Friday, 29 November 2013

This and That

I went to the AVA session last week but forgot my camera! I actually set out the previous evening to sort myself out and get better organized. I thought I had but when I got there realised I'd left my camera. The pleasures of advancing age!

The subject was Figures or Portraits but this was affected by the proposed model being unable to attend. Basically we then did our own interpretation of the subject. This was the one item (apart from the camera) that I hadn't finalised and I was at a loss  what to do. First of all I raked out an old Amerindian study but in the end attempted a photograph of eldest grandson Harvey taken about a year ago. Quite often at home, with no time or any other pressures, I'll carefully measure and calculate the distances between eyes, nose, mouth etc - if the old masters could use all sorts of mechanical aids why not - and produce a  careful drawing. In this instance I did it the hard way and drew the outline of the head, then put in the features using rough measurements. It worked out roughly right although I didn't quite catch his expression and made him look about fifteen when he is not quite ten.

Harvey 16" x 12" Fabriano Artistico Extra White 140lb (300gsm) not

Not great is it - actually rather poor, eyes too big, face wrong shape etc etc - although the hair isn't bad. Still another step on my return to painting. 


I did a post recently on the demise of PY153 the pigment mostly used in the popular Indian Yellow and Gamboge paints. This was a bit of a blow as the replacements are mixed pigment paints or not identical in colour. However one of the art shops in Bath, F J, Harris in Green Street, has been selling Rowney watercolours at very keen prices for  months. They didn't have the complete range but Indian Yellow was included. When the news broke I  visited the shop, as we live quite close to Bath, but they were out of stock of that colour. On a subsequent visit the same thing occurred so I thought that was it. Last week I called in again and lo and behold the Rowney had been re-stocked and I bought the  two 15ml tubes they had. It says `PY153' on the tubes so I assume this is correct, although some companies have been known to change the pigment without correcting the labels. Price was £5.63p which is almost  £1 cheaper than mail order from Jacksons. This should last a year or more. I wonder how Rowney are fixed with pigment supplies? Added 17/12/13: I called on F.J Harris in Bath at the weekend to buy some art materials for my granddaughter Evie. Checking the Daler Rowney watercolours I spied more Indian Yellow PY153 so purchased another tube ( 15ml at £5.63p). I now have three so that should last a while.


The Spanish company Escoda make a very good range of brushes including Kolinsky sables. From what I have heard they are very nice people to deal with. They are also very good at marketing and have been getting an increasing number of artists to promote their products. The Dutch artist Gerard Hendriks was recently sent an assortment - I gather gratis - and has been testing them. I must admit to being very cynical about the huge, ever growing range, of art products, paints, papers, brushes, you name it, with artists names attached. 

In the case of Escoda, specifically their top of the range Kolinsky series 1212, and retractable series 1214, they have at least two sets, one with Charles Reid's name,  and most recently John Yardley. Up until 2012 Charles Reid always recommended Da Vinci Maestro and indeed this was so on the 2013 workshops, although Escoda retractables were also mentioned and on some demos he used them. He also had a series 1212 Size 14 Escoda, possibly others, and  I subsequently bought one after examining it.  

 On one of his Catalonia workshops Charles was given the royal treatment with a visit to the Escoda factory.  We now have a three brush set of Charles Reid Reserva Series 1214 travel brushes in sizes 6, 8 and 10. Jacksons price is £57.80p but the standard Escoda series 1214 in the same sizes work out at £54.80p.

 I mentioned John Yardley. Escoda have also introduced a John Yardley set of three Reserva 1212 Series, sizes 6/10/12. The price is £49.90p while the same sizes in series 1212 in the basic Escoda name are £60.70! This is really weird, an apparent premium with Charles Reid's name on the brush and a discount if it is John Yardley. I have just checked these prices (Jacksons)  again to make sure I have it right but it is certainly correct as of today. Bromleys appear to be similar although they are only selling some of these special sets and not the standard series. As for John Yardley now recommending Escoda he previously swore by Winsor & Newton Series 7 and used a Size 10, costing over £100, exclusively. In his book about him Ron Ranson commented on the number of series 7 brushes lying about John Yardleys painting room that had been discarded because they had `lost their point'. There is one odd thing. Bromley refer to the Kolinsky sable travel brushes as the `Optimo' range and the 6.8 and 10 come to £45.49p. Is this a different cheaper alternative to the Reserva series? Somewhat bewildering and reinforces the belief that you should take nothing for granted and very carefully check things out before parting with your hard earned money.

If you read the blurb, and the website comments, that refer to these brushes then claims are made that I find difficult to believe. They involve what sizes these artists are said to use and claims that they think they are the `best in the World or best they have ever used'. Well they may be and Escoda do make excellent brushes as I have several, both 1212 and 1214's.  On sizing though they are up to two sizes smaller than Da Vinci and also Raphael, possibly one in some others.  The prices are still very good even taking that into account. Best in the World? I think Rosemary, Da Vinci, Raphael, Isabey and others might dispute that. My current mix of brushes are Isabey and Da Vinci  plus Escoda and Rosemary Travel brushes. I like them all. 


One final item. While playing with my new ipad I came across a website called `'- apparently American. It claimed to `assess' blogs and the following figures were quoted for mine.

World Ranking- 14,335,201 USA 1,970,225
Number of visitors per month: 386
Daily Figure: 0 -17
Average Number of page Reads; 1

If these figures are correct I don't know why I bother. It would be like shouting to oneself in a sound proofed room. According to Blogger stats, this month will hit around 14,000 page reads, which is the highest ever. What should I read into this and which set are correct?


Jeff B said...

Peter, I enjoy your blog! Keep up the flow of art information.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Jeb appreciate your comments.

Fran Hillman said...

I really like your blog too and I think I may have +1'd (whatever that means) you again by mistake as I'm reading on the iPad and somehow pressed the button!
I'm returning to watercolour after a few years away from it. It is a lovely medium though very tricky at times. I've been painting my garden plants as a way to get my hand back in. Indian yellow is fab and fortunately I still have some. Keep on posting! Fran

Mick Carney said...

Great post Peter. Lots to think about. As to readers etc. I take the view that I blog as a way of keeping a journal for myself and if others want to involve themselves that is a bonus and can be both supportive and stimulating.

I must make a comment about W&N Series 7. I was foolish enough to buy one, size 8. This brush ran out of 'point' after a couple of visits to the paper. Not a patch on my Da Vincis that seem to go on and on.

Peter Ward said...

Welcome Fran and thanks for comments.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Mick for comments. I'm not really into diaries or journals. At times I wish I had been. I try to inform or at least get people thinking.

As for W & N Series 7 I've never bought one nor would I consider doing so at the ridiculous prices. I find it hard to believe they are that good and everything I've read about the subject leads me to think they aren't. As for John Yardley seeing the way he paints on his videos he really scrubs the brush both on the paper and also mixing so I'm not surprised he `loses' the points so quickly.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Ward, I enjoy your blog immensely; please do not stop posting! Your blog is one of my first stops every day to see if you have a new post up. Extremely informative and thoughtful. Covers many, many things that I think most watercolorists are thinking about. Thank you! My own watercolor is a work in progress but I can draw and for portraits, suggest drawing eyes first; use the distance between the two eyes to then measure out where the other features fall. Its much more difficult to draw an oval first and then try to stuff all the features in. Take care and please keep blogging.

Oscar Solis said...

Interesting information regarding the blog stats. I agree that sometimes blogging can be as you described and I myself have wondered why I bother to continue with my own blog as I rarely get any comments. My own stats reveal about 3,064 reads. Well, while I'm figuring out what to do about my own blog I want you to know that your blog is a nice stop and one I make everyday.

Peter Ward said...

Thank you Anonymous. I don't normally allow anonymous posts so please - if you post in future - give an indication of who you are.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Oscar. It is a dilemma that's for sure. I can't reconcile what this published and the Blogger stats. I got more comments early on, with much fewer visitors, than I do now.

Oscar Solis said...

One more- checking on my stats just now I saw it was 3,075 page views "all time history". The total number of times it's been viewed since it's existence.

If you're getting up to 14,000 views a month that is pretty good by my reckoning.

Beyond that the information and the enthusiasm you bring to your blog is immeasurable. You provide technical information, give us a view of your progress and introduce us to many painters we wouldn't have heard of in some cases. To be honest, visiting your blog, at least for me, is almost a case of "hey, I'm heading over to Peter's t see what he's up to".

Maybe that's the best thing about blogs. We aren't reaching the world, perhaps but we are reaching some. :)

Måns Sjöberg said...

Your blog is one of the best regarding materials. I just bought a tripod bracket that I found here. I wrote a few words about it on my own blog:

Peter Ward said...

Thanks again for your kind comments Oscar. It makes it worthwhile.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments Mans. Will certainly visit your blog. Unfortunately what with my blog and Facebook page I don't get as much time as I would like to look at others.

mrspdvn said...

Please do not stop this blog , Peter. It surely is one of the best, most informative and comprenhensive blog on the blogosphere.

Peter Ward said...

Thank you Marissa.