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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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  • 02/01/18--06:47: Watercolour Paintings (39)
  • Here are Februarys batch - a bumper lot with a mixture of styles, old and new (to me) artists and much to ponder and study.

    Frank Ebers

    Angele Villat

    Xi Guo

    Ryan Fox

    Souvik Sil

    Ray Maclachlan
    This is a sketch by Ray, a friend and an amateur like me, who goes out at the crack of dawn to paint plein air in Australia! I thought I'd give him a thrill!

    Tim Oliver

    Igor Sava

    Janet Rogers

    Lovely portrait painter in a loose style. A female Charles

    Kourosh Asiani (?)

    Catherine Rey

    I love her work.

    Gerard Hendriks

    Charles Reid

    A typical Charles Reid study almost certainly painted as a workshop demo.

    Jonathan Kwegyir Aggrey

    This young African artist is now a big name on the international circuit. He used to call me (in my and his early days ) Sir Peter!

    Janine Gallizia

    The surreal nature of her painting always appeals to me.

    Jung Hum-Sung

    Amazing portraits even though I admire super-realism I 'v never wanted to paint like that.

    Sarah Yeoman

    Robert Zangarelli

    This is great - my kind of painting.

    Gerard Hendriks

    Graham Flatt
    I'd never heard of this artist but love this one.

    Cesc Farre

    Jun Hun-Sung

    Gerard Hendriks

    Wow! Look at the colours.

    Charles Reid

    An excellent example of Charles figure work.

    Amongst these artists are several I haven't previously featured or indeed know anything about. If you 'google' them or search on Facebook at least some will be found for further study. I also feature some of my favourites.

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  • 02/09/18--03:18: Watercolour Paint Dot Cards
  • A fairly recent trend has been the introduction of dot cards.  These are small blobs of paint on sheets of stiff card to enable the artist to see the exact shade of the particular paint. Previously the choices were either printed sheets of the paint ranges or hand-painted colour charts. I have a large collection of all three types. The problems with the printed charts are the approximate representation of the actual colour, while the hand painted charts can be so pristine, and the colours so smooth and consistent, that you wonder how they achieved them. Maybe it's just me.

    The sheets above are the full Daniel Smith range, at least it was when I bought them but there have been some additions since then. Rather than try and paint them out on separate sheets of watercolour paper I think it best to do what I've done as some of the dots are very small.  I noticed an example of the Schminke dots where the colours had been painted vertically rather than round as here.  Anyway it's up to you how you approach this. This full range dot cards is quite expensive and they do smaller charts of dots, some of which are free or lower priced. I noticed on a recent visit to my local art shop that they had a 'free' Daniel Smith dot card with the well-known British artist Shirley Trevenas 'palette'. Anything to separate you from your hard-earned cash. The unpainted dots above are the 'iridescent' range and some of the 'specials' they do.

    The above are the latest Schmincke dot cards which cost just over £14 from jacksons. There also are some other sheets with smaller number,  the lowest number being free and slightly more comprehensive  ones - but not the full range - at a lower price.

    They were introduced with the recent revamp increasing the number of paints to 140. Schmincke also do a splendid brochure of their watercolours with printed colours, but a most detailed description of each colour, including pigment numbers, characteristics and other information. I have a hard copy of the original range, but this time it appears is only available on the website and I haven't yet found a way to download it. All I can say is that the dots plus study of the brochure will give you the most comprehensive details you could ever want. Better than anyone else I would say. Schmincke are now highly competitive (in my opinion) and well worth considering. The only snag is they have 4 price series, not as many as some nor the lowest number, and there are not that many is Series 1, which is the cheapest. I've pointed out previously that the makers are not consistent and if not careful you can pay more than necessary due to how they price  their paints (pigments). Some that are in Series 1  in one make may be Series 2 - and consequently dearer - in others.

    I read somewhere recently about QoR having dot cards but have no other information. I wouldn't even consider QoR though due to the eye watering prices.  I have an aversion to well-known artists recommending particularly expensive paints - applying to Daniel Smith and others - when they are receiving them free or at very large discounts to promote them. I'm not suggesting the paints aren't good because they are, but for amateur hobbyists, who are the large majority, there are perfectly adequate alternatives at lower prices. The late Ron Ranson told me privately that he considered a lot of the so-called recommendations of what to buy were a rip-off.  He used mostly Cotman paints in a limited number, Bockingford paper and a few synthetic brushes.

    I seem to recall Winsor & Newton did a small number of three paint dot cards a while back but they have not moved on from this - at least not so far. One improvement on the dot cards would be pigment numbers but they are absent.

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  • 02/14/18--02:46: Ishi The Last of His Kind
  • Ishi was a Yahi indian, one of the Californian tribes of which there were many,  generally small. The history of these people and the whites, who swarmed into California mainly after gold, is one of the blackest episodes of the history of this period. You can read about it in 'The Destruction of California Indians' by Robert F Heizer (Bison Edition1993 University of Nebraska Press). The book describes itself as a collection of documents detailing what happened.  These indians were not warlike as were  the Sioux, Apache and others, and were  derided as 'digger indians' living on what they could find, including small animals. They weren't horse indians and lived at subsistence level. They did resist the incursions of the miners but but were not able to provide real resistance.

    This is Ishi, obviously by his dress, when he had been 'rescued' by civilisation. But you can see the sort of primitive living accommodation the Yahis had. In 1865 the Yahi were surprised when asleep and massacred, men, women and children, by a group of white men. The few that survived fled only to be hunted and further decimated. Yahi and his small family went into hiding for 44 years and it was only after he was alone three years later,  his three relatives having died, after a group of surveyors discovered them in 1908, that he emerged from the wilds, obviously in as pretty desperate state. Professors at the University of California, Berkeley heard about him and took him under their wing using him as a research assistant, into the history of the California Indians, most of whom were then extinct. I suppose you could say he was considered a kind of lab rat but they looked after him until his death on August 29 1911. He was another victim of the white mens diseases that decimated many Indian tribes.

    His title as 'The Last Indian' has been questioned by further research linking the Yahi to related Californian tribes but that's another story. My interest in him was founded on my general interest in the history of white settlement and conflict between the settlers and  the Army, principally in the 19th century but also earlier. There are quite a lot of black and white photos to be found and the following painting on based on one.

    Ishi - 16" x 12" Waterford 140lb (300gsm) not.

    An interesting if tragic story. 

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  • 02/15/18--06:18: Verification of comments.
  • I know Google, and others, are getting very security conscious but really this is now ridiculous. When I wish to reply to a comment you get a block of images and are asked to click on the ones that contain certain objects. I've just tried to clear this hurdle and after the 7th or 8th page gave up as it just kept saying 'click on these images' and giving me a new one. This started recently and I've got through up to now, though usually not at the first attempt. I hope somebody is reading this because it may be one reason why I get so few comments these days if the posters have to go through this rigmarole. Frustrated ? You bet.

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  • 02/21/18--04:22: Pebeo Masking Fluid
  • A little while back I criticised Pebeo as the fluid got on my trousers you can't get it off. My fault actually and Pebeo is well liked and used by several of my painting friends. Be wary though it's dreadful stuff to remove as are other makes of masking fluid,  but then acrylic paint is nearly as bad and some of the more recent synthetic watercolours are heavily staining and also hard to remove.

    Above are the Pebeo tubes, still in their packets. The concept is similar to Molotow except the Pebeo sizes are 04 and 07. I haven't tried them yet but those who have amongst my painting group who have tried the Molotow system are not impressed. The complaint is that the fluid is hard to remove and damages the paper, especially if the paper is on the soft side. I have not had such an adverse effect so far but I can see why there is a problem if you leave the fluid on too long before trying to remove it.  Also in the photo above is the 'Maskaway', according to the blurb a sort of hard rubber that makes it easier to remove masking fluid. Again not tried it yet. I got the above from the SAA (Society of All Artists) where we as an art group have an associate membership. The SAA claims to be a Society but is more like a large scale web selling operation with a comprehensive website and catalogues.

    My friend John Softly prefers the Daniel Smith system of interchangeable plastic tubes, that vary in size. I've tried them and also the Masquepen system but found problems with all. Some of my friends prefer the Masquepen system.My problem is the cleaning of the fluid from the tubes. Maybe it's just me. I think I'll go back to using Pebeo with a ruling pen.

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  • 02/26/18--03:47: My Latest Paintings
  • Here are my latest efforts. They are all 16" x 12" mostly Waterford 300gsm not. I have started painting on the backs of rejected or superseded paintings as I have a huge pile of these and new blocks work out £1.50 a sheet  so why waste more paper. You can paint on the backs of many makes. Ron Ranson did so and told me one such painting was hung at the Royal Academy!

    Flat Iron - Sioux

    I'm rather pleased with this one which is very close to the desired effect. I just hope I can repeat it. 

    An Apache Warrior
     This individual had a very 'craggy look' which I may have overdone slightly.

    Big Ears!

    You can see that this one and the following are a 'riot of colour'. I have looked at Gerard Hendriks and some others who use what Charles Reid calls .... actually I've forgotten what he calls them ( is it random colours?) but he means colours that aren't actually visible in the subject. Perhaps I've overdone it but I rather like the effect. After all the true colours of these animals are rather dull. I wish I'd been more adventurous earlier in my watercolour odyssey. Realistic abstracts? I'd like to think so.


    This was painted before the previous one and the colours are not so vivid but I think probably better.


    This was an AVA Thursday subject,

    A Saucy Look

    I did this one at home in my 'studio'. I quite like it but it isn't exactly what I wanted to convey.

    Relaxing on the beach.

    This was another AVA subject. The Kangaroo relaxing on the beach appealed to me. This from an actual photograph.

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  • 03/01/18--06:11: Watercolour Paintings 40
  • Here are Februaries batch, another bumper one with a wide range of subjects and techniques. Like everyone else I prefer some more than others, but that reflects individual tastes and hopefully there is something for everyone. 

    Ben Gassenbauer

    Cemal Selimgil

    Jansen Chow

    Rukiye Garip

    Yuko Nagayama

    The fabulous Japanese artist. Her paintings are almost surreal.

    Coral Colmenaras

    Amazing detail for a watercolour

    TC Orhan Guler

    Jem Bowden
    Very similar in style to Edward Wesson

    Natasha Kolvalchuk

    Charles Reid. A Typical figure painting

    Nicki Keith Saunders

    Trevor Waugh

    I did three workshops with Trevor in my early watercolour years. A very professional teacher.

    Rajeesh K Karimbanakal's

    Gerard Hendriks
    Gerard never ceases to surprise with his wide subject matter

    Burhan Ozer -I think this is one of his. A fabulous artist.

    Kees van Aalst

    Author of 'Realistic Abstracts'.

    Bev Jozwiak

    Love her crows of which there are many.  Her favourite colour is Winsor & Newtons Manganese Blue Hue which is one of the phalo PB15's. She says she tries to use in in every painting. You can see it above.

    Stephie Butler

    Great Portrait artist and much else

    Robert Wade

    The great Australian watercolour painter

    Another from Stephie Butler

    Another from Gerard Hendriks

    Bev Jozwiak

    Robert Zangarelli

    Lorenzo Santini

    I really like this one. It's quite different.

    Thats it folks. I've indulged myself a little with several from my favourite artists - I have many more as there are so many wonderful artists out there. Having said that some  of the above - quite a few - are new to me.

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  • 03/10/18--03:07: ShinHan Watercolours ?
  • The feature I did on Korean Watercolours,  although a while ago, still seems to be regularly scanned. Recently someone posted on it saying, in effect, that I was misleading people. This gentlemans argument -  with the moniker of pbasswil, at least it wasn't 'anonymous' -  seemed to be that ShinHan offered three ranges and only one was actually considered 'artists watercolours', even though all three are described as 'watercolors' by ShinHan. Who is misleading who?  The other two weren't even watercolours I was told.  His final bit was'Don't muddy the assessment  by calling them ShinHan 'watercolours' , just call the pro line 'PWC', ignore the lesser ranges, and no one will get confused.' I must confess my hackles rise slightly when I get this sort of post as all the confusion is due to the way ShinHan have marketed them. Read the post on the piece as I don't want to quote it in full. He did say ShinHan were partly to blame in the way that they were marketing these products, but said the one I  reviewed was actually the wrong one even though called 'Professional' watercolours.

    Premium - what does this mean?

    Is this the same as the above?

    What are these?

    PWC Extra Fine Artists Water Color - this I believe is the top range although I can only count 70 colours here.

    This is the range in order of priority from the ShinHan Website.

    1. PWC Extra Fine Water Color. 84 colours. Jacksons Watercolour catalogue says 72 listing each one and including pigment information.

    2. Professional Water Color. 30 colours.

    3. Shami Water Color.  24 colours.

    They use the American spelling of color by the way.

    Being somewhat bemused by the critical post in effect saying I had reviewed one of the others. I contacted Jacksons sending them a copy and asking if they could clarify which ones they actually sold. A few days later this is the reply from Julie Caves at Jacksons:

    I can confirm we previously stocked the ShinHan Special Watercolour SWC and a few years ago switched to the ShinHan Premium Extra Fine Watercolour PWC. A few colours that sell the most slowly are still in the SWC, as they sell out we are replacing them with the PWC and eventually all colours will be in the PWC. Our website says which is which. Because of your e mail we are adding the words Extra Fine to the product name to clarify it. If it has been a while since you tried the ShinHan you might want to try it again now that we are stocking the highest grade.

    When first launched I did buy one colour and a painting friend another. I did say at the time that this was  a very small sample but they were awful. At least two painting friends from my art group subsequently bought the 32 piece box offered by Jacksons and are quite happy with them. Seeing the paintings produced they do seem rather opaque, to my eyes at least. They are  cheap compared to the leading makes. I think they have the PWC type.

    Looking at the PWC as currently offered I make the following observations. There are a number of fugitive paints, PR83 Alazarin Crimson is used in four paints and I think at least two dyes, Bright Violet BV11, and Opera BR1. These are fugitive. White is added to 15 paints, something I'm not keen on at all as it makes the paint cloudy and opaque, while my experience with other paints with white in them is that they solidify in the tube after a while. I know people say cut the tubes open and treat them like pans. My answer is why should you have to do that? This can mess your brushes up.

    Some of the pigments used are not featured or are uncommon in the top ranges of other makes for example PY1, PG8, PY183, PY83, PY81 and PY74 to name just six. They may be fine I just don't know. I looked some up on the Pigment database (The Color of Pigment Database) but while listed this resource does not rate the pigments.

    In summary I think my original descriptions don't seem to differ much from the above. I'm still not inclined to buy them but, if you discount the fugitive and white-loaded paints, there are still quite a number with good single pigments. My advice, for what it is worth, is stick to single pigment paints avoiding the fugitive ones and in general multi-pigment mixes. They are  inexpensive compared to leading makes but do seem rather opaque so transparency may be an issue. You can only find out by trying them. 

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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


    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.

    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


    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.


    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"


    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.