Tuesday 21 August 2018

Watercolour Painting on a Budget 2018 PT 1 PAINTS

I have written previously on the above subject of  painting on a budget and due to the escalation of prices propose to revisit . First a qualification. The above title suggests  this is about the 'Best'. It isn't but instead about what I consider  'best buys' , combining price and quality. This isn't the same thing. Watercolour artists get ripped off  (in my opinion), especially in paints but also to a lesser extent in brushes and paper.  Professional artists nearly all recommend you buy 'the best quality products'. Some, not all, promote various brands, some telling you they are the 'best in the World' either being paid by the respective companies or supplied with product free for doing so or very cheap prices. I'm not saying all artists take this line but some undoubtedly do. The only one I know of that was very cynical about this was the late Ron Ranson, who used the cheapest materials in all three categories. I know of one artist who promoted a particular brand of paint then switched to another when the deal was withdrawn. Each was 'the best'. Enough of that now to a summary. These are only my opinions so you can take what you want from them or ignore them. There are a huge range of brands available in all these products so there may well be others I've missed , especially in the USA and other countries but my perspective is primarily a UK one. Daler Rowney, until recently a 'best buy'; have increased prices to the extent I've dropped them.  I would stress I am very flexible in buying paints taking the view nearly all artists quality brands are acceptable subject to personal preference.
Here prices of artist quality paints are horrendous. At the top end we have Daniel Smith, QoR and one or two lesser known. For the purpose of this exercise I have also discounted brands like Winsor & Newton at current prices. However look out for special offers and you may find them cheaper at some other outlets. I am only talking about what is currently on offer from Jacksons - a good benchmark. There are certain colours in these top brands that are 'must have' to some artists' Fair enough. Another might be Permanent Rose from Winsor & Newton (PV19). There are lots of paints made with PV19 but the Winsor & Newton one is a favourite of many flower painters.
The following are my recommendations as things stand. I'm in a slight state of flux at the moment as what to buy so put these forward for consideration. Schmincke are a good buy IF you are comparing them with brands like Daniel Smith. The range is extensive with over 100 colours and prices are cheaper than Daniel Smith .You have to watch though in what price category each paint is listed as there is no industry standard. Schmincke don't have a lot in category one - the cheapest. They also do a 5ml in addition to the 15ml plus half and full pans.
Another to look at is Talens (Rembrandt). They mainly do a 5ml tube but also a few colours in 21ml. Prices are pretty keen and if you only use a small amount of a certain colour I recommend  the 5ml size.
For bulk users the best buy is Lukas with a range of 70 colours, a few outstanding. They don't match the range of the others but all the standard colours are there. The problem may be they offer a 24ml tube size plus pans. This may be too large unless you paint a lot. Keep in mind though paints should last ten years or so, according to the chief chemist at Daler Rowney. However I have found that quite a few colours (pigments) solidify in the tube after much shorter periods, and that includes some from Daniel Smith. I know we are told to cut open the tubes and they can be utilised like pans but to me that's a pain! Lukas prices are excellent.
Another brand well worth consideration is Sennelier. With nearly 100 colours they also do 21ml (the best buy), 10ml plus full and half pans. Prices are a little more than Lukas but still well short of Daniel Smith.
There  are two other groups of paints outside of the main European and American brands - I would include Holbein here also. They are the Korean brands, Mission Gold and Shin Han plus the Japanese Turner. Prices are really cheap compared to the others - almost too good to be true. I have written extensively about them in my back catalogue so read it and make your mind up. I am minded to try a few colours in some of these brands but be selective. I did try Shin Han a few years ago and was not impressed but the current range may be different.
We then have the house brands which are growing all the time. They tend to have fewer colours, often less than fifty but claim to be 'artists quality'.  Jacksons, which used to be made by Sennelier (they may still be); is one with 48 colours and new ones seem to pop up regularly. All the major companies now seem to have them both here and in America. Try a few colours by all means and you may be pleasantly surprised. The SAA have a growing range.
Finally as I said at the beginning it's possible deals may be available at local shops that are normally more expensive. For instance I called in at Cass Art in Bristol the other day  and two shops from them is an outfit called Stationery World or similar. That shop has been there many years and I spotted some art materials in the window. On going inside I was surprised to see a full range of Maimeri watercolours together with the budget Venezia range, Prices were better than current Jacksons on the Maimeri and  Maimeris  excellent budget brand is normally hard to find. There is also the Cotman brand from Winsor & Newton together with the excellent Talens budget brand  Van Gogh if you are really strapped for cash - and many amateurs are. Thats it folks take your choice. For overseas visitors outside the EU Jacksons prices are less 20% VAT so even with carriage at cost only you may be pleasantly surprised how competitive they are.

Monday 13 August 2018

New Products

I have recently been on holiday at Sidmouth on the Devon coast.  Sidmouth is a mecca for artists  and group called East Devon Art Centre or similar have been running workshops this year, of varying lengths, including such fine artists as Stephie Butler AND the amazing Viktoria Prischedko. originally from Moldavia but now living I believe in Germany.  There is a nice art shop there called South West Art. As a serial impulse buyer I can't pass them by so went in (twice) for a peruse. I finished spending just over £17, not much considering what art products cost, especially for watercolour so here  we go.

The Maskaway, Twist Grip Large Fan and the Pebeo dtawing gum "High Precision Masking Marker". 

Actually I bought the Pebeo in Minerva in Bath but have included it here. The Maskaway from Frisk is a square piece of hardfoam-like material for removing masking fluid. I've tried it once and it works fine so far. The blurb says it is easily cleaned and can be cut to shape for more detailed erasing.  `it can also be used to remove a wide range of sticky marks including adhesive tape, and cleans dirty paper or after using Tracedown". This cost £5,25p.

The brush is called a 'Twist -Grip' and this one is a large fan. There was quite a large range mostly rounds, and prices were pretty cheap this being less than £5. I've used it a couple of times and quite like it. Well-made. 

The Pebeo marker is similar to the one recently introduced by Molotow. I bought both the Molotow markers and one is already unusable. When I saw the similar Pebeo one I decided to try it also. There are two sizes 04 and 07. Larger then the Molotow which is 02 and 04. It's early days but already I prefer the Pebeo. I believe you can buy new heads. They are of a soft/hard material and you press down on them to release the fluid.but eventually, as happened with the Molotow, clog up. Maybe my technique is faulty so if you use masking fluid give them a try.

Catalyst By Princeton.

Princeton are an American brush maker and these 'things' are made in China.

When I was in the shop I saw this collection of strange looking brush-like tools and was intrigued by them. That shown, 12 inches in length, was the smallest and cheapest, most were much bigger with heads up to two inches across.!  Exactly what you are supposed to do with them I'm not sure but they are obviously designed for special effects. Whether that included watercolour I'm unsure and foolishly I didn't ask the young lady in the shop about them. Special effects seem to be all the rage at the moment and all sorts of special brushes and other things are being promoted in this field. I've played around with it a little using thick paint and it may be useful - we shall see.

Tuesday 7 August 2018

Watercolour Magazines

I currently subscribe to the Watercolour Artist magazine and recently bought the latest quarterly edition of The Art of Watercolour. I'll explain why later

I had a short spell subscribing to this monthly magazine in 2014.  and have recently renewed. My main gripe is we have to pay such a premium in the UK to get it.  I get it from an online company. However each issue usually has a pre-paid card  to subscribe direct. I won't go into details but it is much cheaper in the USA - I paid £4.25p plus postage - about half.  Compared to The Art of Watercolour it is a smaller magazine of 72 pages with usually 6 articles and a number of columns. Artists like Ted Nugent and Fealing Lin have been featured in the past. Worth buying yes apart from the UK premium.

This is a glossy high quality production of 98 pages and is larger than the one above. When it was originally introduced I wrote a less than complimentary review of it. This provoked an anonymous post from some brave person who called me a moron. I had my suspicions it was a fairly high profile artist with whom I'd had a run in when he said Charles Reid recommended Escoda brushes. I pointed out I'd done several courses with CR and he always recommended DaVinci brushes. This didn't go down very well. Enough of that the reason I bought this copy, the 31st issue, was that Genevieve Buchanan a lovely lady I met on at least two Charles Reid workshops was featured. Genevieve has done lots more CR workshops than my five and also many others with artists like Alvaro Castagnet and John Yardley. It's obviously paid off.

I saw an advert for this issue, which a local newsagent stocks,  they usually only have two or three at most. I think it cost me £6.25p which not much dearer than Watercolour Artist given there is no postage involved. To be honest it  is a cut above but I had one other reason for my previous criticism and that was the elitist bent of the magazine. It seems mainly aimed at the higher levels of watercolour artists and if anyone disputes this then why run articles, at least one, with the theme of 'how to join the inner circle of watercolour artists'.  As one might judge from that I'm very much against elitism.

Genevieve's piece is based on her flower painting, although she does other subjects. I cannot really recall how she painted when we did the CR workshops together. Her style now is exceedingly loose and I have mixed feelings. I try to follow Charles Reid's mantra, with mixed success, of 'small areas of detail , large areas of generality'. To my eyes what is missing here are the small areas of detail. However who  I am, a struggling hobbyist, to say when she gets in this elite magazine and I get ......... Just kidding I know my limitations!

When I first started painting I bought Leisure Painter and The Artist magazines. Leisure Painter is very good for beginners. I recently discontinued The Artist as it seems to me to be in a rut and has very little on watercolour, certainly next to nothing on the amazing artists out there from other countries and continents. Perhaps I've just become more cynical as I'm now well into old age and realise it's a case of not falling off the perch rather than improving much. I asked a painter friend of mine, sadly now deceased, at what stage one stopped  improving. His reply was it wasn't a case of improving but trying to stop the rot.

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Watercolour Paintings 45

Here are Augusts batch. I have again tried to mix them up with a wide variety showing the versatility of watercolour. I hope you all agree. I have included a couple of abstracts.  Some of the artists are unknown to me but they just keep coming

Liam Cheng Wu

A terrific Chinese artist who paints a wide range of subjects.

Yvonne Harry

Yvonne is the leader of my group Avon Valley Artists. She is not a professional artist, although she holds a major  annual exhibition at Wells Cathedral. In my (and others ) view she is  equally as good, if not better, than many professionals in her major mode as a flower painter.  Compare this with the one above.

Hiew Yin-Yui

Gerard Hendriks

Gerard has turned his talents to other subjects recently and his boat studies have the usual dynamic colours and sense of movement that is displayed in other subjects such as birds and animals..

Mika Toronen

Adrian Homersham

Stan Miller -enough said!

Ewa Ludwiczak

Morten Solberg Snr.

Great American artist of outdoor scenes usually the small areas of detail nvolving animals, although they aren't usually a major party of the painting.

Yuko Nagayama
The brilliant Japanese artist

Gang Liang
I love the simplicity of this,

Charles Reid

This is a typical CR painting where he combines flowers with other objects.

Gerard Hendrik

Another boat painting from Gerard - contrast this with the previous one. Slightly more subdued.

Frank Eber
Terrific artist, American I think.

Fealing Lin
Wonderful Chinese -American artist.

Gerard Hendriks

I may be slightly overindulgent here but there is a lot to be learned from Gerards work if you buy into it - and many do.

Robert Wade

The great Australian artist. This is one of his older works. I haven't seen anything recently from him and he is tending to display his back catalogue He's 88 today.

Eric Mishima
I don't know anything about this artist but this is an amazing watercolour.

Winslow Homer
The great American artist.

Robert Ferguson
A typical English landscape in the style of Seago/Wesson.

Dusan Djukaric
Another superb artist from Eastern Europe.

Pavel Pugachev

Pol Ledent

Mary Whyte
Fabulous American artist

Bev Jozwiak
Anothrr fabulous American artist.