Thursday 16 April 2020

Latest Paintings

I'm painting quite a lot at the moment, including drawing. With the way things are developing I may paint even more if we have to self isolate  at some stage.  (This was written sometime ago. We are self isolating and have been for two weeks with more to come)We've just been told by the latest press conference to 'avoid non essential' social contact. We've already shut down the AVA before the lockdown until further notice, which may last a considerable time. I fear this will threaten the survival of the group but there is nothing else we can do. These are my latest efforts. I've scrapped a couple of others All 16" x 12"

"Cowgirl "

I attempted here to treat this subject in a similar manner to a Charles Reid demo at Stow in the Wold. I wasn't on that particular workshop but Judi Whitton was and subsequently purchased it. She has it in her 2005 book ( Collins) "Loosen up Your Watercolours". and try and improve it, perhaps adding as little red. in places, just the odd spot.

Too much red on the left facing side of the face? I think so.

'Red Pandas"

I was pleased with this but very few likes on 'Facebook'. Now if I had a name!😎

An Amerindian woman - This didn't work well either as I introduced what Charles Reid used to call arbitrary colours, colours that aren;'t actually there.

Alison - First try. As I wasn't happy I did it again.

The Jay isn't  bad but I 'm not keen on the background. I'm not good at backgrounds which Charles used to say were the hardest part of a painting.

The Kiowa 'Lone Wolf"

I actually really like this but as often the case I don't get many likes on the groups on Facebook I post in. Nice to be (not) appreciated.😎 Still I'm sticking with this approach - well not all the time.

An Amerindian woman. The difficulty with many of these old indian photos is that they are either a sepia colour or black and white and the contrast is extreme. 


This is my granddaughters Jack Russell  terrier 'Herbert" . He came from a dog rescue kennel. He's nine and a little cutie. Already adored. I'm pleased with this and so was my granddaughter (although she hasn't asked for it!). The resemblance is good.

Charging Rhino - Overworked

Alison - 2nd Attempt. The eyes are a little too large otherwise better than the first one. I've actually done a little more work on this one reducing the size of the eyes. Contrary to what is sometimes said you can make alterations to watercolours although you walk a thin line when doing so. If the colours are staining, which many of the synthetics are,  then it is more difficult.

I think you can see the eyes are smaller compared to the above and are more in proportion.

Bad Hair Day Penguin

This is a fun painting and I like it.

Native American

This one has already bitten the dust. It was very hard going from the original photo, very black with very little detail. I used to publish the original photos I based the paintings on but gave it up because most comments just judged them on whether the resemblance was good or not.

Young Kickapoo Man


This was done immediately after two failures with an Amerindian portrait. Both torn up. I was very frustrated which happens sometimes.

Saturday 11 April 2020

Product Test: Nitram Liquid Charcoal

I have finally got around to trying the new liquid charcoal. I used the approach taken by Stephie Butler, to whom thanks are due. This is to major on the charcoal with the addition of one or two watercolours in moderate amounts. There is a degree of abstraction in that colour realism isn't the object.

Native American 16" x 12"

For applying the charcoal I used a No 8 Da Vinci Cosmotop Mix B brush. This is a mixed hair brush with some synthetic. This brush in various sizes is a favourite of artists like Viktoria Prischedko. I did this because of the possible effect on my Kolinsky sables, although I did use two Isabey small brushes for the eye detail. Possibly my concerns are unwarranted. The watercolours used were the Rowney Permanent Magenta and a lesser amount of Daniel Smith Lunar Violet. This latter is very dark, almost black. and not particularly violet. The Lunar colours are very interesting as they granulate really well but  otherwise on the dull side.

The charcoal was easy to use. It dilutes well and can also be used at strength for real darks. I like the effect very much. I do suspect that the Daniel Smith Lunar Black, a true watercolour, might well be able to be used in a similar way. I say this as I've just had the above photo removed from 'Watercolour Addicts; - a pure watercolour group - as 'mixed media'. I was surprised initially but then realised that technically they were right. I say 'technically' as I'm inclined to think this new product is more like watercolour than charcoal. However if you allow one thing then that might open the floodgates. In any event I've now joined a couple of other groups that allow other mediums. Why? Because I intend to do more paintings using this medium.

Nitram Liquid Charcoal is available in a 50ml tube. I bought mine from Jacksons at just over £20. This seems steep but you do get 50 ml which is quite a lot. The amount I used on the painting is probably more than with a conventional watercolour. It comes out of the tube fairly soft - not liquid - and I used it mainly diluted with water but you can utilise it full strength. I think you will get through it fairly quickly, more so than a highly pigmented watercolour.

A final word. It's just my opinion of course but I'm really pleased with the painting and give this product top marks. The caveat is the way you paint and the style you like. It won't gel with the realistic and superrealistic artists. It is more for the messy ones like me.

Thursday 9 April 2020

Jacksons Watercolours

As well as budget makes from the majors, Cotman from Winsor & Newton is one well-known example plus Van Gogh from Talens (Rembrandt),we also have house brands that have increased a lot over the last few years. One such is Jacksons. As part of my look at cheaper brands with my ongoing  campaign, and I have no great expectations of success,  against the eye watering prices of the majors I purchased three tubes.  I know this is a small sample but see later.

Jacksons started off with 40 colours but according to the website there are now 48. However the colour chart shows 43! I also wonder if the pigment information is correct. For example they are still showing PY153 for Jacksons Yellow Light, whereas PY 153 was discontinued some time ago. On the Youtube piece mentioned there is a suggestion in the comments that some changes have been made and the labels have yet to catch up. I count 27 single pigments out of 43 which is about 60%. I have e mailed them querying the discrepancy in the number of paints and have yet to receive a reply. In the past I've always found them very good at answering queries but I think they are suffering staff shortages due to the virus and are also very busy. It seems us artists are finding ways to occupy our time! I expect to get a reply in due course and will print it when received.

The tubes are not very attractive but its whats inside that really matters. This is the largest size 21ml. There are also 10ml tubes and half and full pans. 

From left to right the three swatches are Cerulean Blue, Raw Umber and Burnt Umber. When I opened the Cerulean tube I was disturbed to see a lot of liquid came out and Teoh had the same problem with certain colours.  He puts it down to an excess of gum arabic. This is separation and often happens if tubes have been hanging on racks for a long time. One of the replies to Teoh  said "shake the tubes well before use" and this indeed seems to work. I would have thought though that this range from Jacksons sells quite well and the tubes are not that old..

Once I got to the pigment the colour seems okay and I'm reasonably happy with it. The Raw Umber is a different matter. This is very dark and I think I'll have to find a better lighter one. The Burnt Umber is slightly redder than the Raw Umber and may be satisfactory. These  latter colours are not that popular with many artists, and the Australian maestro Robert Wade condemned Burnt Umber in one of his books. But then he also condemned Paynes Grey and Yellow Ochre.

I now come to a splendid piece on YouTube  from the artist Teoh Chie where he covers Jacksons watercolours in some detail and paints out swatches of fourteen. This elicited several interesting responses from some who had tried and indeed used them. It is well worth looking at this video which (I think) gives a balanced and realistic view of these paints. They are made by Sennelier but are not exactly the same. Teoh looked at the equivalent Sennelier colours and points out differences, in some instances,  in the pigments.

Looking at prices the  Cerulean at £9.50, is very reasonable for 21ml. Current Cerulean prices from Jacksons - all 15ml unless otherwise stated -  : Daniel Smith £15.30, Winsor & Newton (14ml) £13.50, Lukas (24ml) £10.00, Sennelier (21ml) £13.70p,  Shin Han £13.00, Turner £6.10 and Mission Gold £6.80.  Makes you think doesn't it? I was surprised how expensive Shin Han has become and how cheap  Turner and Mission Gold are.  On my blog  I have had  comments on all these cheaper makes and, while there are a few reservations, there has also been positives. From this though Lukas has to be the star buy. I like Lukas, apart from some of the multi pigment mixes. The paint comes from the tube like toothpaste but dissolves easily once water is added. Lukas are now part of the Daler Rowney group. My best buys not so long ago included Daler Rowney then we had a substantial price hike. I've been wondering if and when Lukas will follow.

Despite these high prices Jacksons still say Daniel Smith is a "Best Seller". I'm not disputing they are very good paints overall. There are indeed some unique colours and I might still buy odd ones but certainly not the standard colours. If I won the lottery it might be different but then everything would be different.  For amateurs like myself to spend these high prices in my opinion makes no sense. I very much doubt it makes most better painters despite comments I get, mainly from  professional artists, that the difference in their paintings is noticeable. This might apply comparing them to the budget makes but what about Lukas, Sennelier and  some of the Asian makes? There are colours in these ranges that compare very well if you are selective.

I've just had a response from Jacksons. They apologised for the delay and confirmed the range is 43 colours not 48. They will immediately amend the website.

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Watercolour Paintings 65

And still they keep coming! I've said it many times before but its worth repeating. The wealth of talent across the World in watercolour never ceases to amaze me. Wonderful artists proliferate. Long may it be so. 

Jung Hun-sung
 I don't know this artist. There are so many wonderful Asian artists.

Lars eje Larsson

One of my favourite artists. A unique style.

Eugene Chisnicean

Mary Whyte

One of the doyens of American artists.

Natalie Graham

A newish one to me . I like her minimalist , loose approach

John Blockley

One of the greats of British watercolour painting

John Yardley

Another British great, fortunately still with us in his mid-eighties

Tony Couch

A prominent American who was formerly an airline pilot.

Jen Buckley

I like this very much, again a small area of detail and the rest generalities. very much the Charles Reid approach although the style is different.

Catherine Rey

The superb French artist

Jane Davies

This is very like my granddaughters new dog, Herbert which came from a dog rescue sanctuary

Emma Fitzpatrick

A new one to me. An interesting style.

Tomaz Mikutel

I like this. Hares seem a very popular subject at the moment, figurines as well as paintings.

Brian Tai

Natalie Graham

Another imaginative painting of the popular Hare from Natalie.

Joseph Zbukvic

The Master Australian

Blanca Alvarez

A new one to me

The much missed Charles Reid

Kees van Aalst

Author of 'Realistic Abstracts" which caused quite a stir when published.

That's it folks hope you find things to interest and admire. A lot can be learned by studying other fine artists.