View from our bedroom window at 8am today.
For those interested in the Cobalt Violet item I've now added John Softly's views based on his testing of several makes. Taken together with the balance of the piece this gives a pretty comprehensive introduction for anyone tempted to try this pigment (PV14). Remember select by pigment NOT colour. You can of course select by colour if you so wish and many do, and we know that paints from different manufacturers can vary considerably even though made with the same pigment, so this advice isn't driven by dogma as I tend to adopt a pragmatic view. In general I think the selection by pigment advice - stressed by Handprints Bruce McEvoy is valid. This doesn't stop you having a yen for mixed pigment paints like Daniel Smiths Moonglow though! Why not?
Judging by the number of e-mails arriving with `special offers' from the mail order art suppliers times are tough. Make sure you are on the list and buy what you need when the offers are too good to refuse. I imagine North American artists have a similar situation with lots of offers from Blick, Daniel Smith, Cheap Joes etc. I do make the qualification that you perhaps need to resist these siren voices especially if you are an impulse buyer like me. If the offers are of products you use a lot - paints and paper come to mind - then buy, buy, buy - unless you already have several years supply like me (!). The Great Art offer is free postage over £19.95p (normally £39.95p). until this Sunday the 28th. They do have some great offers and so do Jacksons. I've also just acquired the Lawrence catalogue, although it is dated 2012, which can be obtained free, either as a download or hard copy. This is just a guide to prices, the real action takes place on the website. I'm slightly ambivalent about Lawrence as they have a fixed carriage charge regardless. If you buy 6 tubes of paint of Da Vinci, Graham and Lukas you do get extra discount, making the prices pretty good, but then have to add on £4.99p which is over 82p per tube - not such a great deal after all. Lawrence defend this policy claiming they offer exceptional service. Service is good but a little over the top as you are bombarded with e-mails and I have no complaints of the service from either Great Art or Jacksons. Despite my lingering annoyance with Ken Bromley they also give excellent service and all give free postage over £39.95p.. Nevertheless Lawrence are the only UK source of Graham and Da Vinci watercolours and also have Art Spectrum - not easy to find - and Lukas, as well as several others.
I have commented several times about the Facebook page started by Robin Berry and Gerard Hendriks, both superb professional artists with different styles. A particular colourful bird is selected - roughly weekly - and you are invited to submit your version. Not everyone is interested in bird paintings I know but it has the advantage of seeing how these artists - and other talented ones - approach the subject. When I am painting I often think `I wonder how so and so would approach this?'. With `Painting Colorful Birds for Fun' you can see exactly how. A great learning experience. I shall be posting my latest - I'm really pleased with one of them - in the next few days.
The monthly challenge between myself and Mick Carney of `The Painting Struggle' has been temporarily suspended. I shall be on the Charles Reid Stow-on-the-Wold workshop between 5-11 May and also am having problems with a projected house move, with nothing yet finalised. Mick has recently had a surgical operation and I am sure you all join with me in wishing him a successful outcome. The next subject - my choice - is a boat scene selected from a number supplied by John Softly.
Is anyone else extremely sceptical of professional artists pushing certain products? The very modest (I'm joking) high profile artist Nicholas Simmons is promoting Escoda brushes saying they are the `best in the world ' and similar over the top statements. He is also quoted on the American Da Vinci website as saying Da Vinci watercolours `are the best in the world' and that `colleagues and his students agree'. Really? Escoda brushes are excellent and I have some - mainly retractables. I have no experience of Da Vinci paints but don't doubt they are good. But to make such all embracing statements is very questionable because there are several other brush and paint manufacturers who could equally make such a claim. Simmons also said that Charles Reid thought the same about Escoda and certainly he is now using some travel brushes, and has his own signature set, as has Simmons, made by Escoda. On every Charles Reid workshop I've attended he has recommended Da Vinci - the German brushmaker - and that hasn't changed with the forthcoming one, although Escoda are also now mentioned.
The whole thing has been highlighted by the ridiculous claims made by an American professional artist and teacher recommending the Mission Gold watercolours by Mijello. currently being heavily promoted in America. These claims include `best in the world' or the best `she has ever used', and despite a good number containing dyes and fugitive pigments claims they will last `100 years'. After picking myself off the floor I think that was the claim. She did get quite a strong negative response by Wetcanvas members when she foolishly posted on the Mission Gold thread. Do they think all artists are stupid? I shall be doing a feature on Korean watercolours soon as I suspect Mission Gold will appear in the UK sometime soon with equally over the top publicity.