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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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  • 03/24/13--02:19: Mandarin Duck
  • Having joined the small group on Facebook headed by Gerard Hendriks and Robin Berry, the latest subject is a Mandarin Duck.  This is a really colourful bird and makes for a very colour conscious painting. I would have liked it to be a little looser!


    12" x 9" Fontenay 140lb (300gsm) Not

    The Mandarin Duck is such a striking bird that my colourist instincts were given full reign. The orange colours are mainly Schminke Translucent Orange (PO71). The blues are Cerulean, Ultramarine and Cobalt. There is both Raw and Burnt Umber, some Raw Sienna and Ivory Black (Maimeri).. I first masked parts of the bird where it appeared white - mostly just narrow lines - using Pebeo Drawing Gum applied with an SAA ruling pen.


    The initial drawing with masking fluid applied.

    The next subject - one a week - is the Caribbean Flamingo. This will be a test as they are mostly pink and white.

    The great thing is that we are painting - about eight at the moment - the same subject, although not with the same reference. One of the things that constantly vexes me  is to wonder how artists like Charles Reid and Gerard Hendriks would tackle the painting I happen to be working on? In the case of Gerard and Robin I can now see. This is great.

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    I have tweaked the eagle painting, not a great deal but specifically three small areas suggested  by Yvonne, Jan and Mick. I darkened the branch, removing as much of the green as I could. There is still a little but it is much lighter, and erased some of the pencil marks on the tail. That was all as resisting over painting and too much fiddling is something  I have to constantly be on guard against.  


    18" x 12" Fabriano Artistico Extra White 140lb (300gsm) Not


    Bullfinch - Work in Progress


    Another bird - not sure what species -Work in Progress.

    Here are two other bird paintings I'm working on. I do like birds and animals and will certainly be painting  a number from now on - but I'm not intent on becoming just a wildlife artist. For those who are not keen on such subjects I will be also painting portraits, still lifes and flowers. Landscapes and buildings I'm not so enthused about although I will force myself to tackle a few and cover these subjects with other posts. There will continue to be a goodly number - approximately half - of other matters related to watercolour as I'm sure these are of more interest to many than my paintings. 

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  • 03/28/13--12:15: Sqiggle
  • Today's subject at Avon Valley Artists was `Squiggle'!  Not the most exciting of subjects but we don't take the easy route and have many challenging subjects. There were fourteen present and we were presented with three or four squiggles on white pieces of paper. I believe they were made by Jan Weeks grandchildren.



    Jan Weeks.

    I really like this painting. It was produced on Waterford 16" x 12" 140lb (300gsm) Not. This one and mine were based on the squiggle above.



    Yvonne Harry.Approx. 16" x 12"

    Yvonne used the same squiggle as Jo below. The paper is Cornwall, a Hannemuhle product, which is cellulose based 210lb (450gsm). She used the rough surface, with quite a pronounced pattern on one side, the other smooth. They also do it in a not surface.It is quite hard so the colour remains bright as it doesn't sink into the paper. Yvonne also found it is easy to remove colour and likes the whiteness of the paper. One to try as, even though heavier than the popular 140lb, works out cheaper than cotton-based papers.  Due to the heavier weight it doesn't buckle under washes, even without stretching. I thought the resulting painting was pretty good. See Yvonnes' blog with detailed descriptions of how she painted it. www.watercolourflorals.blogspot.com/.



     Jo McKenna

    In Jo's distinctive style painted with Shin Han watercolours which she loves. Her squiggle was the black outer line with the yellow interior.

     Peter Ward
    16" x 12" Gerstaeker No.3 200gsm

    I pretty much stuck to the lines of the squiggle and attempted to do a  sort of mountain scene. I used it to experiment with the Daniel Smith Lunar colours, all of which granulate. These included Lunar Black. I also used DS Appatite Green, another granulating paint. The brown-orange is Translucent Brown (PBr41) from Schminke, another excellent colour. I also brushed on some granulating medium to create even more texture. The black looks a little overdone. I think I gained some knowledge of what to expect from these colours.





    Unfortunately the stage at the end of the Church Hall has disappeared so we had to set up the paintings in a rather ad hoc fashion so all are not visible. Next week the subject is `shadows'.






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  • 03/31/13--06:31: Red-Cowled Cardinal
  • This tropical bird is the latest subject on the Facebook `Painting Colorful Birds for Fun' page. Here are my efforts.



    I have to confess these two are cropped from the original painting. 


    red-cowled Cardinals. 16" x 12" Gerstaeker No.3 200gsm Not.

    I painted the heads first as I felt they were the main attraction and stood out from all else. They were the easy bit. Several reds involved. Cadmium Red Light, Permanent Rose, Permanent Magenta and Ivory Black with touches of Cerulean for the beaks, and suggestions of shadows on the white parts. I used three brushes, the two Isabey retractables size 4 & 6 and the normal Isabey size 6. About forty minutes.


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  • 04/01/13--07:48: The March Challenge
  • In March it was Mick's choice of subject and this is it.


    Lindisfarne.

    A very famous monastery on the (holy) island of Lindisfarne off the north-east coast of Northumbria, it was constructed in the AD600s. The most famous historical incident was the arrival of the Vikings in AD793 - `Barbarian raiders from the sea' who sacked the monastery and killed many of the occupants. Later Viking raids also took place.


    Grey-tinted Bockingford 15" x 11" not


    The values are very close together.

    I did not enjoy this one at all - sorry Mick - in fact I almost hated it!  I can imagine painting it plein air and possibly in oils but watercolour from a photograph! This was my third and final effort. Actually I think the black and white version is best courtesy of the photo editing programme. 

    I tried my best but oh dear... I used granulating liquid on the bottom half and the Daniel Smith Lunar colours as well as the usual staples, Cerulean, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber and Ultramarine Blue. Only two brushes  No 6 & 8 Isabey Kolinsky sables. 




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  • 04/04/13--08:39: Shadows
  • This was the subject at today's Avon Valley Artists session. Attendance was only ten, one of whom was a new member. This is due to half-term week with several either on holiday or looking after grandchildren! The subject was `shadows', which made for a a fairly broad interpretation. In my case I decided to do a portrait using one of my black and white Indian photographs. 


    As you may be able to see the reference photograph showed  considerable contrast with the left facing side of the face virtually disappearing. I concentrated on the shadow side and did not attempt to fill in the `blank' area of the face.


    16" x 12" Fabriano Hot Press 140lb (300gsm)

    You may note `Hot Press' paper. I've never used this before but have noticed some good watercolour artists paint portraits on this surface. After I arrived home I studied the painting again and decided it was too pale in the shadow areas. I wet the paper then added a wash of Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna. My approach is to try and follow Charles Reid's advice to be slightly `crude'. I'm not entirely happy with the result - when am I ever - but will certainly give hot press another try. I used Schminke Translucent Brown, Cerulean, Cobalt Blue, Yellow Ochre and Cadmium Red Light in various mixes, mostly mixed on the paper. Raw Sienna was introduced for the sash.  Brushes were the Isabey retractable size 6 and the Escoda retractables 8 and 10.


    Jan Weeks 16 " x 12"


    Yvonne Harry 


    Pat Walker



    Another enjoyable session and next week the subject is `Chimneys and Roof Tops'.






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    I finally finished the Bullfinch painting so here it is.


    Male Bullfinch. 16" x 12 Waterford 140lb (300gsm) Not

    The black is Ivory Black from Maimeri. Blue is Cerulean and the orange-red is mainly Translucent Orange (Schminke (PO71) with some Qinacridone Rose (Graham PV19) in various dilutions. The berries are Quinacridone Rose in different strengths,. There is some Quinacriodone Gold (DS PO49) in the background. This was a more careful painting than the one that follows. 


    Southern Carmine Bee-eaters. Approx 13" x 12" Paper Unknown - just an odd piece I happened to have.

    This is this weeks subject at `Paint Colorful Birds for Fun', set up on Facebook by the artist Robin Berry in association with Gerard Hendriks. Fascinating to see the various approaches by different artists particularly  Gerards and Robins contributions. Anyone can join in. On the birds I used Turquoise (Lukas PB16) and Cobalt Teal Blue (Daniel Smith PG50), Quinacridone Coral (DS), Translucent Orange (Schminke PO71), Burnt Umber to darken, some Ivory Black (Maimeri), Quinacridone Gold (Daniel Smith PO49), Raw Umber and some Cerulean. I think that's it! Isabey brushes up to size 8. Gerard paints his versions as small sketches. I tried not to be over fussy and quite quick at 40 - 50 mins. I used two different photographs which is why the birds colouring varies although I did try to `link' them together - if that is the right word. 


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    The last time I wrote on this subject was in June 2011 and I suggest - if interested - that you refer to that post as much is still relevant and I don't want to repeat myself. Since writing prices have increased  quite dramatically on the major purchases of the watercolour artist, paints, brushes and paper. What was already an expensive hobby or profession is even more so.

    There are lots of other items one can buy but those above are the absolute essentials. Some of the accessories can be expensive, easels, palettes for example, but they are one-off buys whereas paints and papers are ongoing. It is true that brushes will last a considerable time if looked after but if you venture into the sable market, especially those of the Kolinsky variety, then prices soar into the stratosphere once you get beyond Size 8.


    From left to right - Graham, Rowney, Winsor & Newton, Maimeri, Schminke, Rembrandt, Lukas and Daniel Smith

    I decided to split this subject into three sections with paints the first. As synthetic brushes have already been covered I may only cover sables. I have been planning to do them for a while, have been gathering information, but it is a considerable undertaking and is very time consuming.

     The initial decision with paints  is student or artist quality. We hear many arguments, for or mainly against, with one  being that buying student quality is a false economy, due to the reduced pigment load, so you use much more. This is incorrect and it is well covered in the original post. Obviously manufacturers make economies in the cheaper ranges but this is partly done by keeping the number to around 40, although Winsor & Newton Cotman offer 50 -10 more - in North America including genuine Cadmiums and Cobalts. Here  in Europe we are short changed and when I asked W & N about this I was told it was for `historical reasons', whatever that is supposed to mean.  In my opinion Cotman, Van Gogh from Talens and Venezia from Maimeri are excellent alternatives if you need to economize or are just an occasional painter. All the paints they offer are reliable. I wouldn't necessarily buy all paints from one or the other but would be selective. Despite what is sometimes said you can mix paints from different manufacturers  The key thing is the colour and temperature balance of the palette, not that they should all be the same make. There are others like Akademie from Schminke but I have not tried them so cannot comment. The main difference is that the more expensive pigments, mainly the Cadmiums, Cerulean, Viridian and Cobalts, are replaced by cheaper ones. The blue `hue' equivalents are mostly based on Phalo blue (PB15) combined with white. Phalo Green (PG7 or PG36) usually replaces Viridian. While cheaper these are excellent pigments. I would suggest it is perfectly possible to put together 16 - 20 paints from these ranges that would provide an excellent palette for most purposes. Check the pigment numbers and buy those where they are the same as the artist quality. Many are and don't fall for the `false economy' nonsense.  There are some other differences and you must try a particular range before going overboard as it may not suit. You can also if you wish mix student grade with artist quality and some do. Different strokes for different folks.

    Another possible budget make, although promoted by most art suppliers as `artist quality' is the Russian St Petersburg range of around 50 paints. In my opinion they are not artist quality as a careful examination of the pigments show. A lot of amateurs, and some professionals, use them nevertheless. The paints are bright and colourful but fugitive and obsolete pigments abound. Fugitive is self explanatory but when I say obsolete I mean pigments dropped by the majors. Another cheaper alternative is the Korean Shin Han range. Shin Han appear to shadow Holbein and offer 72 paints.They do have a lower proportion of single pigment paints and add white in a good number of others. I wasn't impressed when I analysed them.  One of the best and most original artists in my AVA group, previously a W & N fan, uses Shin Han and loves them. Just a personal view but I'd be very wary of some of these makes, usually described by art suppliers as `artist quality'. Other Korean makes include Mission Gold from Mijello and Alpha.  I don't think either is yet available in the UK but that may change as Mijello is being heavily promoted in the USA and we are sure to follow. I looked at a couple of the Mijello paints on the Dick Blick USA site and the pigments appeared good quality but a thorough analysis on Wetcanvas came up with an altogether different picture. We also have an increasing number of own label makes with large art suppliers introducing their own ranges. This applies to many of the USA retailers and in the UK Jacksons. If you are a member of the SAA (Society of All Artists) they have their own range of watercolours. Almost without exception they claim  paints are  top quality and equal to the leading makes. I wouldn't suggest for one moment that these paints are poor quality but would take the claims for them with a pinch of salt. Try them by all means but first of all check that they are using quality pigments and if not avoid.

    If the decision is to use artist quality, which I do, then the question arises which do you prefer and what price are you prepared to pay. All the top makes are good so it is a question of personal preference allied to price. The largest ranges are Daniel Smith with 200 plus followed by Old Holland, Schminke, Holbein, Sennelier and Winsor & Newton. We then have another group that offer fewer but still substantial at around 70- 80, Bloxx, Rembrandt, Maimeri, Daler Rowney, Graham, Da Vinci, Art Spectrum and Lukas. If I lived in North America I'd probably go for Daniel Smith (with qualifications), Graham and possibly Da Vinci. Pricing is different to Europe and Daniel Smith paints, which  are very expensive over here, are cheaper and seem to have regular offers. In the UK Graham and Da Vinci can only be obtained from W.E.Lawrence of Hove www.lawrence.co.uk As pricing varies country by country one cannot be specific. My suggestions are based on the European situation but might be useful as a guide.

    Another factor which affects value for money are the sizes offered. Winsor & Newton and Da Vinci have a 37ml which is much more economical than the smaller sizes. This is a  large tube and possibly only for the professional, who paints almost daily. Rembrandt and Sennelier do a  21ml  which is more practical perhaps for the amateur. Note these larger sizes are only available in a limited range, usually the most popular colours, and not all art suppliers stock them. In the main only the mail order specialists and again only some of them. In the case of Lukas the whole range is offered in 24ml. The final point is the way the makers group their paints, some have up to 6 different series priced accordingly with 1 the cheapest and 6 the most expensive.. While the earth colours tend to be in the cheapest Series 1 this doesn't apply logically. Take Maimeri. Permanent Magenta, the rose form of PV19 is in series 1 (Jacksons £6.50) BUT Rose Lake the red form of PV19 is Series 3 (Jacksons £10.20!). The bit about the rose and red forms I learned from Handprint as the tubes and literature just says `PV19'. You won't find much difference in these colours in practical terms. I haven't tried Jacksons own brand, made I am told by Sennelier,which, as well as pans, has a 21ml tube. Are you confused? There is no consistency across manufacturers and while they may be cheaper in some colours (pigments) they may be more expensive in others.

    Taking a combination of quality and price I suggest that Daler Rowney and Lukas (see January 2013 ) are hard to beat. Both have only two series, use quality pigments, and with 70 colours  (DR 79) enough choice for most artists. The new Sennelier range looks interesting in the 21ml size - they also have the usual 10ml - covering the complete range. Do you really want to pay over £20 for the dearest Daniel Smith in a 15ml tube, £29.10p for the  most expensive 18ml Old Holland , £18.80p the dearest Holbein in a 15ml size? I certainly won't. These prices are eye watering. There may well be colours in certain ranges you must have. The Schminke Translucent Orange is one such for me but Lukas also offer the same pigment (PO71) as Permanent Orange at a lower ml for ml price. Daniel Smith have some special colours but a lot of the basic ones can be bought at better prices elsewhere.

    My suggestions are, quoting Bruce McEvoy of Handprint  www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/wpaint.html  buy by pigment not colour. Bruce is no longer automatically updating this information but much remains relevant.  Cross check pigments across manufacturers, for example the Winsor & Newton Cerulean Blue is cheaper than many others and  is good. Take advantage of special offers as they arise. Do this by getting on the e-mail listing of the mail order specialists. If you belong to an art club group together to buy saving carriage charges.  

    This  may seem very complicated and not something many might wish to delve into. If you have a deep pocket fair enough but just one final statistic. If you are starting off and purchased 16 paints it will cost, buying artist quality in 15ml tubes, anywhere between £130 to £200! The rough equivalent in student quality of  recommended makes would be no more than £40 - £50.

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  • 04/10/13--01:29: Latest `Colorful Bird'.
  • This weeks subject on the Facebook page `Paint Colorful Birds for  Fun' is the Lapuli Bunting, an exotic bird, obviously from tropical climes, I'd not previously heard of. Anyone is welcome to join in and post.
    Lapuli Bunting. 12" x 9" Fontenay 140lb (300gsm) Not

    This is a simple painting that was completed in about 40 minutes. after first making a basic drawing using a No.7 mechanical pencil with 2B lead. It allowed me to major on two of my (current) favourite colours, Translucent Orange from Schminke (PO71) and Turquoise from Lukas (PB16). I also used Ivory Black (Maimeri), Cerulean for the shadow areas on the breast, and very diluted Raw Sienna. The background and branches have some Raw Umber and very diluted Hookers Green with a touch of Quinacridone Coral (Daniel Smith). There are also touches of white acrylic.
    I'm quite pleased with the result.

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  • 04/12/13--08:04: This and That
  • Just received the latest e-mail from Ken Bromley. Bromley have taken on Maimeri watercolours and also have Daniel Smith, as well as the long-standing Winsor & Newton and Daler Rowney artist watercolours. They also sell St Petersburg which they describe as `artist quality', as do the other mail order specialists. Maimeri are excellent paints with one or two reservations.  A very good French professional artist who I met on a Charles Reid course said, when I mentioned them, that they were `too bright'. I think I know what he meant but others may like that. I've used them for some years and they are mostly pretty good, but avoid `Quinacridone Gold' which isn't. They are well priced but watch out for the more expensive series. Maimeri Cerulean is more expensive than the excellent Winsor & Newton paint. Series 1 & 2 are reasonably priced but 3 and 4 are expensive and you might prefer Daler Rowney or Lukas. Interestingly Bromley stocked Schminke a year or more ago and soon decided to drop them. Richard Bromley said this was due to `lack of demand'  but it seemed a very hasty decision to me. They are selling off what they have left. Bromley continue to prosper and each edition of the twice yearly catalogue contains a photograph of the staff, who seem to increase each time. I had an issue with  them a while ago when the wrong surface paper was supplied. They offered to replace it but required me to send it back at my own expense. I still have it and contrast this with Jacksons, who if they make an error, send a freepost label for  returning the incorrect items. Bromley have an excellent well-designed website and many loyal customers. www.artsupplies.co.uk

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    Great Art have www.greatart.co.uk/    just redesigned their website and I placed my first order on the new one last week. I didn't like it at all and found it much less user friendly than previous. When I placed an order by post recently I complained but have had no response except an e-mail has now arrived with `your step by step guide' to the new website. I don't imagine this has just gone out solely to me but perhaps they have had other complaints. A lot of the problems with these things are they are designed by computer `geeks' who seem to assume everyone has their level of expertise. When I bought my first PC - a long time ago - the lady who owned the shop in Bath told me  a popular seller was a series of simple `how to' computer books, actually designed for children. In this respect the series of `Dummy' books are pretty good.

    I've found Great Art very efficient, although they won't keep out of stock items on backorder and are a little inflexible. They don't accept the order.  However they stock Lukas at excellent prices as well as many other makes, a large range of different papers and brushes. Currently Winsor & Newton watercolours are on offer at excellent prices and the first order on the new website qualifies for an extra 10%. Saunders Waterford blocks are also very well priced but only the original as they don't appear to stock the newish `High White' version.

    Great Art have a very large range of products including many not stocked elsewhere, even by Jacksons.

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    I am also awaiting another order from Jacksons ordered late yesterday. An e-mail has just informed me it has been despatched today. I find their service excellent and mistakes are rectified with a freepost label supplied for returned items. I noted that Winsor & Newton watercolours are being offered at well below the current catalogue prices.  This may be in response to the Great Art offer or Bromley. The same thing seems to be happening as occurred last year. We had quite a hike in W & N prices in January but they were soon being discounted. I thought at the time that this was due to the threat from Daniel Smith, not because they were cheaper but due to the vast range and many unusual and unique colours. The reason for so many orders is I order for Avon Valley Artists so we can avoid carriage charges. With the price of paints, paper and much else so high it is very easy to exceed the amount needed for free carriage. This also applies to Bromley and Great Art. I've ordered a Mijello palette for myself with 24 paint wells. www.jacksonsart.co.uk/ Added 13/04/2013. Jacksons have just announced they have the exclusive UK rights for the well-regarded American Strathmore range of art papers.

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    Another pigment bites the dust! Apparently PY153 Nickel Dioxide Yellow has been discontinued so the hunt is on for existing supplies or a suitable replacement. There are many yellows so this isn't a major problem BUT this was the pigment used in the very popular Winsor & Newton New Gamboge.  Daniel Smith also call it the same name but others usually list it as `Indian Yellow' including Rowney one of my staples. Well okay I have too many staples but this is an excellent paint praised by Bruce McEvoy, even if  less than enthusiastic about Rowney generally. Winsor & Newton have been quick to replace it with a two pigment mix of PY150 and PR209, another yellow and a red. When asked why they seem to do this quicker than everyone else - Daniel Smith still list the genuine Quinacridone Gold PO49 - the reply was their usage is so large that stocks are exhausted very soon! I may return to this pigment in a separate piece including suggested replacements.

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    Finally yet another Craig Young `lookalike' has emerged in a new website calling itself The Watercolor Paintbox Prototipes Company'. I assume they mean `prototypes' . Is this Chinese (?) as no indication is given and the English used contains several basic mistakes. They also have some Holbein palettes, the Spanish Pierra  as well as the Craig Young `lookalikes', claiming to having been making them for some years. Hmmmm! If you are interested the website is www.watercolorpaintbox.wordpress.com/ but I suggest proceed with caution before ordering anything. 


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  • 04/16/13--01:13: St.Johns Teahouse
  • Just to show it isn't all birds here is my effort at last weeks Avon Valley Artists session, the subject being `Roofs and Chimneys'. The subject I chose is the King John Teahouse at Lacock, Wiltshire, a popular tourist attraction. Lacock is a small attractive village with a long history and is frequently used by the Film industry  for period dramas. The villagers (and Lacock) cash in!


    King Johns Teahouse, Lacock, Wilts. Approx 16" x 12". Not 

    Not sure what the paper is as this was done on the back of a failed painting - I have lots of those - from some time ago. I've painted this subject before from photographs taken on the spot. I more or less followed the colours as they were but wondered since whether I should have changed the colour of the umbrellas, possibly red, to compliment all the greenery.  Usual colours and Escoda travel brushes. It's so so but I've done worse. About an hour plus breaks.

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    Spring has finally arrived after what some farmers are calling an `eighteen month' Winter. There were 17 members present and most chose to paint flowers.


    Yvonne Harry hard at work. You will see this painting, when finished on her blog www.watercolourflorals.blogspot.com/  


    Apologies to Jan Weeks as I slightly startled her when taking this photograph.


    This was mine, just having completed the drawing. 


     The more or less finished painting 16" x 12" Fabriano Artistico Extra White Not



    A view of the paintings


    More paintings. Two hours earlier blank sheets of paper, although a few had already done some preliminary work

    Another enjoyable session and next week the subject is `transport'.




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  • 04/21/13--00:32: Sitting Bull
  • I have painted this famous Indian previously, at least twice, and this version in some respects is not quite such a good likeness but I feel better in other ways.


    Sitting Bull . Waterford 16" x 12" 140lb Not

    Sitting Bull  (1831 - 1890) was a leader and medicine man of the Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux, a division of the most numerous and deadly of the plains Indians, although others like the Comanches, Kiowas and Cheyenne were almost equally feared. After the defeat of Custer in 1876 the Sioux could not compete with the huge numbers of troops deployed against them. In 1877 due to this enormous pressure Sitting Bull and his followers fled into Canada, where they were allowed to remain as long as they promised to be peaceful. Eventually in 1881 he and the bulk of his supporters feeling very homesick- although smaller numbers remained in Canada -  were persuaded to return across the border and live on a reservation. 

    Sitting Bull never accepted reservation life in a land where the huge influx of white people was changing things forever. He took part in a touring Circus with Buffalo Bill Cody but remained recalcitrant,and when the  despair of the Indians resulted in the Ghost Dance religious movement was considered a dangerous influence. The decision was taken to arrest and imprison him. In December 1890 reservation Indian police were sent to arrest him but he and his followers resisted, resulting  in several  deaths, including Sitting Bull and some of the police. To this day some Sioux believe he was deliberately murdered. The best book I know on Sitting Bull is `The Lance and The Shield' subtitled `The Life and Times of Sitting Bull' by Robert M. Utley, Ballantine Books, New York 1994. 

    My initial approach was to make a careful drawing using a Pentel 07 mechanical pencil with a 2B lead. I took careful measurements from the guide photograph  to get the proportions correct and everything, eyes, nose, mouth, in the right places. If the old masters could use all sorts of aids to ensure accuracy why not I? I don't see any reason to wear a hair shirt.

    I then painted the face and features starting with the eyes, nose and mouth. I used a mix of Cadmium Red Light, a little Raw Sienna plus Cobalt Blue to darken and also Schminke Translucent Brown (PBr41) to try and get the right skin colour. I played around with these colours and mostly mixed on the paper. Prior to painting I put on small amounts of masking fluid for the highlights around the eyes. Make sure you allow the fluid to dry before attempting to paint. When painting the face I incorporated the underside of the hat brim with similar colours darkened, using various mixtures of Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna. I then painted the hair using the same Ultramarine/Burnt Sienna mix and carried this down into the neck area and top of his clothing. I then painted the hat using diluted Raw Umber, Ultramarine Violet and possibly  some Raw Sienna.I can't remember exactly (!). I'm never able to complete things in the `first try for a finish' mode so did further work on the right facing side of the face and finished off the features. The background has heavily diluted Sap Green, Cerulean and Ultramarine Violet. I think that's it. My usual brushes, all Isabey except the Da Vinci Artissimo 44.

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    This is another interesting pigment  labelled by Bruce McEvoy of Handprint as a `Top Forty' pigment. Not everyone agrees, Michael Wilcox calls it `gummy and weak'. I think I know what he means but it does have some attraction for the watercolour artist, although it is not offered by all the majors, nor any of the cheaper makes. On the downside as a Cobalt pigment it is both expensive and toxic, something that will put many off.




    Top row from left to right.Graham, Lukas and Art Spectrum. Winsor & Newton is in the middle. The bottom two are different pigments for comparison purposes. In the bottom swatches Number 1 is Art Spectrum, 2 Graham, 3 W & N Potters PInk PR233, 4 W & N Permanent Mauve PV16. 

    The above swatches have been supplied by John Softly who has tried several different Cobalt Violets. I myself have three, the Rowney Cobalt Magenta, Winsor & Newton Cobalt Violet and the Lukas version. The latter two, both in pan form, I have yet to use. The Rowney is a good colour but I have some reservations about it, which I have written about previously.

    Bruce describes Cobalt Violet as follows:

     "...a very lightfast, semitransparent, nonstaining, moderately dark valued, moderately dull violet to red-violet pigment...."

    You can see the variation in shades with some inclining to `bluish' and others `reddish'. It also granulates beautifully in most paints. You don't see this pigment featuring in many artists palettes, although John tells me it is a staple of David Curtis and also Robert Brindley. At my last two Charles Reid workshops I noticed it on his palette (for the first time), almost certainly the Winsor & Newton version. In his most recent  portrait DVD it features on the clothing of the figure painting of the man. You need to make a decision as to whether you prefer the more violet shades or those inclining to reddish.

    In the Handprint listings, not 100% up to date, there are 9 manufacturers offering this paint who, apart from Rowney, call it either Cobalt Violet or Cobalt Violet Deep. Once again I stress go only by pigments numbers as there are some other paints calling themselves Cobalt Violet or Cobalt Violet Deep that aren't PV14 or have another pigment added.  

    Finally I quote Bruce McvEcvoy again who concludes by saying:

    " ...genuine, high quality Cobalt Violet is a spectacular paint in broad wash applications - morning skies and magnificent florals - and evocative in flesh tone shadows. The `red' shades offered by Rowney, Bloxx and Winsor & Newton are effective as the pink component in Caucasian flesh tones..." 

    We now come to the question of price and in the UK there are considerable variations. Holbein at £18.80p for a 15 ml tube are the dearest, with Maimeri £14.60 (15ml) and Old Holland £16.35 for 18ml.. You can currently buy the Winsor & Newton 14 ml version, on promotion at both Great Art and Jacksons, for just over £10 - a great buy. Daler Rowney (Cobalt Magenta) is  just over £9 (15ml) and Lukas  (Great Art) £10.35p for 24ml .If you only use a colour occasionally then it might be wiser (and cheaper) to buy the 5ml size which most (not Lukas) offer.  The Rembrandt 5ml is only £3.00 from Jacksons - very cheap. A minefield of prices that you need to navigate carefully if you are not to end up paying more than necessary. Naturally if you must have a particular make then you pay the price.

     I shall try Cobalt Violet in the three makes I have and certainly give it a try in portraits - possibly skies and florals.. At some future date I'll report on the results.

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  • 04/26/13--03:38: Thinking out Loud.


  • View from our bedroom window at 8am today.

    For those interested in the Cobalt Violet item I've now added John Softly's views based on his testing of several makes. Taken together with the balance of the piece this gives a pretty comprehensive introduction for anyone tempted to try this pigment (PV14). Remember select by pigment NOT colour. You can of course select by colour if you so wish and many do, and we know that paints from different manufacturers can vary considerably even though made with the same pigment, so this advice isn't driven by dogma as I tend to adopt a pragmatic view. In general I think the selection by pigment advice - stressed by Handprints Bruce McEvoy is valid. This doesn't stop you having a yen for mixed pigment paints like Daniel Smiths Moonglow though!  Why not? 

    ******

    Judging by the number of e-mails arriving with `special offers' from the mail order art suppliers times are tough. Make sure you are on the list and buy what you need when the offers are too good to refuse. I imagine North American artists have a similar situation with lots of offers from Blick, Daniel Smith, Cheap Joes etc. I do make the qualification that you perhaps need to resist these siren voices especially if you are an impulse buyer like me. If the offers are of products you use a lot - paints and paper come to mind - then buy, buy, buy - unless you already have several years supply like me (!). The Great Art offer is free postage over £19.95p (normally £39.95p). until this Sunday the 28th. They do have some great offers and so do Jacksons. I've also just acquired the Lawrence catalogue, although it is dated 2012, which can be obtained free, either as a download or hard copy. This is just a guide to prices, the real action takes place on the website. I'm slightly ambivalent about Lawrence as they have a fixed carriage charge regardless. If you buy 6 tubes of paint  of  Da Vinci, Graham and Lukas you do get extra discount, making the prices pretty good, but then have to add on £4.99p which is over 82p per tube - not such a great deal after all. Lawrence defend this policy claiming they offer exceptional service. Service is good but a little over the top as you are bombarded with e-mails and I have no complaints of the service from either Great Art or Jacksons. Despite my lingering annoyance with Ken Bromley they also give excellent service and all give free postage over £39.95p.. Nevertheless Lawrence are the only UK source of Graham and Da Vinci watercolours and also have Art Spectrum - not easy to find - and Lukas, as well as several others.

    ********
     I have commented several times about the Facebook page started by Robin Berry and Gerard Hendriks, both superb professional artists with different styles. A particular colourful bird is selected - roughly weekly - and you are invited to submit your version. Not everyone is interested in bird paintings I know but it has the advantage of seeing how these artists - and other talented ones - approach the subject. When I am painting I often think `I wonder how so and so would approach this?'. With `Painting Colorful Birds for Fun' you can see exactly how. A great learning experience. I shall be posting my latest - I'm really pleased with one of them - in the next few days.

    ********

    The monthly challenge between myself and Mick Carney of `The Painting Struggle' has been temporarily suspended. I shall be on the Charles Reid Stow-on-the-Wold workshop between 5-11 May and also am having problems with a projected house move, with nothing yet finalised. Mick has recently had a surgical operation and I am sure you all join with me in wishing him a successful outcome. The next subject - my choice - is a boat scene selected from a number supplied by John Softly.

    *******

    Is anyone else extremely sceptical of professional artists pushing certain products?  The very modest (I'm joking) high profile artist Nicholas Simmons is promoting Escoda brushes saying they are the `best in the world ' and similar over the top statements. He is also quoted on the American Da Vinci website  as saying Da Vinci watercolours `are the best in the world' and that `colleagues and his students agree'. Really? Escoda brushes are excellent and I have some - mainly retractables. I have no experience of Da Vinci paints but don't doubt they are good. But to make such all embracing statements is very questionable because there are several other brush and paint manufacturers who could equally make such  a claim. Simmons also said that Charles Reid thought the same about Escoda and certainly he is now using some travel brushes, and has his own signature set, as has Simmons, made by Escoda. On every Charles Reid workshop I've attended he has recommended Da Vinci - the German brushmaker - and that hasn't changed with the forthcoming one, although Escoda are also now mentioned.

    The whole thing has been highlighted by the ridiculous claims made by an American professional artist and teacher recommending the Mission Gold watercolours by Mijello. currently being heavily promoted in America. These claims include `best in the world' or the best `she has ever used', and despite a good number containing dyes and fugitive pigments claims they will last `100 years'. After picking myself off the floor I think that was the claim. She did get quite a strong negative response by Wetcanvas members when she foolishly posted on the Mission Gold  thread. Do they think all artists are stupid? I shall be doing a feature on Korean watercolours soon as I suspect Mission Gold will appear in the UK sometime soon with equally over the top publicity.

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  • 04/28/13--01:24: Eurasian Nuthatch
  • The Eurasian Nuthatch, looking very similar to the European one, is the latest subject on the Facebook `Painting Colorful Birds for Fun'. I have had two shots at it for which see below.


    Waterford 11" x 15" High White 140lb (300gsm) Not


    11"x 15 L Amatruda Amalfi Hand-Made 90lb (?)

    The first painting is based on the guide photograph on the `Colorful Birds' page. The second I downloaded from Google images. In the first one I had problems with the blue - Rowney Cerulean - which the paper didn't seem to take terribly well. When Waterford `High White' came out I purchased some from Bromley and tried it along with Yvonne and Jan from the AVA group. Yvonne didn't like it at all and neither did Jan. My own impression was far from enthusiastic as it didn't seem to take the paint as well as expected. Subsequently I used it on a couple of portraits seemingly without problems. This version of Waterford was eagerly expected because the original is rather off white - a yellowish shade - and has been described as creating a slightly `antique' look. Since then a number of professional artists like Ann Blockley have come out in praise of it. I've been using up odd bits of paper for the bird paintings and came across a remaining sheet of `High White'. The main colours in the first painting were Cerulean and Translucent Orange (Schminke PO71). It may be the Rowney Cerulean is at fault, although I'd no complaints when painting with it prior to this one. This is a paint/pigment ( PB35) that varies considerably amongst manufacturers. I'd previously used  the Winsor & Newton version.   

    The second painting was produced because I wasn't happy with the first. Apart from the streaky Cerulean it seemed to me to be on the bland side. You have only to look at Gerard Hendriks exciting paintings to understand the meaning of this. The black is Ivory Black from Maimeri with some Turquoise (Lukas PB16) added. This colour and Cerulean feature on the head and back with Quinacridone Gold (PO49), Quinacridone Rust (PO48), Ultramarine Violet (PV15) and some Raw Sienna on the breast and feathers. The tree he is perched on includes darks made from Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber with some Ivory Black. There is some Raw Umber and Quinacridone Gold, Ultramarine Violet and the pinkish red is Quinacridone Coral (DS PR209). I tried to give the impression that the bird and tree trunk were interconnected using the darks. My initial approach was to paint the eye, beak and black areas very carefully as they are the focal point of the whole thing. Before painting I used Pebeo drawing gum, applied with a ruling pen, to carefully mask the very thin lines around the eyes. 

    In both instances I first made a careful but not over detailed pencil drawing using an 05 Pentel mechanical pencil with a 2B lead. The paper in the lower painting is some I bought from a small shop in Amalfi, Italy when on holiday a while ago. I discovered a small shop selling paper and these were the largest sheets. I asked the lady - who turned out to be the owner - where the paper was made and she waved her hand and said `at my factory over there'. I'd love to get some more as, although very light, it is a beautiful paper to work on. It wouldn't do for large washes. 


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  • 05/01/13--02:50: Stan Miller
  • Since joining Facebook I have discovered numerous fabulous watercolour artists, of whom I was previously unaware. One such is the American Stan Miller. As well as watercolour Stan also paints with egg tempura. I am particularly enamoured of his portrait work.


    Stan is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society as well as an AWS award winner. His website displays an impressive array of  awards and he has also held several solo exhibitions, as well as exhibiting in many group ones. He has also featured in two books and a number of magazine articles. He teaches extensively and has also participated in what he terms travel studies, including Europe. Stan also acts as a juror. Full details are on his website http://stanmiller.net/  as well as more examples of his work. He also has a blog with more paintings and much else  www.stanmillerartist.blogspot.co.uk/ .



    This was a  demo


     9" x 13"


     Another demo


    8" x 10"

    This was also a demo


    Venice Calm - 14" x 22"



    Roses 9" x 16"

    The above are just examples of his stunning work. Both the gallery on the website and his blog have many more.

    As is my usual practice I asked Stan about the materials he uses and also his basic philosophy. The replies are closely linked as you will see.

    With regard to palettes and paints Stan uses a John Pike but states `any palette or even a white plate will work'. he continues `I use a strong red, yellow and blue and do not have any particular colors that I always use. I continually try new and different colors...whatever I'm in the mood for...'

    Paper preference is usually Arches in  a variety of sizes. but to quote .. `I try a variety of papers, hot press,cold press, Fabriano, Strathmore, Bristol....whatever I'm in the mood for at the time'.

    As for brushes, again whatever he is in the mood for, all kinds, no particular make nor size.

    His philosophy is as follows:

    `I tell my students to avoid formulas for painting. The idea that if one uses the brush, the paper, the colors, the techniques of the artists they most admire in the hope of being able to paint more like them is like dressing like Tiger Woods, using the same brand golf ball and clubs, trying to learn how to hit the `stinger' and other techniques he uses, in the hope that in doing this one would play more like him. Doesn't work that way. What does work on golf is: play golf about 6 hours a day for a year (use any kind of equipment you want and watch how much you improve!). Great art and great golf is 99% hard work and desire and about 1% equipment and technique  Sorry for the bad news for those of you searching for easy solutions. If one wants to be really good at something one has to desire to be good more than nearly everyone else, but this means you have to work harder than nearly everyone else!' 

    There you have it with both barrels! My late father, a professional gardener, always said a poor workman always blames his tools. This is the same message as above couched in a slightly different way. I admit I've committed some of the `sins' Stan lists, although I'm now wiser - as I ought to be given my age - and  more inclined to do my own thing. My guru Charles Reid always tells his students you shouldn't try to paint exactly like he does (chance would be a fine thing!). I still look to artists I admire, like Gerard Hendriks, for inspiration. There has been much negative comment in some of the art magazines of late, of  artists who literally copy the style of well-established ones and indeed some are being promoted by galleries. I'm not talking about copying paintings BUT style. 

    My thanks to Stan for his co-operation and his thoughtful if pungent  remarks. Having attended many demos and workshops, one of the things many students are most anxious to know are what paints, paper, palette colours etc the artists uses. They then desperately scribble down the answers and presumably spend money on them thereafter. I've done it! 












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    Between  May 6 - 10  I shall be on a Charles Reid workshop at Stow-in-the-Wold in Gloucestershire. This area is called the Cotswolds and is one of the most scenic areas in England.  Judi Reid told me it was her favourite painting venue in the UK.

    This is my fifth and probably final CR course. I have enjoyed them all and hope to go out on a high note. My first one was at Burford, close to Stow, where the following weeks workshop will be held. I believe Charles is then travelling to Norfolk to make another  DVD with Town House Films.

    When I first attended Burford I was taken aback by the high standard of the students, some of whom were professionals. I struggled and was certainly in the bottom three of the 18 or so participants. It was a steep learning curve and the lesson I learned was to work pretty hard. My wife and I then went  to Spain so I could attend another CR workshop, under the auspices of the charming Angela Barbi of EPC (Enjoy Painting in Catalonia). This worked both as a painting workshop and a holiday, especially important as my wife doesn't paint - apart from decorating. This was an excellent workshop split into two four day periods with a day off in the middle. The standard was not quite as high as Burford, which was very high, so much so that Charles remarked on it. There were also professionals in Spain, notably Judi Whitton, who produced some beautiful work, Don Glynn who  is or was associated with Angela and EPC, and several good Spanish artists, although I don't think they were professionals. Charles had brought some paintings from America for one of them and the same person bought three of Judi Whittons workshop paintings.

     My work there was certainly fairly average, but on my return I made a conscious decision to go for it and put in a lot of work to try and improve. I tend to think improvement comes (or should) in the following months when one has digested the lessons - providing you work at it!. One of the things that has struck me about some fellow amateurs, who I know and have painted with, is there is no discernible difference in their work following workshops or courses with professional artists. Many courses are holidays with painting rather than serious workshops and if that is what is preferred so be it. Avoid those that say `all levels welcome'.

    My third CR workshop was at Urchfont, a Wiltshire village, apparently a favourite of Charles and Judi. Charles had got to know some of the local characters on previous visits and  thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with them. Urchfont, which is run by the local council, is a popular venue but certainly not a hotel. It has good facilities for painting with two large buildings, mostly spent in the larger one. This was again fairly tough and was the workshop where I first met Mick Carney of The PaintingStruggle blog. Mick and I, fellow North-Easterners although I moved South many years ago, got on like a house on fire and were put in the same building, a house at the far end of the grounds. The food, served in the main house, was good and plentiful but the accommodation very poor, not even up to average B & B standard. Students were spread around and some of the others were not happy so we weren't alone. I was asked for my views, as someone must have raised it, and said I wouldn't go there again - nor would I. This was a shame because everything else was fine. A very good French artist, Gilles Durand, who I had met at Burford, was also at Urchfont  and there were others like Genevieve Buchanan. On the last  day I finally produced something I was really pleased with, a flower/still life study and Gilles complimented me on it. That was the final painting though! It is framed and hangs in my `studio'.

    I thought Urchfont was to be my last Charles Reid experience only to be seduced once more when his next workshop was scheduled at Crantock Bay in Cornwall. My wife and I had previously been to Crantock four times with Judi Whitton and both of us thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The venue was the Crantock Hotel located on a cliff top facing the sea and bay. A wonderful venue, sadly it closed for good shortly after the workshop finished. Having worked hard since Urchfont  I was pleased when Charles told my wife, on the final day and exhibition of students work, that my painting had improved. Gilles Durand, who greeted Mick and I like long lost brothers, although a little reserved on previous courses, said the same to me. Coming from two such artists I positively glowed! Yes, I am aware I am still far from the finished object, and probably never will be,  but compared to my work a few years ago  things have moved on.

    That's it basically. I shall report on the course in a similar manner to  Crantock  with one post on each day with photographs. This should commence soon after my return home on the 11th.



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    This was my fifth Charles Reid workshop, set in the picturesque small Cotswold town of Stow - in - the Wold. Actually I wasn't over impressed with the town, as there were quite a few empty shops and in the Baptist Hall, where the workshop was held, spotted a professionally made sign advertising a `Food Bank', which apparently is held in the hall on certain dates. I have been to Stow before as I lived in Oxfordshire for many years but this was the first time I'd been there for an extended look.

    This workshop was different as it was not residential, Jane supplying a list of local hotels, B & Bs etc. Charles, Judy and Jane stayed at the Grapevine and so did 6 other students, the remaining 11 spread around the town.. My sister lives only 30 minutes away at Ducklington so I stayed with her and commuted daily. You do lose something by not all being together and that made a difference. Unfortunately having to book well in advance for a large group, and prohibitive insurance costs, now that Charles is a very senior citizen, means that if he comes again in 2015 the same situation will prevail.



    Prior to Monday commencement, on Sunday a dinner was held at the Grapevine Hotel and Restaurant on the high street, a short distance from the Baptist Church. There were 18 students on the course with Jane Duke, the organizer and herself a professional artist, on hand to organize things with Judy Reid. On this workshop two thirds were first timers, which is unusual in my experience, except perhaps in Spain. Actually I've since been corrected, 10 of 18 were new, not quite two thirds. My wife and some other non-painting partners went to the dinner.


    DAY ONE Pt 1

    Monday started with Charles demonstrating using an old black and white photograph for reference. This has become a feature of his workshops in recent years.


    Getting ready to start.


    See the reference photo or rather part of it because it included a woman on the covered right hand side. Fabriano paper.


    Charles started with his modified contour drawing using a continuous line and not lifting the pencil much.




    As you can see he divided his paper into two sections and did a second drawing in the right hand bloc, which is the one he painted. You may notice this is less detailed as it was the one intended to paint. Charles went into considerable detail for the benefit of the many `newbies'. These are most of the points he made:

    * When painting a person make sure they fill two thirds of the area.
    *Backgrounds are the hardest part of a painting.
    *When drawing keep hand on paper, most action will be with the elbow.
    *Draw light outline first then erase.
    *Work from the centre of the face starting with the eye or nose.
    *If you can't see something don't draw it.
    *Forget about perfection.
    * Take measurements using the pencil held vertically.
    * If in doubt make figure longer not shorter.
    *Keep measuring and comparing.
    *Don't draw long general lines - show the bumps.
    *Keep the pencil on the paper - short trips slow, long trips speed up.



    Charles used his small Sketchers box and is shown explaining to the eager throng what his 16 colours were and how they were grouped in the box.


    He started in the nose/eye area and you can also see some preliminary swatches at the bottom. Colours were his usual Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre plus Cerulean and Cobalt Blue. Burnt Umber and Raw Umber may also have featured but I'm not certain. 


    Here he has more or less completed the features and then down into the beard. Charles stresses placing paint rather than stroking and emphasizes the ratio of paint to water. Too many students have too much water and not enough pigment. When he paints he dips his brush in the water pot, then gives it two sharp shakes, and sometimes lightly wipes it on the small towel attached to his apron. He then goes to the paint which should be moist enough for the brush to dig into. He keeps the paint moist using a small spray bottle. Often he will then go straight to the paper without any mixing on the palette. Here again he made various points:

    *Mix on the paper as well as the palette.
    *Look for indications of lights and darks.
    *Make very deliberate strokes.
    *Soften paint edges using an almost dry brush.
    *Have a 50/50 ratio of hard and soft edges.


    Not much left to do.


    The finished work - actually he just decides at some point to stop rather than finish! On this workshop he was using a mixture of mainly Da Vinci Maestro 35 series and Escoda 1212 and 1214, the 1214s being retractable travel brushes. He thinks Escoda are similar quality to Da Vinci but they are generally two sizes smaller in other words an Escoda 10 is about the size of a Da Vinci 8.

     DAY ONE Pt 2

    As the weather was quite good, with  uncertainty about the remainder of the week Charles decided to paint outside in the afternoon. Students could either watch him or paint themselves. It wasn't a demonstration as such. He selected a small patch of grass with some trees and seats, just down the high street on the opposite side. He began on the left hand side by drawing the Royal Hotel (built AD947) and worked his way across the paper until he reached the edge using his contour technique. He didn't attempt to make a frame. He painted from the left hand side in a similar manner. Actually previously he has always said when outdoors draw a little then paint, draw some more then paint and so on. This time he continued until the painting was finished although he took his usual breaks, about every 20 minutes or so when he often smoked his briar pipe. As for his palette Cobalt Violet seems to now be a permanent resident and he also mentioned Cobalt Green Dark, which he said was a temporary colour he'd recently added. He does tend to experiment with one or two new colours each time I've seen him. I asked him why he had gone against his normal advice of drawing and painting in stages, the reply being `he just felt like it'!





    The photos of him painting are not terribly good. One major problem was that the sun was behind him and it was also slightly windy. As a result the shadows kept moving across the paper and attempts to photograph the various stages were ruined, as the camera autofocus was fooled and no one was able to produce viable photos. Those at the end were made by turning his easel around the other way out of the shadows. By then he had finished! I noticed that the painting was done like an inverted `V' with the bottom corners mostly blank.

    I didn't paint at all on this day but contented myself with further study of how he does things. I think that's it for day one.








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    On Tuesday morning, the second day, the weather turned out to be the best of the week. The original plan had been that Tuesday morning would be free time with the workshop commencing at 1.pm. The reason was that it was thought the hall would not be available that morning. In the event this wasn't so, and caused some slight confusion about what exactly the programme would be on the first two days. This was also affected by the variable weather forecast with deterioration expected from mid-week. Charles decided to paint outside and we headed for the main square, specifically a small area of greenery on one side of the square. When we arrived it was thought we might have problems with visitors, as it was a popular seating area. One of the students was staying at the Stow Manor Hotel opposite so elected to ask the hotel if we could paint in the grounds. This was agreed although we were restricted to a particular area at the far side that wasn't ideal.



    Initially Charles wandered around the area peering this way and that way trying to find a vista to paint. Eventually he gave up and I heard him mutter he was having trouble finding inspiration. I wasn't involved in the discussions, involving mainly Jane and another student Chris. Chris volunteered  to paint  in the middle of the lawn facing Charles and thus became the subject with the rest of the painting from Charles interpretation of the surroundings. As with arbitrary colour - colours that aren't actually there -  he made up the rest of the composition.


    This was the setup with Chris in the middle and several students clustered around close by. The rest were spread around and I was behind and to the left.
      

    This was my position. Charles can just be seen at the top of the easel under his large blue umbrella.



    The two photographs above feature Charles painting with the second the finished one. As I've mentioned before he doesn't finish in a conventional way just `stops' when he feels he is adding bits for the sake of it.


    This was mine. I started with the figure, made a not too detailed pencil drawing, then painted working outwards.


    My finished painting (the photo affected by shadows). I added the tree as an after thought and at the Wednesday critique Charles said this was a mistake. I thought it a little stark otherwise.

    Overall this was a successful session. It was very hot and drove the majority to paint in the Hall in the afternoon. While you could stand and watch Charles paint is wasn't a demonstration, with most opting to paint. You could naturally ask questions and he is always ready to answer. I alternated between painting and going over and seeing what he was doing. As I've mentioned before Charles takes regular breaks, usually every twenty minutes or so. He will wander off and mostly smoke his pipe, before recommencing after 5 -10 minutes.

    In the afternoon nearly all returned to the Hall and painted using the black and white photographs provided. There were several different ones and we had previously been asked to list those we liked after which photocopies were made. The photos were quite old, I would think the early part of the 1900s, and I thought I heard Whitby mentioned. The subjects were fishing folk.


    Examples of the source material. I opted for the man on the extreme right, while the left hand photo is of the man Charles demonstrated. several of the students opted to copy him.


     My initial drawing, top half of the body.


    A3 Moldau 280gsm Not

    I thought the drawing was okay but although the painting started well I lost my way halfway through and did not like the final result. Apart from anything else the colours were  too dull and neutral. I should have introduced brighter arbitrary colour rather than mistakenly be led astray by the black and white  of the photo. This is something Charles repeats, that at some point in a painting you arrive at a turning point where it either goes on to succeed or takes a wrong turn. I think I should also have made the figure about a third larger but feel I made the body too wide relative to the head and shoulders.  During this session Charles did not paint, wandering around and helping those who asked for assistance while making the odd comment about individual paintings.

    This was the first day I painted and I was disappointed that I hadn't made a better fist of it.















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