Sunday 25 September 2011

More on Greens

The recent post on mixing greens made me think about the subject in more depth and I decided to make further swatches of greens using Phthalocyanine Greens PG7 Blue Shade and PG36 Yellow Shade. This is one approach recommended in that small amounts are added to other colours like Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber, really by trial and error. All the Phthalocyanines are very strong staining pigments and have to be used with caution as they are very powerful. Most makers call either shade Phthalo Green, in the case of Maimeri Cupric Green, Winsor & Newton Winsor Green Blue Shade (PG7) and Yellow Shade (PG36). You really need to check either the manufacturers pigment chart or the tube itself to see what you are buying.  They also appear in a wide range of mixed convenience greens.

In these swatches the greens on the left hand side are based on the addition of PG7 Blue Shade which produces darker values than the Yellow shade. The right hand swatches are of the yellow shade. Some of the swatches seem to go against this but is probably down to my hit and miss procedure when adding variable amounts of the green colour. The colours are plainly marked if you click on the photograph and enlarge. 

For these swatches I mixed on the palette, rather than the paper, putting down the selected colour first than adding small amounts of Phalo Green. This is due to the power of these pigments which have to be handled with care.  

Once again there are some interesting shades and  many other colours could be brought into the equation as this is a limited selection. As a general comment I would say that the mixtures with Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber and Raw Umber make the more natural looking shades, certainly in UK terms where our greens tend to be more subdued for much of the year. 

One of the comments made by Rembrandt van Rijn recommended using Cobalt Turquoise Light, specifically that by Winsor & Newton, which he said makes a wide range of interesting and evocative greens carefully added to some other colours. This is Cobalt Titanate Green Pigment PG50 and there seems to be a wide variation in the shades available,which vary from middle green to turquoise. According to Handprint the same colour index name refers to a range of widely differing hues depending on the admixture with metals aluminium, nickel or zinc. Bruce McEvoy also says that the various shades are amongst his favourite colours. I previously bought  Cobalt Green Light made by Maimeri and wasn't much impressed  and recently Cobalt Teal Blue from Daniel Smith, very different shades. On order is a small tube of the W & N Cobalt Turquoise Light so I shall give them all a try and publish the results in due course.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Mineral Violet - Pigment Violet 16 (PV16)

This wasn't a planned post but has arisen as a result of my experiences with two tubes of Graham Mineral Violet purchased from T.N.Lawrence  & Son of Hove.

I actually bought these paints in the first half of last year and somewhat later  decided to make a swatch of the Mineral Violet, only to find initially only liquid emerged and that the tube was less than half full. When contacted Lawrence were most apologetic and replaced the tube very promptly.

As I am a paint junkie I have far too many paints and the Graham paints, apart from two colours, were not brought into immediate use. Very recently I decided I must do something with them and prepared an alternative palette which included paints from Daniel Smith. The paints were sqeezed out into the wells with no problems until I came to the Mineral Violet. I noticed immediately that it seemed somewhat congealed and what emerged from the tube was a thick mud-like brown substance. Not a trace of violet anywhere!

I decided to contact Lawrence once more as these paints are not cheap. The response was immediate. I received an e-mail from Martin Lawrence which said  " does appear to be a problem with this particular colour that we have experienced with a number of other paint manufacturers" He also said this had been communicated to Graham and a reply was awaited. Once again the response was immediate. Graham replied:

  "Yes, a couple of years ago we (and other manufacturers) bought a pigment that reacted to the medium.It only happened with the Mineral Violet. We apologize and will replace any tubes that you or your customers have with this problem".

Martin Lawrence replied as follows "I have asked for clarification as to whether this batch is identifiable. As we haven't had any other problems reported for some time, I hope that our current stock is ok. It looks as if we must have replaced the first tube with another tube of the same batch. We will send out a replacement tube tomorrow".

Assuming the tube arrives and is ok then the response from Lawrence (and Graham) could hardly be bettered. I find Jacksons equally good in handling any rare problems and Lawrence are in the same league.

As for Mineral Violet PV16 it isn't a particularly popular pigment, correctly called Manganese Violet. Handprint rate it a `top forty' pigment and make no comment about possible problems so it appears this is an isolated instance.

Lawrence sell a wide range of art supplies and have a very good selection of watercolour paints. They are the sole UK source of both the highly regarded American makes of Graham and DaVinci. The German Lukas brand is also stocked as is Old Holland. Art Spectrum and others.

Graham and DaVinci, both ranges containing some excellent and unique colours, are rather expensive but Lawrence do offer an additional 20% off  when six tubes are purchased. This makes them more competitive. Both companies have excellent websites with very good colour charts and information on pigments etc. Graham are  and DaVinci . Graham paints are easily rewetted, a major plus unless you paint every day. My only experience with Da Vinci is through the Michael Wilcox paints, which they make, but they have since reformulated the paints introducing many new colours made with top pigments. Both are worth serious consideration. I shall almost certainly buy more Graham in the future.

I have only one issue with Lawrence and that is they don't have a similar free postage offer, providing the order exceeds a certain amount, to Bromley, Jacksons and Great Art. Some other suppliers are starting to introduce something similar. The minimum postage charge is £4.99 which adds 83p per tube when six are purchased.  Obviously the more you purchase the lower this figure becomes. Thus the final price can be more expensive compared with Winsor & Newton (and other makes) from the three aforementioned suppliers. In these straightened times, with art materials increasingly expensive, price is becoming a major factor.

Friday 16 September 2011

Still Life

With only four weeks to go to my Charles Reid course in Cornwall I am stepping up the (practice) painting and also intend to view several of his videos again. This was an attempt at a still life with a mixture of fruit, my favourite milk jug and a coffee mug.

Fruit and Things

Initial Drawing

Fruit and Things

My wife says the fruit is too much in line and the apple on the right should have been brought forward. I'm sure this is so but, as CR says, `mistakes are part of it'. 

Colours on the jug were a mixture of Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue Deep (Rowney PB72)and some diluted Permanent Mauve (Rowney PV23). The mug was similar but more so. The orange is Cadmium Orange (Maimeri PO20) and Raw Umber. The apples a mixture of Permanent Carmine (W & N), Cadmium Yellow Light, Permanent Green (Maimeri) and? I used a red watercolour pencil to put in some texture on the apples. The peach on the left has strong mixes of  Perylene Maroon as well as Permanent Carmine and some yellow, also Burnt Umber.. The grapes a mixture of Perylene Maroon (Rowney PR179) and Quinacridone Rust (Gaham PO48) The shadows are mainly Cerulean Blue. Usual brushes with the No 6 & 9 Rosemary Series 33 Kolinsky predominating. I think it okay but nothing more than that. Comments welcome.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Quinacridone Violet - Pigment Violet 19 (PV19)

As all the PV19's are closely connected I decided to post this short piece on the violet form to immediately follow up that on the rose and red shades. This will be much shorter because there are far fewer paints made from the violet, less than ten by my estimate. What does that tell us?

Quinacridone Violet (gamma quinacridone) is a darker valued deep red to violet red, really mostly a magenta shade, that leans towards blue.It is very different from the other shades. Compare the Rowney Permanent Magenta in the previous post. It is very lightfast, more so apparently than the rose and red shades.  As for knowing which shade it is manufacturers names vary from Permanent Magenta to Quinacridone Violet. While it is almost impossible to differentiate the rose and red shades, at least amongst us lesser mortals, the violet one is a different colour and reference to manufacturers colour charts is the best way to determine this. Most of the leading makers, but not all, offer at least two shades with a rose or red and the other a more magenta/violet colour.

Which to use? I suppose in a large palette one could have both, providing they are visibly different. The rose and red forms are brighter and the violet duller. In a limited palette obviously the rose or red forms would be the preferred choice for most artists. Quinacridone Magenta PR122 is a possible alternative.

Saturday 10 September 2011

Quinacridone Rose - Pigment Violet 19 (PV19)

PV19 is one of the most important pigments for the watercolour artist and seems to feature in an increasing number of manufacturers paints, mostly as single pigments, but also in quite a few mixtures. This is an interesting pigment which is available in two major versions, Rose and Violet, but things become complicated in that there is also a `red' form not far removed from the Rose, all covered by the same PV19 designation. However a study of the palette choices of several well-known professional artists indicated it has certainly not replaced (for example) the fugitive  Alazarin Crimson (PR83) which is still widely used and only partially replaced by the `Permanent' version. Probably the best known PV19 paint is Winsor & Newton's Permanent Rose, a favourite of many flower painters. Winsor & Newton recommend Permanent Rose as the red  in a  three colour primary palette, although some other manufacturers tend to favour a magenta shade.

 Above are nine different versions of PV19 which include both the Rose and Red shades and Violet. The only violet shade is the Rowney Permanent Magenta which is obviously different to the rest. Permanent Rose from W & N is the Rose shade, Primary Magenta from Maimeri is also the same shade, while Maimeri's Rose Lake is the Red shade. Schminke say, when describing their Ruby Red version that `different colour layers have a strong influence on character'.

In this instance I'll cover the Rose and Red versions, which are very similar and the Violet in another post. Quinacridone Violet (Gamma Quinacridone 1958) comes in deep red to violet-red shades depending on manufacturer. There are at least 20 pigment suppliers Worldwide and small variations may exist in the raw pigments they sell, while differences in the various manufacturing processes  also affect the final product. The red shade is warmer and darker than the Rose but I doubt most of us can tell the difference, more likely those between different makers. Although considered lightfast and semi-transparent Bruce McEvoy detected some fading after 800 hours exposure and suggests that variations may exist between the different makes on offer. He always says it is safer to carry out ones own lightfastness tests but I suggest only a few are prepared to go to such lengths. However it is rated, even by Bruce `Excellent to Very Good'.

To see what is on offer I looked at 14 leading manufacturers. The Australian company Art Spectrum and the American Da Vinci have the most paints with  five single pigment PV19's. Art Spectrums names vary from Spectrum Crimson to Rose Madder with four (or is it three?) Rose or Red versions. Da Vinci, possibly the most recent company to reformulate their paints have Alazarin Crimson (!), Carmine, Red Rose Deep, Permanent Rose and Quinacridone Violet as well as several mixtures including PV19. Of the 35 paints I identified only seven were called either Quinacridone Rose or Violet (mostly violet) with some pure marketing hype, `Genuine Rose', `Rose Pale Lake', `Thio Violet', ` Ruby red' etc.  The only company that calls it like it is  Daniel Smith with respectively Quinacridone Rose, Red and Violet. Surprisingly Holbein only market one colour Primary Magenta and so do Sennelier. I also note that Van Gogh offer Quinacridone Rose and Permanent Red Violet, Cotman Permanent Rose while Maimeri have Venezia versions of both Primary Magenta and Rose Lake. All this seems to confirm Bruce McEvoys assertion that paints should be selected by pigments not colours. There are two sources of pigment information, the manufacturer's website (usually) and that printed on the tubes. The latter is usually so small you almost need a magnifying glass.

If you wish to go deeper I always suggest the Handprint website Look under paints where very extensive information is available. If that is not enough try I would imagine these two sources are enough for most artists. I once again pay tribute to Bruce McEvoy of Handprint for his wonderful resource for the watercolour artist which I have leaned heavily on..