Monday, 31 May 2010

JACKSON'S Eco Handmade

Last year Jacksons launched a new handmade paper from India. 100% recycled cotton and produced in a factory where the water used in the process is then run off to irrigate the field surrounding the factory. The price is good, lower than those of the mould made papers  like Waterford and Fabriano, and half the price of Arches. As well as asking for and receiving the free paper samples PJESAM, I purchased two full sheets of the 140lb  smooth/medium. It comes in three weights including 560lb(!) and three surfaces. The samples were given to three other artists at my Avon Valley Group for them to try. They all gave the paper a big thumbs down.  Yesterday I decided to try painting on it. This is the result.

Jackson's Eco Handmade 22" x 14" 140lb smooth/medium 'The Marina Grande at Sorrento'

The paper is roughly made and tends to be on the bumpy side. Although supposedly 140lb it seems thicker and possibly heavier than the mould-made products. The surface is similarly `rough' in consistency. I first made the drawing and the pencil seemed to drag on the paper somewhat. When I began painting the surface  scuffed in places very easily and wasn't consistent. It took the colour moderately well but I almost gave up on it at times. Unfortunately I can't give it much of a recommendation which is a pity. My fellow artists likened it to blotting paper and were even more critical, although they only had small samples. I can't think what sort of watercolour painting it would suit. Maybe collage but what else?
Note added 1 June: I forgot to mention that I taped the paper to my board and when I came to remove it, literally only two hours or so later, it ripped the paper very badly.     

Friday, 28 May 2010

More Recent Paintings

Sitting Bull and Captain Jack.

SB was the famous Sioux medicine man involved with the destruction of the 7th Cavalry under Custer, while Captain Jack was the leader of the small band of Modocs who gave the US army the runaround in the late 1870's. In  the film Jack was portrayed by Charles Bronson!

Judi painting at the Gannel Estuary, Newquay October 2009.
15" x 11" Not

I was on a painting course with Judi Whitton late last year and took a photograph from which I later did this painting. This was my second attempt.

`Crow Eagle' 15" x 11" Fabriano Artistico 90lb Not

Another effort at Crow Eagle, one of several less than 100% satisfactory efforts. I have done worse than this one.

"Messing about on the River" 19" x 14" 152lb Veneto Not

This painting was for the `end of term' competition at my Bathampton Art Group. We have a competition and vote for the painting we consider the best. I think mine only got one vote and that was the lady who sits alongside me when we paint! I basically opted for a simple composition which went down like a lead balloon.

View down to terrace from 4th floor room balcony Hotel Royal Sorrento
12" x 16" Waterford Not

This one is the last painting I did at Sorrento with the addition of the three half pans I was able to buy in Amalfi. I was not very struck by it but at least I made the effort.

Michael Caine 15" x 11" Fabriano Artistico Not

One I did a while ago for a competition at Bathampton `Celebrity Portrait'. In the event the one I put in was of Clint Eastwood. I thought it was quite good but it came nowhere in the voting.

Sitting Bull, Huncpapa Sioux 15" x 11" Not

 Painted earlier this year or late last year, can't remember which. A reasonable likeness.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Latest Painting

This was painted at my last thursday Avon Valley Artists session. The subject was `a rainy day' and I obtained the photo from Google images. There did not appear to be any copyright restrictions but in any event it is just an exercise in painting from a photograph.

`Geisha in the Rain' 12" x 16" Saunders Waterford Not 

 When choosing the  photograph I wanted something different and worked on Charles Reid's dictum of picking offbeat subjects. Overall I think it works quite well. It was mostly painted using my new Da Vinci Artissimo 44 No 2 Kolinsky Mop purchased from Jacksons. The brush head is roughly equivalent to a good number 12 standard Kolinsky although the handle is shorter. I used a number 4 for the detail in the features. I actually did the drawing the previous day so when I was at the Hall could concentrate solely on the painting. I find this is beneficial.

Monday, 17 May 2010

The Blues in Sorrento!

View from balcony of room, 4th floor Hotel Royal Sorrento, Vesuvius in background.

Actually I need to explain myself. After taking considerable trouble to decide what painting kit to take with me to Sorrento I committed an unpardonable sin. When waiting for our baggage at Naples airport I was suddenly struck by a horrible realization. I had forgotten to bring my main painting box and had only a mishmash of supplementary paints! What a disaster! My wife says it shows I am losing it so it's double doses of Ginkgo Biloba from now on.

I had everything else but what could I do with the paints I had ? My supplementary paintbox, occasionally brought into play, contains Greengold (PY129), Indian Yellow (PY153), Permanent Magenta (PV23), Opera Rose (PR122 plus a dye), Permanent Rose (PV19), Avignon Orange (PR206), Indanthrene Blue (PB60), Hookers Green (PG7/PO49) and Ivory Black (PBk9). The odd tubes I put in the bag were two or three versions of Naples Yellow (Reddish etc), Ultramarine Pink (PR259) and Quinacridone Rust (PO48). The latter were intended for the colours of buildings in Italy. I only brought the supplementary box as an afterthought.

I first tried an experimental painting on the terrace of the hotel, which is on the cliff top facing the sea. The main problem as I saw it was the lack of a decent set of primary colours - no blue apart from Indanthrene blue, no primary yellow either. When It came to the sky I was scuppered so the hunt began for an art shop to supplement what I had. The holiday representative tried to be helpful but the end result was NOTHING! The only paints available in Sorrento were  two solitary boxes of Cotmans priced at 34 and 74 euros.  No sale.
We arrived late on Friday and had opted for a trip to Amalfi on Monday. The thought occured might there be something available in Amalfi, although as a smaller town than Sorrento I didn't hold out much hope. However on arrival I explained my predicament to the young lady who was the guide for the day, and although she wasn't optimistic directed me to a shop specializing in various stationery and paper products. After  a good look around I discovered a small area where there were some brushes, and on further inspection found a small tray underneath holding some Maimeri half pans. That was the good news. The bad news was the selection of colours was minimal but I managed to find Cyan Blue (PB15:3) Permanent Green (PGY/PY175) and  Permanent Yellow Lemon (PY175). Thinking I might find something else further up the main street which winds upwards off we went. To cut a long story short no luck! But I did discover a small shop, the shops are all small, selling paper of various sorts which seemed to include watercolour paper. This was confirmed and some small and medium sized sheets were produced. by the lady serving. I chose the 16" x 12" largest size and on enquiring whether it was hand-made, a stupid question really, the lady immediately said "Yes, by me at my factory over there" waving her hand in an easterly direction. I asked for 5 sheets (ten euros) but got six for the same price. The paper has a beautiful soft feel although quite light, possibly 90lbs. That doesn't bother me because I do some paintings on 90lb Fabriano and my style of trying for a finish first time, with no big washes, means I can use lighter paper, although 140lb is the staple. The paper is expensive compared to the usual mould-made but I was on holiday so.... I discovered, should have known, that Amalfi is famous for paper of different sorts and the  address and name  for this supplier is: Arte e Carta, di Rita di Cavaliere, via P.Capuano, 30 84011 Amalfi (Sa). She even has an e-mail address:

If you visit Amalfi, and almost everybody who goes to the Sorrento area does, then call in the shop. What first attracted me were the lovely small drawings and paintings in the window, obviously done on the paper she produces.

How did I get on with the painting using this unfamiliar hotchpotch of paints? Not terribly well although I did some painting from the balcony shown above and a couple more from the terrace down below. I was tempted to post one of them but decided against. It was a useful exercise trying to paint with an unfamiliar set but not one I wish to repeat so I definately won't make the same mistake again. I did take many photos at the old fishing port called the Marina Grande. Lots of boats and things. Hope to do something with them in due course.

One final glitch (almost). When I packed my art materials the tripod and mdf board (with attached Ken Bromley bracket) plus paper went into  one of our cases. My backpack held everything else including my Walkstool. On going through the checking area at Naples airport the bag was x-rayed then pulled out and inspected. A young lady said the Walkstool couldn't go on the plane and would have to go back via luggage  at the entrance of the airport, some distance away. This was a potential nightmare but fortunately another young lady appeared and waved us through. It was nearly inspected again when a holdup occured at the boarding gate and two officials started pulling people out of the queue, pulling their hand luggage apart. Luckily not mine, especially after the incident over the Walkstool. I'm all for airport security but the Walkstool in its bag is only about 12" long and weighs eighteen ounces. In future in the case it goes.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Latest Indian Portrait

I photographed three today starting with my Nikon Digital SLR but unfortunately the battery ran out and I reverted to my old Canon A95. The following portrait photographed the best of the three so I'll have to try again with the Nikon. I'm very much an ad hoc photographer so my results are often variable - much like my painting!
Curley-Bear Blackfoot Chief 1903, Schut Vivace 115lb Not 15" x 11"

He doesn't appear too happy in the original photograph which I think comes through in the painting. Overall I'm quite pleased with this one. The usual mix for the features of Cadmium Red Light, Cad Yellow Light, also Raw Sienna, with Cerulean, Cobalt and Ultramarine Blue in various amounts added to create the darker complexion. 

I'll discuss my palette choices, not that they are anything out of the ordinary, at a future date. I do like to have plenty of options so have a main palette of sixteen colours with a smaller supplementary palette with a further nine. Usually I major on probably no more than six with smaller amounts of several others. I seem to use the earth colours quite extensively. The very limited palette is not for me because I follow the Charles Reid/Judi Whitton approach of trying for a finish first time- which isn't always possible. I also try not to overmix,  mixing where possible on the paper. The American artist Al Stine says, somewhere in one of his books, that he doesn't know any good artist who paints with a first time finish. Obviously he doesn't like such an approach! Is he getting at Charles Reid?

My wife and I are off to Sorrento for a week this Friday, volcano ash permitting, so there will be no more posts for at least ten days. The painting gear is being sorted for packing although the weather forecast is a bit miffy. Still one lives in hope.