Hello there. Just to break up the monotony I thought I'd indulge in another of my fireside chats. Not really just a few musings about things art and especially watercolour painting.
I hope everyone who reads this is well and best wishes to my many friends and followers. I sound like a sage when I say that but in reality am just a humble hobby painter. I'm still striving to improve and at the present time am painting more than I have for a considerable period, perhaps more than ever. This is courtesy of the pandemic although I'd rather it wasn't so.
At the moment halting steps are being taken to restart my Avon Valley Artists group though it is proving difficult. Salford Hall, where we meet, wants to start again for obvious monetary reasons and we've been issued with a set of new conditions in addition to the normal ones regarding the hire of rooms. This amounts to three pages of dense print.! The group has shrunk and we are barely seventeen, although already some of that number have indicated they aren't coming back. Others like myself are reluctant to commit to the suggested start date of October. How things have changed -in every way - since this virus appeared. I was just two when WW2 began and this current pandemic is undoubtedly the most serious major event since then. Of course WW2 was different and unlikely to be equalled, at least I hope not, but the problems we have are unparalleled. I'm optimistic though and think a vaccine or vaccines will arrive sooner than later. Why do I think that? In many respects, although completely different, the current disaster is equal in magnitude to aspects of WW2. As an amateur historian of WW2 I know that technology in five and a half years, advanced at a rate that would have taken fifty years in peacetime. Why? Because things were desperate and such things as budgets and profits went out of the window. Money was no object with concerns about how it was to be paid for put aside. The best brains on all sides worked at winning the war and fortunately the Western Allies with the Soviet Union came out on top. This current crisis has the best brains in action on a massive scale once again.
As regards painting we do have a number of tools that help. The internet and social media like Facebook have come in for much criticism recently, but aside from that it has been a boon when so many of us have become somewhat isolated. Youtube is also very good, in fact I was looking at various videos the other day on the new Roman Szmal watercolours, which intrigue me. I'll undoubtedly try some at some stage. In addition I was asked by Jacksons if I would like to review products on my blog. After some thought I said yes but only those relating to watercolour. I am not getting any remuneration for doing so although none was actually offered . The first product which should arrive soon is a new mop brush under the Jackson label. I've no idea if or when they might ask me to do others.
Since the death of Charles Reid, who was only six months older than me, I've been pondering mortality, but less morbidly remembering all the workshops I did with him and his wife Judy. She sent me a very nice e mail about the obituary I wrote. I think life is proving a little difficult since Charles died.
I get regular e mails from Jacksons, the most recent listing all the makes of watercolour they sell. Very impressive and mouth watering. The problem to me is how expensive paints have become. I'm not pleading poverty because I can buy more or less what I want within reason, but both mine and my wifes parents had very little money and this has taught us prudence. Anyone starting off now with a 12 palette set can easily exceed £150!. This is a lot for 12 small tubes. When I see artists promoting Daniel Smith - good though the paints are (mostly) - I do think amateurs are being badly served. Many must buy them as Jacksons say they are 'Best Sellers'. They do say Jacksons own label are also 'Best Sellers'. I'm trying a few of the latter at the moment. Unfortunately several of the other leading makes have edged up their prices towards the DS level, although there are a few that are still very good value. Daniel Smith have a huge range with many appealing paints but most of the basic colours can be purchased from others like Lukas and some of the Asian makes at much lower prices, and are quite good enough. I know personal preference plays a part but even so the differences are not that great for the average painter.
I wonder what has happened to the 'new' Rembrandt range? It was supposed to be introduced last Spring. I don't know what the pricing will be but the new range, when and if introduced, would compete with all the majors at 140 paints with excellent pigments. In the meantime Schminke continue to expand their range. As I've said prices have edged up but I'm interested in what Rembrandt do as the current artist quality range are very well priced. I also recommend trying the enlarged Van Gogh range of 72 paints. Very reasonably priced and pretty good.
That will do for now so best wishes to everyone and KEEP SAFE!.