Wednesday 31 August 2011

The Butt & Oyster

I posted a feature on my visit to Pin Mill in July. After reviewing the photographs  I took, some of which are featured in that article, I decided the two main subjects of interest were the famous Butt & Oyster and the Thames barges. There are other ways of looking at it as there are some glorious panoramic views but unfortunately not my strong point. In the end I decided to concentrate on the Butt & Oyster and cropped one photograph to maximise the pub.This is the result and here it is warts and all as finished. Should I have ignored the fence?

The Butt & Oyster Waterford 18" x 14" not

Greens were mixed from various combinations of yellow and blue except where Hookers Green was utilised, adulterated with touches of Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber to try and make it more natural looking. Only two brushes Rosemary Series 33 Kolinsky Nos 6 and 9. The roof of the pub was a combination of Cadmium Red Pale (Rowney), Cerulean Blue (W & N ), Avignon Orange (Maimeri PR206) and Burnt Umber. The walls are a mixture of Raw Sienna and Gold Ochre (W & N PY42). All colours mixed on the paper. Small touches of other colours like Viridian on the canopy to the right. Darks are usually Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna or Burnt Umber.

Friday 26 August 2011

Latest Special Offers

It seems the slowdown in the economies of Western Europe is beginning to show in the increasing number of  special offers. As art materials are very expensive, especially for watercolour artists, this is to be welcomed.

Great Art are offering until 31st August Daler Rowney artists quality watercolours at 50% off. This applies to all sizes and means the 15ml tubes cost £5.10p for the A,B colours and £7.25 for C. This is an incredibly good offer. In addition Great Art have reduced the minimum £ amount for free delivery to £24.95p. Check them out because there are other offers.

Lawrence of Hove are becoming more competitive on price and next to Jacksons have the largest number of artist quality watercolour brands. These include Lukas, Art Spectrum, Old Holland, Da Vinci and Graham. They are the only UK source of Graham and Da Vinci and you won't find Art Spectrum very often. To my mind Art Spectrum are overpriced and I have no experience of them. They do seem to have a lot of mixed pigment paints in their range.

With Graham Lawrence have increased their offer when you buy 6 tubes from 20% to 30%. This makes the price of this highly regarded American brand competitive with Winsor & Newton. Prices  range from £7.95p to £12.95p (30% off £5.56p - £9.06p). The website has a very good accurate colour chart and details, pigments etc, of the watercolours. The offer is now back to 20% off if you buy 6 tubes and the extra 10% has expired. 4/09/11

Da Vinci have both 15ml and 37ml tubes, the latter in a limited number of colours. Prices range from £7.95p to £14.95p (20% off for 6 - £5.50p to £11.96p). The 37ml tubes start at £10.95p to £25.50 (20% off £8.76p to £20.40).  The new Da Vinci range is highly regarded in America and £8.76p for 37ml!!!. The Da Vinci website is also very good with an excellent colour chart, again with pigment details.

That isn't all. Lawrence, together with Great Art, also sell the German Lukas brand in 24ml tubes. Prices are very competitive from £5.50p to £7.95p. The Lukas website has details of the watercolour range, colours, pigments etc, which can be downloaded as a pdf.

In addition for this weekend only Lawrence are offering a further 10% of all purchases. The only downside is they have a fixed carriage charge of £4.99p so this has to be added. Why can't they follow the lead of Jacksons, Bromley and Great Art and have a minimum price over which carriage is free? I would certainly buy more if they were to do so.


The use of greens, primarily in landscapes, is one of the challenges in watercolour painting. Some avoid them entirely but  are they such a problem? I don't suggest mine is an expert view, just various thoughts and suggestions that may help. This is  a recent exercise as I felt I needed to revisit the subject. The colours were mixed on the paper, the first put down and then the second added. If you mix them in the palette the result will be different and a more homogenous colour will emerge.

 There are several basic approaches although mixing blues and yellows is probably the most popular. Another is to add other colours, starting with the earth colours, to a convenience green like  Hookers Green, in my case the Maimeri version. Sap Green could be another choice. This is generally a lighter mix than Hookers although the pigments are often the same. Each manufacturer has a different view of what constitutes a Hookers or Sap Green and formulations aren't identical.  I have also tried Viridian, which is a single pigment (PG18) paint, and there are others like Olive Green (PG17) and Cobalt Green (PG50), the latter coming in several shades.

 Another method is to start with either the blue (PG7) or yellow form (PG36) of Phalo Green and mix touches of, for example Burnt Sienna or Raw Umber and see what happens. PG7 mixes darker shades. Obviously the proportion of each colour determines the final result.  Why not use these straight green colours? The obvious answer is that they are nearly all to a greater or lesser degree unnatural looking, especially compared to Natures greens in the UK. I should add convenience greens abound, particularly from makers like Old Holland who list over 20. Most contain one or other Phalo greens. Unless you have a very limited palette you can probably mix many of these shades from existing paints.

The paper used is Fabriano Artistico Extra White Not. I have numbered the swatches 1 to 46 but a few `experimental ones'  aren't relevant.The first column on the left starts with Hookers Green from Maimeri. This is purportedly PO49 (PV49 in the literature) and PG7. As PO49 is now unavailable they must be using some other pigment. From top to bottom Gold Ochre (W & N PY42), Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber and finally Burnt Umber. The second row is Viridian with the same colours added. There are some interesting mixes here. The next five columns, excepting the single swatch of Ultramarine Violet/Transparent Yellow, are blues.  The darkest are those mixed with PB60 Indanthrone Blue, here the Maimeri Faience Blue, which you would expect as this pigment is very dark valued, only exceeded by black. If you click on the photo to enlarge it you should be able to read what the mixes are. The final three columns are experimental (19, 29, 39) and include mixes where reds like Permanent Carmine, Permanent Rose (Both W & N) and Avignon Orange (Maimeri), have been added to Hookers. The yellows used were Indian Yellow (Rowney PY153), Transparent Yellow (W & N PY150), Cadmium Yellow Light, Hansa Yellow Medium (DS PY97) and Greengold (Rowney PY129), actually a yellow green.

These swatches will give some idea of what to expect and they can be varied considerably depending on what proportion of each pigment is added. They are also affected by the order they are put down, yellow on blue or blue on yellow. If you don't want the bother you can mix on the palette and add small amounts of either colour until you get what you want. Comments welcome.

Sunday 21 August 2011

More Flowers and Fruit.

I tried another flower painting the other day allied with my usual additions of fruit. This time the flowers came from my small garden and I picked them with two things in mind. They were shapes and colour.

I first of all made a faint outline drawing then started with the centre dark leaves moving from there  to the other areas. I had no intention of drawing (and painting) flowers that are readily identifiable. The only ones that are are the yellow Coreopsis.  This is about shapes and colours which are identifiable as flowers but not specific. My drawing was the modified contour method pioneered by Charles Reid, but I realise I have a way to go as I don't have his sure touch. I also tried to link everything together in a balanced way. 

 Flowers & Fruit 140lb (300gsm) Centenaire 16" x 12" Not

Various colours were used including Indian Yellow (Rowney PY153) for the yellow flowers darkened in places with Raw Sienna. The centres are Burnt Umber. The purple flowers were Permanent Mauve (Rowney PV23) with touches of Permanent Carmine (Winsor & Newton PR N/A). Pinks are Permanent Rose (W & N PV19) and the greens were based on Maimeri Hookers Green with Green Gold (Rowney PY129), and some blue. The dark leaves are a mixture of Avignon Orange (Maimeri PR206) and Burnt Umber. The jug is Cerulean (W & N PB35) with touches of Cobalt Blue Deep (Rowney PB72). The apples were mixtures of Permanent Carmine and Hansa Yellow Medium (Daniel Smith PY97).  The orange was Cadmium Yellow (Maimeri PO20) and Raw Sienna for the darker areas. The grapes were mostly Perylene Maroon (Rowney PR179). Mostly mixed on the paper. I've probably missed some colours out.

Brushes were my usual Rosemary Series 33 Kolinsky Sizes 6 and 9. Note also my second try with Centenaire paper. On this subject I also think it worked well. 

I'm very happy to receive comments. What do you think?

Thursday 4 August 2011

Piet Lap

Piet Lap. Note his palette arrangements

I first became aware of Piet Lap when I bought `Realistic Abstracts' by Keest van Aalst. The initial attraction among some of the artists featured was Viktoria Prischedko, but I explored the others  and came upon Piet Lap, and some more who I may highlight in future. Piet, a Dutch artist born in 1943, isn't among the younger element but what an artist! His work featured in the abstract book is more inclined in that direction but on finding his website I discovered a range of representational paintings, in a very expressionistic style, that are absolutely stunning.  In order to find out more I contacted him with a number of questions and also asked permission to show some of his paintings. The reply was prompt, although he checked my blog out first, and answered all my queries.

St Kilda

The paintings shown are all quite large as many are full sheet and some even larger. Details and individual sizes are shown on his website. His paintings are grouped in several categories with Landscapes, Dutch, Italian, Scottish and Others together with Still Lifes and Other Works. A full biography is on the website.

 The famous fish market at Venice

Another Venice view

Piet likes painting boats: those stranded on beaches and also derelicts

An example of his Still Lifes.

What an amazing panoramic view!

As for specifics to quote Piet " I have 40 colours on my palette, far too much of course, but half of them I seldom use (just in case..) A must for me are French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Caerulean Blue, Prussian Blue, Indigo, Paynes Grey, Quinacridone Rose, Cadmium Red, Purple Madder, Caput Mortuum, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Sepia, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Cadmium Yellow Citron, Cadmium Yellow, Hookers Green Dark, and...white gouache. All tubes Winsor & Newton, Schminke and Talens (Rembrandt)".

Regarding brushes "Some expensive Kolinsky sables, some cheap flat brushes, but mostly Da Vinci Cosmotop mix brushes in all sizes from 6 to 32".

Paper " I have tried all sorts of paper but nowadays I stick to Arches 300gsm and 640gsm Torchon (Rough)".

His approach to painting "I have no specific approach, it all depends on the subject you paint, on intuition, on your mood for an experimental approach, on the outdoor circumstances".

Other comments " I like travelling, it's half the fun in a painters life. And that's where I differ from most of the other watercolourists. I always paint my landscapes on the spot, except of course my aerial views of Dutch rivers, which I photographed from a helicopter.  ..."Making a watercolour is like chess playing: try to think about the next two or three steps you intend to make, eventually prepare a sufficient amount of some colours, but don't rigidly stick to your plan: things can change on your way, so be receptive. If you act do it with speed and determination".

 Not sure if I'm supposed to post this but his parting comment  was "A tip:in my gear is a hipflask with `water for life' it clears one's mind. Don't tell anybody"... " "Best wishes and have painters fun yours Piet Lap".

As I've already said this is one fabulous artist and obviously a great guy.. His website is  If you like what you've seen, and I'm sure most will, have a look at all the fabulous paintings featured. Thank you Piet for being so open and helpful.