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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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  • 03/11/18--05:21: INDEX
  • I have just updated the Index. To access it you have to scroll down to JULY 2014. I know this is a bit of a bind but I'm not clever enough to make access any easier, although there have been attempts to help me. If there is an easy way to make it more accessible I'd be delighted to hear.

    There is some good stuff in the back posts, including contributions from John Softly.

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    Some interesting new watercolour papers have recently been offered by Jacksons. Two of those below have been available for a while.  I've not tried them but my interest has recently been aroused.  As I paint mainly on blocks those below are in this category but you can get sheets or pads of some.

    The above is a paper new to me called 'Stonehenge'. I first heard of it when reading that it was now Bev Jozwiaks favourite paper, the hot press. It is available in a variety of sizes and surfaces including cold pressed (not). In my favourite size of 12" x 16" the cost for 15 sheets is £25. Comprehensive information is on the Jacksons website.



    This is the Strathmore 400 series . Strathmore is an American brand very popular over there. A variety of pads are offered, called "Field' spiral, "Softcover" art journal plus a glued pad. Sizes vary. They don't appear to do a 16" x 12" with an 18" x 12" the closest to this size. The blurb states 'wood free, acid free but nothing about it being 100% cotton so I assume it isn't. They do a series 500 in an imperial sheet which is described as 100% cotton for £7 - quite pricy.

    This one - Yupo - has been available for a while and is a controversial paper as it is unlike any other. The surface is white, smooth like glass and hence doesn't absorb the paint which you can move around. Some artists appear sold on it and it would seem it is selling well judging by the range of weights and sizes being offered. The reason I say controversial is that a painting friend described it as an 'abomination'. However that fine artist Stan Miller recently tried it and was quite impressed as it enabled him to loosen up and get effects not available on normal papers. Funnily enough I was looking through some old 2014 copies of the American mag Watercolour Artist and lo and behold a small trial sheet of Yupo was included!  Jacksons offer an 11" x 14" gummed pad of 10 sheets at prices that range from £18.40p for the 200gsm to £33,.0p for the 390gsm. See details on the website. Interestingly enough the SAA (Society of All Artists) in their comprehensive 170 page materials catalogue (Society?) have an 85gsm version in loose sheets A2, A3 and A4 as well as 25  sheet pads in A3 and A4. With the lighter weight the prices are cheaper sheet for sheet. The 25 sheet A3 pad is £22.25p. You are supposed to be a member to get these prices and I can as my AVA group has an associated membership as well as public liability insurance with them. Some prices are listed as 'members only' but many others would seem to be on offer to non members.

    This is a new range called 'Fluid Easy'. It is said to be manufactured in a European mill that dates from 1618 and blocks are glued on two edges. Cold pressed and hot pressed are available in my favourite size of 16" x 12,  15 sheets costing £19.00p. The smallest size is 6' x 8'. There seems to be quite a range offered by Jacksons of this new 'Fluid Easy'.

    I have not tried any of the above yet. The ones that interest me most are Stonehenge and Fluid Easy but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If you are interested look them up on Jacksons where there are many more details than I have given above.

    Looking at prices  Stonehenge is more expensive (per sheet) than my current favourite Waterford High White, while Fluid Easy is slightly less. 

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  • 03/17/18--06:03: Latest Efforts
  • These are my most recent paintings. I've also trashed a couple. My policy now is to destroy any that are going wrong and start again, not in every case as for example I started one of the Nez Perce chief Looking Glass. The drawing was fine but the painting turned out very dull so I trashed it. I may try again but not sure on this one as the guide photo is a very murky one with poor detail. Trying to interpret it proved beyond me.

    I pick photos that appeal to me unless it is an AVA subject, in which case I (mostly) stick to the subject although we are allowed leeway in interpreting the subject. Some subjects are more specific, others less so.


    Hipah - Mohave Woman c 1900.
     One of Edward Curtis photographs, all are black and white.



    Feeding Time.

    I found this one on Pinterest. I like drawing and painting birds and  this little bird had made this amazing nest in an old hanging lamp, with the original glass missing.




    Mainly Red. 

    This was an AVA subject so I looked at red flowers. The one I found was of Dahlias, although the colours were brighter than the above, but I couldn't match them even though I have a lot of reds.  Possibly Vermilion would be more accurate but I don't have that one. The foliage was a very black-brown which also appealed with some subtle green also in the background. I used Perylene Green (Schmincke) a very blackish green, Lunar Black from Daniel Smith. and another darkish green. I also sprayed the background with a very fine mist of water and let the colours mix. Some Molotow masking fluid was used on the flower centres which are Burnt  Umber. The one  I used was Lukas which is a three pigment mix. Why I bought this one I 'm not sure as Burnt Umber is usually a single pigment and this Lukas version is a very dull Brown. I do like Lukas overall and at current prices they are a 'best buy' - not Burnt Umber though!




    King of the Jungle 

    The guide photo really appealed to me and this is the third study of a great ape I've done recently. This guy had a very pensive expression - staring into space. After I finished I kept looking at it and  finally realised the eyes were too human-looking. I then added Transparent Orange (Schmincke PO71) and then a touch of Cadmium Red (PR108).



    Young Amerindian Girl. 15" x 11"





    Cree Chief Big Bear in captivity after the Riel rebellion in 1885 in Canada. The Metis people, mixed race French speaking, rebelled together with some Cree and Assiniboine indians. Louis Riel, the leader, was tried for treason and hanged, leading to deep resentment by the French-speaking population that continues to this day



    All the above are approximately 16" x 12", except for Hipah and the young  girl who are  11" x 15" Khadi.


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  • 03/26/18--02:40: My Paintings
  • Here are my most recent efforts.



    30 x 40cm Cornwall 210lb/450gsm Rough -Spring Flowers

    This was a recent subject at my AVA group. I used Cornwall rough paper which has a very pronounced pattern that not everyone will like. I don't normally use this paper but bought some a while back to try as Yvonne, the best artist in my group, had made complimentary remarks about it. It is slightly unusual as well in being a heavier weight than I normally use. I'm not sure what it is made of but isn't cotton, This is one of the large Hahnemuhle range. Colours used were Rowney Cobalt Magenta (PV14) for the flowers with some Perylene Maroon ( PR179 Rowney or Graham) for the darker areas, I masked the stamens with Pebeo Drawing Gum  using a ruling pen. The greens are Sap Green (Lukas PY153/PG7)), Green-Gold (Rowney PY129 ), Oxide of Chromium (Rowney PG17) and Perylene Green (Schmincke PBr31).  I also used some Lukas Cobalt Violet (PV14) but this is an extremely weak colour of a very pale greyish violet shade. Although I like Lukas generally I'm not impressed with this one. I like Lukas both for quality and price, but avoid this colour and earth shades, like Burnt Umber, where multi-pigment mixes are used.




    Tropical Finch - 9 3/4 x 11 1/2. Not

    This was a subject I did some while back at the AVA but after studying the colourful bird paintings of Gerard Hendriks I had a look at it and decided I would introduce more colour. Initially I Increased the darks on the head and under the beak and strengthened the red colour. I also added the blue, and a touch of Turquoise (Lukas PB16) plus Cerulean (Rownery PB35) on both sides of the bird. I then added more varied colour on the branch he was sitting on.

    I've now collected some bird photographs and intend to paint some more. I need a break from my Indian portraits as I've torn up the last two.


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  • 03/31/18--23:43: Watercolour Paintings 41
  • With the beginning of Spring here is another batch of watercolours from around the World.



    Robert Wade

    The doyen of Australian watercolour artists Bob is also a very nice man. I had contact with him a few years ago via e mail. He well remembered Bristol as his son had been a medical student here.



    Yuko Nagayama

    This lady is an amazing artist. I don't think there is another like her. Her paintings have this wonderful ethereal quality. 



    Bijay Biswaal

    Wow!



    Sarah Yeoman

    Sarah has done several similar paintings. Catches the subject (and turmoil) of birds competing with one another very well. An unusual subject.




    Stan Miller

    This is a good example of Stans portraits. I think this was a demo.



    Amit Kapoor

    Fantastic detail. I imagine this is quite a large painting.



    Aud Rye

    This is so evocative! Mother (or is it father?) and children.



    Vickie Nelson

    Typical of Vickies work. Loose and colourful with just the right amount of detail, mainly the yellow and white Iris slightly left of centre. which attracts the eye.



    Jonathan Kwegyir Aggrey

    Different from much of Jonathans work which often entails large panoramas.




    Nikhil Girl

    A new one to me, almost abstract but set off by the two tiny figures in the centre.



    Gerard Hendriks

    The wonderfully colourful and prolific Gerard. Colour and movement. What more can I say!



    Charles Reid

    This is a typical pose and good example of Charles figure paintings. I've been trying to emulate him for years (with only moderate - if at all - success!) Small areas of detail - large areas of generality.



    Cao bei An

    This fine Chinese artist was featured in Kees van aalst's book 'Realistic Abstracts'. He also has some videos on Youtube, which is a rich source of inspiration and demonstrations for artists.



    Trevor Lingard

    One of the best British watercolour artists of the modern era.



    Robert Brindley

    This almost seems like a pastel but it is said to be watercolour  from this British artist.



    Roberto Zangarelli

    I very much like the work of Roberto and this is a typical example. Three large shapes, the building to the left, the trees on the right and most important the tram at bottom front with it's yellow colour highlight. Look how he creates depth.




    Diann Benoit

    This is a typical Diann  painting from her Monday night class painted from a live model, bold and colourful.


    That's it folks another batch of highly individual paintings which I hope has something for everyone, regardless of taste. My personal preferences  are towards  the looser end of the spectrum but I can - and do - admire other styles, even though I wouldn't want to emulate them even if i was capable of it. Each to h or her is own. What a wonderful and underrated medium watercolour is.



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    This is the latest, and apparently the last book Ann Blockley intends to write. I have her 'Watercolour Textures ' (Collins 2007), which is quite similar except she goes even more abstract in this one. Ann was originally known as a very good flower painter and my sister, who lives not far from her, has two of her flower paintings. They are beautifully done but more realistic, although not botanical or super realistic. The interesting thing is the way she has changed direction, something her famous father the late John Blockley also did. John Blockley was in the same group of British artists as Seago and Wesson and considered an exceptional artist, who painted mainly landscapes and other outdoor subjects, often bleak ones with a predominance of grey and earth colours. Later he changed direction becoming much more colourful and became President of the Pastel Society.  She has also done something similar - although always colourful - in that her style has altered and her subject matter has widened to include landscapes and tree paintings.



    128 pages, approx 9 x 10 inches Batsford 2018. UK £19.99, USA $29.95, Canada $39.95











    Above are typical examples of the projects in the book. The contents have a number of chapter headings as follows: - Getting Started, Flowers and Field, Trees and Hedgerows, Landscape Features and Towards Abstraction. She also covers materials, paints, paper and brushes but also other things like granulation medium, crayons, lead pencil, watercolour pencil, gesso and tissue paper, collage, pieces of card etc - in other words the whole gamut. including techniques and  how to use them. There are a number of projects which are on a step-by-step basis,

    Some of my paintings friends, including Pauline who loaned me the book to review, and has attended her workshops, are ardent Blockley fans. I think her work is very interesting - really pretty amazing actually so this isn't a putdown, but you need to buy into it to benefit from this book. It isn't for the faint hearted or beginners, as achieving this level of expertise and the ability to emulate her work requires really hard graft and determination. Rather like my fascination with Charles Reid, which although nothing like her style and apparently much simpler isn't actually when you get down to it. It's taken me years and I'm still not there although, in each instance, I stress I'm not talking about copying exactly how these artists work but being influenced by it with your own input.

    A nice useful book? Yes with the qualifications I've made.

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  • 04/17/18--04:26: Rosemary & Co

  • Rosemary & Co are one of the leading British brushmakers with probably the largest range, the other specialists being Pro Arte who are major and smaller operations like Luxartis. Pro Arte  are strongly represented in British art shops whereas Rosemary, who is the main brushmaker, sells only by mail order and at Art events. I think there may be one or two smaller operations as well. Of course companies like Winsor & Newton, who are famous for Series 7, and Daler Rowney also offer brushes but where  are they made these days? I believe Rosemary also makes some own label brushes.

    Originally Rosemary and her then husband ran ABS brushes and when they parted she soon started again  as Rosemary & Co. The catalogue was virtually identical but has now been expanded and is very comprehensive with a huge range covering all types of brushes and mediums. She has a large and loyal following of British and overseas artists and works closely with a number in developing brushes.

    The catalogue, approximately 6 1/2 by 9 1/2, has 95 pages in full colour. It offers 18 different types plus travel brushes and some speciality brushes. She also offers two special sets with artists names attached, something I'm not too enthused about. She's also on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube! Brushes within the UK are free postage over £40, otherwise £2 and there are other rates for next day delivery and bulk orders. Current prices overseas are listed on her website. www.rosemaryandco.com






    As you can see the information is extensive and there is much useful stuff about brushes, what they are for and how to maintain them. The catalogue is a mine of information.

     Series 8  Kolinsky were a favourite with many artists but Kolinsky prices are now really only for the very well-healed or top artists. For amateurs to pay these prices, especially with a restricted budget, is difficult to justify. The obvious choice is Red Sable with a Size 8 round £11.59p, compared to £39.95p for  Kolinsky Series 8 round. There may be a difference but  I doubt it would be much to most  artists. She also offers a range of synthetics that are very good.

    I have, in the past, paid a lot of money for brushes but not at the current eye-watering prices. I have enough new ones to keep me going BUT should I have to buy any more (unlikely) I would choose 
    Red Sable blend, a mixture of animal hair and synthetics. This is Series 401/402 in rounds with a Size 8 costing £6.90p to £7.30p! Rounds, Daggers , Riggers, Sword Liners and One Stroke are also offered in this blend. 

    The best artist in my Avon valley Artists group is Yvonne Harry, who mainly paints flowers, and can compare with most professionals. She mostly used Pro Arte synthetics , often purchased as seconds at art events, but was persuaded to try Jacksons own label sables (made by Rosemary?). She didn't like them saying she found them too soft. However recently she tried the Rosemary 401 series  and has really taken to them. Although this is fairly recent she likes the better stiffness  with the mixed blend and also likes the way they point well. Should I have to buy any more brushes they would be my choice.












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  • 05/01/18--02:24: Watercolour Paintings 42
  • Here are the latest batch for May.



    Robert Wade by Cheng Chung Wei - Inspired by Charles Reids style - so says the caption. Love the painting.



    Judith Farnsworth



    Viktoria Prischedko

    Viktoria has her first UK workshop at Sidmouth, Devon in early May.


    Gerard Hendriks

    Enough said. How versatile is Gerard!


    Ben Gassenbauer




    Ektarina Savo



    Maksym Kisilov


    Aynur Akalin


    Jung-Hun-Sung


    Amit Kapoor



     Rachel Toll

    This young British artist has a very interesting website.



    Yuko Nagayama

    Fabulous detail and looseness plus colour combined brilliantly by this wonderful Japanese artist.



    Surentsetseg Munkhbaatar

    Fabulous Mongolian artist. What a name though!



    Tiejum Chao




    Sunhee Kim (think this is correct?)



    Anna Razumovskaya

    Another find! One of many in this batch. Look at her other work which is easily 'googled'.



    Another from Rachel Toll. -  See above.



    Migull Linares Rios



    Konstantin Sterkov

    A well known Russian artist.



    Fikret Tunah



    Roberto Zangarelli

    Another well-known artist look at his website for more excellent paintings.

    What I try to do is give a wide range of different types of painting in watercolour to show the diversity and possibilities in this underrated medium. I think the above selection succeeds in doing this. Many of these artists are new to me and show how watercolour spans the World. Enlarge the ones that appeal to you, as not all will with personal preference, and give them careful study. If I have made any mistakes in the naming please feel free to correct me.

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  • 05/05/18--04:53: My Most Recent Work
  • Here are my latest efforts. I don't post them as good work, just what I've been getting up to lately. I have mixed feelings about much of my recent work, possibly  (another) bout of self-doubt but I'll keep trying! I have scrapped a couple as well.



    A Female Goldcrest
     - Approx. 9" x 12"


     2nd Attempt at the Goldcrest as I felt I overworked the first.



    This was an attempt at an abstract portrait with glances towards Agnes- Cecille's work.  16" x 12"



    Goldfinch - approx. 9" x 12" I like this one. It's more towards where I want to be (with acknowledgement to Gerard Hendriks)



    A Dipper. 9" x 12" mixed feelings about this one.




    This was an AVA Thursday subject "Summer Landscape" 20" x 14" Lanaquarelle Not



    A Blackfoot Indian - 16" x 12" 



    Another AVA subject - " Seed x Heads" 16" x 12"




    Second Attempt at this one 16" x 12". It was an AVA subject , something to do with Flowers.




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  • 05/08/18--01:29: Watercolor Artist
  • This bi-monthly American magazine recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary. It was originally launched under the name  'Watercolor Magic'. This is one of only two magazines devoted to watercolour. The other is the glossy and expensive 'The Art of Watercolour'.  I have written before about this latter one and have nothing to add. This is not to say 'Watercolor Artist' is cheap. It isn't for us UK artists due to the premium we have to pay. With the magazine is a small pre-paid card, obviously intended for American readers but it does say for International orders add $10. This still makes it quite a bit less than  the £17.71p, which includes postage, we pay for three issues. In the UK I subscribe to it through Newstand via the internet.  I did have it  for a few months in 2014 but for some reason didn't continue. IF UK artists purchase direct the cost is $47.97 for two years, including the extra $10 for International purchases. This shows a substantial saving. I am tempted to try. 



    I subscribed to 'The Artist' magazine for some years. Previously I also bought 'Leisure Painter' from the same publisher. 'Leisure painter' is aimed at the beginner and intermediate artist. Recently I decided to discontinue 'The Artist' as I have found less and less of interest, as it covers all media. My feeling about it was that it was mainly repeating itself year after year, and the rich World of watercolour outside the UK barely if ever features, I know this is partly a language problem but even Continental watercolour artists, many of whom ate fluent in English, don't get a mention. 

    The latest issue of Watercolour Artist has 72 pages and features several artists, most of whom are new to me, but this isn't always the case with top artists  like Bez Jozwiak, Fealing Lin and Ted Nuttall featured in other issues. Topics include painting Earth, Sea and Sky, Flowers, and the 9th Annual Watermedia Showcase.

    Is it worth buying? Obviously yes for American watercolour artists. In the UK the price is high but on balance I think, if you are a watercolour enthusiast, just about unless price is an issue.

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  • 06/02/18--04:33: Watercolour Paintings 43
  • For June here are the latest batch of watercolours. I've been on holiday recently so haven't been able to 'collect' as many as usual. It depends on what you prefer but there is some lovely work here.



    ? Not sure who the artist is? It isn't Gerard (I don't think) although similar in many respects. In any event I love it! OF COURSE BEV JOZWIAK!



    Woon Lam Ng



    Stan Miller

    This is on Yupo paper, which Stan has been experimenting on. No drawing (I think) and he feels it has enabled him, a very precise although not super realistic painter,  to 'loosen up'. Yupo with it's shiny, smooth surface is certainly unusual. I have a small sheet supplied with a copy of 'Watercolor Artist' but haven't yet plucked up the courage to try it!



    Trevor Lingard

    The ever reliable Trevor


    Robert Brindley



    N B Gurung

    The brilliant  Nepalese artist, again much is to be found about him if you look




    Roberty Wade

    The guru of Australian watercolour artists. One of his older paintings this is Cape Canaveral.


     Gerard Hendrike

    I have to include Gerard, one of my favourite artists and great person.



    Edward Seago

    Seago, although shunned by the art establishment,  despite being a close  friend of the Royal family,  was - and still is - one of the most influential British artists. Although he painted many watercolours like the above oils were his first love. Look at how he portrays this scene with such simplification.





    N B Gurung by a Chinese Artist - I've put this in because I love the way it has been painted. Many of these Chinese artists are just breathtaking.



    Roland Hilder
    A legendary British artist from the Seago era.



    Chien ching-wei

    This guy is a fabulous artist. Googling him will produce a lot more of his work.



    Abhijeet Bahadure

    Woon Lam Ng



    Oscar Quadros from Peru

    That's it then folks hope you like them.



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  • 06/08/18--04:40: My Latest Efforts
  • These are my most recent paintings - the usual mixture.


    Young Amerindian Girl c 1900 11" x 15"


    Amerindian Warrior C1880s (?) 15" x 11"



    Chaffinch - 9 " x 12" Fluid Watercolour Paper not surface.

    This new paper is okay but nothing special. It is reasonably cheap though so I would say similar to Bockingford. Claimed to be sourced from an 'old' European Mill. I am also about to try Stonehenge from Legion, an American paper getting rave reviews over there. I've yet to try the 16" x 12" not block I've purchased but I gave Yvonne Harry, the top artisl in my Avon Valley Group, a test sample and she wasn't particularly impressed feeling it was nothing special. She still favours Fabriano Artistico Extra White, apart from the fact the blocks fall apart. I also like Fabriano but the blocks do fall apart and I prefer the 16" x 12" format of Waterford rather than the 18' x 12' that Fabriano offers.



    A Work in Progress - The New Zealand Kakapo, a flightless parrot,  an iconic bird. Only 130 or so  remain and a massive conservation effort is in progress to increase the numbers and protect them - by placing them on predator-free islands - the predators being introduced stoats and rats, which have decimated them and other flightless birds. Some of the original types were huge and were eliminated completely by that other predator the human, mainly sailors who killed them to eat. The human race has a lot to answer for in respect of the natural environment.

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    The New Zealand Kakapo, the last survivor of a number of New Zealand flightless species of bird, has fascinated me ever since I saw a BBC wildlife programme.



    The Kakapo - 11" x 15" Khadi

    I've been fascinated with this flightless parrot ever since it was featured on a David Attenborough BBC wildlife programme. There were a whole range of these flightless birds, some were very large and were killed off in the 17th and 18th centuries, mostly  by human predators for meat, while introduced predators, rats, stoats, etc decimated the smaller birds like the Kakapo who had no defence against them. All that exist now are museum specimens. The Kakapo is quite large but of course the chicks were very vulnerable to rats and the adults to stoats

    In the Attenborough programme this solitary male trudged, every night, to the top of a mountain and sent his booming calls - designed to attract a mate - across the valleys. No response and at the time it was thought extinction beckoned. However at the eleventh hour a considerable conservation programme was launched and there are now over 130 - still very few - with small breeding colonies established on a few predator free islands. On some of the islands the predators had to be eliminated first. This is an iconic bird in New Zealand and is about the size of a chicken.

    The painting above is my attempt to portray the Kakapo, which is a sort of moss green colour with brown markings, is nocturnal and is a pure vegetarian. They live to an average of 58 years with some lasting up tp 90, but are slow breeders and have 1 - 4 chicks, but not every year. Birds mature slowly. They are solitary, the males and females only meet to mate and the female is solely responsible for raining the chicks. Look them up on Google if you are interested.

    The colours I used are various greens - Sap Green from Lukas a major one - plus Translucent Brown  from Schmincke ( now called Transparent Brown I think ). Green-Gold from Rowney also featured and some Cerulean Blue.Small touches of others.

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  • 06/25/18--04:57: A Deadly Hunter
  • This subject was brought to my mind after watching the latest BBC Springwatch programmes. In more than one programme - they run for several days consecutively - a weasel was shown taking young birds from nests, close to the ground it has to be said. Two nests near to each other were predated including one of Yellowhammers, sadly becoming quite a scarce bird. Of course this is nature and the weasel probably had young to feed - they are carnivores after all. I found an interesting photograph- two actually that I combined - and this is the result.



    A Deadly Hunter - 16" x 12" Waterford High White 140lb (300gsm) not.

    My aim with this painting, and indeed generally, is to have small areas of detail and large areas of generality. This is what Charles Reid teaches. Not as easy as it sounds and the tendency is, especially when painting from photographs, which is what I do, to become tighter. I think I've probably (mostly) achieved this with more recent paintings other than Portraits.

    Colours were a variety of greens - Sap Green from Lukas, Green-Gold from Rowney plus Oxide of Chromium, with Transparent Brown (Schmincke), Raw Sienna, Quinacridone Gold (Daniel Smith) plus some Cerulean and Ultramarine Blue. Ultramarine Violet also features and Cobalt Violet. For the latter I used Lukas but this paint if greyish and very weak. There are other Cobalt Violets that I think are better, some more reddish.


    I'm happy with the above as I achieved what I set out to do.




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    My recent painting of a Kakapo was quite pleasing to me as it gave a quite good representation of the bird. I did however photograph an earlier stage thinking I might post that also as part of the piece. In the end I didn't but looking at it again I wondered whether this lesser depiction was indeed better (as a painting) or not. In my opinion the biggest mistake in watercolour painting is over elaboration and too much detail. Yes I know there are some fabulous paintings by great artists that follow this route  but , while I can admire them, it isn't my way.


    The Kakapo - Unfinished stage.

    It's all a matter of opinion but I rather like this unfinished work. Charles Reid says you shouldn't overfinish a painting and when you get to the stage of wondering what to do next - stop!



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  • 07/02/18--03:46: Watercolour Paintings 44
  • Here are the latest batch of paintings for July. I have tried to mix them up a little more so hopefully there will br something for everyone. They are a mix of the famous and less well-known. I have included two from some artists.



    Slawa Prischedko - What a wonderful artist as is his wife Viktoria. 



    Tapan Roy


    Sarah Yeomans


    Heidi Lots


    Bijay Biswaal


    Michele Clamp


    Another from Slawa Prischedko


    Stephie Butler


    Janet Rogers (?)




    Gerard Hendriks


    Alvaro Castagnet


    Yuko Nagayama



    Anne Blockley.

    Ann, the daughter of the late John Blockley, has written several books and also produced videos so if you are attracted to her paintings  you can follow this up.



    Stephie Butler  - What a delicate touch!


     

    Aine Devine

    This Scottish artist produces amazing work.
    Shirley Trevena


    Another from Shirley Trevena

    Shirley, like Anne Blockley, a top British artist has written at least two books and also has videos so you can follow this up if you are interested. Fabulous work although very difficult to emulate.


    Bev Jozwiak - An unusual subject for Bev but love this.



    Dusan Djukaric


    Carlos Leon Salazar


    Robert Zangarelli

     

    Another from Dusan Djukaric


    Mohammad Reza

    That's it folks hope you enjoy!


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  • 07/20/18--02:34: Latest Works
  • Here are my latest paintings, mostly done at AVA Thursday sessions, although in some instances the drawings were completed the previous day in my home 'studio'. All are around 16" x 12" or A3 with some slightly smaller.


    General George Crook - The Famous Indian Fighter

    This is a modification of the painting posted on Facebook. I decided it was too plain so added the blue to his uniform.


    'Breakfast'

    This one of a Thrush was changed slightly as I felt I'd made the body too fat so added the dark colour Turquoise on the left over the original so reducing the body width. Possibly the blackish green Perylene Green (Schmincke) would have been better.


    A Young Amerindian Woman

    In this instance the guide photo, as they tend to be, was black and white. and the only discernible detail was that I've shown. The rest was dark so after looking at how a variety of artists treat portraits adopted a minimalist approach. I like it but many may not.



    Bird & Blossoms.

    This is actually smaller- about 12" x 9"



    "Harmony'

    I liked the contrast between the dark of the birds and the white flowers.



    'In a Rush'

    This male Grebe was travelling at speed across the water and I tried to recreate this in the painting.






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  • 08/01/18--04:46: Watercolour Paintings 45
  • Here are Augusts batch. I have again tried to mix them up with a wide variety showing the versatility of watercolour. I hope you all agree. I have included a couple of abstracts.  Some of the artists are unknown to me but they just keep coming




    Liam Cheng Wu

    A terrific Chinese artist who paints a wide range of subjects.


    Yvonne Harry

    Yvonne is the leader of my group Avon Valley Artists. She is not a professional artist, although she holds a major  annual exhibition at Wells Cathedral. In my (and others ) view she is  equally as good, if not better, than many professionals in her major mode as a flower painter.  Compare this with the one above.




    Hiew Yin-Yui





    Gerard Hendriks

    Gerard has turned his talents to other subjects recently and his boat studies have the usual dynamic colours and sense of movement that is displayed in other subjects such as birds and animals..




    Mika Toronen




    Adrian Homersham



    Stan Miller -enough said!


    Ewa Ludwiczak





    Morten Solberg Snr.

    Great American artist of outdoor scenes usually the small areas of detail nvolving animals, although they aren't usually a major party of the painting.







    Yuko Nagayama
    The brilliant Japanese artist




    Gang Liang
    I love the simplicity of this,



    Charles Reid

    This is a typical CR painting where he combines flowers with other objects.




    Gerard Hendrik

    Another boat painting from Gerard - contrast this with the previous one. Slightly more subdued.

    Frank Eber
    Terrific artist, American I think.



    Fealing Lin
    Wonderful Chinese -American artist.



    Gerard Hendriks

    I may be slightly overindulgent here but there is a lot to be learned from Gerards work if you buy into it - and many do.




    Robert Wade

    The great Australian artist. This is one of his older works. I haven't seen anything recently from him and he is tending to display his back catalogue He's 88 today.





    Eric Mishima
    I don't know anything about this artist but this is an amazing watercolour.




    Winslow Homer
    The great American artist.


    Robert Ferguson
    A typical English landscape in the style of Seago/Wesson.


    Dusan Djukaric
    Another superb artist from Eastern Europe.





    Pavel Pugachev




    Pol Ledent




    Mary Whyte
    Fabulous American artist




    Bev Jozwiak
    Anothrr fabulous American artist.






















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  • 08/07/18--07:26: Watercolour Magazines
  • I currently subscribe to the Watercolour Artist magazine and recently bought the latest quarterly edition of The Art of Watercolour. I'll explain why later




    I had a short spell subscribing to this monthly magazine in 2014.  and have recently renewed. My main gripe is we have to pay such a premium in the UK to get it.  I get it from an online company. However each issue usually has a pre-paid card  to subscribe direct. I won't go into details but it is much cheaper in the USA - I paid £4.25p plus postage - about half.  Compared to The Art of Watercolour it is a smaller magazine of 72 pages with usually 6 articles and a number of columns. Artists like Ted Nugent and Fealing Lin have been featured in the past. Worth buying yes apart from the UK premium.




    This is a glossy high quality production of 98 pages and is larger than the one above. When it was originally introduced I wrote a less than complimentary review of it. This provoked an anonymous post from some brave person who called me a moron. I had my suspicions it was a fairly high profile artist with whom I'd had a run in when he said Charles Reid recommended Escoda brushes. I pointed out I'd done several courses with CR and he always recommended DaVinci brushes. This didn't go down very well. Enough of that the reason I bought this copy, the 31st issue, was that Genevieve Buchanan a lovely lady I met on at least two Charles Reid workshops was featured. Genevieve has done lots more CR workshops than my five and also many others with artists like Alvaro Castagnet. It's obviously paid off.

    I saw an advert for this issue, which a local newsagent stocks,  they usually only have two or three at most. I think it cost me £6.25p which not much dearer than Watercolour Artist given there is no postage involved. To be blunt is is a cut above but I had one other reason for my previous criticism and that was the elitist bent of the magazine. It seems mainly aimed at the higher levels of watercolour artists and if anyone disputes this then why run articles, at least one, with the theme of 'how to join the inner circle of watercolour artists'.  As one might judge from that I'm very much against elitism.

    Genevieve piece is based on her flower painting, although she does other subjects. I cannot really recall how she painted when we did the CR workshops together. Her style now is exceedingly loose and I have mixed feelings. I try to follow Charles Reid's mantra, with mixed success, of 'small areas of detail , large areas of generality'. To my eyes what is missing here are the small areas of detail. However who  I am, a struggling hobbyist, to say when she gets in this elite magazine and I get ......... Just kidding I know my limitations!

    When I first started painting I bought Leisure Painter and The Artist magazines. Leisure Painter is very good for beginners. I recently discontinued The Artist as it seems to me to be in a rut and has very little on watercolour, certainly next to nothing on the amazing artists out there from other countries and continents. Perhaps I've just become more cynical as I'm now well into old age and realise it's a case of not falling off the perch rather than improving much. I asked a painter friend of mine, sadly now deceased, at what stage one stopped  improving. His reply was it wasn't a case of improving but trying stop the rot.


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  • 08/13/18--08:28: New Products
  • I have recently been on holiday at Sidmouth on the Devon coast.  Sidmouth is a mecca for artists  and group called East Devon Art Centre or similar have been running workshops this year, of varying lengths, including such fine artists as Stephie Butler AND the amazing Viktoria Prischedko. originally from Moldavia but now living I believe in Germany.  There is a nice art shop there called South West Art. As a serial impulse buyer I can't pass them by so went in (twice) for a peruse. I finished spending just over £17, not much considering what art products cost, especially for watercolour so here  we go.




    The Maskaway, Twist Grip Large Fan and the Pebeo dtawing gum "High Precision Masking Marker". 

    Actually I bought the Pebeo in Minerva in Bath but have included it here. The Maskaway from Frisk is a square piece of hardfoam-like material for removing masking fluid. I've tried it once and it works fine so far. The blurb says it is easily cleaned and can be cut to shape for more detailed erasing.  `it can also be used to remove a wide range of sticky marks including adhesive tape, and cleans dirty paper or after using Tracedown". This cost £5,25p.

    The brush is called a 'Twist -Grip' and this one is a large fan. There was quite a large range mostly rounds, and prices were pretty cheap this being less than £5. I've used it a couple of times and quite like it. Well-made. 

    The Pebeo marker is similar to the one recently introduced by Molotow. I bought both the Molotow markers and one is already unusable. When I saw the similar Pebeo one I decided to try it also. There are two sizes 04 and 07. Larger then the Molotow which is 02 and 04. It's early days but already I prefer the Pebeo. I believe you can buy new heads. They are of a soft/hard material and you press down on them to release the fluid.but eventually, as happened with the Molotow, clog up. Maybe my technique is faulty so if you use masking fluid give them a try.




    Catalyst By Princeton.

    Princeton are an American brush maker and these 'things' are made in China.

    When I was in the shop I saw this collection of strange looking brush-like tools and was intrigued by them. That shown, 12 inches in length, was the smallest and cheapest, most were much bigger with heads up to two inches across.!  Exactly what you are supposed to do with them I'm not sure but they are obviously designed for special effects. Whether that included watercolour I'm unsure and foolishly I didn't ask the young lady in the shop about them. Special effects seem to be all the rage at the moment and all sorts of special brushes and other things are being promoted in this field. I've played around with it a little using thick paint and it may be useful - we shall see.


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    I have written previously on the above subject of  painting on a budget and due to the escalation of prices propose to revisit . First a qualification. The above title suggests  this is about the 'Best'. It isn't but instead about what I consider  'best buys' , combining price and quality. This isn't the same thing. Watercolour artists get ripped off  (in my opinion), especially in paints but also to a lesser extent in brushes and paper.  Professional artists nearly all recommend you buy 'the best quality products'. Some, not all, promote various brands, some telling you they are the 'best in the World' either being paid by the respective companies or supplied with product free for doing so or very cheap prices. I'm not saying all artists take this line but some undoubtedly do. The only one I know of that was very cynical about this was the late Ron Ranson, who used the cheapest materials in all three categories. I know of one artist who promoted a particular brand of paint then switched to another when the deal was withdrawn. Each was 'the best'. Enough of that now to a summary. These are only my opinions so you can take what you want from them or ignore them. There are a huge range of brands available in all these products so there may well be others I've missed , especially in the USA and other countries but my perspective is primarily a UK one. Daler Rowney, until recently a 'best buy'; have increased prices to the extent I've dropped them.  I would stress I am very flexible in buying paints taking the view nearly all artists quality brands are acceptable subject to personal preference.
    Here prices of artist quality paints are horrendous. At the top end we have Daniel Smith, QoR and one or two lesser known. For the purpose of this exercise I have also discounted brands like Winsor & Newton at current prices. However look out for special offers and you may find them cheaper at some other outlets. I am only talking about what is currentlyon offer from Jacksons - a good benchmark. There are certain colours in these top brands that are 'must have' to some artists' Fair enough. Another might be Permanent Rose from Winsor & Newton (PV19). There are lots of paints made with PV19 but the Winsor & Newton one is a favourite of many flower painters.
    The following are my recommendations as things stand. I'm in a slight state of flux at the moment as what to buy so put these forward for consideration. Schmincke are a good buy IF you are comparing them with brands like Daniel Smith. The range is extensive with over 100 colours and prices are cheaper than Daniel Smith .You have to watch though in what price category each paint is listed as there is no industry standard. Schmincke don't have a lot in category one - the cheapest. They also do a 5ml in addition to the 15ml plus half and full pans.
    Another to look at is Talens (Rembrandt). They mainly do a 5ml tube but also a few colours in 21ml. Prices are pretty keen and if you only use a small amount of a certain colour I recommend  the 5ml size.
    For bulk users the best buy is Lukas with a range of 70 colours, a few outstanding. They don't match the range of the others but all the standard colours are there. The problem may be they offer a 24ml tube size plus pans. This may be too large unless you paint a lot. Keep in mind though paints should last ten years or so, according to the chief chemist at Daler Rowney. However I have found that quite a few colours (pigments) solidify in the tube after much shorter periods, and that includes some from Daniel Smith. I know we are told to cut open the tubes and they can be utilised like pans but to me that's a pain! Lukas prices are excellent.
    Another brand well worth consideration is Sennelier. With nearly 100 colours they also do 21ml (the best buy), 10ml plus full and half pans. Prices are a little more than Lukas but still well short of Daniel Smith.
    There  are two other groups of paints outside of the main European and American brands - I would include Holbein here also. They are the Korean brands, Mission Gold and Shin Han plus the Japanese Turner. Prices are really cheap compared to the others - almost too good to be true. I have written extensively about them in my back catalogue so read it and make your mind up. I am minded to try a few colours in some of these brands but be selective. I did try Shin Han a few years ago and was not impressed but the current range may be different.
    We then have the house brands which are growing all the time. They tend to have fewer colours, often less than fifty but claim to be 'artists quality'.  Jacksons, which used to be made by Sennelier (they may still be); is one with 48 colours and new ones seem to pop up regularly. All the major companies now seem to have them both here and in America. Try a few colours by all means and you may be pleasantly surprised. The SAA have a growing range.
    Finally as I said at the beginning it's possible deals may be available at local shops that are normally more expensive. For instance I called in at Cass Art in Bristol the other day  and two shops from them is an outfit called Stationery World or similar. That shop has been there many years and I spotted some art materials in the window. On going inside I was surprised to see a full range of Maimeri watercolours together with the budget Venezia range, Prices were better than current Jacksons on the Maimeri and  Maimeris  excellent budget brand is normally hard to find. There is also the Cotman brand from Winsor & Newton together with the excellent Talens budget brand  Van Gogh if you are really strapped for cash - and many amateurs are. Thats it folks take your choice. For overseas visitors outside the EU Jacksons prices are less 20% VAT so even with carriage at cost only you may be pleasantly surprised how competitive they are.




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  • 09/01/18--02:25: Watercolour Paintings 46
  • Here are the latest batch to start off September. As usual they are a mixture to show the variety and versatility of watercolour with a little personal bias towards artists I  particularly like.


    The wonderful Shirley Trevena. I have her first book and video, but to try and emulate her is not for the faint hearted!



    Edo Hannema - superb landscapes



    Janet Rogers - The excellent American artist 



    Sir William Russel Flint - a legendary artist from the earlier era



    Virgil Akins

    Virgil has succeeded in developing his own unique style.




    John Singer Sarjeant - enough said!




    Jonathan Kwegyir  Aggrey



    Bev Jozwiak.

    The ever creative Bev is doing some painting on Yupo paper



    Trevor Lingard




    Robert Ferguson



    Jonathan Kwegyir Aggrey - I should have known!!!




    Gerard Hendriks - one of a series of boat paintings




    Karl Martens.
    I recently came across this interesting artists who specialises in birds. His paintings are actually quite large.




    Yuko Nagayama.

    Unusual subject of a portrait for Yuko but brilliant as usual. Eat your heart out Ward!




    Another from Shirley Trevena



    Janine Gallizia.

    Her paintings have this amazing ethereal look. I believe she's one of the founders of "The Art of Watercolour' magazine.



    Jean Haines

    Very loose - maybe just a tad too loose - only my opinion.




    Joseph Zbukvic  - the well-known Australian Artist.





    That's it folks. Hope you like them.




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    Having covered paints I now come to brushes and paper, brushes being the first topic. 



    From left to right: Robert Wade Signature Neef, Rosemary 401, Luxartis Kolinsky, Escoda Kolinsky, Da Vinci Casaneo, Cosmotop 5530 Mix-B, SAA Kolinsky

    Of the above brushes Nos 1,2, 5 and 6 are not pure sable being various mixtures of either synthetic or natural hairs and synthetic.  The others are Labelled Kolinsky sables but here - while I am not suggesting that these brushes are not - I would refer you to the article/post I did on this subject.  See the Index in June 2014. It should be said before I go on that many famous artists use all sorts of brushes, often cheaper ones or good quality synthetics. The hand that wields the brush....

    Sable brushes labelled 'Kolinsky' or even 'Red Sable' are incredibly expensive once you get past size 4.  It used to be after size 8 but prices now reach the stratosphere from 8 onwards. Even size 6 is expensive. However my suggestion, and it is only that, if you must have sables for detail buy either a 4,6 (or smaller) or both.

    There are some excellent synthetic hair brushes on the market and the latest ones claim to emulate sable. This has been going on for years and John Yardley wrote that he'd been supplied synthetic brushes claiming to be similar to sable on numerous occasions and he considered the claims - after trying them - unfounded. However things move on. The best artist in my AVA group has always used Pro Arte Prolene brushes - usually seconds - but has now switched to Rosemary Series 401, a red sable blend, and is delighted with them, They give her the stiffness she likes but also hold more water than pure synthetic. The big thing about these blends is they are cheap the Rosemary 401 Size 8 is only £7.30p. How long they retain there points I don't yet know but then many highly rated sables aren't perfect in this respect.

    What is available? Quite a lot actually so it is a question of trying some and deciding if they suit your purposes. My first picks are the Rosemary 400 series, with a large range of sizes and types. For overseas readers she exports World Wide and has an excellent catalogue - see my recent feature . The 400 series are red sable and synthetic blended together. Next - equally so - is the well-regarded Da Vinci Cosmotop Mix B  which is a mixture of  red sable, Russian blue squirrel and Russian Fitch (black sable) with small amounts of synthetic. Artists like Viktoria Prischedko  and Piet Lap use these brushes, available in a range of types and sizes.  Sable/synthetic mixes are also offered by Pro Arte, Winsor & Newton, Daler Rowney, Jacksons, the SAA and others. There is plenty of choice.  Both Princeton and Escoda are promoting their latest  brushes as 'Kolinsky Synthetics', claiming they emulate sable. They may well do but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Da Vinci have introduced a new range called 'Casaneo' in a variety of types and sizes claiming - once again - they emulate sable. We are spoiled for choice bewildering isn't it? The thing is though that all the above come in at prices that are a fraction of  sable prices, although there are cheap sable brushes on the market, perhaps best avoided.

    As well as the brushes in the above photograph I have several other Kolinsky sables from makers like Da Vinci, many bought a while back at less than the current eye watering figures. My current main brushes are Isabey Kolinskys 6228 so I don't need to buy any more as they should last unless I live to well over 100!  Perhaps a slight exaggeration! That assumes I'd still be painting then. If I were to buy more it would be Rosemary 401 or Cosmotop 5530 .

    I have much less to say about papers. There are lots available ranging from hand made and machine made cotton mixes to the cheaper papers, usually of synthetic mixes or 'high grade' wood pulp (Bockingford).  Some mix the two half and half, There are a few other types but the above is the mainstream. 

    Bockingford has long been the choice of many amateurs in the UK while both Hahnemuhle ( Britannia and Cornwall) and Fabriano do cheaper papers that are decent. Another possibility is the Indian Khadi range of cotton papers at very reasonable prices in a large range of sizes and weights. Worth a try. Not everyone likes them  as they could be described as 'slightly rough' , but I do. I'm sure there are others I don't know or have  experience with.

    Personally my favourite paper is Saunders Waterford High White in 16" x 12" blocks. Current price is £32 which is stiffish. You can get this paper in sheets which works out cheaper but my problem is a full sheet cuts into four 15" x 11" and I prefer the 16" x 12". I'm trying the Stonehenge Aqua cold press paper at the moment and it seems to me similar to the Waterford but works out slightly more expensive as the block has only 15 sheets. Fabriano Artistico Extra White is good but here I have size problems as they do an 18" x 12" block. In respect of the blocks the Waterford is very well made and holds together right until the final sheet whereas both the Fabriano and Stonehenge soon start falling apart. As far as paper is concerned some famous artists say that the one thing you shouldn't economise on is paper. I leave you with that thought.

    Added: Zvonimir has pointed out that Arches and Khadi are hard papers that wear out sable brushes. I'm sure he is right and further states that's it's more sensible to use synthetics on hard papers. sables are better on softer papers with not or smooth surfaces.  He also says that it is better to use quality papers at lower weights ie 90lb than heavier synthetic papers. I've done this and it works unless you use heavy washes in which case you get severe buckling. You can stretch of course although I've done it successfully and it is a bit of a chore. I stopped when Robert Wade said he couldn't be bothered to stretch as he hadn't time!


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  • 09/14/18--03:58: Latest Paintings
  • Here are my latest efforts, mainly at AVA Thursday meetings, although I frequently do the drawing the previous day. I find this often works best rather than drawing and painting in one session.



    Young Indian Woman 16" x 11" watercolour




    Jenny Wren 16" x 11" watercolour




    Molly Spotted Elk - Penobscot Tribe 1903 15" x 11"



    Busy Bee (Wasp Actually) 15" x 11"


    Satanta - Kiowa Chief. Stonehenge Aqua not. Likeness not good. 16" x 12"



    Exotic Bird (species unknown to me) 12" x 9"


    Scottish Crossbill 12" x 9" Fluid Paper


    Red Cardinal. 12" 9" Fluid Paper



    Wild Flower Medley - 16" 12" 



    Another Flower Painting 16" x 12"

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  • 09/17/18--03:02: Another Batch
  • Here are more of  my recent paintings - I usually average two per week - again I'm not suggesting they are good just my work. I tend to post initially on my Facebook page and also on the group Watercolour Addicts. I recommend Watercolour Addicts as a  source of generally  good paintings - many much better than mine. I tend to get fairly low marks regarding 'likes' with others in the dozens and even hundreds. Still I keep on trying!



    Deadly Hunter 16" x 12"
    I was quite pleased with this but it didn't receive many likes when I posted it.



    Stone Chat 16" 12"
    I liked the simplicity of this one.




    Grey Wagtail 12" x 9" Fluid




    Mother and son 16" x 12"



    Yellow Iris 16" x 12'
    Flowers for a change


    Another Deadly Hunter 16" x 12"
    The eyes are not quite right. I keep thinking I may try and alter them. It can be done if you are careful.




    Crested Tit - 12" x 9" Fluid