Sunday, 31 July 2016

Watercolour Paintings (21)

Here  are the latest watercolour paintings I've downloaded. Once again a varied collection  with something I would hope for everyone.

 N.B Gurung

Gerard Hendriks

Charles Reid

Catherine Rey

David Taylor

Jan Velhuis

Josef Zbukvic

Yoko Nagayama

Catherine Rey

Charles Reid

Trevor Lingard

Bhira Painting

Robert Wade

Ewa Ludwiczak

Christian Couteau

That's it then folks.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Watercolour Painting on a Budget - 2016 Update

I've just purchased some art materials, mostly paints and paper, for my Avon Valley Art group.  Two relatively small parcels cost just under £300 and brought home again how expensive watercolour painting can be.

My previous posts on this subject have been very popular and the 2011 one still is to some extent. Not a lot has changed except everything has got more expensive. The main change has been the introduction of a number of cheaper paints as the artist quality prices have continued to climb with the introduction of QoR and Lutea raising them to ridiculous levels.

The principal items are paints, paper and brushes. These are the main ones. I know you can spend a lot more when you get into easels and other accessories like palettes, but in this latter case there are many cheap options which are perfectly adequate. I propose therefore to cover paints, paper and brushes only.

There has actually been more movement on paints than either paper or brushes.  This has taken three forms. The introduction of Korean paints plus Turner from Japan, more house brands plus QoR and very recently Lutea. Both these latter are excruciatingly expensive.

Shin Han, Mijello and Turner have upwards of 70 paints, compared to the more normal 40 of budget makes like Venezia from Maimeri, Van Gogh from Talens, and Cotman from Winsor and Newton. I have covered all three makes in separate posts so I suggest you read those if you are interested. I have analysed the ranges and concluded they are not equivalent to the top makes. However it is perfectly possible to find 20/30 paints in each group that have decent pigments. They are being promoted as artist quality and I would say they are somewhere between student quality and artists quality. Some of my artists friends use Shin Han and are very happy with them. They seem to me to be on the opaque side, rather like Chinese makes like Maries, described by a well-known Chinese artist as 'somewhere between watercolour and gouache'. Make no mistake though Cotman, Van Gogh and Venezia contain some excellent paints. Prices are much cheaper than the top makes and the recently introduced Turner the cheapest. The Winsor & Newton Cotman range in the USA comprises 50 paints, including genuine Cobalts and Cadmiums but they refuse to make them available in the UK. The St Petersburg range remain very popular and have recently added tubes as well as the normal pans.

The other change has been the introduction of more house brands both in the UK and USA. We have recently caught up in the UK with Ken Bromley, Jacksons and Great Art all having house brands. Initially Jacksons was made by Sennelier and still may be. I haven't tried any of them but they are well priced and have had good reviews - have you ever seen a bad one in a trade magazine? - but the only worthwhile one is to try a small sample - say three paints - yourself.

I mentioned  QoR and Lutea. My only comment is to say I won't even consider them because of the ridiculous prices when there are many excellent makes available at far better value. In the UK the much lauded Daniel Smith has made an impact with a huge range - far too many - including some lovely colours but prices are high and I suggest equivalents to many of the colours are available in cheaper makes like Lukas and Daler Rowney, while Winsor & Newton are frequently on offer. Don't rule out Maimeri, Sennelier  or Rembrandt. You don't  have to buy only one make. Others may tell you different so this is my opinion based on my own experience.

No real change here. Without a doubt Bockingford remains the best budget option and I have  just purchased a pack of 50 sheets(11" x 15") for a member of my group at £21,50p. This from Jacksons. Other options include several papers in the Hahnemuhle range like Brittania. Great Art do several budget papers under the Gerstaecker name. I tried a couple but was not impressed. They do offer a good 100% cotton paper called Centenaire, in both sheets and blocks, which is good value for a cotton paper. Sheets work out much cheaper than blocks.

Again no real change here although prices have risen steadily. With Kolinsky sables prices jump into the stratosphere beyond size 8 but Rosemary & Co are well priced compared to some the others. Escoda are also competitive although size by size they are usually smaller. They do however offer an increasing range of synthetic fibre brushes that are used and promoted by some well-known workshop artists. In the UK Pro Arte have a virtual monopoly in art shops and are good, but also have a look at what Rosemary offers.  A very good alternative are the mixed sable/synthetic brushes most list and the Da Vinci Cosmotop range of mixed hair/synthetic , used by some top artists, are worth considering. See the article on synthetic brushes by John Softly.

That's basically it. The index for the blog is July 2014 and will tell you where to find the articles mentioned in the text.

Sunday, 17 July 2016


Eskiminzin was the chief of the Aravaipa band of the Western Apache. The painting is from a photograph taken when, in his later peaceful period,  he had become a prosperous farmer with a ranch, ranch-type house, cattle and cultivated land. He was so succesfull that avaricious white settlers soon found a way to return him and his family to the reservation and steal his property and possessions.

Eskiminzin 16" x 12" watercolour paper 140lb not but not sure what make

I commenced with a pencil drawing the day prior to my Thursday AVA session as I find this is the best way. I can then concentrate straight away on painting and take more time. 

As usual I start with the eyes then the nose followed by the mouth. I use my Isabey travel brush size 6 together with the other Isabey size 4 and 6 Kolinsky sables. If you think this odd the reason is that the travel brush is nothing like a normal size 6, being much smaller in body but quite long and slim. Why  it is called a 6 I can't imagine, I don't strictly adhere to the above straying into adjacent areas when painting these features but in general this is the procedure. As I've said many times before this is based on what Charles Reid teaches. Since viewing Gerard Hendriks DVD I have been trying a slightly different approach in that I, rather than rushing straight through, have been using a hair dryer to thoroughly dry the paint before proceeding to the 2nd stage. Gerard paints in three or even four stages thoroughly drying the painting in between. This he says is one of the ways that ensures transparency when overpainting.

Colours used were mainly Translucent Brown (Schminke Pbr41) with Ultramarine Blue and a touch of Permanent Rose. I also introduced Lukas Cobalt Violet (PV14) as a trial. This particular brand of Cobalt Violet is quite  weak, as Cobalt Violet is generally and the shade a pale violet grey. See the piece about Cobalt Violet with comments from John Softly (INDEX JUNE 2014). They do vary with some much pinker. The hair was Ultramarine mixed with Translucent Brown and so was the shading on the hat in weaker mixtures. The clothing is basically Raw Umber and Raw Sienna with some shading with the above colours. I still haven't really cracked this with the original photograph a sort of black and white / Sepia colour.  I put some green and pink in the background but am not entirely happy with that aspect. I did overpaint with the same colours in the face once fully dry to get the shading right. As far as accuracy is concerned it is a reasonable likeness. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Lutea Watercolours

Yet another brand of watercolour paint arrives and in some ways an astonishing one. What do I mean? To start with the paints are plant-based giving a result - "that cannot be created with synthetic colours"..... " with good to very good lightfastness".

The most astonishing thing are the prices. Lutea comes in 9ml tubes and the twelve -  "unique colours" - range in price from £13.50p to £18.00 and these are discounted prices! Even more expensive then QoR.

Jacksons give a full description and there are two PDF's that can be downloaded that give a full list of plants used  as well as one on the making of them.

Lutea are a Belgian company and say the paints must be kept at room temperature.

Frankly I wouldn't pay such prices however good they are claimed to be. Who will buy them? If you are interested go to Jacksonsart website, put Lutea watercolours in the search box and read the full story.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Three More

My latest efforts mostly drawn at home and painted at AVA sessions on Thursdays. 

'My he looks fierce' 16 x 12
I wasn't happy with my first attempt and tried a 'rescue'. It's partially worked but not 100% You can rescue watercolour failures but it's best to avoid having to do so!

'Manuelito' Principal Chief of the Navahos late 1800s 16 x 12

Manuelito was chief for quite a long period both during hostilities with the whites and well into the reservation phase. There are many photographs of him taken when a relatively young man and into later life.

'Makah Maiden' 1915 16 x 12 

The original photograph - another by Edward Curtis - is rather an overall dull grey and the resultant painting was similarly dull. As a rescue attempt I decided to introduce arbitrary colours. I had no idea what the original colours were. It's over the top as far as colour is concerned.

I have just switched from a windows type computer [after 20+ years] to an iMac. Fabulous machine but a steep learning curve that threatens the continuance of this blog. In particular I don't as yet know how to incorporate photos into posts using Picassa 3. If I cannot solve this...........

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Watercolour Paintings (20)

Herewith the latest batch of watercolour paintings I have collected. There are several new artists so something hopefully for everyone with some of my favourites that I make no apology for featuring, but this is perhaps more of a mixture than has gone before, with several I haven't previously come across. Certainly food for thought. I hope you like them

Janet Rogers

Akvareller (?)

Nirupam K Onwar

Charles Reid

Edo Hannema

Galina Shkoda

Jonathan Kwegvir Aggrey

Muga Popa Artwork

Gerda Mertens

Jonas Nilsson

N B Gurung

Another from N B Gurung

Orhan Gurel

Rachel Toll

Tony Belobrajdic

Virgil Carter