Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Watercolour Paintings 27

This is Februaries batch of watercolour paintings. A mixture of styles, subjects, colour, featuring some well-known as well as lesser known artists.

Gerard Hendriks

Aud Rye

Ilya Ibryaev - a minimalist painting

Milind Mulick

Frank Ebers - wow!

Gerard Hendriks - a quick and delightful sketch

Nora McPhail - self portrait

N B Gurung

Olivia Quinton - love the colours

Eugene Macimi

Laura McCracken - an unusual subject

Michael Reardon

Michael Jasiewicz

Maria Cristina

Charles Reid - Singer Sargeant painting. This is a made up composition

Tsukiyo Ono

Some wonderful paintings here. The only thing missing is the sizes and I imagine the large panoramas must be at least half-sheets. 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

New Schmincke Horadam Watercolours

Just received an e-mail from Jacksons announcing a significant extension to the Schmincke range of watercolours - 35 brand new watercolours making a new total of 140. Jacksons are making an introductory offer on these paints. A first perusal of what's available indicates most are single pigment paints and many new pigments are amongst them. I'll probably look at them in more detail over coming weeks and will consult the pigment database on the characteristics of these new pigments. Sadly most are not listed in Handprint which is becoming seriously out of date.

I would guess this is a response to the aggressive marketing tactics and huge range of Daniel Smith. I am wondering if we will see more from other manufacturers in the coming months. There are some interesting looking paints amongst these, with many new single pigment paints, worthy of serious consideration, especially as the pricing is about 20 -25% cheaper than most Daniel Smith paints.  I'm disappointed that they haven't added PO48, which is only available in Graham as Quinacridone Rust and Daniel Smith as Quinacridone Burnt Orange. Da Vinci may well list it as well although I've not fully checked this out.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

New Watercolours from Daniel Smith

I've been unwell for the last two weeks but am now getting back to normal - almost - so this post covers some new colours (eight) just introduced by Daniel Smith. With two exceptions they are convenience colours mixed from two or more pigments. With Daniel Smith now offering north of 250 paints one wonders where it will all end? Most artists palettes range from as few as 6  to 24, although there are always exceptions, so how do you choose? The danger is that you buy far too many and those least used dry up in the tubes, with some pigments more prone to do this than others. I had this experience with Quinacridone Purple (PR255), which solidified into a cement like mass and couldn't be squeezed from the tube. Several £'s worth of paint junked! I have another issue with Daniel Smith that I'll relate later.

I have consulted both Handprint and the pigment database over the pigments used but otherwise the conclusions are my own.

Rose Madder Permanent - ".....a modern , lightfast formulation of the traditional colour....". This is a three pigment mix of PR209, a red, PV19 a rose or violet shade and another red PR202.

Quinacridone Lilac (PR122). "... lies between Quinacridone Rose and Quinacridone Magenta  within the Daniel Smith Quinacridone color family...." Most other sources call this Quinacridone Magenta but it would seem there are many versions of PR122 available from pigment suppliers, Some are transparent and some more opaque. The pigment database says artists paints are mostly the transparent ones but some makers may well use the opaque versions. Handprint quotes the 1999 ASTM ratings of only 'fair' in watercolour - this refers to lightfastness, in other words whether the paint is likely to fade over time. Handprints test put it in the "excellent" category but cautions that the best rule is to treat all crimson and rose pigments with suspicion. Handprint also prefers PV19 Quinacridone Rose.

Wisteria. (PW6, PR122)"....like the blooms of it's namesake flowering vine....". This is PR122 , here recommended for painting florals.

Lavender. (PW6, PR122) "...a beautiful periwinkle blue, and quite different from our other blues...."

Aussie Red Gold (PY83, PR101, PV19) "....the  rich , golden colour of ochre cliffs set aflame at sunset...." Another three pigment mix. 

RawSienna Light. - (PY42)...."Raw Sienna Light for more golden tones than our Raw Sienna"...

Burnt Sienna Light. - ((PR101, PO48)...."A beautiful earthy colour Daniel Smith Burnt Sienna Light is redder than our Burnt Sienna, more transparent and slightly less granulation..."

Paynes's Blue-Gray. (PB60, PBk6). "...similar to our bluey Indigo....... Do we need another Paynes Gray, one of the easiest shades to mix?

Well there you are. I don't like paints where white has been added. This seems to be happening more and more. In my experience it tends to make the paint cloudy when diluted and also - at least in some formulations - the paint solidifies. 

Why do we need more and more colours? Daniel Smith is now something like 250 and still rising. When can you have too much of a good thing? I have the 'Paint it' sheets - 238 colours I think - and  can't help thinking many colours are very similar. They have some wonderful paints without a doubt but how big a palette should you actually have? I've bought a number and some are gathering dust as I can't see how to incorporate them in paintings I actually do. Paints for most amateurs? I think not.

Yvonne Harry, our group leader at Avon Valley Artists, is a flower painter par excellence, and thinks some of those above look lovely. She is on the DS mailing list and gets the regular e -mails they send out. I'm not, is this because I e-mailed (twice) about their claims regarding the Cadmium Hue equivalents, all mixed pigments, which they claim behave like single pigment paints when mixed with others. I'm still awaiting a reply.

I've now severely restricted my purchases of DS paints as they are so expensive in the UK. There are plenty of other good makes that are perfectly adequate, and  at lower prices. Daniel Smith have certainly shaken the watercolour world since they were introduced and must be giving headaches to the likes of Winsor & Newton. They are fabulous paints but you need a very deep pocket to major on them.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Watercolour Paintings 26 - Welcome to 2017!

To commence 2017 here we go! A mix of well-known and lesser known artists. A range of styles, subjects and contrasts in the use of colour. What more could you want?

Virgil Carter

Milind Mullick

Gerard Hendriks

Jem Bowden

John Blockley

Joe Dowden - Venice

 Cornelius Dragan-Targo Viste - Venice ?

Gerard Hendriks

Judith Farnworth

Alvaro Castagnet

Millind Mullick -Brugge

Ung Mijint Doy

Gerda Mertens

Janina B

Tulay Sayilgan

Karen Slosin Added 05/01/2017.The correct name is Karen Sioson - she is the artist

 All these artists appear on Facebook in one form or another so should not be too difficult  to locate.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Happy Xmas and Prosperous New Year

The above headline is a difficult one with the disasters happening almost continuously in different parts of the World. Good news has become rarer and rarer. Ones heart goes out to the poor people -especially the children - in many of these countries torn by strife on an almost daily basis. Although there have been some isolated terrible things happening in some European countries by and large we can be thankful  for our relative stability. Still we must remain optimistic and hope beyond hope that things will improve in 2017. Although this blog does not normally get involved in politics with Brexit in the UK and President Trump in America it is difficult to remain optimistic.

On the painting front the death of Ron Ranson was reported last week in Portland, Oregon, where he moved with his American wife Darlis a few years ago. I was trying to discover how old Ron was  - certainly well into his eighties. Ron will be remembered for his significant impact on watercolour painting. Certainly his teachings and books - nearly thirty - have had a great affect and many are painting who would not be doing so without him. He was a great showman and I remember being on two short workshops at his lovely house and grounds in the Forest of Dean. This was at the later stages of his career and to some extent he was going through the motions by then, but many artists who later became well-known passed through his workshops.

As is well-known I am a follower and admirer of Charles Reid. I discovered last week that he is coming to England again in late 2017  on a Travelrite/ International Artist  painting holiday. Although  I had decided, whatever happened in the future, the workshop at Stow on the Wold would be my last I sent for details out of curiosity. It appears to be a ten day all in holiday with painting, starting in the Cotswolds and finishing in Cornwall. The price with single supplement is  over £3500! According to the company there are 20 places and 16 were already booked. See his website for details.

I have more or less decided that 2017, my eightieth year, will be the last year when I will be active on the blog. As regulars will have recognised I have been winding down this year and finding it difficult to come up with original and interesting posts. There is a lot of good stuff in the back catalogue, most of which is still relevant, so explore the Index in July 2014 if you are interested.

Finally may I once again wish all those who are followers or just interested visitors, the very best for Xmas and the New Year. Whatever you do keep painting!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Blockx Watercolours

Blockx are a Belgian company originating in 1865.   Blockx was started  by Jacques Blocks, a wealthy chemist. It is today run by Jacques Blocks, presumably the great grandson of the founder.

The famous Salvador Dali writing about the founder said "50 secrets of craftsmanship...."This man who never painted, will contribute more to the painters of tomorrow that what we will have accomplished all the modern painters together". Some praise but remember this was in the 1860s.

The current watercolour range, they were updated in 2008 ..."vastly improved"according to Handprint comprise 72 colours 82% of which are single pigment paints. Naming is the usual mix  with a few anomalies like Blockx Yellow (PY3), Blockx Green (PG7). They do two versions of Burnt Sienna 'Light' and 'Deep', Pyrrolo Vermilion (PO73), Quinacridone Red/Rose  (PV19) is called Rose Lake Pale and Rose Lake, also Magenta. Blockx Blue is PB15:1 which is Phalo Blue and so on. Overall not too bad but you need to refer to the pigment information to be fully aware of what you are getting. The pigments used are all good and in line with other major manufacturers. Blockx use gum arabic and a small amount of honey in their formulation.

What does Handprint say about them - and here's the rub! The good bits are "a few gems....Viridian, Cobalt Violet."....."delightfully varied selection of 16 earth (iron oxide) colours" "All the above have assertive granulating Texture". Unfortunately things then go downhill. Bruce McEvoy of Handprint when in full flow (no longer unfortunately) though admitting  the new range was  ' vastly improved obviously considered that the need to do this didn't reflect well on the company, and wrote that they had been making 'false claims' about some of the paints.  He's said this about others like Lukas who did something similar. This led to an exchange of e-mails between him and Jacques Blocks who complained bitterly about his damning of the paints.  Read Handprint if you are interested. In addition or alternatively read what the artist Jane Blundell says on her blog. 


Jane has done a fabulous job of painting out swatches of over 750 paints including Blockx with observations about how they perform.  Fascinating

These are the giant 3 inch pans. You can see how big they are in the photos above and below.

The smaller tube is actually 15ml, The larger one is 36ml or even larger but I've never seen it advertised for sale over here and  was unaware they did such a size.

 Unfortunately the pigment information is unclear but you can download this chart from Blockx website.

I've never used Blockx although they are available from Jacksons and Great Art and appear so from the leading American mail order specialists. The only artist I know who used them was the late Zoltan Szabo but he also has a Maimeri palette and a Winsor and Newton one.  If you search on Youtube for 'Blockx' at least two videos come up including an interview with Jacques Blockx (in French!). Blockx website is; www.blockx.be/en/products/aquarelles.asp just google 'blockx .

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Recent Paintings

The following paintings were in response to the subject 'Winter Scene' at a recent AVA session. After the last lot I posted on here  - including quite a bit of dross - were greeted with a deafening silence I determined to only  post paintings in future that I consider acceptable. In this instance I actually did two in a roughly two hour session, but took the trouble to do both drawings the previous day in my'studio' so I could concentrate on the actual painting. I find when I do it this way I get a better result. It allows me to be rather more careful in my approach rather than slapdash. This includes studying the subject (and guide photograph) at leisure.

'Red Squirrel enjoying a winters meal' - 30 x 40 cm Cornwall 210lb (450gsm) matt surface

I enjoyed painting and drawing this one. One of the main colours was the Graham Quinacridone Rust (PO48), which is a gorgeous paint. Annoyingly Graham is only available in the UK from W E Lawrence of Hove, who offer a good price when you buy 6 tubes but have a fixed carriage charge of  £4.95p. This adds nearly 82p to each tube. They refuse to budge on this citing 'superior service' whatever that means. I find the companies that offer free carriage over a certain value - typically £40 - give a perfectly good service. The same pigment PO48 is offered by Daniel Smith - available from Jacksons and others  as Quinacridone Burnt Orange, very similar  perhaps slightly darker. Although Daniel Smith paints are  dearer than Graham I'll have to bite the bullet and order a tube when I next place an order for the AVA. As for the Cornwall paper it produced a good result and was easy to work on. Being heavier than my normal 140lb Waterford it resists buckling as the blocks are very well made. In any event  I don't find this a problem as I don't use heavy washes. The size is slightly smaller than the 16" x 12" Waterford so I'll probably stick to Waterford. Because it is a heavier weight  Cornwall doesn't work out much cheaper.

'Robin enjoying a meal' - Waterford 16"x 132" High White 140lb (300gsm) not

This was done in the remaining time at the AVA session after I'd painted the squirrel. Less than an hour and as you can see it is a minimalist painting. I'm quite happy with it. If Hercules Brabazon did some of his best paintings in 30 minutes...........!!! I'm not foolish enough to compare my work to his though! Colours are Cerulean, Raw Sienna with the reds Cadmium Red Light and some Quinacridone Rust for the breast with Quinacridone Rose and Perylene Maroon for the berries. I think  that's it