Friday 29 October 2010

More on Daniel Smith Watercolours

I have now received two Daniel Smith paints, Quinacridone Gold (PO49) and Quinacridone Fuschia (PR202). Five others have just been ordered Cobalt Teal Blue (PG50), Quinacridone Coral (PR209), Quinacridone Pink (PV42), Burnt Tigers Eye (Primatek) and Indigo (PB60,PBk6). Due to the price being so high compared to other leading makes, including Windsor & Newton, I am being selective. Indigo may not seem so but I am intrigued that the DS version is based on PB60, the darkest blue of all, Certainly paints made with PR209, PG50 are available in other ranges but come highly recommended.

Interestingly Daniel Smith offer a `66 Try-it Color Sheet', available from Jacksons at £3.99p   . This comprises four rows of Primatek colours at the top, four `Quinacridone, Cadmium & More' ' in the middle and three Luminescent colours at the bottom.

Daniel Smith 66 Try-it Color Sheet

A closer look.

In addition a small three colour sheet is free. This comprises Indigo, Hansa Yellow and Quinacridone Burnt Orange (`One of our most popular colors').
Three Colour Trial Sheet.

On the trial sheet the most interesting one is `Quinacridone Burnt Orange (PO48). This is a fairy new pigment only offered I believe by Smith, Graham and DaVinci at the moment. I would describe it as a `glowing' Burnt Sienna - bright red-orange is Smith's description - , Hansa Yellow is PY97 and Indigo is PB60/PBk6.

I am intrigued by the Primatek range but they are expensive and before buying  I suggest you read what Bruce McEvoy has to say in his very extensive analysis of this range. . Many of the American artists who post on the Wetcanvas forum love Daniel Smith watercolours. The unique paints like the Primateks also have many fans.

Jacksons have already been out of stock of some sizes, including Q Gold and currently Q Rose so I suspect these paints are already moving. For amateurs though price is a big problem, probably also for some professionals. Currently the Daniel Smith paints are more expensive than W & N, Daler Rowney, Maimeri and Scminke to name just four leading makes. Are they worth it?  A full list of the Daniel Smith range is available on the website with full pigment details

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Luxartis and Brush Sizes

I recently purchased a Luxartis Size 10 Kolinsky sable. Luxartis brushes are used by the artist Jake Winkle and it appears his wife runs the brush business . Jake Winkle is an up and coming British artist of the younger generation and appears to be strongly influenced by John Yardley. His website is well worth a look.

The Luxartis site is an excellent one, well put together and very informative. It claims to use the highest quality Kolinsky sable which I don't dispute - I just don't know. As well as pointing out that there is no standard for brush sizes amongst manufacturers it also claims that the Luxartis brush heads are in general - but not always - longer and slimmer than many other makes.

From the top: SAA Kolinsky size 10, DaVinci Maestro 10 size 10, SAA size 8, Escoda 1212 size 10,
 DaVinci size 8, Luxartis size 10.
The first thing to notice is the difference in the size of the brush heads. The SAA (reputedly made by Raphael) and the Maestro are much larger. The SAA size 8 is marginally larger than the Escoda 10 with the Maestro size 8 a similar size. The smallest is the Luxartis size 10.  Price for the SAA 10, only available to members,  is £32.00p but they also do an excellent set of five which includes both the 8 (separately £20.00p) and the 10 for £47.99p. This is only available to members or affiliated art clubs or perhaps you know someone who is a member. The Maestro size 10 costs £41.25p and size 8 £22.70p. The Escoda 1212 size 10 is £19.30p. Jacksons  sell  these and also an own brand `Tajmir Kolinsky' at £17.35p which is obviously made by Escoda. The Luxartis size 10 costs £10.95p. This, despite the smaller brush head stills looks a very good buy. I have yet to try mine out but will report in due course. The rough equivalent in actual size to the SAA and DaVinci 10's would be the Luxartis size 14 or even perhaps the 16 at £19.95p and £24.95p respectively.

 To sum up prices of Kolinsky sable brushes are relatively affordable up to size 8.  After that prices can rocket due to the larger amounts of hair in the brush. Not  all brands though with the W & N Series 7 size 8 costing £86.80p! Can it possibly be worth it?  Raphael series 8404 10 £55.30p and 8 £31.90p. Isabey are close to Raphael in price. It appears there is much more tail hair in both the SAA and DaVinci brushes which size for size are generally much larger. Escoda sizes are smaller but well priced and of high quality. Luxartis are even smaller and if the 10 is typical don't seem longer as they claim, but are very well priced even so. Is the quality up to that of the others? I would also suggest Rosemary and Co are also well worth considering. The series 33 Kolinsky are good and the cream of the lot is series 22, which is more expensive at £25.15p for size 8 and £44.45p for size 10. Brush head sizes stand up well when compared to the others. There are also several other prominent makes like Stratford and York, Pro Arte and Daler Rowney. We also have Rekab, the well regarded and priced Israeli brand, which is becoming easier to obtain in the UK. These manufacturers all list Kolinsky sable ranges. Prices shown are from current catalogues in my possesion, or in the case of Luxartis on the website and may change soon with the planned VAT increase.

Monday 11 October 2010

Daniel Smith Watercolours (or is it watercolors!)

At long last the good news is that the acclaimed Daniel Smith range of watercolour paints, 247 colours and rising, is now available in the UK via Jacksons  or e-mail
The bad news is that price is a problem, not so much for the professional artist perhaps but  certainly  for the amateur. While this range has a whole raft of unique colours and is widely praised by American artists as ` the best'  UK prices are higher than those in the USA and dearer than Windsor & Newton, as well as ALL  other leading makes. Are they worth it? Time will tell. The other benefits of the DS range, apart from the huge choice are a very high number of single pigment paints, high pigment content and a formulation that means the paints can be easily re-wetted.

With Graham  now being stocked by Lawrence of Hove and also the new Da Vinci range we have the three leading American brands. Without doubt they are a serious combined threat to the long standing supremacy of Windsor & Newton. I have already ordered two colours to try, a small sample true but I am very well stocked with paints at the moment! I shall certainly buy more over time but I already have a good number of Grahams.

The ones ordered are Quinacridone Gold (PO49) and Quinacridone Fuschia (PR202). I am told by American friends on the Wetcanvas forums that the Quinacridones are particularly lustrous, but they have many other favourites. DS have apparently  bought  the remaining stocks of PO49 and are probably the sole source of this unique pigment, which has been discontinued by the usual producers. Many of these pigments are developed for the automotive industry and if they drop the colour then demand from the art world is insufficient to keep production going. Maimeri supposedly still offer Golden Lake which proclaims `quinacridone' on the tube but also details the pigment as `PV49'. A question to Maimeri about this went unanswered!  PV49? A  mistake it seems because this is an uncommon violet pigment (DS may offer it|) but what actually is in this paint?The Maimeri version is gritty and slightly greasy not at all like the original W & N version which unfortunately is now a three pigment mix. I still just happen to have two full pans of the original W & N version.

Friday 1 October 2010

A Change of Mood

White Ladies 12" x 12" Waterford Not

Recently I have been agonising, possibly too strong a word, about what to paint. Certainly portraits in the general style of Charles Reid are high on the list but what other subjects? Like many would-be artists I began with landscapes but the attraction of these has dimmed, although not entirely. I do like painting out of doors because there is nothing quite like it and old buildings, particularly those with thatched roofs, hold a strong appeal. 

Still lifes also interest me, again in the manner of Charles Reid, incorporating flowers, fruit, cups, and other objects, sometimes in association with a  portrait. The other day I decided to suspend the portraits, at least for a day or two, and have a shot at flowers with associated fruit. Gathering what flowers remained in the garden I set up a still life and off I went.  The result was so so but my wife didn't care for it and, after reflection, neither did I.  Feeling somewhat depressed I decided to have another try with a different approach. A company called  `Whistlefish'  have opened a gallery in Bath, adding to the already large number. How they will fare remains to be seen but they are an interesting company originating in Cornwall with several newly opened outlets. . What is the connection? On browsing the Bath shop, and also the one at Looe in Cornwall, I noticed they were selling very attractive self-assembly frames complete with everything including mounts. These come in three frame sizes, small, medium and large, with white my preferred choice. I rather liked the medium size, cost £20, the large, interior 51cm x 34cm, being £25. The interior of the medium is 12" x 12" and it struck me as a good size for flower painting, concentrating on the flowers and omitting the rest. Above is the result. I used pan colours and mine are a mixture of W & N, Schminke, Maimeri and Rembrandt with W & N predominating. I also, almost a first for me, made the drawing and painting standing up at my `Alvaro', as opposed to the  table easel. Brushes were Sizes 9  and 6 Rosemary series 33 Kolinsky, plus a size 4 long handled W & N Cirrus and a small rigger. I rather like the result. What do you think? I invite comments as I do on all my posts.