colours""All the above have assertive granulating Texture". Unfortunately things then go downhill. Bruce McEvoy of Handprint when in full flow (no longer unfortunately) though admitting  the new range was  ' vastly improved obviously considered that the need to do this didn't reflect well on the company, and wrote that they had been making 'false claims' about some of the paints.  He's said this about others like Lukas who did something similar. This led to an exchange of e-mails between him and Jacques Blocks who complained bitterly about his damning of the paints.  Read Handprint if you are interested. In addition or alternatively read what the artist Jane Blundell says on her blog.

    Jane has done a fabulous job of painting out swatches of over 750 paints including Blockx with observations about how they perform.  Fascinating

    These are the giant 3 inch pans. You can see how big they are in the photos above and below.

    The smaller tube is actually 15ml, The larger one is 36ml or even larger but I've never seen it advertised for sale over here and  was unaware they did such a size.

     Unfortunately the pigment information is unclear but you can download this chart from Blockx website.

    I've never used Blockx although they are available from Jacksons and Great Art and appear so from the leading American mail order specialists. The only artist I know who used them was the late Zoltan Szabo but he also has a Maimeri palette and a Winsor and Newton one.  If you search on Youtube for 'Blockx' at least two videos come up including an interview with Jacques Blockx (in French!). Blockx website is; just google 'blockx .

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    The above headline is a difficult one with the disasters happening almost continuously in different parts of the World. Good news has become rarer and rarer. Ones heart goes out to the poor people -especially the children - in many of these countries torn by strife on an almost daily basis. Although there have been some isolated terrible things happening in some European countries by and large we can be thankful  for our relative stability. Still we must remain optimistic and hope beyond hope that things will improve in 2017. Although this blog does not normally get involved in politics with Brexit in the UK and President Trump in America it is difficult to remain optimistic.

    On the painting front the death of Ron Ranson was reported last week in Portland, Oregon, where he moved with his American wife Darlis a few years ago. I was trying to discover how old Ron was  - certainly well into his eighties. Ron will be remembered for his significant impact on watercolour painting. Certainly his teachings and books - nearly thirty - have had a great affect and many are painting who would not be doing so without him. He was a great showman and I remember being on two short workshops at his lovely house and grounds in the Forest of Dean. This was at the later stages of his career and to some extent he was going through the motions by then, but many artists who later became well-known passed through his workshops.

    As is well-known I am a follower and admirer of Charles Reid. I discovered last week that he is coming to England again in late 2017  on a Travelrite/ International Artist  painting holiday. Although  I had decided, whatever happened in the future, the workshop at Stow on the Wold would be my last I sent for details out of curiosity. It appears to be a ten day all in holiday with painting, starting in the Cotswolds and finishing in Cornwall. The price with single supplement is  over £3500! According to the company there are 20 places and 16 were already booked. See his website for details.

    I have more or less decided that 2017, my eightieth year, will be the last year when I will be active on the blog. As regulars will have recognised I have been winding down this year and finding it difficult to come up with original and interesting posts. There is a lot of good stuff in the back catalogue, most of which is still relevant, so explore the Index in July 2014 if you are interested.

    Finally may I once again wish all those who are followers or just interested visitors, the very best for Xmas and the New Year. Whatever you do keep painting!

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    To commence 2017 here we go! A mix of well-known and lesser known artists. A range of styles and contrasts in the use of colour. What more could you want?

    Virgil Carter

    Milind Mullick

    Gerard Hendriks

    Jem Bowden

    John Blockley

    Joe Dowden - Venice

     Cornelius Dragan-Targo Viste - Venice ?

    Gerard Hendriks

    Judith Farnsworth

    Alvaro Castagnet

    Millind Mullick -Brugge

    Ung Mijint Doy

    Gerda Mertens

    Janina B

    Tulay Sayilgan

    Karen Slosin

     All these artists appear on Facebook in one form or another so should not be too difficult  to locate.

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    I've been unwell for the last two weeks but am now getting back to normal - almost - so this post covers some new colours (eight) just introduced by Daniel Smith. With two exceptions they are convenience colours mixed from two or more pigments. With Daniel Smith now offering north of 250 paints one wonders where it will all end? Most artists palettes range from as few as 6  to 24, although there are always exceptions, so how do you choose? The danger is that you buy far too many and those least used dry up in the tubes, with some pigments more prone to do this than others. I had this experience with Quinacridone Purple (PR255), which solidified into a cement like mass and couldn't be squeezed from the tube. Several £'s worth of paint junked! I have another issue with Daniel Smith that I'll relate later.

    I have consulted both Handprint and the pigment database over the pigments used but otherwise the conclusions are my own.

    Rose Madder Permanent - ".....a modern , lightfast formulation of the traditional colour....". This is a three pigment mix of PR209, a red, PV19 a rose or violet shade and another red PR202.

    Quinacridone Lilac (PR122). "... lies between Quinacridone Rose and Quinacridone Magenta  within the Daniel Smith Quinacridone color family...." Most other sources call this Quinacridone Magenta but it would seem there are many versions of PR122 available from pigment suppliers, Some are transparent and some more opaque. The pigment database says artists paints are mostly the transparent ones but some makers may well use the opaque versions. Handprint quotes the 1999 ASTM ratings of only 'fair' in watercolour - this refers to lightfastness, in other words whether the paint is likely to fade over time. Handprints test put it in the "excellent" category but cautions that the best rule is to treat all crimson and rose pigments with suspicion. Handprint also prefers PV19 Quinacridone Rose.

    Wisteria. (PW6, PR122)" the blooms of it's namesake flowering vine....". This is PR122 , here recommended for painting florals.

    Lavender. (PW6, PR122) "...a beautiful periwinkle blue, and quite different from our other blues...."

    Aussie Red Gold (PY83, PR101, PV19) "....the  rich , golden colour of ochre cliffs set aflame at sunset...." Another three pigment mix. 

    RawSienna Light. - (PY42)...."Raw Sienna Light for more golden tones than our Raw Sienna"...

    Burnt Sienna Light. - ((PR101, PO48)...."A beautiful earthy colour Daniel Smith Burnt Sienna Light is redder than our Burnt Sienna, more transparent and slightly less granulation..."

    Paynes's Blue-Gray. (PB60, PBk6). "...similar to our bluey Indigo....... Do we need another Paynes Gray, one of the easiest shades to mix?

    Well there you are. I don't like paints where white has been added. This seems to be happening more and more. In my experience it tends to make the paint cloudy when diluted and also - at least in some formulations - the paint solidifies. 

    Why do we need more and more colours? Daniel Smith is now something like 250 and still rising. When can you have too much of a good thing? I have the 'Paint it' sheets - 238 colours I think - and  can't help thinking many colours are very similar. They have some wonderful paints without a doubt but how big a palette should you actually have? I've bought a number and some are gathering dust as I can't see how to incorporate them in paintings I actually do. Paints for most amateurs? I think not.

    Yvonne Harry, our group leader at Avon Valley Artists, is a flower painter par excellence, and thinks some of those above look lovely. She is on the DS mailing list and gets the regular e -mails they send out. I'm not, is this because I e-mailed (twice) about their claims regarding the Cadmium Hue equivalents, all mixed pigments, which they claim behave like single pigment paints when mixed with others. I'm still awaiting a reply.

    I've now severely restricted my purchases of DS paints as they are so expensive in the UK. There are plenty of other good makes that are perfectly adequate, and  at lower prices. Daniel Smith have certainly shaken the watercolour world since they were introduced and must be giving headaches to the likes of Winsor & Newton. They are fabulous paints but you need a very deep pocket to major on them.

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    Just received an e-mail from Jacksons announcing a significant extension to the Schmincke range of watercolours - 35 brand new watercolours making a new total of 140. Jacksons are making an introductory offer on these paints. A first perusal of what's available indicates most are single pigment paints and many new pigments are amongst them. I'll probably look at them in more detail over coming weeks and will consult the pigment database on the characteristics of these new pigments. Sadly most are not listed in Handprint which is becoming seriously out of date.

    I would guess this is a response to the aggressive marketing tactics and huge range of Daniel Smith. I am wondering if we will see more from other manufacturers in the coming months. There are some interesting looking paints amongst these, with many new single pigment paints, worthy of serious consideration, especially as the pricing is about 20 -25% cheaper than most Daniel Smith paints.  I'm disappointed that they haven't added PO48, which is only available in Graham as Quinacridone Rust and Daniel Smith as Quinacridone Burnt Orange. Da Vinci may well list it as well although I've not fully checked this out.

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  • 02/07/17--04:03: Watercolour Paintings 27
  • This is Februaries batch of watercolour paintings. A mixture of styles, subjects, colour, featuring some well-known as well as lesser known artists.

    Gerard Hendriks

    Aud Rye

    Ilya Ibryaev - a minimalist painting

    Milind Mulick

    Frank Ebers - wow!

    Gerard Hendriks - a quick and delightful sketch

    Nora McPhail - self portrait

    N B Gurung

    Olivia Quinton - love the colours

    Eugene Macimi

    Laura McCracken - an unusual subject

    Michael Reardon

    Michael Jasiewicz

    Maria Cristina

    Charles Reid - Singer Sargeant painting. This is a made up composition

    Tsukiyo Ono

    Some wonderful paintings here. The only thing missing is the sizes and I imagine the large panoramas must be at least half-sheets. 

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  • 03/01/17--01:44: Watercolour Paintings 28
  • Here are the latest watercolour paintings I've collected. This is slightly more than usual but covers a lot of different styles and subjects so hopefully will provide both interest and food for thought. One thing I think it illustrates is the wide diversity of watercolour and proves it is not just a 'sketching' medium but a powerful force in it's own right. If I have any names wrong please feel free to correct me.

    Ti Watercolour (?) Not sure what this means, there appears to be a signature on the painting but I cannot determine what it is.

    Barbara Nechis. Barbara was a pupil of the famous and controversial American teacher Edgar Whitney and is featured in the book about him and his pupils by the late Ron Ranson

    Alvaro Castagnet  - a prominent figure on the workshop circuit.

    Gerard Hendriks -enough said!

    Stan Miller - one of his demos

    Jonathan Kwegyir Aggrey - a fine young Ghanian artist

    Trevor Chamberlain. This is an older painting by the British maestro featured in his book 'Trevor Chamberlain- A Personal View' One of his very best.

    Frank Ebers

    Milind Mulick - Another from the prolific Milind he once did one of me painting!

    Michal Jasiewicz

    Mariejeanne Bronzini

    Charles Reid. A sketchbook painting.

    Viktoria Prischedko - Terrific

    Martine Jolit

    John Salminen - incredible for a watercolour!

    Aleksandra Neberekutin

    Margot Bock

    Lars Eje Larsson . "Google' his name and his website contains a large gallery of his paintings, quite a wide range of subjects. He strikes me as belonging to the newish concept of 'Realistic Abstracts' popularised by Kees Van Aalt. 

    Lars Eje Larsson - a new artist I've just come across - love his work

    Lars Eje Larsson again.

    The above are a mix of well-known and unknown (at least to me) watercolour artists. I'm sure many are well-known in their own countries but not in the UK. I subscribe to 'The Artist' magazine - have done for many years - and apart possibly from Trevor Chamberlain you will never see any of the above artists featured. I suspect this is because watercolour is still regarded as inferior to oil in particular and 'tradition' - that heavy weight hanging around British necks - stifles change. I could say more but better not!

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  • 03/05/17--04:15: Recent Work
  • I post these with some trepidation especially comparing them with many of the artists I've featured in the 'Watercolour Paintings' series. However it's just my current work which has been done over the last three months while I've been suffering various health issues - mainly relatively minor  things which tend to assail you with increasing age.  I'm also fighting to avoid slipping backwards as work I did four years ago is - in some instances - superior to what I'm now turning out. Still enough of this negativity. Most of these were done at Avon Valley Artists sessions on Thursdays.

    Turkeys for Xmas - this was done sometime in December.

    A Bumblebee

    'A Feast'

    Young Cheetah hiding in rocks.

    Long Tailed Tits

    A Damsel Fly(?)

    Chief Boy - A Blackfoot Indian.

    A made up Indian warrior - in greys made from Ultramarine Blue and Schmincke Translucent Brown. A quick sketch.

    All the above are 16" x 12 apart from the long tailed tits which are 12" x 9". Papers vary from Waterford, Lanaquarelle and Cornwall. The long tailed tits are Fontenay. All surfaces are not and 140lb (300gsm). One or two others I attempted I decided not to post (!)

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  • 03/14/17--04:02: At the AVA last Thursday
  • The following two paintings were done at Avon Valley Artists Thursday session last week. The subject was 'retro ' and I googled 'old fashioned flowers' which produced the following.

    Hollyhocks - 16" x 12" Lanaquarelle not

    The colours of the guide photo appealed to me and oranges, reds and yellows were given full reign. Colours included Translucent Orange (Schmincke  PO71), Quinacridone Rose (Graham PV19), Perylene Maroon -also Graham, Cadmium Orange, Gold Ochre, Raw Sienna, some colours darkened with Ultramarine Blue and mainly Sap Green (Lukas) with touches of other greens. I may have missed a couple of others.

    Fabriano Artistico Extra White 16" x 12" 

    I completed the drawings - 2B Size 7 Pentel mechanical pencil - my preferred drawing tool - the previous day. This one is much simpler - took less time - with Sap Green and various dilutions of Quinacridone Rose.

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    Schmincke recently extended their range (see previous post) with 35 new paints. This is a major upgrade and well worth consideration. A  qualification. I have not purchased any of these paints as yet so this is purely a look at the characteristics of the pigments involved. My references are Handprint and the Pigment Database. Handprint is becoming out of date and some of these new pigments are only listed in the Pigment Database (The Color of Art Pigment Database) which, though highly technical, is an amazing source of information. 

     The new colours.

    Rutile Yellow PY53. Antimony Titanium Yellow Rutile. PY53 is in common use as a pale yellow in many other ranges. It is described as a 'pale, light greenish lemon yellow....'one of the cleanest and brightest of the inorganic pigments'. I have this in another range and it's a fairly weak colour.

    Turners Yellow PY216. Winsor & Newton list a Turners Yellow' but it is a different pigment.  Soplafex Yellow...'clean bright yellow to orange'.

    Yellow Orange PY110. Isoindolinone Yellow 'synthetic organic....light deep yellow with red undertone'...'nice deep yellow'. This pigment has been introduced by other makers and is of fairly recent origin.

    Saturn Red PO64. This seems to be a new pigment. Benzimidazolone Orange, 'Bright reddish orange'

    Transparent Red Deep PR144. Another new one. 'Azo condensation red...mid shade red'.

    Geranium Red PR242. Another new pigment. Diazo condensation scarlet...'bright yellow red...fades, , hue shift towards bluish'

    Quinacridone Red Light PR207. Quinacridone Scarlet....yellow red, fades.

    Ruby Red Deep. PR264. Pyrrole Red Rubine. 'Dark, deep red, violet undertone, fades slightly...good substitute for Alazarin crimson'

    Vermillion Light. PR188. Napthol Scarlet Lake, Bright yellowish red, darkens, dulls slightly...opaque forms are more lightfast'.This latter comment refers to the fact there are several versions of this pigment which vary in transparency. PR188 has been a staple - as Scarlet Lake - in Winsor & Newtons range.

    Perylene Dark Red PR178, Perylene. Anthraguinone Red. 'deep red -fades slightly,'

    Bordeaux PR187 Permanent Pink FL. Azo Alazarine (blue shade)....Monoazo Benzimidazolone. 'Bright or deep bluish red'.

    Potters Pink PR233. Chrome Tin Pink (Potters Pink) Synthetic organic...Dull, light red pink. 'May contain lead oxide but unlikely on modern formulations'. Winsor & Newton introduced this colour in their last upgrade.

    Brilliant Opera Rose PR122/Fluor. Quinacridone Red. ACRA Magenta. 'Clean bright blue shade, light red....dulls slightly, hue shift towards light mid-red'. This refers purely to PR 122 a very popular pigment. Fluor is a dye which is likely to fade. This colour was originally  introduced by Holbein and became a popular choice of flower painters, despite containing a dye. Winsor & Newton in their last upgrade introduced this paint (including a dye) and claim it is reasonably lightfast.

    Quinacridone Magenta PR202. Quinacridone Crimson. Bluish Magenta to mid red.

    There are some colours amongst the earths that are yellow and others like Green-Gold but I'll cover them in the next instalment which will include some quite interesting colours.

    In covering the red pigments it may be noted that 'fading' features. This shouldn't necessarily put you off. Bruce McEvoy of Handprint said quite categorically that he didn't believe some of the ratings claimed by manufacturers, and suggested  that many reds were suspect, and you should conduct your own lightfastness tests. I did  a few over three months and didn't see any deterioration but don't claim my tests were definitive. It's somewhere in the back catalogue.

    The above is not meant to be definitive but just to give some indication about these colours/pigments so that - if your interest is aroused - you might try one or two. I believe Schmincke are an excellent brand and these additions make them well worth consideration. Two of my favourites in the existing range are Translucent Orange (PO71) and Translucent Brown (PBr41).

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