Monday, 22 July 2019


This is the finished painting of the  Kingfisher.

Kingfisher 16" x 12" Watercolour

Friday, 19 July 2019

My Latest Paintings

Here is what I've been painting, mostly drawing the subject at home and then painting them at my AVA Thursday group. All are 16" x 12" and painted on the reverse of my many failed paintings. It can be done providing the paper is good quality. Mostly these are on Waterford. A couple I'm not sure.

Proud Dad and chicks

Mother and Son

Water Buffalo

Red Grouse

Unfinished - Kingfisher I'll publish the finished article when completed.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Van Gogh Watercolours

I recently reviewed the new increased range of Van Gogh watercolours,  made by Talens who also produce  Rembrandt. Van Gogh, although originally only 40 colours, have never been a strict student  quality brand more of a mid-range type with the student quality range called Amsterdam. I used them for a time in the distant past before being seduced by the alluring charms of Artist Quality watercolours.

With the steep escalation of prices of artists quality I thought I'd try some of the cheaper ranges starting with Van Gogh. Incidentally Jacksons recently published a 'Materials  Guide'. In the section referring to watercolour I was surprised to see they are now splitting them into three groups. 'Artist Quality' are no longer the top of the range which they now classify as 'Professional'. Interestingly Winsor & Newton now call them 'The Professional Range'. Artist Quality are now somewhere in the middle with 'Student Quality' the bottom range. Is this a ploy to claim they are better than some competitors or just to justify the eye-watering prices.? Cynical me looks at all this with a jaundiced eye. They also claim that 'professional quality' have a much higher concentration of pigment. This is something I once accepted until reading what the Handprint man Bruce McEvoy had to say about it. Bruce said that pigment concentrations varied from paint to paint and I suggest anyone interested find this in the relevant Handprint page and see  for themselves. Although Handprint is no longer updated - sadly - it's still available tp peruse. Now on to van Gogh.

I apologise that these swatches are less than ideal, in particular the top one where the paint appears streaky. I think this is because the paper I used isn't either Waterford or Fabriano and of a lesser quality.

The bottom one is Fabriano which is better and certainly less streaky. Together they will just give you an idea which you may or may not wish to explore further.

My overall impression of the paint when sqeezing it out of the tubes is that it is quite fluid. The two dusk colours are obviously influenced by Daniel Smith introducing several similar ones. The single interference colour 'Gold' seems quite weak on first impressions, although the Dusk colours are fairly strong. They are available in 10ml tubes and half pans. Prices are too good to be true Just over £3 for a 10ml tube. This works out at 30p a ml compared  to roughly 71p for a leading make.

I can't really say a lot more as I haven't attempted a painting with them yet. I probably shall as I have the complimentary colours and a few others. My main criticism of the new range is that many are multi-pigment paints, although there are  sufficient single pigment paints for a moderate sized palette. Yes they aren't up to the quality of the leading makes but are quite adequate for most amateurs who are not affluent possibly a little beyond that.

My current 'best picks', using my criterion of quality and price taken together, are Lukas and Sennelier. This of course applies to the UK and most of Europe only as prices vary considerably across the globe.
Of the two I'd give Sennelier the edge with both 10ml and 21ml tubes, as well as pans, and a larger range. Lukas are limited by having a 24ml tube - although they do pan colours as well - which may be too large for many hobby painters. Sennelier paints are fairly liquid due to the use of honey but not as much as Graham. Lukas are like toothpaste consistency out of the tube but dissolve very easily and well when water is applied. This is the position at the moment but things change. Daler Rowney  were once a 'best buy' but no longer with a substantial price hike. They are in the same group as Lukas so I'm wondering whether Lukas will change at some stage. Difficult isn't it.
NOTE: As Miquel says Talens have also upgraded and re formulated some paints in a major upgrade. There are now 120 colours including some 'specials'. 70 of the normal colours are single pigment paints, a big change for the Rembrandt range. Further details when I obtain them.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

My Latest Paintings

Here are some of my latest paintings. One or two others I did have been binned. This is my work warts and all!

Red Squirrel 16" x 12" 'Where's that Nut?"

A Male Capercaillie - iconic Highland bird 16" x 12"

'Big cat" 16" x 12"

Isn't he cute- 16" x 12"

"Nice Horse" 16" x 12"

These were partly painted at home and finished off at my AVA Summer sessions where we do our own thing rather than a programme. I do the drawings in my tiny converted bedroom studio and then start the painting. This is usually the small areas of detail like the eyes. IF (in my opinion) I get them right I then proceed to complete the painting in stages. After completion I usually wait a day or two and look at it again when I often see things that need a little  more work. I try and avoid over finishing though. Charles Reid used to say 'you don't finish a painting you stop when you reach a point when you don't know what more to do". He also said be a little crude and also don't be precious it's only a painting".

This was our recent Avon Valley Artists exhibition as part of Saltford Festival. A decent standard, although the group is smaller than it used to be, with 85 paintings exhibited.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Watercolour Paintings 56

Here are this months batch. Once again I've tried to get as good a variety as possible, although my personal preferences - which may shine through - are loose and impressionistic. One problem I have is not always being able to identify the artist. This is frustrating as there are some wonderful ones out there where the name is written in Cyrillic,  or the painting in not identified by artist ! Unfortunately I'm unable to translate Cyrillic and I  am reluctant to include paintings without knowing the artists.The other slight problem is whether all are actually watercolours. I think the odd one may slip in that isn't. If watercolour is involved I do include mixed media. Any corrections welcome.

The late Charles Reid

Gerard Hendriks

Bev Jozwiak

Jean Haines (?) Rather more detailed than most of her work. Is it Her?

Viktoria Prischedko

Sarah Yeoman - Does she not like painting crows!

Janina B

Christian Graniou

Roger Simpson

Rachel (?)

Stan Miller

Alvaro Castagnet


Michele Clamp

Catherine Rey - Always clocks!


Charles Reid - little different for him

Ann Mortimer

Corneliu Dragan- Targoviste

Ingrid Buchthal

Sue Zimmerman

Ann Blockley

Pol Ledent

That's it folks hope you like them, 

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

New Product Nitram LIquid Charcoal

This new product seems to be creating much interest, although the effects it creates will be mainly of interest to those who like 'loose' and/or impressionistic paintings. Thanks to Stephie Butler who is experimenting with this product and has kindly allowed me to show her paintings.

Available in a 50ml tube or container. Jacksons have it at £21.50p at the moment and seem to be the cheapest. Other suppliers are charging two or three pounds more. Sorry about the photo this was the best image I was able to download.

I must first qualify my comments. I have not yet bought this product so have no experience of it. I am fascinated though and despite being a little shocked at the price am tempted to buy some.

Here Stephie has used Daniel Smith Wisteria. She was not happy with the initial result, due to it containing white she thinks,  so added some Ds Lunar Blue which improved matters somewhat. Personally I think she's being too critical. I love it, although I don't like paints that have white in them. In my humble opinion white makes make the paint cloudy and hardens in the tube after a short while.

In this instance the added paint is Daniel Smith Iridescent Antique Copper.  Great granulation from both the charcoal and the paint.

Here the paint is the new Transparent Orange (PO107) from Winsor & Newton. It's expensive introduced as a 'special' in a limited edition but now generally available. The colour is being praised by artists who have tried it but if you want a cheaper alternative try PO71 available as Permanent Orange from Lukas and Translucent Orange from Schmincke. PO107 is a bit of a mystery as it isn't listed in the pigment database.

This one uses DS Lunar Blue again with vine charcoal for detail.

This one has vine charcoal for detail and something called Brou De Noix. I have to confess I don't know what that is even though I've tried to find out.

As readers of this blog will know I am anti the high prices for Daniel Smith watercolours in the UK. There is a massive push to promote them by numerous high profile artists. I don't believe amateurs being told they must buy them is ethical, unless they are affluent which many aren't. I know they are excellent paints with some unique colours. I have bought quite a few in the recent past and they are good I don't dispute that. The Lunar colours however have gone hard in the tubes, a cardinal sin in my opinion. There are many excellent paints from Winsor & Newton, Schmincke, Lukas, Rembrandt that are equal to what Daniel Smith offer but at a lower price. None offer such a huge number but are so many really necessary? Remarkably Van Gogh (Talens) have introduced some iridescent paints and Lunar type colours in their recent revamp. I intend to try some as they are ridiculously cheap by comparison.  .

I love the above paintings from Stephie and am very tempted to try this liquid charcoal I probably shall.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Latest Paintings.

Here are my latest efforts. As usual I make the proviso that I don't post these as good just my work. All are 16" x 12" and mostly on the back of discarded paintings. You can do this if you use good quality paper in the first place. These are almost all on Waterford.

Mountain Sheep

The Apache Kid. He never surrendered and was still about in the early 20th century before vanishing for good.

A Squirrel

Maribou Stork - Nasty creatures and don't they look it!

The villain from the hit TV show 'Killing Eve'.

The eye has it!

One of my favourite birds the Goldfinch.