It wasn’t until he was 37 years old did Winslow Homer apply himself to watercolours a medium of which he later remarked “You will see, in the future I will live by my watercolours”.
His mother Henrietta Benson Homer, herself a talented artist, obviously nurtured the young Winslow in drawing and the arts and he was sufficiently proficient to be employed by John Bufford and Sons in their lithography workshop as an illustrator. His first work there was illustrating sheet music covers.
Moved to New York in 1859, continues free lance work until 1862 when he was with the Union Army in Virginia illustrating the Civil War for Harpers Weekly.
In 1873 Homer was in Houghton Farm and Gloucester, Massachusetts and painted his first watercolour series.
The Berry Pickers 1873
Watching the Harbour 1873
Sailing the Catboat 1873
Prior to the late 1860’s there was little incentive for artists to paint in watercolour as it was considered a medium for sketching and preparatory work for larger oil works only and rarely attracted the attention of collectors. Watercolours gained respectability with the founding of the American Society of Painters in Water Colours and more artists started to paint in the medium, their smaller size and cheaper price started to find acceptance with collectors.
Homers early work was mainly images of local children and the sizes were usually small (8 x14”). He was working as an illustrator and his paintings reflected the techniques required for the wood engraver.
Gouache was used and it allowed him to treat the medium similar to oils - building the painting from dark to light.
Throughout his career Homer used a Whatman paper and Winsor and Newton pigments in a W& N box containing 20 full pans.
His basic palette contained colours that have long since been deleted from the W& N catalogue but some of those used by Homer the names of which remain the same today, although not necessarily their chemical composition , are :-
The New Novel 1877
Fresh Air 1878
Homer gravitated to the quieter areas of the planet and throughout his life he visited the Adirondack Mountains fishing, hunting and painting the pioneer characters of the areas eight times for extended stays. In 1875 he paid his first visit to Prout’s Neck, a small fishing village in southern Main where he eventually settled permanently.
He painted in his studio on the top floor of the building and gone were the figurative studies of the female form but instead nature and the wild Maine Coast .
Had Winslow Homer never picked up a watercolour sable his reputation in the American Art scene would have been assured due to two oil paintings he did in 1884 an 1899.“The Life Line” and “The Gulf Stream” are two dramatic marine subjects the former of which resulted, in part, to his 20 month stay in Cullercoats in the north of England where he lived among the fisherfolk of the area depicting their every day life in watercolours.
The Lifeline 1884 Oil
The Gulf Stream 1889
The Gulf Stream 1889 Oil
This visit to England and in particular Cullercoats set Homer on the road to a successful career in watercolour.
Why Homer picked the Tyneside village of Cullercoats for his stay in England has never been ascertained, although there were many artists colonies painting the fishing villages, particularly in the north of England. The distinctive fishing boats of the area called cobles, a design specific to the area since the sixth century, have attracted artists over the years and still does today.
Mending the Nets 1882
Returning Fishing Boats 1883
Inside the Bar 1883
A Voice from the Cliffs 1883
Another American painter, John Singer Sargent, who was in England at this time was painting portraits of corseted society ladies in their silks and satins, whereas Homer was depicting the robust fisherfolk of Cullercoats their women sans corsets, silks and satin.
Homers palette, at this time, took on a more subdued appearance more in the nature of the English artists and design was more to the forefront than colour.
Some criticism was levelled at the subdued colours of this period. Greys, browns and blacks with an overall cast of purple but in reality the north of England is a place of subdued colours - especially in winter.
There were no absence of models and he even purchased manikins, dressing them in the local attire but it was only locals he was interested never tourists and holidaymakers.
Maggie Jefferson, Homer’s most important model, was a fifteen year old red head whom he paid one shilling a sitting and was the subject of dozens of watercolours and drawings.
He sent 51 watercolours to his dealers in Boston. Half the paintings were sold almost immediately and although later works bear little resemblance to the Cullercoats works Homer’s reputation was established.
He initially intended to stay at Cullercoats for three months during the summer but he extended his stay a further 17 months.
Homer had always liked isolation and on his return to America gravitated to Prout’s Neck on the north coast, adjacent to Portland where he had spent several summers with his family. Only a few fishermen and farmers lived there.
His dramatic painting “The Life Line” was completed in 1884 and was a result of seeing a breeches buoy being used in Atlantic City. The atmospheric watercolours produced in Cullercoats would have helped with this monumental oil painting.
Almost every year he took a fishing trip. Adirondacks or Quebec in the summer - Florida in the winter. His oils were worked up in the studio but the trips were for watercolours all produced with speed and spontaneity.
In 1884 Century Magazine commissioned Homer to illustrate an article it was planning on Nassau.
The Bahama natives, although a world apart from those in Cullercoats had similar work ethics. Whereas in Tyneside the men plied the North Sea for cod and other cold water fish, those in the Bahamas searched the Caribbean for sponges. Once the product was landed the women took over with preparing and getting it to market
The seas around Nassau were relatively calm as opposed to Cullecoat, but conditions for the sponge collectors were non the less arduous for the Bahaman men. Homer ignored the tourists and local hot spots preferring to depict the colourful women and sponge divers.
He also seemed to have a fixation on sharks and painted several watercolours of the creatures cumulating in the 1899 oil “The Gulf Stream”.
During the year Homer and his father were in Nassau they were entertained by the Colonial Governor, Sir Henry Blake and Lady Blake herself, an amateur watercolourist. At a fancy dress party the Blake children were dressed in Arabian costume and Lady Blake asked Homer to paint the children in costume.
The painting which was not framed eventually ended up in County Cork, Ireland. and was mistakenly considered to be the work of Lady Blake.
Fast foreword to 1987 when a fisherman found the painting along with works by Lady Blake outside a rubbish dump some three miles from the Blake family home, Myrtle Grove in Youghal.
The fisherman gave the painting to his daughter who, in 2008, took it to to a recording of Antiques Roadshow where Phillip Mould identified it as a Homer and valued it at £30,000.
It was then the subject of an episode of the TV programme Fake or Fortune, was flown to New York to be sold by Sotheby’s who, confirmed that it was the work of Homer and valued it at over £100,000.
The day before the sale the great grandson of Sir Henry Blake claimed the painting. The legal wrangling goes on to this day and is too involved to relate here but I refer the reader to Wikipedia under the heading of “Children Under a Palm”.
As with the Cullercoats works the Bahama watercolours focus on the local population but the weather conditions couldn’t be different.
Cabins, Nassau 1885
Sponge Fishing 1885
The Coral Divers 1885
The drama of Cullercoats is missing and Homer’s washes are more transparent and the white of the paper he uses to great effect.
During the 1885 Bahama visit Homer did many sketches of derelict boats presumably in
preparation for “The Gulf Stream”which was completed four years later.
Homer left the Bahamas for a five week stay in Santiago, Cuba and did eighteen watercolours, complained about heat, late breakfasts, scorpions and very bad smells. Returning to Prouts Neck and thence to Florida a State he visited seven times, but only three of these trips working on watercolours.
The main attraction, apart from the warmer weather in winter was the fishing.
Coconut Palms Key West 1886
In a Florida Jungle 1886
A Norther 1886
Back in Prout’s Neck Homer continued to paint watercolours of local subjects seascapes, fishermen, women on the shore and on land and farm boys at work.
Among the Vegetables 1887
With this painting it can be seen the Homer’s palette had become brighter wth less browns and greys. The seascapes, however, are not represented as much as the Atlantic coast scenes were more suited to the heavier medium of oils.
Homer’s Adirondacks visit in 1899 to 1900 combined watercolour, fishing and hunting. His preference for fishing locations and outdoor activities is well documented, but looking at his watercolour output one would think he lead a solitary life when in the backwoods. Nothing could be further from the truth.
He was a part of a group of influential bankers, industrialists, attorneys and judges. Former President Cleveland described the group as “The Fishing Fraternity”. “Nothing to do with those who fish for a livelihood” “those of us who fish in a fair, well bred and reasonable way, for the purpose of recreation and as a means of increasing the table pleasures of ourselves and our friends”.
This fraternity was amongst the most enthusiastic collectors of his watercolours and his depiction of leaping fish (which to me never seemed realistic) and deer being pursued by dogs with their final demise, draped over a log. Of the 87 paintings Homer did of the Adirondacks the depiction of leaping trout and dead deer pale into insignificance against the pioneer , woodsman, fishing and canoe watercolours of the time.
The Woodcutter 1891
Boy Fishing 1892
The Blue Boat 1892
Homer returned to the Bahamas in 1898 of which he said “I think the Bahamas the best place I have ever found”.
The two months he spent in Nassau resulted in 25 watercolours the subjects of which were similar to those he painted in 1885 - 1885.
After the Hurricane 1889
Bermuda Settlers 1901
The last series of watercolours that Winslow Homer did was in Florida.
He was very vocal about the quality of fishing in Key West and Homosassa.
“As many as thirteen different species of salt water fishes have been taken with artificial fly by one rod in a mornings outing”.
1904 saw another trip to Florida and this trip was purely a fishing trip but resulted in his last watercolour - echos of Cullercoats albeit in warmer climes but none the less dramatic.
Diamond Shoal 1905
Homer died in 1910 at the age of 74.
Winslow Homer’s watercolours spanned a period of more than three decades and for good reason he is considered “The Poet of the Sea”. I usually source my articles from various sources but in this instance I have used only one.
The definitive book on Winslow Homers watercolours by Helen A Cooper (ISBN 0-300-0-3695-7) is a book anyone with more than a passing interest in his watercolours should own.
May I give my sincere thanks to my friend John for the time and effort he has put in to produce this excellent article on Winslow Homer
I'm completing three or four a week at the moment, admittedly fairly simple subjects. Here they are.
"Sunflowers" 16" x 12"
"Avocet " 16" x 12"
"Butterfly" approx. 12" x 9"
Black-capped Chikadee" approx. 12" x 9"
These are this weeks batch. The portrait is an experimental approach(!)
"The Sadness of the Amerindian" 16" x 12" Lunar Black (PBk11) & Lunar Earth (PBk11)
I am very interested, although I've done nothing about it yet, in the new product Liquid Charcoal and particularly Stephie Butlers paintings using it with one or two watercolours. Some say you can get the same result by crushing charcoal and mixing it with various fluids - gum arabic was suggested, and the local art shop said linseed oil. I'll have to experiment. I do like paintings done with charcoal the only real downside it is very messy.
Sometime ago I bought the Lunar colours made by Daniel Smith which are very granular. I haven't done anything much with them but thought that - maybe - the Lunar Black might, just might, give a similar effect. This paint has gone hard in the tube and this is happening to some of my paints that I've had for a longish time. Previously I've tended to throw them away, but prices are now so extortionate that cutting open the tube and using the hard paint as though it were a pan seems the way to go. I did this with the Lunar Black and it works. I don't however use my newer expensive sable brushes except for the 'small areas of detail', but older ones that have been replaced. The actual painting , it seems in my eyes, to be better than it appears above. Still painting is all about opinion with one mans meat another mans poison.
"Breakfast (1) Approx 16" x 12"
I feel the flowers are overworked on this one.
Breakfast (2) Approx. 16" x 12"
The two paintings above were done as the subject this week at my Art Group was Birds, Butterflies and Insects.
I expect many will be sick of my puny efforts but I'm just a hobby painter folks so there it is. (I'm only half joking!).
"Green Man" (1) 16" x 12"
Green Man (2) 16" x 12"
I painted another green man a while back, still have the painting and like it. The 'Green Man' is linked with old religious pagan practices and there are "Green Man' head sculpted images in many churches and elsewhere. Each year a large music festival takes place at Crickhowell, within the Brecon Beacons, Wales. The most recent subject at my art group was 'World Culture'. I wasn't enamoured with this and scratched my head as what to do. Then I hit on the 'green man' thing. It isn't just men as women also dress up in these bizarre green costumes, adorned with leaves, ivy and other green vegetation, as well as painting faces etc green. It must take them hours to arrange this getup. I know many artists shun greens but it doesn't bother me. I used several greens in the paintings as I have many of those available. This probably sounds like a cop out but when I look at them on the blog or Facebook something seems to be lost between being photographed and transposed to the blog and Facebook.
This months batch are outstanding ( in my opinion) including many new to me. Some stunning stuff here. It never ceases to amaze me at the wealth of talent spread across the World. I don't comment on every one and this is no reflection on those artists. Several have featured before. I just comment off the cuff. Hope you like them. After looking at this lot I'm off to trash my paintings! Back to the drawing board. You may notice a few have 'copyright' or the artists names emblazoned across them. I'm assuming it's alright to feature them as I have no profit or other motives. If objections were received I'll delete them as there are thousands more with no such restrictions.
Dean Crouser -
I've always liked this American artists work and this is superb,.
Eginta Tarasevich -Wonderful!
I like this artists studies of birds very much. He actually paints very large.
Adisom Pornsirikavn -Wow!
Lian Quan Zhen
What a stunner this is!
Look at the simplicity of this. It's probably a half sheet painting.
Darren Woodhead - Lovely
Claude Buckle - Group of refugees, very effective
Another from Dean Crouser - I love this one too.
Just had to put this in.
The SAA - the Society for All Artists - is a one-off in that. as well as being an artists society, originally The Society of Amateur Artists, it's a large mail order artists supplies operation rivalling Jacksons, Bromley and others. It has a large well illustrated catalogue as well as regular updates and special offers throughout the year. I don't know if it will supply outside the UK. It publishes a magazine 'Paint' for members who pay an annual subscription and get special 'member only " offers. Originally most of the cut prices were members only but this seems to have changed with a larger number available to non members.
Annual Catalogue 169 pages!
The non member prices were not competitive in most cases. Members enjoy the benefit of free postage even on one item. Artists societies can join on an affiliated basis, get members prices and also purchase things like public liability insurance when they hold exhibitions. My group Avon Valley Artists is affiliated and it is very useful in buying small quantities of supplies. At the moment they seem to be the sole mail order group who have the new Van Gogh watercolour range, and at very keen prices. They are also involved in various other associated activities and have a number of artists linked with them.
My principal interest here is to examine the range of SAA watercolours, which have gradually increased in number since being introduced some years ago, as an alternative to the increasingly expensive leading makes. I don't know who currently makes them but was told, not long after their introduction, that someone who had previously worked for Daler Rowney was the producer.
When first introduced there were 40 colours but this has gradually increased to 68 of which 33 are single pigment paints and 10 include white. As in all 'budget' makes the percentage of single pigment paints is lower than that of the majors. Price is a single very competitive £5.40p including Cerulean, the Cadmiums and Cobalts. One thing that did concern me when originally launched was that no pigment details appeared on the tubes. Approaches to them did bring a single A4 sheet with pigment details. When I decided to do this piece I approached them again and was very promptly supplied with an up to date A4 sheet. Due to the larger number the details are very small so the magnifying glass came into play. You have to do this with many of the majors, although pigment details are normally on the websites as the details on tubes are so small.
Now to the individual colours. I stress I've not yet bought any from the expanded range but certainly am considering doing so. I as always consulted the Pigment Database (Artists Creation) the most comprehensive source of pigment details on the internet. Handprint has still much excellent information on pigments.
Scarlet Lake - PR12/PO31 .This is used with the addition of PO31. PR12 is described by the database as "Permanent Bordeaux - a bluish red synthetic organic. No other information. PO31 is "Bright Red Orange" NR (not rated)
Vermillion Hue - PR112. Napthol Red. Intense bright yellowish red, A synthetic organic "fair lightfastness" . When discussing red pigments Handprint suggested most reds should be treated with caution in this respect.
Poppy Red - PR4/PO13. PR4 is described as "Bright Yellowish Red, Reddish Orange" - "The classic lipstick red". Now comes the catch "Not recommended for permanent art work". PO13 Benzidine Orange `'bright Yellow Orange"-" impermanent , might be a pigment to avoid". I must admit to surprise and concern when I read this, I stress this is the respected databases words not mine.
Cerulean Blue - PB35 Cerulean Blue.
Permanent Rose -PR48:2. Permanent Red, Yellow to bluish synthetic organic. There are 4 versions of PR48 varying in shade from bright to mid-red.
Cobalt Green : PB50. I suspect this is a misprint and it should be PG50? B is blue, G is green.
Rather than detail every individual paint a general summary:
I can find no information on Cobalt Blue PB26. I suspect these may be a misprint. Could be PB36?
PBr7 appears in a lot of paints, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber as single pigment paints. This is the same as many majors. PBr7 has many versions ranging from Yellow Brown to brown to dull red.
PR101 Caput Mortem, Light Red, as well as one constituent of several mixed ;paints. Again a standard pigment, a synthetic iron oxide red in various versions with shades from brownish yellow to orange to red shades with yellow or violet undertones.
Prussian Blue is PB27, Tropical Phalo Blue and Phalo Blue Red shade PB15:1,
There appears to be 19 two pigment mixes, many with excellent pigments, and 14 three pigment mixes, again many with excellent pigments, which I'm not so keen on if used for mixing. Although the majors have a higher single pigment number they do still have some multi-pigment paints, apart from the Maimeri new range which offers all 90 as single pigments. At a price naturally.
You could certainly try the Cadmiums, Yellow PY37, Orange PO20. Lemon PY37, Red PR108, Primrose Yellow PY83, Phalo Green PG7, Quinacridone Magenta PR122, Intense Violet PV23, Raw Sienna PY43, Yellow Ochre PY42, Lamp black PBr7,
The lack of pigment details on the tubes is a problem as far as I'm concerned but may not be to some artists. I've found even many professional artists talk about colours rather than pigments. You can always ask the SAA to send you the pigment details. I did. You could certainly put together a reasonable palette of Yellows, Reds, Blues, Greens and earth colours from what is offered.
Some of the artists associated with the SAA have tested these paints and given them fulsome praise. I haven't as yet but will try some in due course. Poppy Red? Surprised about this one. Overall there are one or two issues but remember prices are one half to one third of the majors. I recently purchased two 14ml tubes of Winsor & Newton Mars Black and Aureolin for two members of my group. Even at the discounted prices the total still came to just over £25! This is the reality we watercolour artists face.
These are my latest attempts at portraits. Three Indians and one famous figure from the same mid- to late 1800s era. All 16" x 12"
A Lakota Sioux Chief circa 1870s
A Pawnee Warrior circa 1870s
" Buffalo Bill" Cody
Famous Frontiersman and Wild West showman.
"Fun" - Member of Geronimo and Naiches band, the last hostile Apaches to surrender in 1886, officially bringing 200 years of strife with the Apaches to an end. Almost an end to the strife with all the Indian tribes. The Apaches were the last holdouts.There were still small scale incidents for many years but nothing of any size.
Autumn Berries - 16" x 12"
Autumn Leaves 16" x 12"
The above two paintings were done at my most recent AVA session last week. The leaves were painted from a number I collected where I live. There are a lot of trees.
These are two painted in the last week. I'm reasonably happy with both, particularly the Cody one which is my second attempt at him but using a different reference photo.
Navaho Chief "Kia - e - te - nita" 1908 16" x 12"
"Buffalo Bill" Cody Famous frontier scout and Showman. 16" x 12"
White Knights, manufactured at St Petersburg in Russia, are an inexpensive range of watercolours popular with many artists, especially those on a budget or amateurs who paint occasionally. A professional artist, whose studio by the River Avon I painted at some years ago, there was no tuition as such, majored on acrylics but used the original White Knights when sometimes painting in watercolour. At that time the range was 40 colours only available in full pans. The number available has gradually increased and 10ml tubes have since been introduced with 77 colours now available.
When Handprint reviewed this range in 2003 they were pretty much damned with many fugitive pigments and other criticisms. His final damning comment was "Overall ........these paints do not compare even to the best "student quality paints". That was 13 years ago however and things change. I might add you can't take much notice what the suppliers say as all along these paints have been promoted as "Artist Quality". At the time of Handprints review - who didn't take prisoners - there were 55 colours available in full pans only. This is a Russian company though and with typical Russian practice they don't give much away. Have they reformulated the range and are the additives now different ? Gum arabic is mentioned. Was this in the original paints?
A more recent analysis has been made by the Australian artist Jane Blundell www.janeblundellart.blogspot.com. Jane has done a huge amount of work looking at most makes of watercolours and her views are undoubtedly well worth reading. Her verdict is that " These are very reasonably priced watercolours that perform well". This from September 2016. I've had some small contact with her. A charming lady. The main downside which Jane highlighted is that several fugitive pigments still remain PV1, PV3, PR2, PR4, PO13, PG8 and a few others. The suspect colours are Golden, Venetian (Hue) , Scarlet, Claret, Violet - Rose, Violet, Russian Green. This is a pity as they have - according to the information - introduced many good pigments in the more recent colours so you have to be selective and I suggest somewhat wary. Jane Blundell gives pigment details of all the range on her review of them. If you are interested her blog is a good place to start. As far as pigments are concerned just "google" the "The :Pigment Database". Prior to this I couldn't find any pigment information on the new colours and have not yet received a reply from the UK distributor requesting they supply me with full pigment details. I have to say since Handprint went into cold storage I see signs of manufacturers backsliding, either not giving pigment details at all or incorrect ones, having changed the formulations but not the tube information. We had the recent example of Winsor & Newton refusing to say what the pigments were in the new "Cadmium Free" range. How widespread is this becoming? Finally I checked Jacksons prices and they are currently either £3.10p or £4.10p as there are two series.
I've finally got around to trying the new Van Gogh watercolours. In general I'm quite impressed considering how cheap these paints are. I tried the original 40 colour set some years ago and found them perfectly adequate.
Wild Dog Sketch
The colours are in descending order : Permanent Lemon Yellow, Azomethine Green (PY129 usually called Green-Gold), Rose, Carmine, Quinacridone Rose, Ultramarine Deep, Pyrrol Orange, Quinacridone Purple Blue, Quinacridone Purple Red, Yellow Ochre, Light Oxide Red, Hookers Green, Sap Green, Dusk Pink, Dusk Green, Gold.
A few observations and bear in mind this is only my preliminary view. The Lemon Yellow seemed on the weak side as is the Gold. Possibly the Ultramarine is a little weak leading to more pigment being used, so with only a 10ml tube this might be exhausted very quickly. I liked the Pyrrol Orange, both the 'Dusk' colours, Lt Oxide Red, the two greens, the reds, most of them if fact. I think I need to buy a few more colours.Sticking to single pigment paints we have the choice of Transparent Yellow Medium (PY128), Indian Yellow (PY83), Permanent Blue-Violet (PV23), Prussian Blue (PB27), Phthalo Blue (PB15), RawSienna (PY42), Burnt Sienna (PR101 and Burnt Umber (PBr7). Four or five of these to fill the holes in the original batch I purchased of this brand. If you want Cerulean and/or Cobalt Blue then you have to go to makes that offer the correct pigments not a 'hue' version combining Ultramarine or Phthalo Blue with white. My suggestion is Lukas, Sennelier or even Jacksons own brand (UK artists). In Americas there are several excellent housebrands with Cheap Joes particularly favoured.
If price is an issue these paints are an excellent choice for the hobby painter and the once a week artist. Don't be seduced into paying a fortune for the leading artists quality paints, indeed some are now calling theirs 'professional quality' with 'artists quality' a lower level! Yes if price is no object but some artists of my acquaintance aren't in this category.
Here are my latest efforts. A couple of others have been scrapped.
Asian Peasant Farmer 16" x 12"
"What are you looking at? 16" x 12"
"Sports: 16 x 12"
I've actually scrapped this already and it's in the recycle bin. I tear them up! I like the colours but not much else.
Here are the latest batch of paintings. They include some where I haven't found the artists names. . If there are mistakes corrections welcomed. A mix of old and newer (or less-known) artists and a wide range of subjects. Hope you like them
Ching Che Lin
Edward Seago - a British Great
Artist ??? (Chien Chung Wei?)
Charles Reid - Greatly Missed
Bev Jozwiak - is this watercolour , acrylics or mixed media. Never sure with Bev
Tim Wilmott- Never met him (yet) an artist local to me
Gerard Hendriks - Particularly like the rich colours here/
Bhira Painting -Great
Another from Gerard
Stan MIller. This is on Yupo paper loved by some, loathed by others although increasingly popular for the effects that can be created
Z L Feng - Beautiful blending of colours
Chien Chung Wei
David Taylor - Top Australian
Viktora Prischedko - Workshops at East Devon Arts in Sidmouth together with husband Slawa
Here are my latest efforts. Drawings done at home and painted at the latest AVA Thursday session. In general I'm reasonably happy with them - not 100% naturally! I keep trying.
"Two Brothers" 16" x 12"
"A Fine Fellow" 16" x 12"
"Nuts" - Unfinished 16" x 12"
'Black Redstart' 16" x 12"
Not sure about this one tempted to bin it.
Here are the most recent.
Amerindian Warrior 16" x 12"
On the top is the first version and bottom the 'modified' one. I did more work on the eyes, the features, especially with regard to colour. I added Translucent Brown from Schmincke (PBr41) to get nearer to the actual face colour of the so-called 'red man'. I have been criticised in the past about my skin colours and while I accept this I don't want to get over-realistic - others can do this a lot better than me, Stan Miller for example and Harley Brown, although Brown's fabulous work is in pastel. I'd rather be 'unfinished' than otherwise. Charles Reids Indians are just great but emulating him is so difficult and is it wise to do so in a copyist manner?
Musk-ox approx. 14 x 12"
I have now diverged slightly from my late mentor Charles Reid. He very much worked on the 'first try for a finish' principle. As a lesser mortal I've found I need to look at the painting several days afterwards and when I do can discern that it may need some additional work, taking care not to overwork as I prefer paintings that are 'unfinished". In the one above I've done nothing so far but the blue looks not quite right so may try to soften this. I know many like paintings' that are super-realistic and every inch of the paper covered with paint. That isn't me so I'll continue to plough my lonely path. Just joking folks I know my limitations but I enjoy it so what!
I visited my sister in Witney, Oxfordshire recently and took the opportunity to combine it with a trip to the watercolour exhibition in the nearby small, delightful, Cotswold village of Windrush. This took place under the name of the "The Pure Watercolour Society", something of a misnomer really as you can't actually join. Well-known watercolour artists are invited to exhibit at this exhibition by James Fletcher -Watsons daughter, who continues to live in the Fletcher family home, which incorporates a small gallery. I'm not sure how frequently it is held but has been a regular event for some years. Paintings and prints by James Fletcher-Watson were included, and their were books, cards and various other things for sale. The exhibition was staged between the 16th and 24th (today) of `November.
Nineteen artists took part including such notables as David Curtis, Trevor Chamberlain and Robert Wade. The latter, as far as I'm aware the only non British artist. Robert Wade, the doyen of Australian watercolourists had taken part in previous exhibitions. Three ladies, Judi Whitton, Josephine Neil and Vanessa Whimney were part of the nineteen. I counted approximately 60 paintings on the walls. On the day we attended there were quite a few visitors as one might expect.
Day and residential courses are held at the gallery and details are above and below.
This is the 2020 schedule.
Overall a very interesting and high class exhibition from a selection of top, primarily British, watercolour artists.
Here are Decembers batch, a little late and rather hastily put together as I have been otherwise occupied most of this month. Hopefully there will still be much of interest. There are a number where I haven't been able to track down the artist. Any corrections welcome.
The incredible Yuko Nagayama
Gerard continues to amaze with his widening range of subjects
This is one of my favourites of his
Artist? Leroy Van Much?
I love the simplicity of this
The amazing Ted Nutall Look at the colours!
Artist? Another from the artist who painted the bike
Shirley Trevena - Wow!
Bev Jozwiak Another Wow! Love it!
Carol Hillsbery Terrific.
Chien Chung Wei
Hope you like them. Some fantastic paintings in a wide range of subjects, colours and styles. Watercolour! You can't beat it! BLOG INDEX JUNE 2014
Here are my latest efforts together with my thoughts on where I am with relevant soul searching!
"Guess Who?' 16" x 12"
I'm very pleased with this.
"Alex" 16" x 12"
Pleased with this also
Red Cloud in later life. 16" x 12"
Increasingly unhappy about this. Will decide whether to try and rescue it or scrap and start again. A difficult one. I tend towards scrapping. The basic problem is the drawing of the face isn't right. Two steps forward , one ( and a half) steps back. This is painting ! Just don't give up! As the famous American teacher Edgar Whitney said "Draw, Draw. Draw!" At least I remain very self critical.
"Contemplation" 16" x 12"
Quite pleased with this. Went back over my Charles Reid stuff and tried to be more relaxed with "Pieces of Paint " approach. Not perfect but getting there. Never too old to learn.
"Big Boy" 16" x 12"
My approach here is the Charles Reid way of "small areas of detail, large areas of generality`" My feeling is that it does go a long way towards this goal. I've been viewing all my CR material, videos, books and notes from my workshops with him. I realise it's very late in the day, s source of great regret, but there it is. If I could go back ten years I would as I feel I've wasted a lot of time and my path to where I am has been a very tortuous one. I'm still not there yet.
To all who follow the blog and those who pay a visit may I express my best wishes for Xmas and 2020 and thanks for taking an interest in what I do.
To start 2020 here is a a bumper collection containing many incredible paintings From very realistic and complicated to minimal and abstract. In addition very bold colour and more subdued tones. I'll leave you to decide which appeal the most.
Direk Kingnok - A fabulous Thai artist
Lars eje Larssen - I love this artists paintings.
Jean-Luc Decron - Another new one.
John Yardley - I don't know the date of this one as he doesn't do many (if any) like this these days. He started off as a clone of Edward Wesson but soon developed his own unique style
Suwit Jaipom - Another new one!
Chien Chung Wei - an abstract from this Taiwanese artist
Steven Scott Young
Lars eje Larssen again - What a fabulous minimalist painting
John Yardley - Still great in his mid-eighties
Jack Tia Kee Woon - an amazingly detailed watercolour by this Singaporean artist. There is some acrylic here as well as watercolour
Konstantin Sterkov - Wow!
Willem Haenraets - Another new one although I think I've seen some of his work previously
Andrew Wyeth - American master
Geoffrey Wynne - a new artist to me
Gerard Hendriks - Simplicity itself - with colour!
Mustapha Ben Lahmar (?)
Darren Woodhead - another new to me
John Lovett - Another excellent Australian
Alex Hillkurtz - New to me
Sophie Rodionov - Another new one
Jose Martinez Lozano - And still they come another new one
Tony Belobrajdic - Another new one
Any corrections to names of artists etc welcome/
I have written about Schut before. I first heard of this Dutch company in a book by the late Zoltan Szabo. He mentioned Noblesse, which was the top of the range paper. Later I found that Judi Whitton was using blocks purchased from a small art shop in the Cotswolds. This may be where Charles Reid also heard of it as he tutored workshops in the Cotswolds and Judi went on one.
Prior to this Charles used Fabriano Artistico, which he said suited his painting method. By now thoroughly aroused (!) I followed the trail and discovered an unusual small company near Banbury called Hookers Green was an agent and contacted them. It appeared to be a private house but they also had a small warehouse. A single foolscap sheet was posted to me and it listed several different names including Noblesse, Vivace and Flamboyant. I purchased some blocks of Noblesse and Vivace. Noblesse is (or was) 100% cotton and Vivace a 50/50 cotton and synthetic mixture. I liked both but the difficulty in getting this paper was a problem. A follow up call to Hookers Green produced no result and they don't appear to be trading any longer.
The problems of getting these papers was such that I switched to Saunders Waterford, which is excellent particularly now that they do a "High White" paper. The problem we watercolour artists face is rising prices. Fabriano has gone up considerably and I never really liked the block size of 18" x 12" - my favourite being 16" x 12". In addition when you get down towards the last few sheets the blocks come apart. This doesn't happen with the Waterford.
With prices becoming more of an issue (I am painting on the backs of failed paintings of which I have many) I thought I would once again see if it were possible to get some Schut with Vivace in mind. Enquires brought the information that the Schut mill had been taken over by Clairefontaine and the Schut papers were being marketed in the UK under the Fontaine label.
I'm assuming this is or was Noblesse. One surface offered is 'cloud effect' which seems to be new.
This is definitely Schut as Flamboyant is the old name.
Not sure about this one.
This is a new one - black watercolour paper.
Schut also did a nice 50/50 paper - a mix of synthetic and cotton - called Vivace. I don't see that in the Fontaine offerings so far. A full range of sizes in rough, not and cold-pressed seem to be offered including blocks and sheets. The blocks are 15 sheets, which is a pity. as this makes the prices on the high side, although Great Art has some very keen ones at the moment. If you are interested you can follow up the above with the major mail order specialists.
Here are my latest efforts all 16" x 12"unless otherwise stated.
This is in my North American Indian series but ity seems this one is more likely to be Mayan
Mother and Daughter
The late Donna Summer
The Artist Zanele Muholi
I was hesitant in posting this one. The lady in question is very dark skinned and I was in a quandary as how to portray her. The only colour used was the Daniel Smith Lunar Black. I bought this a while ago and the paint had solidified in the tube. A number of the paints I have, including this one, have gone very hard in the tubes and in the past I've ben inclined to discard them. This is an expensive business so decided in this instance to cut the tube open with a scalpel and peel the metal back. It works very well as a pan paint and despite the paint having gone hard in the tube dissolves well. Note how granular this particular colour is.
Glass & Fruit
This month the subject is more specific with all the paintings featuring boats in one form or another. Boats are a popular theme, whether on the beach or in harbours etc. Hope you like them. Any mistakes on my part please feel free to correct me.
John Yardley (?) Certainly his style
Guan Weixing - The Chinese Master
Miguel Linares Rios
Corneliu dragan Targoviste
There have been quite a few new brands of watercolours in the last few years, mostly somewhat exotic or specialised ones at even higher prices than the majors. As readers will know I am opposed to the eye watering prices artists or just hobby painters (like me) are having to pay, with stiff price increases over the last two years. We also have these campaigns with well-known artists promoting the most expensive brands, particularly Daniel Smith, which are aimed at the vast mass of artists.
Is it just possible we are seeing a trend away from this? First of all we have the extended Van Gogh range, from 40 to 72, which is perfectly adequate for amateurs. The St Petersburg range has increased and seems to have overall improved the brand, despite still using a few fugitive pigments. See what Jane Blundell says.
I now come to what looks an exciting new development in this sphere. This is the introduction of Roman Szmal's Aquarius watercolours emanating from Poland. I first heard of them in a recent e mail from Jacksons so they are readily available in the UK and with American artists reviewing them on You Tube presumably also in the USA.
The range comprises 140 colours of which 117 are single pigment paints. All the well-known pigments are there plus new ones like PY61, PY168, PBr23 and PBk8. There is no suggestion obsolete or fugitive pigments are included. Gun arabic, glycerine, Linden honey and distilled water are used in the production process. Colour charts giving full pigment details are available. The highly respected Australian artist Jane Blundell has already tested them and gives them an excellent rating. See her blog. There is much more on You Tube. Just 'google' his name and see the response including demos. The colours appear intense and not at all wishy washy. At the moment only full pans are available but that might change ?
Finally we get to price. Jacksons are selling the single pans at from around £2.30 to £3.70. There are a variety of sets, including trial ones. A set of 5 is £10.20 ( (RRP £12.00). A set of 12 is £34.00 (RPP £44.00). And there are others.
The questions I have include how long do the pans last? Do they wet easily? etc etc. I tend to think pans are not kind to my Kolinsky sable brushes so tend to use synthetics when I use them - which I do occasionally. Possibly these questions have already been answered in all the information about them already posted but there is a mass to absorb believe me.
To sum up on the basis of what I know so far - and this is early days - this seems to me an exciting new development of great benefit for the great mass of artists who paint in watercolour. I have plenty of paints at the moment but will definitely be buying some when I need to replenish my supplies.
Here are my latest works. Mostly done for Avon Valley Artists weekly subjects. I do the drawings in my small home studio and most of the painting at the AVA sessions, though some of the detail - eyes, noses etc - at home. I'm still trying to follow Charles Reads teaching of 'small details, large generalities'. You'd think I'd have it cracked after painting in watercolour for twenty years! This latest batch are closer to what I would like to achieve, although when I post stuff on Facebook in some of the watercolour groups I contribute too my 'likes' remain - mostly - very much on the low side. All 16" x 12" unless otherwise stated.
What a Beak.!
Dad with son 10" x 12"
"What am I missing?"
"Eagle No 2"
"Eagle No 3"
The above two were done in my small home studio.
Here are my latest efforts warts and all. I stress I don't put them up as good paintings. Some are experimental. After 20 years I'm still experimenting! Says a lot about my painting. All 16" x 12"
The eponymous Chef/Businessman Gordon Ramsey
Moderately Happy with this one, although only moderately. It is flawed.
Hair not right too blue
Got the shape wrong. The body is too long. This has already bitten the dust.
Although happy with certain parts of the painting I have made the top of her head the wrong shape. It should be slightly lower and more rounded. I may have another shot at this.
Facial colour not quite right - a bit too red, although the camera seems to make them worse. I'm reverting to Charles Reids combination of colours (after straying from the path) but haven't quite got them right. To articulate he used basic combinations for facial colours of Cadmium Red, Raw Sienna and Cerulean Blue. He also used Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin crimson and even Green at times, and a few others.
Metal Objects - This weeks AVA subject. Pretty awful I know but this is a warts- and all blog.
'Herbert" A work in progress.
I am at the point where it could go on to be a decent painting or go completely wrong. I'm baring my soul with these comments.
Another Amerindian - a work in progress.