Having covered paints I now come to brushes and paper, brushes being the first topic.
From left to right: Robert Wade Signature Neef, Rosemary 401, Luxartis Kolinsky, Escoda Kolinsky, Da Vinci Casaneo, Cosmotop 5530 Mix-B, SAA Kolinsky
Of the above brushes Nos 1,2, 5 and 6 are not pure sable being various mixtures of either synthetic or natural hairs and synthetic. The others are Labelled Kolinsky sables but here - while I am not suggesting that these brushes are not - I would refer you to the article/post I did on this subject. See the Index in June 2014. It should be said before I go on that many famous artists use all sorts of brushes, often cheaper ones or good quality synthetics. The hand that wields the brush....
Sable brushes labelled 'Kolinsky' or even 'Red Sable' are incredibly expensive once you get past size 4. It used to be after size 8 but prices now reach the stratosphere from 8 onwards. Even size 6 is expensive. However my suggestion, and it is only that, if you must have sables for detail buy either a 4,6 (or smaller) or both.
There are some excellent synthetic hair brushes on the market and the latest ones claim to emulate sable. This has been going on for years and John Yardley wrote that he'd been supplied synthetic brushes claiming to be similar to sable on numerous occasions and he considered the claims - after trying them - unfounded. However things move on. The best artist in my AVA group has always used Pro Arte Prolene brushes - usually seconds - but has now switched to Rosemary Series 401, a red sable blend, and is delighted with them, They give her the stiffness she likes but also hold more water than pure synthetic. The big thing about these blends is they are cheap the Rosemary 401 Size 8 is only £7.30p. How long they retain there points I don't yet know but then many highly rated sables aren't perfect in this respect.
What is available? Quite a lot actually so it is a question of trying some and deciding if they suit your purposes. My first picks are the Rosemary 400 series, with a large range of sizes and types. For overseas readers she exports World Wide and has an excellent catalogue - see my recent feature . The 400 series are red sable and synthetic blended together. Next - equally so - is the well-regarded Da Vinci Cosmotop Mix B which is a mixture of red sable, Russian blue squirrel and Russian Fitch (black sable) with small amounts of synthetic. Artists like Viktoria Prischedko and Piet Lap use these brushes, available in a range of types and sizes. Sable/synthetic mixes are also offered by Pro Arte, Winsor & Newton, Daler Rowney, Jacksons, the SAA and others. There is plenty of choice. Both Princeton and Escoda are promoting their latest brushes as 'Kolinsky Synthetics', claiming they emulate sable. They may well do but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Da Vinci have introduced a new range called 'Casaneo' in a variety of types and sizes claiming - once again - they emulate sable. We are spoiled for choice bewildering isn't it? The thing is though that all the above come in at prices that are a fraction of sable prices, although there are cheap sable brushes on the market, perhaps best avoided.
As well as the brushes in the above photograph I have several other Kolinsky sables from makers like Da Vinci, many bought a while back at less than the current eye watering figures. My current main brushes are Isabey Kolinskys 6228 so I don't need to buy any more as they should last unless I live to well over 100! Perhaps a slight exaggeration! That assumes I'd still be painting then. If I were to buy more it would be Rosemary 401 or Cosmotop 5530 .
I have much less to say about papers. There are lots available ranging from hand made and machine made cotton mixes to the cheaper papers, usually of synthetic mixes or 'high grade' wood pulp (Bockingford). Some mix the two half and half, There are a few other types but the above is the mainstream.
Bockingford has long been the choice of many amateurs in the UK while both Hahnemuhle ( Britannia and Cornwall) and Fabriano do cheaper papers that are decent. Another possibility is the Indian Khadi range of cotton papers at very reasonable prices in a large range of sizes and weights. Worth a try. Not everyone likes them as they could be described as 'slightly rough' , but I do. I'm sure there are others I don't know or have experience with.
Personally my favourite paper is Saunders Waterford High White in 16" x 12" blocks. Current price is £32 which is stiffish. You can get this paper in sheets which works out cheaper but my problem is a full sheet cuts into four 15" x 11" and I prefer the 16" x 12". I'm trying the Stonehenge Aqua cold press paper at the moment and it seems to me similar to the Waterford but works out slightly more expensive as the block has only 15 sheets. Fabriano Artistico Extra White is good but here I have size problems as they do an 18" x 12" block. In respect of the blocks the Waterford is very well made and holds together right until the final sheet whereas both the Fabriano and Stonehenge soon start falling apart. As far as paper is concerned some famous artists say that the one thing you shouldn't economise on is paper. I leave you with that thought.
Added: Zvonimir has pointed out that Arches and Khadi are hard papers that wear out sable brushes. I'm sure he is right and further states that's it's more sensible to use synthetics on hard papers. sables are better on softer papers with not or smooth surfaces. He also says that it is better to use quality papers at lower weights ie 90lb than heavier synthetic papers. I've done this and it works unless you use heavy washes in which case you get severe buckling. You can stretch of course although I've done it successfully and it is a bit of a chore. I stopped when Robert Wade said he couldn't be bothered to stretch as he hadn't time!
Here are my latest efforts, mainly at AVA Thursday meetings, although I frequently do the drawing the previous day. I find this often works best rather than drawing and painting in one session.
Young Indian Woman 16" x 11" watercolour
Jenny Wren 16" x 11" watercolour
Molly Spotted Elk - Penobscot Tribe 1903 15" x 11"
Busy Bee (Wasp Actually) 15" x 11"
Satanta - Kiowa Chief. Stonehenge Aqua not. Likeness not good. 16" x 12"
Exotic Bird (species unknown to me) 12" x 9"
Scottish Crossbill 12" x 9" Fluid Paper
Red Cardinal. 12" 9" Fluid Paper
Wild Flower Medley - 16" 12"
Another Flower Painting 16" x 12"
Here are more of my recent paintings - I usually average two per week - again I'm not suggesting they are good just my work. I tend to post initially on my Facebook page and also on the group Watercolour Addicts. I recommend Watercolour Addicts as a source of generally good paintings - many much better than mine. I tend to get fairly low marks regarding 'likes' with others in the dozens and even hundreds. Still I keep on trying!
Deadly Hunter 16" x 12"
I was quite pleased with this but it didn't receive many likes when I posted it.
Stone Chat 16" 12"
I liked the simplicity of this one.
Grey Wagtail 12" x 9" Fluid
Mother and son 16" x 12"
Yellow Iris 16" x 12'
Flowers for a change
Another Deadly Hunter 16" x 12"
The eyes are not quite right. I keep thinking I may try and alter them. It can be done if you are careful.
Crested Tit - 12" x 9" Fluid
Here are the latest batch for October. I've tried to mix them up even more this month.
D Joy McFadden (?)
What colour! Love this.
Lars Eje Larsson
The more I see of this artists work the more I like it.
This Scottish lady is an amazing artist.
One of the greats in the modern era of British Watercolour
Am American great.
? Anyone recognise this artist?
Some terrific artists here I hope most will agree. We all have our different tastes but good painting is universal. How I wish I could paint like many of those above.
A few years ago Daniel Smith introduced these dot cards. At least I think they were the first. Since then they have proliferated. Winsor & Newton then offered a few, I think with some special edition sets and also a basic primary colour set with currently a six dot card from Jacksons at 20p. Schmincke now offer the whole range or - like Daniel Smith - a reduced number at a lower price. There may now be some other dot cards from other makers but I have no current details.
This is how Jane Blundell paints out the dot cards. I think her method is best.
Prior to this the options were and still are printed colour charts which are usually free or hand painted charts, often hard to find and quite expensive.
Prices of the dot cards vary. With Daniel Smiths huge range the full 238 set costs £21.00 at current jacksons prices. They also do a 66 one for £7.50. The full 140 colour Schmincke costs £14.60 and the 80 one £9.10.
Daler Rowney Hand Painted Chart
Holbein Hand Painted Chart
Maimeri Hand Painted Chart
I also have a Winsor & Newton hand painted chart. What do I think of them? They are undoubtedly useful, especially if you major on one brand. The snag I find is that the paints are applied very evenly. This may seem an odd thing to say but with my - admittedly - less than perfect methods getting a similar result is very difficult and do you actually want them to be this bland? Jacksons also list hand-painted charts from Rembrandt - no current price. Shin Han at £34.00 and - surprisingly - Cotman at £11.20. I believe Old Holland also do one but no details.
All makers tend to offer printed colour charts for free. My preference would be for these charts followed by the dot cards. You may feel differently.
Here are Novembers batch. They are a mixture of different styles and old and newer artists. Hope you like them.
An excellent example of Gerards Bird Paintings
I'm lucky if my Amerindian paintings get half a dozen likes but Dianne got a lot for this one. I'm taking note of how she has approached the subject!
Jerry de la Rosa
A new artist to me
The revered American artist
Morten e Solberg Snr
An amazing watercolour
Another from Yuko Nagayama - what a contrast to the previous painting.
The notable Belgian artist
I was on the workshop when Charles painted this demo. It was at Burford, near Witney in Oxfordshire.The young man was a member of the hotels staff and and he posed in the garden. It was actually my first with CR and the standard was very high. He commented on this himself and I really struggled. Although always of a high standard none of the following workshops reached the same level and I gradually adapted. There were artists from all over the World and several were professionals.
The fine American artist Janet Rogers
Another from Janet Rogers
Edward Seago - Legendary British Artist
Jean Claude Papieux
Chien Chung- Wei
Another from Chien Chung -Wei
Jonathan Kegyir Aggrey
Different one from Jonathan.
This artist specialises in birds and they are actually very large
Thats it folks
Here are some of my latest efforts. I make the usual proviso I don't post them as good just what I am producing sat the moment. My painting has always been on the inconsistent side, partly because I never want to get into a rut and just turn out the same stuff painting after painting.
Hare 16" x 12"
This was an exercise at my art group using a limited pallette. In this instance my choice was three primaries but not the usual ones. The colours were: Hansa Yellow Medium (Daniel Smith PY97), Permanent Magenta (Maimeri PV19 Rose shade), Turquoise )Lukas PB16). I wouldn't normally do this but it does force you into areas you don't usually go.
I started this one as I had a short time to spare after finishing the days subject at my art group. This is based on Charles Reid's teachings in his books/videos and workshops. The features are done first. HOWEVER on re-watching his last dvd - Figures in watercolour - I noticed he'd changed his approach ,or at least I thought he had, by doing a wash overall first. I also was looking for inspiration and to correct bad habits that seem to develop in my painting. I think the root cause is not painting enough. I read somewhere that to maintain your standard you needed to paint at least three times a week, even more if you wish to improve. Given my advanced age it's also a case of not wanting the rot to set in!
'Dead Horse' Flathead. c 1905 16" x 12"
This is the finished painting. I quite like it even though I'm sure I do things wrongly. I tried not to overwork this one - a perennial problem.
'King of the Jungle - 16" x 12"
I feel, while a reasonable representation I have overworked this one. Lots of colour Translucent Orange (Schmincke PO71). Translucent Brown (Schmincke PBr41), Quinacridone Gold (Daniel Smith PO49) plus Cerulean Blue, Burnt Umber , Raw Sienna etc. I also did highlights with some acrylic white, using a little Pebeo Gum to mask the whiskers. I almost always paint from photos these days and that does incline you towards bad habits. I have learned though not to copy every detail.
'Model' 16" x 12"
This was done on the same session as the above. The left eye facing is not quite right and I may alter it but it was mainly an exercise in getting the skin tones right which has worked reasonably well. I also like the jewellery on the facing left hand side.
Khadi rough A4
A very quick exercise of a treecreeper done on about 20 minutes.
'Big Cat' 16" x 12"
'Ptarmigan in Winter" 16" x 12"
An exercise in simplicity, although not deliberately so.
'Treecreeper' Khadi rough A4
This was done previously to to the treecreeper one above.
'Jay' 16" x 12"
'Autumn' 16" x 12'
I'm not sure what this bird is.
The papers I am using sat the moment are Waterford High White, Stonehenge Aqua and Khadi rough.
I have just updated the INDEX. This is in JUNE 2014. I know accessing this is a bit of a fag BUT there is a lot of good stuff there, including by other contributors.
We don't have many demos at Avon Valley Artists but have just had one by the Bath artist Catherine Beale - https://catherinebeale.com/ - at our venue of Saltford Church Hall. Catherine teaches a method she calls 'Gravity Painting' using watercolour. In simple terms this is the application of wet in wet watercolour with the board vertical.
The initial setup
Catherine starts and explains her approach and what she is trying to achieve.
Catherine begins explaining her approach and what she wanted to achieve. However with this type of painting 'happy accidents' do occur and she improvises as she goes along, although having a strong idea of where she wants to end up. In the bottom right hand corner of her board you will see a small photograph of the clump of trees on Kelston Hill, nr Bath. This is a famous landmark and many people make the fairly steep climb up to experience the fabulous view. This was her starting point - but I emphasise not something she was trying to copy, just a guide.
The paper is wet from the top using a one inch Protel flat brush- not the whole of the paper but in stages.. This together with a Protel rigger were all the brushes she used. She told me this is her normal approach and usual brushes. Only five colours were used. Indathrene Blue (PB60) from Daler Rowney, Moonglow (Daniel Smith PG18,PB29,PR177), Phthalo Turquoise (W & N PB16), Sap Green and Raw Sienna. Moonglow has become something of a cult colour, a green, blue and red combination that produces a moody grey-blue, violet colour, perfect for shadows for example. Her overall preference for paints are Winsor & Newton artist watercolours. My choice of PB16 is the Lukas version, called just Turquoise. which is just as good and cheaper. A fabulous pigment and a favourite also of the terrific American artist Bex Jozwiak.
Paper used was rather unusual in that it is Watercolour board from Daler & Rowner, usually A3. This isn't very common. Catherine is also experimenting with painting on wood treated with Gesso.
Paint is applied with the flat brush and allowed to 'gravitate' helping it along but not overdoing the brushwork.
This is now now quite a way along with Sap Green and Raw Sienna being introduced in careful touches - placing paint I would describe this. The rigger has also been used for the tree trunks and the whole
thing is now taking shape. More work will be done on it after further thought and contemplation. She had reservations about the dark colour in the top corners but had yet to decide how to modify it.
The palettes Catherine used.
Salt - which she uses to create effects on her paintings.
Examples of Catherines paintings.
Catherine also paints Portraits as well as landscapes. Her landscape work covers real and imaginary images and arbitrary colours in some instances. Two of my fellow members of the AVA did a two day portrait course with her a few weeks ago which they thoroughly enjoyed. Although my portrait work (modest as it is) is a little different I intend to take a course with her probably in March. I have an open mind and look at different artists all the time, hoping to gain inspiration and improve my painting. You are never too old to learn (I hope!).
Overall this was an excellent demonstration with an articulate teacher. If you live within reach of Bath I would certainly recommend her courses.
Here are Decembers batch. Another mixture of old and newer artists, including some of the very best and some of my favourites.
John Singer Sargeant
Morten E Solberg Snr
Jose Luis Lopez
That's it folks. Hope you like them.
I was recently informed by a comment on the blog from Sebastien that a major revision of the Van Gogh range is taking place.
However when I went on the Royal Talens site there is no mention of this and the only information is about the current 40 paint range. Sebastien gave me a link which is https://issuu.com/royal talens/docs/vangogh_wtc which takes you to this site - not anything to do with Royal Talens as far as I can see - and there it was in all its glory? Full details including swatches, reference to the brochure etc. I have e mailed Royal Talens three times - and just sent off another one, the result being a deafening silence, no response whatsoever. Maybe this information is supposed to be under wraps and has been 'pirated' before an official release date. On the other hand is it only intended for 'certain markets'.
What does this issuu site tell us? The new range is expanded to 72, a major change in itself, and includes four 'dusk' colours, 6 metallics and 6 interference. Remind you of for example Daniel Smith? The new colours include Quinacridone Purple Red and Blue, Lavender, Turquoise Blue and Green and several interesting others. A number of existing colours are 'improved (it says) and overall this is a considerable upgrade. Pigment details are on this site although very small and difficult to read. There are no Cobalts or, only alternative 'hues", and quite a few multi pigment mixes. Some interesting pigments though , never before seen in student mixes, like PV255 and PY129.
I've always rated Van Gogh and used them at one time. They are a mid-range paint (in my opinion), despite sometimes called student quality. However Royal Talens offer Rembrandt as the artists quality with Amsterdam as the student range. Van Gogh comes in the middle.
When whatever is happening comes about and they become available in the UK I shall certainly have a fresh look as artists quality prices are eye watering. I just hope they aren't intended for certain markets like the USA where Winsor & Newton offer a much better Cotman range than the one on offer in the UK (and Europe). Please come clean Royal Talens.
I have received a reply to my enquiries from Yogesh Karia, Country Manager UK & Ireland. These are the replies.
1. Available from immediate effect.
2.Tubes & Pans £2.95
3. Tubes & Pans Series 2 £3.95
4.10ml Tubes and Half Pans
5. Pigment Information https://isuu.com/royaltalens/docs/vangogh_wtc
In the Uk you may struggle to find a stockist but there are some. Try 'googling''Van Gogh watercolour stockists.
When you get to the swatches on the issuu site use the + sign to zoom in and see the pigment details which are small.
Looking at the pigments there are quite a few multi pigment mixes, all the 'dusk' and interference colours for example but don't let that put you off there are a good number of decent single pigments, After all who has 73 colours in their palette? Personally I would avoid the 'hues' where white is added, especially the Cobalt and Cerulean Blues. I think white makes the paints cloudy and they can harden in the tubes.
That said I found Van Gogh decent in the old range. The new one is vastly improved and if you find the prices of artists quality watercolours eye watering give then a try. They are a middle range not a student quality one.
My current best value picks in Artist Quality for a combination of price/ quality are Sennelier (21ml tubes) and Lukas (24ml tubes).