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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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    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.








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    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).

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    May I wish all my followers and everyone else who visit this blog a Happy Xmas  and Prosperous New Year. Unfortunately we face very uncertain times both in the UK and World Wide.

    In the UK the uncertainty of Brexit and what it will bring - those in favour seem to think we'll be sailing into a land of milk and honey  with little evidence to back this up unfortunately - while remainers predict disaster. I have to say I'm a remainer despite my reservations about certain aspects of the EU.

    Worldwide there are all sorts of problems not least the concerns over the political situation in the United States. There are far too many others like climate change to name them all. I'm basically an optimist in that I believe all problems are solvable providing the will to do so is there. Of all the species on Earth the human race, despite its destructive tendencies, is truly remarkable in what has been achieved.

    On the painting front the Watercolour scene has never been better with literally hundreds of wonderful artists all over the World producing fantastic work. I have shown more than 200 of these paintings on the blog this year and continue to find new ones all the time..

    So have a great time over Xmas and let us hope 2019 will be a more positive year.

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  • 12/28/18--03:16: Last Paintings of 2018
  • These are my last efforts of 2018. 


    Guess Who? This was in response to a n Xmas subject at my art group. 16" x 12 



    Yellowhammer 12" x 9"


    Heron 16" x 12" 
    This was a free subject at my art group



    Mountain Sheep 16" x 12"

    The original was of more yellowish shades which my wife said was bland. I added reds and oranges and got a bit carried away away but I like it! Thats it for 2018. 



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  • 01/01/19--01:34: Watercolour Paintings 50
  • To start 2019 - and a Happy New Year to everybody - here is a bumper collection of watercolour paintings from a wide range of old and new artists. This is No 50 in this series of watercolours from wonderful artists  around the world.




     Marie-Claire Moudru


    The wonderful Shirley Trevana. One of the leading British watercolour artists.


    Trevor Chamberlain, along with John Yardley one of the 'masters' of British watercolorists.


    Trevor Lingard another top British watercolour artist of more recent vintage


    Stan Miller American 'Master, especially  Portraits


    Janine Gallizia -  Brilliant Australian


    Minh Dam - Another of these wonderful Asian artists


    Lelie Abadie - A French artist producing very 'dreamy' portraits.


    Chien Chung Wei - I may have featured this before It's a wonderful painting from a fine artist


    Lars Eje Larsson

    I love this mans work.


    Genevieve Buchanan


    David Taylor - Brilliant Australian


    Bijay Biswaal
    Gerard Hendriks - A quite different approach from the versatile Gerard


    Beth Jozwiak - a typical figure study


    Milind Mullick - 


    Joseph Zbukvic


    Arthur Melville 1855 - 1904

    I recently became aware of this Scottish artist. His watercolours are superb and he also painted in oils, as do and did others like Seago, Wesson, Yardley and Chamberlain.

    Another from Arthur Melville


    And Another


    Janet Rogers (?)



    Luen? Amazing painting.




    Catherine Rey - See her trademark clocks or watches


    Edo Hannema - A  master of the minimalist approach



    Igor Sava (I think)




    Genevieve Buchanan

    Genevieve, who I met on a Charles Reid workshop, has recently been featured in 'The Art of Watercolour' magazine, specifically her flower paintings.



    Annemiek Groenhout

    That's it folks a bumper lot for the start of 2019. I hope you find lots to interest you.



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  • 01/04/19--02:01: First Painting of 2019
  • Actually I did the drawing prior to Xmas, and finished the painting on the 1st, having started it a few days before BUT it was finished on the first. I have been collecting a series of references in three main categories, Birds, Animals and Native Americans.  I go through them from time to time and select ones to be painted. They all come from Pinterest.


    'American Bison' 16" x 12" Cornwall 450 gsm Rough

    This paper is one of the extensive Hahnemuhle range. It's a heavier weight so doesn't buckle. The surface is fairly pronounced and quite hard so the paint does not sink into the paper nor spread much. These features can be  both an advantage or the reverse depending on what sort of outcome you want. The original animal is mainly a darkish brown colour although there are hints of other colours. I approached it using Charles Reids dictum of arbitrary colours. Cerulean Blue used for cools with a mix of Ultramarine Blue Light (Lukas) and Transparent Brown (Schmincke) for the darks, sometimes more blue and sometimes more brown. Also used was Raw Sienna, Quinacridone Gold (Daniel Smith or Winsor and Newton). I still have some of the original paints made with PO49 not the current multi-mixes. Also Quinacridone Burnt Orange (Daniel Smith PO48).

    I was reasonably pleased with the result although not perfect by any means. As Charles says 'mistakes are part of it'.


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    I first heard of this product when Catherine Beale came to my art group to do a demo. She uses these boards for her 'gravity painting' technique. Several of the group have since tried them and indeed bought blocks. They come in A3 size, there is also a smaller version. with 10 boards costing £15- £19, depending where you buy them and what offers are current. The price is similar  for a single  sheet in a 20 sheet Waterford block.
    The boards are thick and absolutely rigid. The surface has a slight tooth, somewhere between fine grain and not. It struck me they might be worth trying on portraits.


    'Fish Hawk' Cayuse Indian 1905 A3 Watercolour Board.

    This is the result. I actually used only two or three colours, the main ones being Perylene Maroon and Ultramarine Blue. There is a little Burnt Umber and Raw Sienna but the figure is mainly the first two colours with some Transparent Brown (Schmincke PBr41) to darken the blue. It's early days yet but I shall definitely persevere and see where (or if!) it leads me. It is very monochrome but I like it - not perfect as my stuff never is but there you are.




    The brushes above are synthetic mixes apart from the white Neef that is pure synthetic. Neef are what Robert Wade uses.The redoubtable Zvonimir recently pointed out that sables were damaged quite easily on rough hard surfaces, papers like Arches or Khadi. He recommended synthetic brushes for those papers.  I have quite a collection of sables but also the three above, not previously used. I'm also concerned at the escalating and eye watering prices of sable brushes, especially when you get past size 4. So as well as the board I tried out the Da Vinci 5530 Cosmotop B size 8 and the Rosemary 401 size 10. I used a smaller older sable brush for the smallest detail. The Da Vinci brush is a mixture of animal hairs with a small amount of synthetic. Viktoria Prischedko and Piet Lap both use these Da Vinci brushes in a range of sizes and types, not just rounds. Jacksons current price for the size 8 is £11.00. Rosemary is a mixture of red sable and synthetic, and offers two round series (plus other types) 401 and 402. The size 10 401 is £10.40p or £10.70p with a longer handle., the 402, a longer slimmer brush, £11.25p. Size 8 is only £7.95p.

    To be honest I don't see much difference in the above result - if any - between these and the dearest sables I use. Possibly that's just me so don't take it as gospel. How they will last is something that only time will tell. I won't be buying any more expensive sables as I have plenty. There are now a mass of new synthetic brushes on the market and possibly they are finally living up to the claims that they 'emulate sable'. Otherwise try sable/synthetic mixes - the best of both worlds.

    As said these are provisional comments based on just a little experience. I will post again when I've further to report.


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  • 01/14/19--05:07: New Maimeriblu Watercolours
  • After sticking with the existing range for over 20 years Maimeri have done a massive revamp of their popular Maimeriblu artist quality watercolours. Maimeri have always been highly rated with Handprint comparing them favourably with Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton. I used them initially when I was able to buy them from a company at Swindon at very favourable prices. Unfortunately they were then discontinued for 'lack of demand'. They are available from several of the mail order specialists although never really pushed by them. The main criticism I had was that the pricing policy was skewed with series 1 and 2 very reasonable but series 3 and 4 less so.  Some things were difficult to fathom. For example Permanent Magenta, the rose form of PV19 was in series 1, but Rose Lake, the red form of PV19, was in series 3. Golden Lake, supposedly Quinacridone Gold PO49, said PV49 on the tube, and was replaced with PY43 with the tube details unaltered.. The original paint was poor nothing like as good as the Winsor & Newton version. When I contacted them I received no reply.
    The new 12ml Tubes

    What  has changed? First of all there are now 90 colours instead of 72. Oddly they have dropped the 15ml tube size and replaced it with a 12ml one. Half pans are also available as before. Also EVERY paint is now a single pigment. This is unique amongst current ranges. It's difficult to define exactly what is new as they seem to have changed (reformulated?) the names of some of the existing paints, and changed the pigments, so my interpretation may be incorrect in some cases. For example Dragons Blood is now PBr25, previously a two pigment mix. A few of the colours as now constituted. Cerulean Sky Blue (PB35), Green-Gold (PY129), Golden Yellow (PY183), Gamboge Hue (PY139), Potters Pink (PR233), Permanent Violet Blue (PV23), Naples Yellow Medium (PBr24), Sap Green (PG17), Cobalt Blue Green (PB36), Hookers Green (PG17), Paynes Grey (PrN/A?), Magenta Quinacridone (PR202), Quinacridone Lake (PV19), Yellow Vanadium (PY184) and so on. Many of these pigments were in the original range under different names! Some of the names of paints in the existing range are the same but the pigments have changed. Confusing isn't it. On the Maimeri site the colour chart gives pigment details so that's something as some makers seem to be backsliding in this respect or making it even harder to find them.

     Have I any gripes? Yes indeed pricing. There are still four series and taking Jacksons discounted 12ml tube prices we get £8.00 Series 1, £9.20 Series 2 , £10.40 Series 3 and £12.80 Series 4. Bear in mind this is 20% less paint than in the previous 15ml tubes. If you ramp this up to what 15ml would be for Series 1 £10.00 and £11.50 for Series 2. This is a substantial price hike. I honestly don't know how much more us amateurs are expected to pay. I've no doubt these paints will be good because Maimeri are but .......

    When on the Maimeri site I tried to look up Venezia, the budget make, to see if anything was happening there. I could find nothing referring to it despite them talking about two colour ranges. Venezia have 36 colours, many very good, in 15ml tubes. I wonder if anything is going to happen there.




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  • 01/18/19--04:14: Latest Paintings

  • I keep going with the painting although the session at m AVA group this week was a disaster (for me) . Anyway I finished off the Hare painting after scrapping the effort for this weeks subject 'City Buildings' - just not my thing. I do try to tackle the subjects we are given even though some are very challenging but overall it is a good practice as you are pushed out of your comfort zone and the results are often  better than expected., not this week though!


    'Hare' - A3 Khadi Rough

    I quite like painting Hares and they do seem to be a popular subject, not just in paintings but also figurines. I've seen several in galleries I've visited.



    A6 Khadi Rough
    Blue Tit Feeding

    I like painting birds. This was a quick 15 minute sketch as I had a little spare time towards the end of the last AVA session.



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  • 01/21/19--03:07: African Wild Dog
  • Finished this yesterday at stage three. First stage do the drawing, next day initial painting, mainly the face, then finished it yesterday. I watch a lot of wildlife programmes and have seen several on these wild dogs. Fascinating animals much misunderstood.




    Afrikan Wild Dog - A3 Moldau 280gsm


    I know my paintings are not to everyones taste - actually a small minority it seems judging by the way I get few likes on Watercolour Addicts, while others get hundreds. The only one that did get a lot was my painting of an eye. Still many artists were only recognised after death  - only joking I'm well aware of my limitations. 

    As you can see there are lots of strong colour. Raw Sienna, Quinacridone Gold (PO49), Burnt Orange (Daniel Smith PO48), Cerulean Blue, Burnt Umber, with the darks various mixtures of Ultramarine Blue and Transparent Brown (Schmincke PBr41). Slight touches other yellows.





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  • 01/25/19--07:23: North American Bison
  • The North American Bison once roamed the plains, and up into Canada, in the millions. They were nearly exterminated by the Buffalo hunters in the mid to late 1800s, and only a few survived. Fortunately conservation efforts mean there are a  few moderate sized, protected herds. The plains Indians, the most numerous and warlike who were nomadic, in particular relied on the Buffalo for almost all their needs and this loss brought them to the edge of starvation, and was the key factor in their eventual subjugation. Not all Indians relied on the Buffalo to such an extent, such as the even more warlike Apaches, however other tribes would venture onto the plains to hunt them, although this was dangerous given the hostility of the plains tribes to intruders.


    Male Bison - 16" x 12" Strathmore Aqua Cold Press 140lb.

    As readers of this blog will know I like animal subjects and continue to look for interesting subjects. My approach here was to do the drawing first, as well as I'm able. This involves much rubbing out and study before I get it completed to my satisfaction. Not perfect but then I don''t aim for a very realistic to super-realistic image. Studying the subject the only areas of real detail were the eyes, mouth and horns so they were painted as carefully as I'm able. The rest was completed over two or three days after leaving time for reflection at each stage. The final few touches were done today trying to avoid over working. I'm quite happy with the result.

    Colours used were Ultramarine Blue  full strength or mixed with Translucent Brown in various combinations, more blue,  more brown.  Burnt Umber, Raw Sienna, Cerulean Blue, Turquoise (Lukas PB16), Quinacridone Gold (Daniel Smith PO49), Quinacridone Burnt Orange (Daniel Smith PO48) and a little Raw Umber and Gold Ochre (W & N PY43). Various brushes, all round sables, apart from a Rosemary comber, from size 14 to 4.

    You may note the paper is the highly acclaimed Strathmore Aqua. Claims that this is the 'best' watercolour paper are a little over the top. I like it a lot but -in my opinion - Waterford High White is just as good. The prices per sheet are similar, at leat in the UK.

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  • 02/01/19--05:23: Watercolour Paintings 51
  • For this month I'm showing watercolours from a variety of artists who are new to me and I know little or nothing about.  It never ceases to amaze me how many excellent artists - in the thousands - are out there.


    Jaomine Huang


    Emil Kerez Kerie


    Direk Kingnok


    Igor Mosiychuk


    Steve Hanks



    Kitipong Ti


    Lin Shaoling


    Yvonne Joiner


    Z. L.Feng

    Sarah Pye Green


    Andrew Geeson


    Bhira Phokthavi


    Jasmine Hsiao - Hu Huang
    Andy Evansen



    Anna Razumovskaya



    Henry Arafin


    Vladislav Yeliseyev


    Margaretha Cornelia Johanna Wilhemina Henrieta Roosenboom (!) 1843-1896


    Ye Yint Mijint Nainy


    Yong Hong Zhong


    Yong Hong Zhong (again)

    I think I've got the names right but if you know different please feel free to correct me. I also am fairly sure all are watercolour but it's possible one or two might not be.




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  • 02/03/19--03:45: My Latest Paintings
  • These are my latest efforts for what they're worth. Two painted in my 'studio' and the third at my art group last week. I did all the drawings in my studio.


    'Moose' - 16" x12" Waterford High White Cold Pressed 300gsm.



    Victoria Beckham A3 Daler Watercolour Board

    This is my second portrait on this board which has a faint tooth. Not entirely convinced by it yet. I saw the guide photograph in an article on her. I'm neither a fan nor a critic. Good luck to her I say.




    'On the Beach' 16" x 12" 

    This was the subject at my art group this last week. All the drawings for the above were done in my home 'studio' . The portrait was painted at home also and most of the moose, which I finished off at my art group. The beach scene was roughly drawn at home and painted at the art group session. It was painted on the reverse side of a 'failed' older painting.

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    John Yardley has been one of the very best British watercolour artists for many years. He is now in his mid eighties, as is Trevor Chamberlain a contemporary. He also paints in oils but is best known for his watercolours. I don't know how active he currently is.



    I met him once at the Alexander Gallery in Clifton, Bristol. He was one of the resident artists and they were holding his b-annual exhibition. Apart from the gallery owner the only people there at the time I visited were him and his wife, so I introduced myself and had a short conversation. He is a  shy man but was very pleasant. The late Ron Ranson had previously told me that Yardley had become involved with the Alexander following the death of Edward Wesson, who was one of their major artists. They were looking to find someone similar and - at the time - according to Ron John painted in a very similar way, in fact Ron said you couldn't tell them apart. He did drastically change his style sometime after this which I will relate later.



    APV films of Chipping Norton have produced at least two videos of which I have one 'Sunlight in Watercolour'. I'm sure they will still be available. He is also the subject of several books, by Ron, Ranson, Susan Haines and more recently Steve Hall . They are all good but my pick is 'John Yardley A Personal View' in the Atelier series by David and Charles. This isn't' a 'How to' book but as the title implies - a personal view. I rate it highly as I do the similar book by Trevor Chamberlain in the same series. The Atelier series were discontinued after only a few titles were  published but should be available second-hand if you search for them, possibly at a price!





    Apart from the books and videos he has until recently tutored annually at Dedham Hall in East Anglia. He is not a natural teacher and obviously finds it difficult. Looking at his videos you can see this.  I know or knew several of those who were regular attendees  at Dedham and all became friends, some painting with him on other occasions. His approach was to do a wonderful demonstration, with those present desperately trying to see how he was doing it as he didn't say much if anything. He would then disappear for a cup of tea and a sticky bun with the baffled students scratching their heads. Ron Ranson attended one such course when he was writing his book on Yardley and after he disappeared several asked him how to explain how he did it. The Susan Haines book touches on this. All I can say is he is held in very high regard by his students, some of whom are professional artists, many becoming firm friends.

    Watching his videos I was struck by the fact the only real tip imprinted on my mind was his suggestion of keeping the water container full to the brim so you can get measure the correct amount of water in the brush. I can't really think of much other advice. The brush he was using was the very expensive Winsor & Newton Series 7 size 10 at over £100. Ron Ranson said in his book that there were discarded brushes all over his studio which John said had lost their point (after about 6 months). When you see him paint on the video you can see why. He scrubs them into the palette when mixing paint and uses dry brush a lot. In more recent years he joined the Escoda band waggon with a three brush set being offered with his name on the handle. Mentioning his studio he had a purpose built one  in his garden but preferred to paint in the kitchen!

    In his Atelier book he relates how a visit to Venice brought about him becoming his own man in leaving Wesson behind. His palette choices are conventional although he cautions against the over use of Cadmiums. Paper is or was Arches, Lanaquarelle and Canson tinted. He originally painted on Bockingford like Wesson. Sizes are from 15' x 22' down to 10" x 14". His palette was originally a folding Roberson which he was able to replace by the similar hand made palette from Craig Young, another regular attendee at Dedham who became a close friend. On the video he is using one of these palettes, the one with the six wells, probably made specially for him.




    Subject matter is quite extensive. While he paints a lot outdoors he also loves interiors. Horses and trains also feature with flowers another favourite. Figures in his paintings are prominent. On the video he actually demonstrates how to paint them. He is a very bold painter who doesn't waste a stroke. As is clearly shown painting the light is a priority.















      He is a wonderful artist and with the  books and videos available you can find out much more. There are lots more of his paintings to study if you 'google' his name. Without doubt he has few peers amongst watercolour artists, although I recognise the huge number of fabulous artists throughout the World.














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  • 02/21/19--06:55: INDEX
  • I know my Index system is a little clumsy but not being a technical 'geek' it's the best I can do.  On the opening page see the list on the right hand side called 'blog archive' This is directly under the followers picture section. Scroll down to 2014 and then click on July. This will bring you to the index, recently updated.

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  • 02/23/19--03:17: Latest Paintings
  • Here are my latest efforts continuing  (mostly) my 'animal' theme.



    Red Parrot 16" x 12" Waterford High White
    The subject at my art group recently.



    Vegetables 16" x 12"
    Another art group subject. This was painted on the reverse of a previous painting.


    Native American - A3 Daler Artboard

    This was an attempt top give it a 'Janine Galizia' type of feel. Only moderately successful. I'm still not sure about this artboard surface. Certainly not up to the quality of Waterford or Stonehenge.



    Big Cat - Waterford High White 16" x 12"

    From what I'd like to achieve this is better. I'm happy with this one.



    Bighorn Sheep - 16" x 12" Stonehenge Aqua
    I'm reasonable happy with this one also.




    Mother & Cub A3 Moldau 280gsm

    I like this one. The Moldau paper from Czechoslovakia was such a pain to obtain that It's unlikely I'll get more when my supply runs out. It has a lovely surface but the paper is uneven and the best bet is to stick it down with masking tape but  it still buckles. It's a case of  my living with this.





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  • 03/01/19--09:49: Watercolour Paintings 52
  • Here are the latest batch, a very varied collection, which hopefully has something for everybody/ It once again displays the wide range of styles and subjects that watercolour now encompasses. I know some of these artists but not all/ Further enquiries on Facebook or Pinterest should bring more information.
    Rachel McNaughton


    Another from Rachel McNaughton

    This one is very similar to the paintings John Blockley produced at the earlier stage of his career. His paintings were quite bleak with sombre colours however. He later introduced more colour and even became President of the Pastel Society. Interestingly his daughter Ann, an accomplished flower painter, has also changed direction with  a far more abstract approach and very strong colour.


    Edward Seago


    Steven Scott Young


    Corneliu Dragan-Targoviste



    Jake Winkle
    This British artists wife runs the Luxartis brush company,  although the brushes have  'Germany' on the handles presumably where they are made.


    Charles Reid



    Olivia Quinton



    Ann Christian Moberg



    Koo Cheang Jin



    Roberto Zangarelli


    David Taylor

    One of the leading Australian artists.



    J W M Turner
    Turner has an International reputation although not everyone likes his work. Charles Reid amongst them.



    Lars Eje Larsson





    Yvonne Joiner





    Thomas W Schaller




    Maria Stezhko




    Jasmine Huang




    Annemiek Groenhout



    Tim Willmot

    This was painted in Saltford nr Bath, where I lived until fairly recently. I'm still close by at Keynsham. Seago painted  at least one oil at Saltford, down by the river Avon.



    Elke Memmler



    Bev Jozwiak

    A top American Bev loves painting Jackdaws.



    Edward Wesson

    The simplicity of most of Wessons paintings is typified by the above. Don't think though that such works are easy to produce.




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  • 03/13/19--03:15: Nearly But Not Quite.
  • This is an odd title but denotes what I feel about many of my paintings. A sense of not quite getting there. The one below, done this week, is an example.



    What I was interested in here was the heads of the animals, a rare Scottish breed, I reached this point and didn't quite know what to do next. Perhaps I should have stopped. Charles Reid says when you look at a painting and wonder what to do next the best thing it to stop. After reflection I carried on, feeling it was a bit too unfinished but was I right?  I don't know. 


    Stonehenge Aqua not 16" x 12"'Highland Cattle 'or 'Mother & Son'.

    One of Charles other pearls of wisdom is that you reach a certain point in a pointing where - if you make the wrong decision - it goes downhill or alternatively the right one and a decent painting emerges.

    The other day I decided to take Robert Wades advice, illustrated in one of his videos, of going through that pile of paintings and discarding the ones that don't come up to scratch. In his case most of us would be delighted with the ones he tore up but.... I have a huge pile built up over some years so started on the first batch, about half the total. I segregated them into three piles. Those to be discarded, those where I could paint on the back - at over £1.50p a sheet now per block of Waterford this is an  option, and you can do it whatever might be said to the contrary. The late Ron Ranson told me he had a painting hung at the Royal Academy that was on the reverse of a 'failure'. The third pile were those I considered decent, although a few are borderline. Remember this is a hobby painter talking not a high profile artist. The discarded ones were torn up and put in the recycle bin. Do I feel better after doing this. Robert said he did and so am I. Actually it tidied things up somewhat.








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    Trevor Chamberlain is a contemporary of John Yardley.  I think it fair to say they have been at the pinnacle of British watercolour artists for many years, both now in their mid-eighties. John Yardley is a shy and reserved character although, according to his many friends much less so when you get to know him. Trevor is even more reserved in that he has never made a video nor held workshops or given demonstrations. I imagine over the years he has received many requests to do so. When Steve Hall wrote his book on Trevor he told me he was initially rather reserved and perhaps suspicious, but once Steve gained his confidence was fine. Trevor is a prominent member of the famous Wapping group of artists founded in 1946- www.thewappinggroupofartists.co.uk/ - so has many painting friends. They paint outdoors weekly April to September, much along the River Thames. Numbers are restricted to 25 although their splendid website currently has 26, 25 men and 1 woman.







    The two paintings above are my favourites. The one on the oil tanker, I believe painted at Falmouth is quite small which makes it all the more amazing. I could be wrong on the size.







    There have been a number of books on Trevor. He is shown as author of two, one on oils in Ron Ransons Painting School series, and (my favourite) 'Trevor Chamberlain - A Personal View' in the superb David & Charles Atelier Series, sadly discontinued after only a small number of titles.  Angela Gair is credited as assisting on the Atelier book. The other books are a section in Ron Ransons splendid 'Watercolour Impressionists' and the latest by Steve Hall and Barry Miles 'Trevor Chamberlain England and beyond.










    What is Trevors approach? As Ron Ranson says in 'Watercolour Impressionists'... 'The effect of light is everything to him and it is the constant theme that runs through his work whether it be oils or watercolour'. As noted Trevor also paints in oils and when he decided to do watercolour  he states in the Atelier book that it took him a year to master the medium. Lucky him as some of us still struggle after many years - at least I do. As Ron also says he is something of a  slave to the weather as he paints  exclusively outdoors, but he's by no means a 'fair weather' painter. This limits him to about two paintings per week.








    What is Trevors approach to painting? He paints 'loose and fluid' using what is called the 'controlled wash' method , Jack Merriot, who promoted this,  being one of his early influences. To quote him from the Atelier book 'Much of the picture is completed in a single wash, with the addition of one or two additional washes to define forms'. This gives in most of his paintings a very soft look. This does not appeal to everyone. My friend John Softly isn't a great fan of this 'soft' approach. Each to his own as we say.  His methods are detailed in the Atelier book so I won't go into detail just say if you are interested seek out the Atelier book and Ron Ransons 'Watercolour Impressionists' I don't have the latest available book by Hall.& Miles. The others are out of print but searching may find copies in the second- hand market.







    What materials does he use? He likes many of the old papers and built up a stock of several makes. which are probably exhausted by now. Of current papers he likes Arches, Bockingford, Waterford, Fabriano and Two Rivers, usually 140lb stretched to avoid cockling . He will paint very large in the studio- full imperial - in which case he has 300lb paper -from a small outdoor sketch. Brushes are Kolinsky round  sables in sizes 8, 12 and 14. On larger paintings he may use a 'french polishers mop' - presumably Isabey for the initial wash. He also sometimes uses a shaving mop and has an 18mm flat brush for lifting out. A No 4 rigger for fine detail completes the number, although he also uses an old brush to apply masking fluid, used  very sparingly.

    Artists quality paints are his choice, both tubes and pan colours,  Raw Sienna a favourite and also mentions Olive Green, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine, Viridian, Burnt Umber, Venetian Red. Permanent Magenta - a softer colour - has replaced Alazarin Crimson. After trying many different Viridians  he'd found the one by Talens (Rembrandt) 'really good'. I bought the Rembrandt Viridian on this recommendation but couldn't see it was much different to others. Still I'm not Trevor Chamberlain.



    Trevor is a close friend of the artist David Curtis who told him about Craig Young and his hand-made palettes  based on old designs. He purchased the one similar to  the Binning Munro without the flap. I've one of those with the flap and it is still pristine and unused. I can hardly bear to spoil it but as my other two Craig Young palettes are showing the worse for wear will have to bite the bullet shortly.

    I think that's pretty much it. As said enquiries on the internet will bring more information and lots of paintings, and searches amongst  second-hand booksellers may result in copies of the books mentioned. Without a doubt a wonderful artist.



















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    Winsor & Newton have introduced seven new paints which they say act exactly like the Cadmium versions but without the toxicity. They call them 'Cadmium Free' after the names, Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Red etc. In addition three other paints have been introduced Smalt (Dupont's Blue),  Transparent Orange and Quinacridone Violet (PV55).  All these paints are in Series 4 - the most expensive. I have e-mailed W & N to ask for the pigment details and will post their answer (if I get one).



    Smalt was available as part of a special 5ml edition in 2016. Presumably due to demand it is now part of the full range. Here there is a problem, if you like to call it that. The paint is based on PV15 which in my book is Ultramarine Violet so should be called a 'hue'. The true Smalt had a different composition.

    Transparent Orange is shown on the website as Pigment 'DPP' but on the colour chart comes up as PO107. I've never heard of this one and neither has the Pigment Database which ends at PO86. Interesting must be a new one. Quinacridone Violet is PV55, first introduced by Daniel Smith. The pigment database calls it 'Quinacridone Purple' and says 'it is claimed superior to Quinacridone Violet PV19 and close to PV23'. I bought the DS version and eventually discarded it as the paint went solid in the tube.

    Looking at the 'Professional' range in total the number offered is 109, 100 plus in 5ml, 96 in 14ml and 24 in 37ml. There are also 95 in half pans and 72 in full pans. Current W & N prices at Jacksons are (14ml) Series 1 £9.80, Series 2 £11.30, Series 3 £13.10 and Series 4 £15.40! These are stiff and have escalated over the last year, as have many others.

    At the moment my recommendations using my markers of price and quality together  are first choice LUKAS in 24ml which may be too much for some unless you use a lot of paint. An alternative is Sennelier who offer both 10ml and 21ml tubes, while I'm considering giving Shin Han another try. I might also try Turner. The other option is the new Van Gogh range, increased to 72. My main reservation with the Van Gogh is the smallish number of single pigment paints but nevertheless there are some interesting newcomers amongst the range. I realise of course that personal preference plays a large part in choosing what to buy. I think however one should have an open mind as prices  of top ranges are reaching stupid levels for keen amateurs or just hobby painters. Ron Ranson used Cotman and thought the whole thing was a con, while my friend Zvonimir regards it is as ripoff since the pigments in watercolours are the same as in oils and acrylics, which are not as expensive volume for volume. In addition to the above suggestions have a look at house brands like Jacksons, the SAA and Bromleys. In the US all the big dealers offer them and some are very well-regarded.

    I have received the following reply to my queries from Debbie at Winsor & Newton:

    'Since we have developed Cadmium Free colours we cannot give the pigments away for other companies to use. We have spent years perfecting these colours to mimic as close as possible the original Cads and we are protecting our own interests.
    Transparent Orange contains pigments that are not registered with the ASTM this means that the ASTM (the America Society for Testing and Materials) has not given it a C.I. number. D.P.P stands for Diketo-Pyrrolo-Pyrrol. Additional Note: On Jacksons website PO107 is shown on the details for the new Transparent Orange.

    I have to say this concerns me. Since Handprint stopped updating pigment details and testing them I know for a fact some companies are changing pigments without altering the packaging. Others seem less inclined to give details. Most of the makers websites do still give details but it is getting harder to find them.



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  • 03/31/19--23:51: Watercolour Paintings 53
  • Here are this months batch. Varied as usual showing a wide range of styles and subjects. Hopefully there is something for everyone although this is always a tall order to fulfil. Some of the artists are no longer with us, some are already famous and World renowned, some well known and some lesser known or not at all, at least to me. Of course many may  have reputations in their own countries or local reputations where they are based.



    Robin Berry - This is very recent from this fine American artist



    Leilie Abadie - A study in delicacy from this French lady



    Sarah Yeoman



    Vladislav Yeliseyev



    Tim Wilmott



    Yugo Nakayama



    Alvaro Castagnet - The Workshop King, Great Artist.




    Herbert Brocklebank  1892 - 1932 A fine Australian artist



    Sue Van Fleet - Stunning.



    Andy Evansen



    Michiko Taylor




    Ross Paterson - one of the leading Ausrtralians



    Harold Herbert - Very Charles Reid like.



    Lorna Muir 1920 - 1990 - Another  Australian




    Jinnie May



    Erkut Sevin


    Rae Andrews



    John Salminen - Amazing!




    My Mistake! It is Charles Reid- Thanks Ray



    Keiko Tanabe

    Any name corrections or more information on the lesser known artists above welcomed

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  • 04/02/19--03:07: Latest Amerindian
  • My Indian paintings tend not to be very popular.  I post the better ones on Facebook/ Google groups like 'Portraits & Figures in Watercolour' - which I started - and 'Watercolour Addicts' as well as my own Facebook page. When I see the huge number of likes some others get I admit surprise and puzzlement at times but there you are. I'll keep trying. The one below is my latest and I quite like it. Some of my older ones, when I see them now horrify me as they are so bad and they quickly end up in the recycle bin. I'm still, at this late stage, trying for a more consistent result but it remains elusive. 


    Indian Brave - 16" x 12" Waterford High White not

    The overall affect is fairly close to what I was aiming at, although the eyes may be too close together. Resemblance to the guide photo is moderate but I don't aim for a  particularly realistic result. I have learned some lessons over the time I've been painting but it has taken longer than it should have done, partly because I took up watercolour - indeed painting - at a late stage in my life. Still I enjoy it !


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  • 04/08/19--02:22: Beware the Hype!
  • As readers of this blog will know I have something of an axe to grind regarding the very high price of watercolour materials, specifically paints. but also brushes and papers to a lesser degree. What has prompted this piece is the campaign by Daniel Smith (and others) to appoint 'ambassadors'- using well-known artists -  or other titles to promote their products. We get the usual stuff with the designated artist claiming they are the 'best in the world' or the best they have ever used 'etc etc. The latest instance had the artist squealing with delight and receiving posts from followers on her Facebook page congratulating her and 'assuming' she was getting them free.


     I know Daniel Smith watercolour paints are very good but 'best in the world'? They certainly have the largest range at 200 plus and growing. They do include some unique colours. However do  we really need 20 plus or more shades in reds, yellows, blues, browns etc. On my dot cards many seem similar or have only minor differences. Who has a palette with 50 or 60 colours let alone 200. I would guess the average varies from about 12 to 24. Is it really ethical for these successful artists to encourage their followers or students, many of whom will be amateurs or hobby painters, to pay the very high prices charged for Daniel Smith in the UK? The late Ron Ranson told me privately that the whole thing about watercolour materials was a ripoff. Of course he wouldn't say it in print but personally used Cotman paints, less than a dozen, cheap brushes and Bockingford paper. The famous Chinese master Guan Weixing reportedly uses Cotman also. These are approximately one quarter the price of the Winsor & Newton 'Professional' range. There are many who will say this is their preferred paint for this or that reason and personal preference is a factor but the idea that they will help you produce better paintings is debatable. In the case of Daniel Smith the lure of many of these colours is hard to resist. I've fallen for it in the past and bought umpteen which you then struggle to incorporate in your paintings. Other top makes like Schmincke and Winsor & Newton now have over 100 in their ranges and this seems likely to increase. Maimeri have gone from 72 to 90 and even - most intriguing of the lot - Van Gogh a budget make increased recently from 40 to 72.




    Some years ago I did a series of workshops with an artist who used and promoted Daler Rowney watercolours. He didn't''t say they were the best in the world but nevertheless his students took note. One of the participants, who knew him well, said they were provided free. Later this was withdrawn and the next thing was articles appearing in an art magazine promoting another make.

    A few years ago I got into a spat with a well-known artist who was promoting various makes as 'the best in the World.' These included Da Vinci paints and Escoda brushes with the statement that Charles Reid used Escoda. I pointed out that on all the workshops I'd done with Charles Reid he used and recommended Da Vinci Maestro brushes. This was not well received and I got an unpleasant response and subsequently received further vitriol.  Charles was on a workshop in Spain and visited the Escoda factory where he was given the VIP treatment. In my final workshop with him he was using some Escoda brushes and not long afterwards a three brush set  with his name on the handle was introduced. Escoda have done this with several other artists and they are at slightly higher prices than the normal Escoda range, presumably because the artists get some sort of monetary return. John Yardley, who always previously used the Winsor & Newton Series 7 Size 10 brush (at over £100 each) also has a three brush set now from Escoda with his name on the handle. I'd clarify that I've some Escoda brushes. I bought a size 14 Kolinsky after examining one that Charles Reid was using, and have one or two others. They are excellent brushes but smaller size by size than makes like Da Vinci. Best in the World? I think Da Vinci and others would strongly dispute that. Very good certainly but that isn't the same thing. Does a name on the handle make your paintings better?

    I know many artists struggle to make a living from painting alone. This is one reason we have them doing demonstrations, paintings holidays , workshops etc. However the successful artists who promote various products are - presumably-  far from struggling financially.  I am an amateur or hobby painter and the majority who paint are in the same category. Some are reasonably affluent but many are not. Is it really ethical to suggest amateur artists must buy the highest priced artists quality paints? I suggest the answer is no as there are quite a few much more reasonably priced makes that are perfectly adequate. In the case of  'artists quality' Sennelier, Lukas, Rembrandt amongst the European makes, and then you have Shin Han, Mjello and Turner from Korea and Japan.  New ones seem to be appearing regularly which includes house brands, all worth consideration especially for the standard colours. While I have some reservations about some of the Asian makes; if you look at them selectively and avoid certain ones there are many with good single pigments that are worth trying. The ranges are quite large, much more so than the recognised budget or 'student' quality makes. The new Van Gogh  range is worth a try. I've used them in the past and they were perfectly acceptable. With 72 paints (from 40) they have quite a few single pigments and some that haven't appeared previously in budget makes. I would avoid certain blues like Cobalt Blue  and Cerulean as they are combination of Phalo blue and white. I don't like paints with added white as they are  more opaque and , in my experience, tend to solidify in the tube after a relatively short period. The same reservation I make about multiple pigment paints due to the unreliable results  that can occur if used for mixing. One other way of saving money is to buy 5ml or 10ml tubes, where offered, of colours that are not regulars.

    I'm not going to cover brushes or paper in detail as I've done so fairly recently. Naturally I can only do so where I've actually used them myself or looked at what recognised artists use. With paper Bockingford is the  most popular in the UK and there are also some good synthetic papers in the Hannemuhle range. I do agree it is desirable to use a good quality paper. It doesn't have to be hand-made but 100% cotton like Saunders Waterford, although increasingly expensive,  is my favourite in the High White not surface.  As for brushes I believe the standard of synthetic brushes is now very high, and while they may not be exactly like sable they are getting closer all the time. A good compromise are the sable/synthetic brushes readily available from makers such as Rosemary. The best amateur artist I know - semi professional in some respects - used Pro Arte synthetics almost exclusively - seconds at that - but has been impressed by Rosemarys sable/synthetics.

    I have on occasion contacted some manufacturers with specific queries. In the case of Daniel Smith and Maimeri I received no replies, even to a second e-mail to Daniel Smith. Winsor and Newton, to their credit replied promptly and  - while not bending an inch - gave their reasons for not doing so. I disagreed and said so but what can I do? That's it folks.



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  • 05/01/19--01:06: Watercolour Paintings 54
  • For this latest batch I've tried to go a little 'left field' if that is the right expression, at least with a proportion of them. The idea is to represent watercolour in as wide a range as possible. A  lot of these artists are new to me. I never cease to marvel at the incredible artists from China, Taiwan etc.  I hope there is something here for everyone.



    Yong Hong Zhong


    Kazuo Kasai


    Judi Whitton - I enjoyed several workshops with Judi, both at Crantock Bay and Painswick



    Lucia Del - The simplicity of this appeals to me.


     
    Orhan Gurel - Great Artist


    Joanna Boon Thomas


    Marc Taro Holmes



    Elke Memmler


    Gilly Marklew



    Jeanette Clark


    Catherine Rey - I love Catherines work



    Ivars Jansons


    Stephie Butler - trying out a new Daniel Smith colour Wisteria


    Charles Reid - possibly from an old black and white photograph




    Charles Reid again - a sketchbook painting - love it.



    Brian Dickinson- terrific



    Rajkumar Sthabathy



    Donglu Yu



    Ping Long



    Tina Klitgaard Eriksen

    That's it folks!


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    In the past I've collaborated with my friend John, notably on brushes and easels, taking advantage of John's experience and expertise on these subjects. On this occasion his knowledge of the iconic English artist Edward Wesson is unsurpassed so the obvious thing was to get John to write the article.




    Edward Wesson died in September 1983 and yet his popularity is greater now than it was during the years prior to his death. Known primarily as a watercolourist but like many others working in the medium also painted in oils. 

    He was prolific and said that one painting in four was a keeper - the rejects were usually given away to students in his courses and there are art dealers scouring the country in search of these rejects as they are worth their weight in gold - literally.







    Born and in the closing days of the Edwardian era (April 1910) in the London suburb of Blackheath, upon leaving school  he found a job in the textile industry.

    It was after his marriage to Caroline, always referred to as “Dickie”, in 1937,  that Ted became interested in painting and studied the methods of E W Haslehurst and Adrian Hill.

    He served in the Middle East, Sicily and Italy during  World War Two and an encounter with Ascanio Tealdi, a Tuscan oil painter, was responsible for Ted learning to paint in oil. Within three years of being demobbed his oil paintings were being accepted by the Royal Academy. 
    The Academy never accepted any of Ted’s watercolours but the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours did as did the Royal Society of Marine Artists.  









    Ted’s work ethic was amazing and it was recorded that, at on time, he did five watercolours in the forenoon and cut the grass in the afternoon. He painted in the English tradition and had little time for gimmicks. His comment was “Those who can do - those who can’t teach - and those who do neither become critics’.

    The most publicised thing about Ted’s technique was his use of a polishers mop. He found the first one in France and later the  Herring brothers of the  Dorchester art supplier obtained them for him. He used sizes 6, 12 and 15 but I think they were rounds although Ted’s brushes given to Steve Hall by Ted’s daughter, Elizabeth, had a couple of smaller sized squirrels and as we know the sizing of these brushes has never been standardised. In addition I have had a good look at Steve Halls video 'Watercolour Secrets' on the big screen. The brush roll given him by Elizabeth Wesson as being the brushes left in Teds studio, at the time of his death, are dissected by Steve and the numbers I gave 6, 12 and 15, certainly refer to the mops. There doesn't appear to be a round larger than 8 and the mystery brushes are three flats. Ted never mentioned flats in any of his articles, and although they appear pristine they must have been there for a reason. I've always assumed the 'mops' are what are currently known as Isabeys? PGW








    His gear consisted of a Winsor and Newton Perfect Easel, where he complained that the wing nuts used to unscrew and land in the snow or sand, initially a De Wint palette, followed by a Binning Monro and finally a Holbein 1000. They were filled with the following W&N artist tube colours :-
    Raw Sienna, Winsor (or Cadmium) Yellow, Burnt Umber, Light Red, Burnt Sienna, Winsor Blue, Ultramarine Blue and Cobalt Blue.His palette for his pen and ink wash was:- Payne’s Grey, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna. The other colour he used extensively was “filth” which was the amalgamation of all the used colours on his dirty palette.

    The Bockingford paper he used was made especially for him by Reme Green of Barcham Green the surface being rough and the weight 140 pounds and heavier.  According to Ranson he approached Green and asked him to make a heavier weight. The result was the 200lb Bockingford which is popular to this day. John says that this was the rough surface and was the only one made at the time. Now 200lb Bockingford in both rough and not surfaces is readily available and they even make a 250lb weight. PGW







    His method was to place a few pencil dots on the paper for key points and then straight in with the washes. No sketch books or detailed drawings?.
    Ted Wesson traversed the country in his Renault doing courses and demonstrations and was always happy to pass on his knowledge of the medium. He was also an excellent organist and would play church organs in many of the places where he conducted courses.









    A source of income was the London store Liberty’s and Elizabeth Wesson recalls that they would ring up for “ Four more paintings of Tower Bridge or some other location” which Ted would have to do immediately. There were times when Ted would take Elizabeth to London with him and she had to be on her best behaviour as “We would be seeing the Lady from Liberty’s” .

    Ted wrote his autobiography “My Corner of the Field “ in 1982,  a superb book of which he was justly proud. His other foray into journalism were articles for “The Leisure Painter” ( 13 issues) and “The Artist” (18 issues). A couple of these were on oils but they were mainly about watercolour.  There have been 5 biographies written on Edward Wesson, two of them co authored by Steve Hall, who paints in the Wesson style and has done more than anyone else to keep the memory of Edward Wesson alive.
    Had there been APV and Townhouse instructional videos in Ted’s day he would have surely been keen to use the medium as he was one of the best teachers of watercolour the country has produced  







    Wesson was amongst a group of artists commissioned by British Rail to paint posters of specific rail destinations for promotional use and also to be displayed in railway compartments - under the luggage rack. Later the Post Office Savings Bank asked him to do promotional paintings of small obscure Post Offices in the British Isles a task which necessitated travelling to small villages in far flung corners of the country. The Post Office paintings were true watercolours whereas the Railway posters, by necessity, were done in gouache.

    In 1958 “The Wapping Group” invited Ted to join their number and during the summer months he would travel from Guildford to London every week to paint scenes on the River Thames with the group. Due to his workload of courses, lectures and exhibitions his time with the prestigious group only lasted a year but resulted in many marine works.








    On a personal note. Edward Wesson’s paintings have been a source of enjoyment to me over the years and obtaining all the Leisure Painter and Artist articles as well as the six books was a labour of love. Anyone wanting to delve further into Ted Wessons art could do no worse than obtain a copy of 'The Art of Edward Wesson' by Ron Ranson, himself a watercolourist of note, who has written biographies of several artists, all of which are excellent. My thanks to John for producing this superb account of Edward Wesson, without doubt an iconic English artist and -  I believe- a real 'character' in the English sense.




















    This is the East Anglian village where John, resident in Australia, was born.