Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Blockx Watercolours

Blockx are a Belgian company originating in 1865.   Blockx was started  by Jacques Blocks, a wealthy chemist. It is today run by Jacques Blocks, presumably the great grandson of the founder.

The famous Salvador Dali writing about the founder said "50 secrets of craftsmanship...."This man who never painted, will contribute more to the painters of tomorrow that what we will have accomplished all the modern painters together". Some praise but remember this was in the 1860s.

The current watercolour range, they were updated in 2008 ..."vastly improved"according to Handprint comprise 72 colours 82% of which are single pigment paints. Naming is the usual mix  with a few anomalies like Blockx Yellow (PY3), Blockx Green (PG7). They do two versions of Burnt Sienna 'Light' and 'Deep', Pyrrolo Vermilion (PO73), Quinacridone Red/Rose  (PV19) is called Rose Lake Pale and Rose Lake, also Magenta. Blockx Blue is PB15:1 which is Phalo Blue and so on. Overall not too bad but you need to refer to the pigment information to be fully aware of what you are getting. The pigments used are all good and in line with other major manufacturers. Blockx use gum arabic and a small amount of honey in their formulation.

What does Handprint say about them - and here's the rub! The good bits are "a few gems....Viridian, Cobalt Violet."....."delightfully varied selection of 16 earth (iron oxide) colours" "All the above have assertive granulating Texture". Unfortunately things then go downhill. Bruce McEvoy of Handprint when in full flow (no longer unfortunately) though admitting  the new range was  ' vastly improved obviously considered that the need to do this didn't reflect well on the company, and wrote that they had been making 'false claims' about some of the paints.  He's said this about others like Lukas who did something similar. This led to an exchange of e-mails between him and Jacques Blocks who complained bitterly about his damning of the paints.  Read Handprint if you are interested. In addition or alternatively read what the artist Jane Blundell says on her blog. 


Jane has done a fabulous job of painting out swatches of over 750 paints including Blockx with observations about how they perform.  Fascinating

These are the giant 3 inch pans. You can see how big they are in the photos above and below.

The smaller tube is actually 15ml, The larger one is 36ml or even larger but I've never seen it advertised for sale over here and  was unaware they did such a size.

 Unfortunately the pigment information is unclear but you can download this chart from Blockx website.

I've never used Blockx although they are available from Jacksons and Great Art and appear so from the leading American mail order specialists. The only artist I know who used them was the late Zoltan Szabo but he also has a Maimeri palette and a Winsor and Newton one.  If you search on Youtube for 'Blockx' at least two videos come up including an interview with Jacques Blockx (in French!). Blockx website is; www.blockx.be/en/products/aquarelles.asp just google 'blockx .

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