Monday 28 June 2010

Second Attempt

This is the second attempt at the Acoma Indian Woman. This is the initial loose drawing

This is stage one initially painting the face.

Acoma Indian Woman 18" x 14" Waterford Not

Photographed 29/06 using My Nikon DSLR with 55mm lens. This is more accurate.

The more I looked at the first painting  the more I realised how poor it was. This is my second attempt and while not perfect feel it is better. Colours used for the face were Cad Red Light (PR108) and Cad Yellow Light (PY35) together with Cerulean (PB35-W and N), Ultramarine (PB29) and Cobalt Blue (PB72) both Rowney. For the headdress I utilized Cerulean, Ultramarine Blue and  Ultramarine Violet (PB15-Rowney)  with some Viridian (PG18),. The hair was Quinacridone Gold (PO48)  and Raw Sienna (Pbr7) both Maimeri. Also touches of Burnt Umber here and there with some Cadmium Orange (Maimeri PO20) to warm it up. I think the painting is actually better than the representation in the photograph. I once again add the disclaimer that I am not claiming this a great watercolour, just my watercolour. I studied several of Charles Reid's paintings before deciding how to tackle it. Looking at it I decided not to overdo the darks and only used the original photo as a guide..

Footnote Added 29/06: Looking at this photograph and then the original painting it seems it looks somewhat lighter and possibly `washed out' compared to the actual painting. My ad hoc photography is probably responsible. I have now made another attempt to photograph the painting and the result is above.

Thursday 17 June 2010

Latest Indian Paintings

Acoma Woman 1900 16" x 12" Not

American Horse Oglala Sioux 1880
18" x 14" Waterford Not

Sitting Bull Huncpapa Sioux Holy Man
15" x 11" Fabriano Artistico Not.

I've done several of Sitting Bull because he has such a strong face. Some of the others aren't bad, one posted previously,  but I think this better. I recently found a new photograph on . American Horse was also a famous warrior and I wanted to try a portrait with a different angle. This is the second try with a different indian subject.

As for the Acoma woman I know little about her, again culled from first people, but I was intrigued by the sense of mystery in the photograph. I have changed things quite a bit because on the photo she was surrounded by very dark shadows. I tried a main colour scheme of Maimeri Avignon Orange (PR206) and
complementary colours Rowney's Viridian (PG18) and Hookers Green (PG7/PO48) Maimeri version. There is some doubt about the inclusion of PO48 as it is now supposedly unavailable. The Windsor and Newton and Rowney equivalents to Avignon Orange are Brown Madder and  Transparent Red Brown respectively. Even though the pigment is the same the colours may vary slightly with different manufacturing processes. In all three cases the faces were painted using a mixture of Cadmium Red Light (PR108), Cadmium Yellow Light (PY35) darkened where appropriate with either Cerulean (PB35), Cobalt Blue Deep (PB72) or Ultramarine Blue (PB29). I emphasize pigments rather than `colours' as suggested by Bruce McEvoy of Handprint.

I'm fairly happy with the paintings of Sitting Bull and American Horse but concerned about the Acoma woman. I experimented with the Shirley Trevena method of creating texture by using some emery paper on the coloured core of watercolour pencils and getting flecks of colour but I think it either didn't work well or I need to improve my method of doing it. It has tended to dirty the colour. Paint in haste repent at leisure! I shall another try at this one. Footnote added later: This portrait didn't work unfortunately and it just wasn't the attempt to add texture. I shall try again.

One change I have made is that, following Charles Reid suggesting in one of his books that pan colours might be better with which to paint the face, I did so then switched to tube colours.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

On watercolour paper

My friend Mick asked recently how I was getting on with the new Waterford `High White' paper. So far not very well. Ken Bromley  writes, in the most recent catalogue, that St Cuthberts Mill made the new paper after requests from professional artists who were searching for a whiter shade of watercolour paper, but without compromising on quality. It also goes on to say `With the new `High White' shade the paint pigments will appear more vivid, and with more sparkle, giving the whole a fresher look....a whiter shade will make finished paintings more contemporary looking, as artists have commented that they felt the original white colour created a more antique look to their finished compositions'.   Incidentally Bromley are also advertising another new watercolour paper called `Millford' This is a replacement for Whatman, which has been discontinued, and is 100% cotton rag, mould made and trimmed four edges. Discounted price is £17.95p per pack of five 30" x 22" sheets.  Slightly cheaper than Arches.

This is news to me and I wonder who these professional artists are? In any event a very good  `Extra White' shade of Artistico has been available from Fabriano for some time  but Bromley don't sell it.

Myself and two other artists from my Avon Valley Art Group tried this new paper, in all three versions, HP, Not and Rough. The others, both very good painters tried, respectively, the HP and Not. neither liked the new paper and Yvonne, who is an excellent flower painter, said she would stick to Artistico `Extra White' which she considered much superior.  I have so far attempted  three paintings with it and none have been satisfactory. Of course I'm only a poor old amateur so take my experience how you will. Possibly it takes some getting used to but I have done many paintings on Fabriano `Extra White' and found the paper generally excellent. I won't give up on it yet and will report further in the near future.

Recently another new paper has been introduced by the German company Great Art They are making quite large claims for it `prices never seen before for such a high quality range'. `the very finest watercolour paper' etc etc. It is made from 100% cotton but so are many other good papers including Waterford, Artistico, Lana and others. This paper is called `CENTENAIRE' and you can order  a sample which I did. Unfortunately this is only about six inches square. I ordered the Not version, also available in Rough, which  has quite a smooth surface and duly tried a few swatches of several colours. On this very small sample I can't see what the fuss is about especially as the prices quoted are not particularly keen. It is available in blocks of 20 sheets, six sizes from 18x26cm to 46x5lcm and also sheets 56x76cm. The block prices are reasonably comparable, being dearer than Waterford but cheaper than Fabriano, although Fabriano sizes are slightly larger, 18" x 12" for example as opposed to 16" X 12". In the case of sheets they are not competitive except with the dearest available which is Arches. Five sheets, the only option, are £13.75p. I recently completed a survey for Great Art in which I pointed out their paper prices were not as good as Bromley and Jackson's where they sold the comparable makes. Great Art do have a much larger range of watercolour paper overall. Incidentally if you buy as an art group, Great Art offer 15% off catalogue prices when the annual edition is launched and subsequent orders 10% so this is a factor but not for the individual artist. I paid £3 for the first catalogue to get this deal then another three arrived (separately) unsolicited!

It will be interesting to see what the artist's magazines have to say about these papers if and when they review them. I take such reviews with a big pinch of salt because invariably they are more concerned, so it seems to me, about their advertising revenue and appear to pull their punches and then some. I've never seen a bad review yet. I recently was in communication with The Artists editor about Windsor and Newton's Cotman policy, sending her copies of my e-mail correspondence with the company.  I was fobbed off with `very interesting I'll take it up with W and N when I meet them in March' or something similar. Needless to say nothing has appeared in the magazine so take what magazines recommend, and some professional artists, with a pinch of salt and a healthy dose of scepticism. Incidentally I don't have a grudge against `The Artist', subscribe to it and think it  excellent on most counts.

Friday 11 June 2010

Latest Acquisitions

The Variscaler

I don't have many books on pure drawing, the most important ones being `Keys to Drawing' by Bert Dodson, which was recommended by Charles Reid, `Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain'  by Betty Edwards and `Drawing and Sketching' by John Palmer. None of these are what you might term orthodox drawing books of which there are many. I have one or two others.

Recently on a visit to pick up a book at my local library I noticed the figure drawing book above on the `new acquisitions' shelf. On impulse I loaned it and after perusing  thought it worth acquiring permanently. On searching Amazon I discovered the author, one Barrington Barber, to have a whole range of books basically all on various facets of drawing. Amazingly Amazon list 67 although this includes some duplications, different editions of the same book, and also several translatuions in at least three other languages. I confess I'd never heard of him but he is obviously highly regarded in his field and currently combines teaching art with ` a successful career as a commercial illustrator and artist'. He is British and enquiries on Google bring up more information. These books are not expensive most retailing at around £9.99 and available on Amazon at a good discount. I ordered the figure and portrait books but Amazon, after initially accepting the order, e-mailed to say the portrait book was unavailable. On to the second hand internet mecca Abebooks . Sure enough they had several copies and I noticed the second supplier listed was Bookbarn in Somerset. As we intended to go to a farmshop the following week, and would pass Bookbarn on the way, I decided not to pay the postal charges but call in. To cut a long story short I bought the book for £2, in mint condition, not before querying why they wanted to charge me £4.40 when the internet price was £2.30! This confirms one of the rules from my days of selling which is `if you don't ask you don't get!  I am very much into the Charles Reid contour drawing system but I like the look of the above books and am sure they will be helpful.

On to my second recent acquisition which is a proportional divider. My drawing skills still need much polishing and while I usually get there in the end it can be a tortuous process. Anything that helps to speed up things and ensure a more accurate result is worth a try.  I initially bought a cheap one from the SAA, to which my local AVA group is affiliated. This was rather rough and ready and also quite large so after trying it a few times, and  deciding the principle was useful, I sought a better instrument. If you Google `proportional divider' the results are fascinating. The history of such things comes up and on offer are a whole range including very expensive antique versions. I finally settled on something called the Variscaler from Black Mouse . It cost £25 plus carriage and is a well-made instrument in brass in a nice wooden case. Full instructions came with it and while I have not yet fully come to grips with using it I hope to do so soon. My intention is not to produce highly detailed drawings but mark key points in the drawing to use as guides, aiming for a loose but accurate result.