Thursday, 22 August 2019


This modest little book,  approximately 51/2 x 8" - 91 pages, was brought to my attention by the late Charles Reid. I can't remember the exact circumstances not that this matters. Hawthorne was an acclaimed art teacher who died in 1930. The book is from students notes collected by Mrs. Charles W. Hawthorne originally published in 1938, and republished in a Dover edition in 1960.

This is isn't a 'how to' book more a philosophical and general discussion, although how to approach painting. Some subjects are covered briefly and  how you should approach them.  Watercolour actually only has 8 pages. Charles Reid has related many times how he came to paint in watercolour. He was a teacher at Famous Artists School and taught oil painting. One day he was asked to do something in watercolour which they were deficient in as far as teaching was concerned.  He had no real direction or advice how to proceed so adapted his oil painting methods to watercolour. He always said much of what he taught was unusual and against the orthodoxy with regard to watercolour, and I've no doubt he consulted Hawthorn.

A few of the things Hawthorn said:

"A good watercolor is a happy accident - if you qualify the statement by saying the greater the artist , the oftener the accident happens"

"Do them as you do oils.  that is try to get contrasts. Don't be afraid of the medium - put down what you see as spots of colour rather than as form. 

"use cheap colors, if you will, but buy good paper - fifty per cent and more of your watercolors depends on the paper you use. Work very wet and don't be afraid of the colors running into each other "

"Don't make them too precious - don't bother about the object but make spots of color against each other in relation. Color makes the form - Manet did it with spots of color, spots of color together telling as one."

They are just examples but you can get the general drift. He certainly wasn't a fan of super realism.

Having done several workshops with CR together with his books and DVDs I can see how he was influenced by Hawthorn.

Should you be interested in following this up Amazon have the Kindle edition at £5.69 and the paperback at £5.99. I'm sure some other booksellers could obtain copies.

Friday, 16 August 2019

More (of my ) Paintings

This is this weeks batch. In general I'm (with reservations) quite pleased with them.

Wild Dogs - 16" x 12" Actually I did this last week. I've been unhappy with the reproductions taken with my point and shoot Canon so have tried some with my Nikon SLR with 55mm Nikon lens. The colour seems better.

Feared Apache Leader 'Nana' 16" x 12"

'Backscratching' 16" x 12"

Goldfinch 16" x 12"

Thursday, 8 August 2019

My Latest Paintings

I still keep plugging away, furiously in some weeks. Is this my last chance saloon? Hope not. After 20 years I feel I've made some progress but not nearly enough. Great hobby though and have many painting friends here and around the World.

'Big Bull' 16" x 12"

'Kingfisher' 16" x 12"
This is the finished painting

'Medicine Bottle' 16" x 12"
Santee Sioux leader awaiting execution after the 1862 uprising

'Red Rooster" 16' x 12"

Big Rooster 16" x 12"

'African Wild Dogs' 16" x 12"

'A Horse" 16" x 12"

These latter two were completed today, although I may 'tweak' them a bit. Not so much colour as the ones above but  the colours of these animals were generally more sombre.

Friday, 2 August 2019

New Rembrandt Watercolours

In my recent piece on the new expanded Van Gogh range I speculated as to whether Rembrandt would receive similar treatment.  I  received a comment saying this was so and on looking at the Royal Talens site sure enough the following colour chart was there together with a brochure giving full details. Make no mistake the changes to van Gogh and Rembrandt are major moves and raises the profile of the company to a level comparable to Winsor & Newton, Schmincke and puts them ahead of some others. Rembrandt have always had a good name, despite Handprint labelling them a 'second tier' brand, but no longer does that apply. Even so the old range has been used by such artists as Gerard Hendriks so 'second tier' is a misnomer.

There are now 120 colours up from 80. That in itself is a big leap. 67 are single pigment paints out of the 104 'standard' colours. The remaining 16 colours are either Coated Mica (8) or Coated Glass (8). Not being a techno I don't know what that means although I've no doubt a little exploration would find the answers.

Only two colours - both PR83 - are given a single star for lightfastness with five two and all the rest three. For an explanation see above. The range of pigments now  mirrors the majors whereas the old range had a limited number and had quite a few mixed paints. PY129 now features called Azomethine Green usually known as Green-Gold. Green Umber is Pbr8. Spinal Grey is PBk26.  There are three Dusk colours, `Yellow, Pink and Green. Aureoline is PY150. And so on. If you are interested there is something called 'Color Spotlight' on Youtube that analyses individual pigments with much interesting information.

As far as I can tell - and this is provisional - there will be three price bands as now with halfpans, 5 ml tubes and a limited number of colours in 20ml tubes. I'm not certain of this and will now explain why.

I e mailed Royal Talens (twice) asking them about availability and prices.  This was two weeks ago and I've not had a reply. I then contacted Jacksons sales who knew nothing about this new range. Jacksons have never majored on Rembrandt (and don't sell van Gogh) but do stock them. Further enquiries to Jacksons brought the response that the buying department had said it might be a considerable time before they had them and to watch out for new product announcements! We await developments.
See comments below that give more information.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Watercolour Paintings 57

Here are this months batch which I've again tried to make as varied as possible. Some new artists as well as those who are famous and well-known. I keep finding more and more!. If any names are wrong feel free to correct me. I think all are watercolours but corrections here are welcomed also.

Lucy Newton.  Recently discovered. Great wildlife artist.

Elke Memmler

Claude Buckle

Another from Lucy Newton

Charles Reid

John Singer Sargent

Luis Camara

Lorna Holdcroft

Faustino Martin Gonzalez

Lorna Kirin
Ian Baxter

Junwei Dai

Rob Piercy

David Howell

Barry Hilton Is this a watercolour?

Adisora Pornsirikarn

Z L Feng

Robert Wade

Catherine Rey


Sandy Strohschein

Monday, 22 July 2019


This is the finished painting of the  Kingfisher.

Kingfisher 16" x 12" Watercolour

Friday, 19 July 2019

My Latest Paintings

Here is what I've been painting, mostly drawing the subject at home and then painting them at my AVA Thursday group. All are 16" x 12" and painted on the reverse of my many failed paintings. It can be done providing the paper is good quality. Mostly these are on Waterford. A couple I'm not sure.

Proud Dad and chicks

Mother and Son

Water Buffalo

Red Grouse

Unfinished - Kingfisher I'll publish the finished article when completed.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Van Gogh Watercolours

I recently reviewed the new increased range of Van Gogh watercolours,  made by Talens who also produce  Rembrandt. Van Gogh, although originally only 40 colours, have never been a strict student  quality brand more of a mid-range type with the student quality range called Amsterdam. I used them for a time in the distant past before being seduced by the alluring charms of Artist Quality watercolours.

With the steep escalation of prices of artists quality I thought I'd try some of the cheaper ranges starting with Van Gogh. Incidentally Jacksons recently published a 'Materials  Guide'. In the section referring to watercolour I was surprised to see they are now splitting them into three groups. 'Artist Quality' are no longer the top of the range which they now classify as 'Professional'. Interestingly Winsor & Newton now call them 'The Professional Range'. Artist Quality are now somewhere in the middle with 'Student Quality' the bottom range. Is this a ploy to claim they are better than some competitors or just to justify the eye-watering prices.? Cynical me looks at all this with a jaundiced eye. They also claim that 'professional quality' have a much higher concentration of pigment. This is something I once accepted until reading what the Handprint man Bruce McEvoy had to say about it. Bruce said that pigment concentrations varied from paint to paint and I suggest anyone interested find this in the relevant Handprint page and see  for themselves. Although Handprint is no longer updated - sadly - it's still available tp peruse. Now on to van Gogh.

I apologise that these swatches are less than ideal, in particular the top one where the paint appears streaky. I think this is because the paper I used isn't either Waterford or Fabriano and of a lesser quality.

The bottom one is Fabriano which is better and certainly less streaky. Together they will just give you an idea which you may or may not wish to explore further.

My overall impression of the paint when sqeezing it out of the tubes is that it is quite fluid. The two dusk colours are obviously influenced by Daniel Smith introducing several similar ones. The single interference colour 'Gold' seems quite weak on first impressions, although the Dusk colours are fairly strong. They are available in 10ml tubes and half pans. Prices are too good to be true Just over £3 for a 10ml tube. This works out at 30p a ml compared  to roughly 71p for a leading make.

I can't really say a lot more as I haven't attempted a painting with them yet. I probably shall as I have the complimentary colours and a few others. My main criticism of the new range is that many are multi-pigment paints, although there are  sufficient single pigment paints for a moderate sized palette. Yes they aren't up to the quality of the leading makes but are quite adequate for most amateurs who are not affluent possibly a little beyond that.

My current 'best picks', using my criterion of quality and price taken together, are Lukas and Sennelier. This of course applies to the UK and most of Europe only as prices vary considerably across the globe.
Of the two I'd give Sennelier the edge with both 10ml and 21ml tubes, as well as pans, and a larger range. Lukas are limited by having a 24ml tube - although they do pan colours as well - which may be too large for many hobby painters. Sennelier paints are fairly liquid due to the use of honey but not as much as Graham. Lukas are like toothpaste consistency out of the tube but dissolve very easily and well when water is applied. This is the position at the moment but things change. Daler Rowney  were once a 'best buy' but no longer with a substantial price hike. They are in the same group as Lukas so I'm wondering whether Lukas will change at some stage. Difficult isn't it.
NOTE: As Miquel says Talens have also upgraded and re formulated some paints in a major upgrade. There are now 120 colours including some 'specials'. 70 of the normal colours are single pigment paints, a big change for the Rembrandt range. Further details when I obtain them.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

My Latest Paintings

Here are some of my latest paintings. One or two others I did have been binned. This is my work warts and all!

Red Squirrel 16" x 12" 'Where's that Nut?"

A Male Capercaillie - iconic Highland bird 16" x 12"

'Big cat" 16" x 12"

Isn't he cute- 16" x 12"

"Nice Horse" 16" x 12"

These were partly painted at home and finished off at my AVA Summer sessions where we do our own thing rather than a programme. I do the drawings in my tiny converted bedroom studio and then start the painting. This is usually the small areas of detail like the eyes. IF (in my opinion) I get them right I then proceed to complete the painting in stages. After completion I usually wait a day or two and look at it again when I often see things that need a little  more work. I try and avoid over finishing though. Charles Reid used to say 'you don't finish a painting you stop when you reach a point when you don't know what more to do". He also said be a little crude and also don't be precious it's only a painting".

This was our recent Avon Valley Artists exhibition as part of Saltford Festival. A decent standard, although the group is smaller than it used to be, with 85 paintings exhibited.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Watercolour Paintings 56

Here are this months batch. Once again I've tried to get as good a variety as possible, although my personal preferences - which may shine through - are loose and impressionistic. One problem I have is not always being able to identify the artist. This is frustrating as there are some wonderful ones out there where the name is written in Cyrillic,  or the painting in not identified by artist ! Unfortunately I'm unable to translate Cyrillic and I  am reluctant to include paintings without knowing the artists.The other slight problem is whether all are actually watercolours. I think the odd one may slip in that isn't. If watercolour is involved I do include mixed media. Any corrections welcome.

The late Charles Reid

Gerard Hendriks

Bev Jozwiak

Jean Haines (?) Rather more detailed than most of her work. Is it Her?

Viktoria Prischedko

Sarah Yeoman - Does she not like painting crows!

Janina B

Christian Graniou

Roger Simpson

Rachel (?)

Stan Miller

Alvaro Castagnet


Michele Clamp

Catherine Rey - Always clocks!


Charles Reid - little different for him

Ann Mortimer

Corneliu Dragan- Targoviste

Ingrid Buchthal

Sue Zimmerman

Ann Blockley

Pol Ledent

That's it folks hope you like them,