Saturday, 17 March 2018

Latest Efforts

These are my most recent paintings. I've also trashed a couple. My policy now is to destroy any that are going wrong and start again, not in every case as for example I started one of the Nez Perce chief Looking Glass. The drawing was fine but the painting turned out very dull so I trashed it. I may try again but not sure on this one as the guide photo is a very murky one with poor detail. Trying to interpret it proved beyond me.

I pick photos that appeal to me unless it is an AVA subject, in which case I (mostly) stick to the subject although we are allowed leeway in interpreting the subject. Some subjects are more specific, others less so.

Hipah - Mohave Woman c 1900.
 One of Edward Curtis photographs, all are black and white.

Feeding Time.

I found this one on Pinterest. I like drawing and painting birds and  this little bird had made this amazing nest in an old hanging lamp, with the original glass missing.

Mainly Red. 

This was an AVA subject so I looked at red flowers. The one I found was of Dahlias, although the colours were brighter than the above, but I couldn't match them even though I have a lot of reds.  Possibly Vermilion would be more accurate but I don't have that one. The foliage was a very black-brown which also appealed with some subtle green also in the background. I used Perylene Green (Schmincke) a very blackish green, Lunar Black from Daniel Smith. and another darkish green. I also sprayed the background with a very fine mist of water and let the colours mix. Some Molotow masking fluid was used on the flower centres which are Burnt  Umber. The one  I used was Lukas which is a three pigment mix. Why I bought this one I 'm not sure as Burnt Umber is usually a single pigment and this Lukas version is a very dull Brown. I do like Lukas overall and at current prices they are a 'best buy' - not Burnt Umber though!

King of the Jungle 

The guide photo really appealed to me and this is the third study of a great ape I've done recently. This guy had a very pensive expression - staring into space. After I finished I kept looking at it and  finally realised the eyes were too human-looking. I then added Transparent Orange (Schmincke PO71) and then a touch of Cadmium Red (PR108).

Young Amerindian Girl. 15" x 11"

Cree Chief Big Bear in captivity after the Riel rebellion in 1885 in Canada. The Metis people, mixed race French speaking, rebelled together with some Cree and Assiniboine indians. Louis Riel, the leader, was tried for treason and hanged, leading to deep resentment by the French-speaking population that continues to this day

All the above are approximately 16" x 12", except for Hipah and the young  girl who are  11" x 15" Khadi.

New Watercolour Papers from Jacksons

Some interesting new watercolour papers have recently been offered by Jacksons. Two of those below have been available for a while.  I've not tried them but my interest has recently been aroused.  As I paint mainly on blocks those below are in this category but you can get sheets or pads of some.

The above is a paper new to me called 'Stonehenge'. I first heard of it when reading that it was now Bev Jozwiaks favourite paper, the hot press. It is available in a variety of sizes and surfaces including cold pressed (not). In my favourite size of 12" x 16" the cost for 15 sheets is £25. Comprehensive information is on the Jacksons website.

This is the Strathmore 400 series . Strathmore is an American brand very popular over there. A variety of pads are offered, called "Field' spiral, "Softcover" art journal plus a glued pad. Sizes vary. They don't appear to do a 16" x 12" with an 18" x 12" the closest to this size. The blurb states 'wood free, acid free but nothing about it being 100% cotton so I assume it isn't. They do a series 500 in an imperial sheet which is described as 100% cotton for £7 - quite pricy.

This one - Yupo - has been available for a while and is a controversial paper as it is unlike any other. The surface is white, smooth like glass and hence doesn't absorb the paint which you can move around. Some artists appear sold on it and it would seem it is selling well judging by the range of weights and sizes being offered. The reason I say controversial is that a painting friend described it as an 'abomination'. However that fine artist Stan Miller recently tried it and was quite impressed as it enabled him to loosen up and get effects not available on normal papers. Funnily enough I was looking through some old 2014 copies of the American mag Watercolour Artist and lo and behold a small trial sheet of Yupo was included!  Jacksons offer an 11" x 14" gummed pad of 10 sheets at prices that range from £18.40p for the 200gsm to £33,.0p for the 390gsm. See details on the website. Interestingly enough the SAA (Society of All Artists) in their comprehensive 170 page materials catalogue (Society?) have an 85gsm version in loose sheets A2, A3 and A4 as well as 25  sheet pads in A3 and A4. With the lighter weight the prices are cheaper sheet for sheet. The 25 sheet A3 pad is £22.25p. You are supposed to be a member to get these prices and I can as my AVA group has an associated membership as well as public liability insurance with them. Some prices are listed as 'members only' but many others would seem to be on offer to non members.

This is a new range called 'Fluid Easy'. It is said to be manufactured in a European mill that dates from 1618 and blocks are glued on two edges. Cold pressed and hot pressed are available in my favourite size of 16" x 12,  15 sheets costing £19.00p. The smallest size is 6' x 8'. There seems to be quite a range offered by Jacksons of this new 'Fluid Easy'.

I have not tried any of the above yet. The ones that interest me most are Stonehenge and Fluid Easy but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If you are interested look them up on Jacksons where there are many more details than I have given above.

Looking at prices  Stonehenge is more expensive (per sheet) than my current favourite Waterford High White, while Fluid Easy is slightly less. 

Sunday, 11 March 2018


I have just updated the Index. To access it you have to scroll down to JULY 2014. I know this is a bit of a bind but I'm not clever enough to make access any easier, although there have been attempts to help me. If there is an easy way to make it more accessible I'd be delighted to hear.

There is some good stuff in the back posts, including contributions from John Softly.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

ShinHan Watercolours ?

The feature I did on Korean Watercolours,  although a while ago, still seems to be regularly scanned. Recently someone posted on it saying, in effect, that I was misleading people. This gentlemans argument -  with the moniker of pbasswil, at least it wasn't 'anonymous' -  seemed to be that ShinHan offered three ranges and only one was actually considered 'artists watercolours', even though all three are described as 'watercolors' by ShinHan. Who is misleading who?  The other two weren't even watercolours I was told.  His final bit was 'Don't muddy the assessment  by calling them ShinHan 'watercolours' , just call the pro line 'PWC', ignore the lesser ranges, and no one will get confused.' I must confess my hackles rise slightly when I get this sort of post as all the confusion is due to the way ShinHan have marketed them. Read the post on the piece as I don't want to quote it in full. He did say ShinHan were partly to blame in the way that they were marketing these products, but said the one I  reviewed was actually the wrong one even though called 'Professional' watercolours.

Premium - what does this mean?

Is this the same as the above?

What are these?

PWC Extra Fine Artists Water Color - this I believe is the top range although I can only count 70 colours here.

This is the range in order of priority from the ShinHan Website.

1. PWC Extra Fine Water Color. 84 colours. Jacksons Watercolour catalogue says 72 listing each one and including pigment information.

2. Professional Water Color. 30 colours.

3. Shami Water Color.  24 colours.

They use the American spelling of color by the way.

Being somewhat bemused by the critical post in effect saying I had reviewed one of the others. I contacted Jacksons sending them a copy and asking if they could clarify which ones they actually sold. A few days later this is the reply from Julie Caves at Jacksons:

I can confirm we previously stocked the ShinHan Special Watercolour SWC and a few years ago switched to the ShinHan Premium Extra Fine Watercolour PWC. A few colours that sell the most slowly are still in the SWC, as they sell out we are replacing them with the PWC and eventually all colours will be in the PWC. Our website says which is which. Because of your e mail we are adding the words Extra Fine to the product name to clarify it. If it has been a while since you tried the ShinHan you might want to try it again now that we are stocking the highest grade.

When first launched I did buy one colour and a painting friend another. I did say at the time that this was  a very small sample but they were awful. At least two painting friends from my art group subsequently bought the 32 piece box offered by Jacksons and are quite happy with them. Seeing the paintings produced they do seem rather opaque, to my eyes at least. They are  cheap compared to the leading makes. I think they have the PWC type.

Looking at the PWC as currently offered I make the following observations. There are a number of fugitive paints, PR83 Alazarin Crimson is used in four paints and I think at least two dyes, Bright Violet BV11, and Opera BR1. These are fugitive. White is added to 15 paints, something I'm not keen on at all as it makes the paint cloudy and opaque, while my experience with other paints with white in them is that they solidify in the tube after a while. I know people say cut the tubes open and treat them like pans. My answer is why should you have to do that? This can mess your brushes up.

Some of the pigments used are not featured or are uncommon in the top ranges of other makes for example PY1, PG8, PY183, PY83, PY81 and PY74 to name just six. They may be fine I just don't know. I looked some up on the Pigment database (The Color of Pigment Database) but while listed this resource does not rate the pigments.

In summary I think my original descriptions don't seem to differ much from the above. I'm still not inclined to buy them but, if you discount the fugitive and white-loaded paints, there are still quite a number with good single pigments. My advice, for what it is worth, is stick to single pigment paints avoiding the fugitive ones and in general multi-pigment mixes. They are  inexpensive compared to leading makes but do seem rather opaque so transparency may be an issue. You can only find out by trying them. 

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Watercolour Paintings 40

Here are Februaries batch, another bumper one with a wide range of subjects and techniques. Like everyone else I prefer some more than others, but that reflects individual tastes and hopefully there is something for everyone. 

Ben Gassenbauer

Cemal Selimgil

Jansen Chow

Rukiye Garip

Yuko Nagayama

The fabulous Japanese artist. Her paintings are almost surreal.

Coral Colmenaras

Amazing detail for a watercolour

TC Orhan Guler

Jem Bowden
Very similar in style to Edward Wesson

Natasha Kolvalchuk

Charles Reid. A Typical figure painting

Nicki Keith Saunders

Trevor Waugh

I did three workshops with Trevor in my early watercolour years. A very professional teacher.

Rajeesh K Karimbanakal's

Gerard Hendriks
Gerard never ceases to surprise with his wide subject matter

Burhan Ozer -I think this is one of his. A fabulous artist.

Kees van Aalst

Author of 'Realistic Abstracts'.

Bev Jozwiak

Love her jackdaws of which there are many.  Her favourite colour is Winsor & Newtons Manganese Blue Hue which is one of the phalo PB15's. She says she tries to use in in every painting. You can see it above.

Stephie Butler

Great Portrait artist and much else

Robert Wade

The great Australian watercolour painter

Another from Stephie Butler

Another from Gerard Hendriks

Bev Jozwiak

Robert Zangarelli

Lorenzo Santini

I really like this one. It's quite different.

Thats it folks. I've indulged myself a little with several from my favourite artists - I have many more as there are so many wonderful artists out there. Having said that some  of the above - quite a few - are new to me.

Monday, 26 February 2018

My Latest Paintings

Here are my latest efforts. They are all 16" x 12" mostly Waterford 300gsm not. I have started painting on the backs of rejected or superseded paintings as I have a huge pile of these and new blocks work out £1.50 a sheet  so why waste more paper. You can paint on the backs of many makes. Ron Ranson did so and told me one such painting was hung at the Royal Academy!

Flat Iron - Sioux

I'm rather pleased with this one which is very close to the desired effect. I just hope I can repeat it. 

An Apache Warrior
 This individual had a very 'craggy look' which I may have overdone slightly.

Big Ears!

You can see that this one and the following are a 'riot of colour'. I have looked at Gerard Hendriks and some others who use what Charles Reid calls .... actually I've forgotten what he calls them ( is it random colours?) but he means colours that aren't actually visible in the subject. Perhaps I've overdone it but I rather like the effect. After all the true colours of these animals are rather dull. I wish I'd been more adventurous earlier in my watercolour odyssey. Realistic abstracts? I'd like to think so.


This was painted before the previous one and the colours are not so vivid but I think probably better.


This was an AVA Thursday subject,

A Saucy Look

I did this one at home in my 'studio'. I quite like it but it isn't exactly what I wanted to convey.

Relaxing on the beach.

This was another AVA subject. The Kangaroo relaxing on the beach appealed to me. This from an actual photograph.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Pebeo Masking Fluid

A little while back I criticised Pebeo as the fluid got on my trousers you can't get it off. My fault actually and Pebeo is well liked and used by several of my painting friends. Be wary though it's dreadful stuff to remove as are other makes of masking fluid,  but then acrylic paint is nearly as bad and some of the more recent synthetic watercolours are heavily staining and also hard to remove.

Above are the Pebeo tubes, still in their packets. The concept is similar to Molotow except the Pebeo sizes are 04 and 07. I haven't tried them yet but those who have amongst my painting group who have tried the Molotow system are not impressed. The complaint is that the fluid is hard to remove and damages the paper, especially if the paper is on the soft side. I have not had such an adverse effect so far but I can see why there is a problem if you leave the fluid on too long before trying to remove it.  Also in the photo above is the 'Maskaway', according to the blurb a sort of hard rubber that makes it easier to remove masking fluid. Again not tried it yet. I got the above from the SAA (Society of All Artists) where we as an art group have an associate membership. The SAA claims to be a Society but is more like a large scale web selling operation with a comprehensive website and catalogues.

My friend John Softly prefers the Daniel Smith system of interchangeable plastic tubes, that vary in size. I've tried them and also the Masquepen system but found problems with all. Some of my friends prefer the Masquepen system.My problem is the cleaning of the fluid from the tubes. Maybe it's just me. I think I'll go back to using Pebeo with a ruling pen.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Verification of comments.

I know Google, and others, are getting very security conscious but really this is now ridiculous. When I wish to reply to a comment you get a block of images and are asked to click on the ones that contain certain objects. I've just tried to clear this hurdle and after the 7th or 8th page gave up as it just kept saying 'click on these images' and giving me a new one. This started recently and I've got through up to now, though usually not at the first attempt. I hope somebody is reading this because it may be one reason why I get so few comments these days if the posters have to go through this rigmarole. Frustrated ? You bet.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ishi The Last of His Kind

Ishi was a Yahi indian, one of the Californian tribes of which there were many,  generally small. The history of these people and the whites, who swarmed into California mainly after gold, is one of the blackest episodes of the history of this period. You can read about it in 'The Destruction of California Indians' by Robert F Heizer (Bison Edition1993 University of Nebraska Press). The book describes itself as a collection of documents detailing what happened.  These indians were not warlike as were  the Sioux, Apache and others, and were  derided as 'digger indians' living on what they could find, including small animals. They weren't horse indians and lived at subsistence level. They did resist the incursions of the miners but were not able to provide real resistance.

This is Ishi, obviously by his dress, when he had been 'rescued' by civilisation. But you can see the sort of primitive living accommodation the Yahis had. In 1865 the Yahi were surprised when asleep and massacred, men, women and children, by a group of white men. The few that survived fled only to be hunted and further decimated. Yahi and his small family went into hiding for 44 years and it was only after he was alone three years later,  his three relatives having died, after a group of surveyors discovered them in 1908, that he emerged from the wilds, obviously in a  pretty desperate state. Professors at the University of California, Berkeley heard about him and took him under their wing using him as a research assistant, into the history of the California Indians, most of whom were then extinct. I suppose you could say he was considered a kind of lab rat but they looked after him until his death on August 29 1911. He was another victim of the white mens diseases that decimated many Indian tribes.

His title as 'The Last Indian' has been questioned by further research linking the Yahi to related Californian tribes but that's another story. My interest in him was founded on my general interest in the history of white settlement and conflict between the settlers and  the Army, principally in the 19th century but also earlier. There are quite a lot of black and white photos to be found and the following painting is based on one.

Ishi - 16" x 12" Waterford 140lb (300gsm) not.

An interesting if tragic story. 

Friday, 9 February 2018

Watercolour Paint Dot Cards

A fairly recent trend has been the introduction of dot cards.  These are small blobs of paint on sheets of stiff card to enable the artist to see the exact shade of the particular paint. Previously the choices were either printed sheets of the paint ranges or hand-painted colour charts. I have a large collection of all three types. The problems with the printed charts are the approximate representation of the actual colour, while the hand painted charts can be so pristine, and the colours so smooth and consistent, that you wonder how they achieved them. Maybe it's just me.

The sheets above are the full Daniel Smith range, at least it was when I bought them but there have been some additions since then. Rather than try and paint them out on separate sheets of watercolour paper I think it best to do what I've done as some of the dots are very small.  I noticed an example of the Schminke dots where the colours had been painted vertically rather than round as here.  Anyway it's up to you how you approach this. This full range dot cards is quite expensive and they do smaller charts of dots, some of which are free or lower priced. I noticed on a recent visit to my local art shop that they had a 'free' Daniel Smith dot card with the well-known British artist Shirley Trevenas 'palette'. Anything to separate you from your hard-earned cash. The unpainted dots above are the 'iridescent' range and some of the 'specials' they do.

The above are the latest Schmincke dot cards which cost just over £14 from Jacksons. There also are some other sheets with smaller number,  the lowest number being free and slightly more comprehensive  ones - but not the full range - at a lower price.

They were introduced with the recent revamp increasing the number of paints to 140. Schmincke also do a splendid brochure of their watercolours with printed colours, but a most detailed description of each colour, including pigment numbers, characteristics and other information. I have a hard copy of the original range, but this time it appears is only available on the website and I haven't yet found a way to download it. All I can say is that the dots plus study of the brochure will give you the most comprehensive details you could ever want. Better than anyone else I would say. Schmincke are now highly competitive (in my opinion) and well worth considering. The only snag is they have 4 price series, not as many as some nor the lowest number, and there are not that many is Series 1, which is the cheapest. I've pointed out previously that the makers are not consistent and if not careful you can pay more than necessary due to how they price  their paints (pigments). Some that are in Series 1  in one make may be Series 2 - and consequently dearer - in others.

I read somewhere recently about QoR having dot cards but have no other information. I wouldn't even consider QoR though due to the eye watering prices.  I have an aversion to well-known artists recommending particularly expensive paints - applying to Daniel Smith and others - when they are receiving them free or at very large discounts to promote them. I'm not suggesting the paints aren't good because they are, but for amateur hobbyists, who are the large majority, there are perfectly adequate alternatives at lower prices. The late Ron Ranson told me privately that he considered a lot of the so-called recommendations of what to buy were a rip-off.  He used mostly Cotman paints in a limited number, Bockingford paper and a few synthetic brushes.

I seem to recall Winsor & Newton did a small number of three paint dot cards a while back but they have not moved on from this - at least not so far. One improvement on the dot cards would be pigment numbers but they are absent.