Monday, 22 October 2012

Matters of Interest?

Did you know that the (once) great British company Winsor & Newton, previously owned by a Swedish educational company called Colart, are now owned by a German paint company called AB Wilhelm Becker? I didn't until I read the excellent blog   . I wonder  what Mr Winsor and Mr Newton would make of all this - probably turning in their graves. If you think this nationalistic - and I'm opposed to extreme nationalism - look at who owns Holbein, Sennelier, Schminke, Lukas, Maimeri,  Graham and Daniel Smith. Not one has been sold  to a foreign company.

 As an aside there continue to be rumours circulating that W & N watercolours are not as good as they once were. Is this true? Any views?

 I don't know who owns Daler Rowney, the other famous British paint maker, but it certainly isn't the descendants of Mr Daler and Mr Rowney. I believe it is also owned beyond the shores of the UK. 


Turning to watercolour paper I see that Saunders Waterford have now introduced their `High White' paper in blocks. Initially I wasn't overly impressed when I tried some sheets shortly after it was introduced. Yvonne Harry didn't like it either but as I made more paintings I became more positive. The well-known artist Ann Blockley is very happy with this paper. The blocks are now available from both  Ken Bromley and Jacksons. I've just ordered a 16" x 12" Not block, my favoured size, from Jacksons at £24.30p. I do like Fabriano Artistico Extra White, but  they do have this odd size of 18" x 12" and I've taken to reducing it to 16" x 12", which is a waste of paper, especially at close to £30 for a block of  20. Incidentally for those who liked the famous Whatman hand made (and very expensive) paper, which has been discontinued, it is being said that the replacement  is Milford. Why replace it and what is the difference between the two?

Actually I live quite near the Waterford Mill and have been mulling over contacting them and asking if I could visit for a blog feature.

Continuing with paper Great Art are offering their Centenaire 100% cotton watercolour paper at the very keen price of £16.10p for a 16" x 12" 20 sheet block. Other sizes relatively priced. This is current as of today. Centenaire is sold in both rough and not surfaces, several different sizes plus sheets. The `normal' price is £18.95p which is still good compared to other cotton papers. This was launched last year at very keen prices but in 2012 it became more expensive. However the competition has moved up in price - and the special offer seems ongoing, at least up to date - so  for anyone looking for something that is keenly priced but not made of cellulose then worth looking at.

How good is Centenaire? I have used it  for a while and find it satisfactory but  think both Waterford and Fabriano still have the edge. The gap isn't obvious though, at least as far as I can tell. Some other artists at Avon Valley Artists are using it and I've just ordered some for several.
Finally I have been entranced by Gerard Hendriks `little' watercolours on his blog  , which he describes as a `ten minute' painting a day. I decided to try something similar, although I`m frequently driven off course by amongst other things grandparenting duties and emergencies, like tomorrow with Evie having `suspected' - it may well not be - hooping cough. Anyway the other day I took three remaining Rudbekia blooms and attempted a very loose and simple painting. It was quite large at 15" x 11" on 90lb Fabriano and took about 40 minutes.

I first made a loose drawing, very simple, and then painted using a No 8 Isabey 6228 Kolinsky sable. The idea was to use compliments so I put several blues in the background, Cyan Blue (PB15:3), Prussian (PB27), Ultramarine and Cerulean. there is also some Sap Green and a little Hookers. The flowers are a mixture of Indian Yellow (Rowney PY153), Cadmium Orange (Maimeri PO20) and Hansa Yellow Medium (DS PY97). There may also be minor touches of Raw Sienna and Raw Umber. The flower centres are Burnt Umber and Ivory Black. 

Once again comments seem to be drying up. I don't look for praise just feedback really otherwise it is difficult to know what is interesting to readers. That's it folks!


Mick Carney said...

Never let it be said that I denied you feedback. Another interesting post that would be even better if you went into some detail as to why you rate one paper better than others. What are the characteristics that differentiate them for you?

The colour in the painting looks quite garish on my monitor but short sharp exercises sound like a good idea.

Yvonne Harry said...

Thanks for all the interesting info, Peter. Like Mick, I think there is something to be said for 15 minute paintings. I will try to find time to give it a go, and I will look at the web site you have given us.

Rui said...

Hi Peter,

Mick beat me to it as I had a problem with cookies and I had to reboot PC's, etc.

To add to your W&N story, sometime ago I ran out of Burnt Sienna and came over to London to buy some more on an emergency basis. After having gone through few art materials retailers I could not find any large W&N tubes of that colour. Eventually I had to settle for 3 little tubes which were the only ones available. Upon enquiring what was this rush to this colour I was informed that apparently W&N watercolours are now manufactured in France.

Since then I have started stocking some powder earth pigments at home.

Please do not give up posting in your blog, I love it.

Kind regards,


Rui said...

Hi Peter,

Aplogies but I forgot to tell you that I still have not tested Fabriano FIVE paper as promised as I have not been much at home but I have not forgotten.

Kind regards,


Peter Ward said...

Now, now Mick (I won't mention a certain football match yesterday). I'm not having a go at anyone in particular just identifying what seemed like a downward trend.

It's difficult to be specific about the differences in the papers. I would say that maybe Centenaire is a little harder than both Fabriano and Waterford and doesn't take the paint quite as well but the differences (to me) are not obvious.

The garishness you mention is due to the use of Cyan Blue - which is a garish colour. Basically this was a `training' exercise trying out different things. I have changed the photo though to a slightly more accurate one.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments Rui. I'd heard W & N were getting pigments from China. Where will it all end?

One query I have about Fab 5 is that it has been around for years and when I tried it wasn't over impressed Too hard. Is this a new version? It sounds like it and what has actually changed?

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for commenting Yvonne. If you look at Gerard's small paintings they do have a lot going for them.

Irena said...

I am a relative newcomer to watercolour but I remember a friend mentioned recently that the quality of W&N paints had deteriorated. I used to buy them but prefer Daniel Smith now. It's just a shame that they are so expensive here.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for commenting Irena. There are always these rumours swirling about regarding W & N. I think this isn't unusual as they have been the top rated paint for so long. Some very good artists have been using them for many years and most still are. Undoubtedly Daniel Smith are a danger and they must be concerned. In the UK W & N are pretty competitively priced, cheaper than Daniel Smith in many cases although it has fluctuated this year with special offers and suchlike. DS is very expensive in the UK and while they seem to be catching on price will inhibit their growth.

John Softly said...

W&N watercolours are certainly not what they used to be.A recent order of 37 mil tubes from Bromley's Winsor Yellow and Winsor Red were OK but their Burnt Umber bore no comparison with a tube purchased three years ago.
I am slowly switching to Schmincke.
There are also problems with their sable brushes. I would hazard a guess and say it's corner cutting. Why aren't I surprised?

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for commenting John. With W & N changing ownership more than once you have to wonder. Often new owners cut costs or try to squeeze more out - they aren't in it to continue the legacy.

Oscar Solis said...

I've only ever bought one tube of W&N and I thought it was pretty high priced. I have to admit price plays a real big part in my paint choices, especially now, as incoming illustration work has been pretty slow. Not being a purist, however, has it's benefits. I've mentioned before that I use chinese watercolors. For the price of one tube of W&N I can buy a set of 12 colors. It's a bit of a learning curve, there are some opaque issues, but like anything else, one learns to deal with it and continue. (Lightfastness isn't an issue. I tested these paints under the blaze of a western sky and there wasn't any noticeable fading).

I'm wondering if once cost doesn't become an issue I'll go back to the "artists quality" paints. I don't see that happening anytime though. It's not that I'm cheap (I prefer the term "thrifty"), I just don't buy into that whole "one must have artists quality materials in order to create" that is routinely bullhorned (though not by you Peter. I see you as a bit of a rebel and that's always a great thing in the art world.)

Ten minute sketches are great. Wonderful way to just stick to the basics of the picture. The drawing equivalent, at least to me, is drawing a sketch with the fattest pencil, charcoal clump, marker one can

As far as commenting, I might not at times (and when I do, it's admittedly pretty verbose like just now...sorry), but rest assured your page is one I visit everyday.

Peter Ward said...

Always interesting to hear from you Oscar. I don't mind verbosity at all as long as it's informative and/or interesting.

I need to be careful here as I might be accused of hypocrisy since I use Kolinsky sables, Artists quality paints and cotton paper,not hand-made though. I do have some Moldau and a small amount of an Italian paper bought in Amalfi. These are husbanded as I doubt I'll ever get any more.

Ron Ranson used to say (in private) that the whole `it must be the best thing' was a con and he used Bockingford paper, a few synthetic brushes and Cotman paints. He even painted on the back of failed paintings. One of the best artists I know(Yvonne) does wonderful paintings with synthetic brushes even seconds!

I do buy on special offers and a lot of what I have is bought at very keen prices. If the time comes when I can't afford `the best'I'll happily change to something cheaper. Even so I wouldn't pay the ridiculous prices that are asked for products like Winsor & Newton Series 7 brushes.

As for Chinese paints I have a DVD from Liam Zhan Quen. He is brilliant and uses Chinese brushes and Marie paints. I will be doing a feature on Chinese brushes as I have two sets, although to date haven't used them. Gerard Hendriks does so it isn't just the Chinese!

Hope business picks up soon!

Daler Rowney said...

Really interesting post.