Sunday 29 June 2014

Keynsham Art Trail

Avon Valley Artists participated in this annual (or is it bi-annual?) event on Saturday and Sunday 29th and 30th June.  I have become disenchanted with exhibiting but was persuaded to do so once again. 

Our leaders Yvonne Harry and Jan Weeks

The two top and bottom left are mine. I'm afraid I didn't note the others.

The painting on the left is by Jan and that on the right by Yvonne.

Pauline Vowles on the left, Jan Weeks on the right

Due to the size of the hall paintings were restricted to 4 framed per member plus as many unframed as you wished. This resulted in a total of 70 framed paintings making an excellent exhibition as can be seen above. Quality is high for an amateur group. There was a steady stream of visitors over the two days.

I don't know what the final sales total was but once again Yvonne  and Jan were the most successful artists, . Interest has been expressed in my painting of the Jaguar but I decided it was NFS.

Monday 23 June 2014

Daler-Rowney Watercolours

Daler- Rowney are one of the very oldest watercolour manufacturers dating from 1783. The company was started by Richard and Thomas Rowney and they supplied, and were family friends of, famous artists like Turner and Constable.

In 1963 they introduced the first artists acrylic paints in Europe and in 1969 moved from Central London to Bracknell, where they currently reside. I have actually visited the factory and seen watercolours being produced.

Generations of Rowney children running the company ended in 1969 when the last MD Tom Rowney, who was childless, sold the company to Morgan Crucible, a conglomerate who had managed Rowney's operations for a number of years.The Daler board company was incorporated in 1946 and the American brush maker, Robert Simmons, purchased in 1994. To my surprise I also discovered that the German paint maker Lukas became part of the Rowney group in 2013.

While Rowney produce a wide range of artists  products this is about the watercolour line or should I say lines. These are the Top of the range Artists Watercolours, Aquafine student colours and Simply. I am primarily concerned with the top artist's range and have no experience with these cheaper products.

The range comprises 80 colours in total, 66% single pigment paints. and are priced in only two series. Prices are generally very good and paints are cheaper than many of the other artists quality paints. In my opinion quality is good and on a combined price/quality basis they are an excellent buy  - one of the best in fact.  Not everyone can afford Daniel Smith and the other more expensive makes. Surprisingly so are (or were) Lukas so it will be interesting to see what effect the Rowney ownership will have. 

Daler-Rowney Chip Chart - obtained on a visit to the factory some years ago. This is the only one I've ever seen

How good are the paints? Bruce McEvoy of Handprint in 2000, pretty much damned them as a `second Tier' brand in both price and quality. I have a great regard for Bruce but I think he is somewhat harsh in his criticisms. He did single out and praise Warm Orange (PO73), Indian Yellow (PY153) and Cobalt Blue Deep (PB72). I have those plus Indanthrene Blue (PB60), Cobalt Magenta (PV14), Ultramarine Violet (PV15), Green-Gold (PY129) and a few others. A friend of mine loves the Transparent Red Brown (PR206). Note all first class pigments. A few years ago I did some workshops with the artist Trevor Waugh and he was then using Rowney paints, although he did say he preferred some colours in other makes. Amongst other subjects he painted flowers and the results were superb. Many other British professional artists use Daler-Rowney watercolours quite happily. With the Indian Yellow the demise of PY153 puts a question mark over this one although I still have several tubes. I actually bought them at F.J Harris in Bath, a local art shop, who have been selling Rowney watercolours for months at better prices than the mail order specialists! Windsor & Newton and Rowney pretty much have a monopoly in British art shops so I imagine it is in their interest to support local shops rather than let them be swamped by the mail order specialists. I've noticed the local shops having some better deals in the last year or two.

Of course personal preference plays a large part in selecting paints and what suits one doesn't necessarily suit another. If you are looking for a good quality watercolour at a keen price then they are worth a try.

Saturday 7 June 2014

Latest Paintings

These are my latest paintings which continue my interest in Native Americans, in this case Eskimo or Inuit women with children and a Nez Perce man.

Ist Painting 16" x 12" 

2nd painting 16" x 12"

I was very taken by photos of these Amerindian (Eskimo) women with child on `Moses on the Mesa' on Facebook. Possibly I could have been a little more subtle and I'm tempted to have another try, particularly of the first one.

Pa-tik-he-ke-heci . A Nez Perce man 1908 - 16" x 12" from the wonderful resource for American Indian photographs on Facebook "Moses on the Mesa"

 The Agami Heron

This is the latest bird painting for the `Paint Colorful Birds for Fun" community on Facebook. I love these bird studies!

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Book Review - Experimental Landscapes in Watercolour' by Ann Blockley

Ann Blockley, previously better known for her flower paintings, has in recent years changed direction somewhat and this book is the latest manifestation. Her flower paintings were never botanical, being more of flowers in the garden or landscape, but they were never abstract. My sister, who lives in the Cotswolds not very far from Ann Blockley, has two of her earlier paintings, one of snowdrops the other Hollyhocks so I have been able to study them in the flesh. (This review is by courtesy of Yvonne Harry who loaned me the book.)

Ann Blockley at work

 Ann's father was the famous John Blockley, one of the leading artists, a contemporary of Wesson  in landscape painting in watercolour, although many of his paintings were of fairly bleak scenes, including coal mines in Wales, hill cottages and farms. Colours tended to be muted. Late in his career he changed style completely and his later paintings bore little resemblance with brilliant colours and an almost abstract approach. As well as watercolour he also painted with pastels and was President of the Pastel Society. I have two of his books, `Watercolour Practice & Progress' and  `Country Landscapes in Watercolour'.

John Blockley

Ann has written several books and I have `Watercolour Textures', published in 2007. This latest book goes well beyond that.

Approx.10 x 9 inches, 128 pages, Batsford 2014 UK £18.99 USA $27.95

The book is divided into 6 sections, with the largest one on `Methods and Medium'. This involves the use of Acrylic ink, gouache, scraping, scratching and cutting, salt techniques, granulation textures, cling film, cellophane, fabrics and much else. There is a chapter on the use of Gesso and collage. The book is profusely illustrated showing and describing the use of these various techniques. There are some paintings I like but many that are too abstract for my taste. Nearly all are very colourful.

I am certainly not averse to using different techniques in watercolour and if you are into this then this book could be very useful. I am somewhat lukewarm about it and it is a step too far for me. On the other hand several of the ladies at my Artists group are big fans of hers and intend to visit - or have visited - her latest exhibition which is tied in with the book launch. The book has been printed in China and the initial tranche supplied to the UK soon sold out. Ann was trying to get more for the exhibition. Added 05/06/14: Jan Weeks visited the exhibition, which is on this week, and said the paintings were `fantastic'. 
Apparently some visitors expressed disappointment as there were no flower paintings on view. 

Added 10/06/14: Ann Blockley's exhibition finished last Saturday and according to her Facebook page she sold, quote,  `squillions' of paintings. Unfortunately she is still waiting for more books to arrive.

If you are into all the various techniques mentioned above you could look at the books by the American author Cathy Johnson which are available on Amazon at very good prices. These illustrate the various methods, materials and techniques individually.