The Watercolour Log

One persons attempt to become a good artist painting in watercolour, experiences along the way and discussion of all things connected with it.

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.


Stages of a Work in Progress

I generally do my portraits of Amerindians from old black and white photographs, many originally taken by the famous photographer Edward Curtis. This is not easy as most have large shadow areas with all detail lost, and very large contrasts between black and white. On the plus side this is something which prevents you being too realistic, providing you follow  Charles Reids teaching of only painting what you can actually see.

Stage 2

I say Stage Two as I always draw the image first as Stage One, using a size 7 2B propelling pencil, although I sometimes use 'proper ' pencils, again 2B well sharpened. In this case I have already started painting the face. The eyes come first followed by the nose and then the mouth. This is the basic approach I follow which is the one Charles Reid taught. Colours are Cadmium Red Light  (PR108), Cerulean Blue (PB36). RawSienna or Yellow Ochre also featured in Charles skin tones but here there is no RawSienna.

Stage Three

Here the face has progressed further and I have started on his headdress. This is the most difficult part and I am pondering how to proceed further. I have a tendency normally to rush things and while this sometimes comes off often it doesn't. I prefer a minimalistic approach as I think overworking it one of the most common mistakes in watercolour. There are artists who do the most super realistic paintings in watercolour and I marvel at their skill but wonder if acrylics are better with this sort of approach.

Amerindian Chief 16" x 12"

This is the finished painting (unfinished as I want to avoid 'over-finishing") This approach doesn't appeal to everyone as I well know. I actually scrapped the one above and re did it from scratch, still keeping to the same approach. The reason I scrapped the previous effort is that I was following the photograph - which was very complicated - rather than just using it as a guide. It simply wasn't working out. I like parts of this painting but I can see faults, the mouth, right cheek, and the nose could be better. In some respects it is getting closer  but nowhere near perfect - if such a thing is achievable. The struggles of a would be watercolour artist! And this after 20 years.


My Favourite Watercolour Papers

What is the most important item in watercolours? Is it the paints, paper or brushes? Personally I agree with the artist and teacher Charles Webster Hawthorne in his small book 'Hawthorn on Painting" ` in fact a collected edition of his students notes, published after  his death in 1930. He said "buy good paper- fifty percent of and more of your watercolors depends on the paper you use". Actually it's the hand that guides the brush but good paper makes it easier.

Most starting off in watercolour use a cheaper paper with the British Bockingford being the most popular, at least in the UK. You also have a number of cheaper papers in the German Hannemuhle range, while in the USA Strathmore have cheaper papers. And there are others. The thing about these budget papers is that they are not made of cotton, but high quality wood pulp in the case of Bockingford and I think cellulose or alternatives are used in others. I have tried some that Great Art sell but wasn't impressed although the 100% cotton Centenaire  is a good paper.

I stress the following is just my opinion and others may well differ. Also I haven't tried every available paper although I have sampled a good number.

This is my current favourite paper in the 'High White" version, also in a block although blocks are more expensive than sheets.

Fabriano Artistico "Extra White' was one of Charles Reids favourites and also mine. He said it suited his style of painting, and didn't like Arches as he said it was too 'hard -sized"

 I've gone off it for three reasons. Firstly the price has escalated, something that has affected all papers in line with the increasing overall costs for watercolour artists. The others are the block size "18 x 12", my preference being "16" x 12", and the way the blocks fall apart when you get down towards the last few sheets. Waterford hold together very well.

This paper was introduced to me by Judi Whitton and Charles, who knew Judi who attended at least two of his workshops, one of which I was on, probably heard of it from her. He considered it equal to Fabriano but particularly liked the block size - 40 x 50cm. Unfortunately getting hold of Schut papers, including the favoured Noblesse, was difficult. I first read about it in a book by the late Zoltan Szabo. I actually obtained some from an art shop in Stow, then from a small wholesaler, actually a private house with a small warehouse, in Banbury. This then dried up.

I recently decided to see, with rising prices in papers, if Schut was still available and at what sort of price. Enquiries discovered the Schut paper mill had changed hands and was now part of the Fontaine group. Further enquiries finally brought the information that ALL 100% cotton papers under the Fontaine label were actually the paper previously marketed as Schut Noblesse. There are four surfaces and a good range of blocks and sheets. A new surface called 'Cloud Effect' is also available. 

Both Great Art and the SAA are selling them, not yet Jacksons though. There is some slight confusion in that there is conflicting information regarding the number of sheets in a block, some saying 15 and others 25. This has an effect on the price per sheet, which seems to be approximately the same as Waterford or slightly higher. I haven't bought any as I have a large supply of paper, possibly enough to last except if I reach 100. Actually I'm exaggerating here slightly. I'm currently painting on the reverse side of failed paintings. Ron Ransom told me he did this and it is perfectly possible on decent papers like Fabriano and Waterford. I have many!

What other papers have I tried.? Quite a few actually. I have a small stock of Moldau, the Czech hand-made paper, obtained with great difficulty, the saga of which is related somewhere on this blog. A lovely paper but getting hold of it oh dear! I also found, quite by chance a small shop selling quite small sheets of loose watercolour paper in Amalfi on the Sorrento coast of Italy. The largest was 11" x 15", quite light at about 90lbs. A lovely paper I have to say but I I've not been back since that second visit. The lady owner, when asked where she got it, waved her arm saying 'at my factory over there'. I doubt I'll go to Sorrento again but would certainly buy more if she was still there. 

Another paper creating waves, especially in the USA from where it emanates. is Stonehenge Aqua. Rave reviews have appeared  from American artists. Jacksons sell it and I've purchased and painted on a block of the 16" x 12" size with a not surface and rate it equal to the Waterford. Certainly not superior (in my opinion). The American Strathmore group have a good name but I have no experience with any of their papers. 

Other than that what can I say? There are lots of other papers including some very expensive hand-made ones. The ones I've listed are mainly 100% cotton, which to me is a benchmark.  Cotton and linen is mentioned in some of the high end papers.

If price is a factor, and when isn't it these days, for us struggling amateurs, Great Art do an own brand called Centenaire which is 100% cotton and cheaper than the above. The Hannemuhle group have several cheaper papers and there are a few others.  Frankly the long established Bockingford, made from high grade wood pulp (they say) is as good as anything if you want an inexpensive, decent paper. Some will say cotton papers are better, and they probably are, but  do many  amateurs need to spend big bucks?  Based on my experience with several local art groups I suggest no is the answer.

Added 10.15pm. I omitted to mention Khadi, a Nepalese hand-made paper, available in a wide range of sizes and weights. Some of my fellow artists have tried it with mixed responses but it is 100% cotton and  very reasonably priced. It isn't a favourite but I do have some and occasionally use it. The surface is on the rough side whereas my choice of surface is not.


Watercolour Paintings 64

This month I am posting watercolour portraits, although many are partial figures.It is possible some may not be watercolour so any corrections are welcome. This also applies to the artists names. I make no apologies in leaning towards an impressionistic approach, although there are examples of more detailed works here. Some I like a lot more than others but as usual I'm trying to show the wide range that is possible with watercolour. This is just a sample of what is out there.

Liu Yi

Another of these amazing Chinese artists

Jack London (?)

Not sure if this is correct. Maybe the subject is JL Apparently this is Robert Wade . That surprises me as it isn't typical RW. Thanks to Greg.

Annette Smith 

Another from Annette Smith

I can see Charles Reid in this and the one above.

Lars eje Larsson

This is very abstract . which seems to be the case with his figure and portrait work. His other stuff is very different with bold colours. I love his work but the above may not appeal to many.

This is lovely but I cannot find the artists name Might be Atsushi Matsubayashi

Slawa Prischedko. One half of the Prischedkos. A wonderful artist. They have been doing workshops at East Devon Arts at Sidmouth on the South Coast of England for the last two years.

The superb Stephie Butler. This is another example of her use of the new liquid charcoal allied with one or two watercolours. I've now bought a tube but haven't yet tried it. This is very different to her normal style (which is excellent) and I like both very much.

Ted Nuttall

One of the premier USA artists in watercolour portraits 

Aine Devine

This Scottish lady is a wonderful artist

Chien Chung-Wei

"Robert Wade' by Chien Chung -Wei

This is a great painting by the fabulous CCW

David Lobenberg

A very bold and colourful work typical of this artist

The late Charles Reid A typical demo of which I saw about thirty in my several workshops with him although this wasn't one.

Fealing Lin

Another marvellous American/Asian artist

Gerard Hendriks

I have been friends with Gerard for a few years now. His work has expanded greatly and here (I think) he was having  fun

Marcos Beccari

Chien Chung -Wei

I love this for its minimalist approach

Atanur Dogan

Not familiar with the artist.

Vijay Achrekar

This Bangalore artist is brilliant

Rick Huang-Huang hua Zhao

Another from Slawa Prischedko

Janet Rogers

The fine American artist

Stan Miller

Stan produces fabulous work including a lot of portraits

kubra Turkegul

A new artist to me


Latest Paintings

Here are my latest efforts warts and all. I stress I don't put them up as good paintings. Some are experimental. After 20 years I'm still experimenting! Says a lot about my painting. All 16" x 12"

Nubian Woman.

Nubian Woman. Corrected version.

I made the nose too long on the original so had a go at changing it. It can be done in watercolour as long as the colours used are not too staining. as are many of the modern synthetic pigments like the Quinacridones.  I also softened the too prominent outline. I hope readers can benefit from my mistakes, which is the reason for posting these corrections.

The eponymous Chef/Businessman Gordon Ramsey

Moderately Happy with this one, although only moderately. It is flawed.

Kiowa Brave

Hair not right too blue


Got the shape wrong. The body is too long. This has already bitten the dust.

Nubian Girl

Although happy with certain parts of the painting I have made the top of her head the wrong shape. It should be slightly lower and more rounded. I may have another shot at this.

Corrected version. Here I reduced the head height and made it more rounded.

Amerindian Warrior

Facial colour not quite right - a bit too red,  although the camera seems to make them worse. I'm reverting to Charles Reids combination of colours (after straying from the path) but haven't quite got them right. To articulate he used basic combinations for facial colours of Cadmium Red, Raw Sienna and Cerulean Blue. He also used Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin crimson and even Green at times, and a few others. 

Metal Objects - This weeks AVA subject. Pretty awful I know but this is a warts- and all blog.

'Herbert" A work in progress.

I am at the point where it could go on to be a decent painting or go completely wrong. I'm baring my soul with these comments.

Another Amerindian - a work in progress.


Latest Paintings.

Here are my latest works. Mostly done for Avon Valley Artists weekly subjects. I do the drawings in my small home studio and  most of the painting at the AVA sessions, though some of the detail - eyes, noses etc - at home. I'm still  trying to follow Charles Reads teaching of 'small details, large generalities'. You'd think I'd  have it cracked after painting in watercolour for twenty years! This latest batch are closer to what I would like to achieve, although when I post stuff on Facebook in some of the watercolour groups I contribute too my 'likes' remain - mostly - very much on the low side.  All  16" x 12" unless otherwise stated.


What a Beak.!

Dad with son 10" x 12"

"Peeking out"!

"What am I missing?"

"Eagle No 2"

"Eagle No 3"

The above two were done in my small home studio.


Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours

There have been quite a few new brands of watercolours in the last few years, mostly somewhat exotic or specialised ones at even higher prices than the majors. As readers will know I am opposed to the eye watering prices artists or just hobby painters (like me) are having to pay, with stiff price increases over the last two years. We also have these campaigns with well-known artists promoting the most expensive brands, particularly Daniel Smith, which are aimed at the vast mass of artists.

Is it just possible we are seeing a trend away from this? First of all we have the extended Van Gogh range, from 40 to 72,  which is perfectly adequate for amateurs. The St Petersburg range has increased and seems to have overall improved the brand, despite still using a few fugitive pigments. See what Jane Blundell says. 

I now come to what looks  an exciting new development in this sphere. This is the introduction of Roman Szmal's Aquarius watercolours emanating from Poland. I first heard of them in a recent e mail from Jacksons so they are readily available in the UK and with American artists reviewing them on You Tube presumably also in the USA.

The range comprises 140 colours of which 117 are single pigment paints. All the well-known pigments are there plus new ones like PY61, PY168, PBr23 and  PBk8. There is no suggestion obsolete or fugitive pigments are included. Gun arabic, glycerine, Linden honey and distilled water are used in the production  process. Colour charts giving full pigment details are available. The highly respected Australian artist Jane Blundell has already tested them and gives them an excellent rating. See her blog. There is much more on You Tube. Just 'google' his name and see the  response including demos. The colours appear intense and not at all wishy washy. At the moment only full pans are available  but that might change ?

Finally we get to price. Jacksons are selling the single pans at from around £2.30 to £3.70. There are a variety of sets, including trial ones. A set of 5 is £10.20 ( (RRP £12.00). A set of 12 is £34.00 (RPP £44.00). And there are others.

The questions I have include how long do the pans last? Do they wet easily? etc etc. I tend to think pans are not kind to my Kolinsky sable brushes so tend to use synthetics when I use them - which I do occasionally. Possibly these questions have already been answered in all the information about them already posted but there is a mass to absorb believe me.

To sum up on the basis of what I know so far - and this is early days - this seems to me an exciting new development of great benefit for the great mass of artists who paint in watercolour. I have plenty of paints at the moment but will definitely be buying some when I need to replenish my supplies.


Watercolour Paintings 63

This month the subject is more specific with all the paintings featuring boats in one form or another. Boats are a popular theme, whether on the beach or in harbours etc. Hope you like them. Any mistakes on my part please feel free to correct me.

John Yardley (?) Certainly his style

Guan Weixing - The Chinese Master

David Howell

Artist ?

Peter Cronin

Artist ?

Tim Wilmott

Miguel Linares Rios

Vladislav Yeliseyev

Robert Zangarelli

Tony Belobrajdic

Fabrizio Esposito

Myint Naing

Corneliu dragan Targoviste


Latest Paintings

Here are my latest efforts all 16" x 12"unless otherwise stated.

This is in my North American Indian series but ity seems this one is more likely to be Mayan

River Otter

Mother and Daughter

The late Donna Summer

Brown Hyena

The Artist Zanele Muholi

I was hesitant in posting this one. The lady in question is very dark skinned and I was in a quandary as how to portray her. The only colour used was the Daniel Smith Lunar Black. I bought this a while ago and the paint had solidified in the tube. A number of the paints I have, including this one, have gone very hard in the tubes and in the past I've ben inclined to discard them. This is an expensive business so decided in this instance to cut the tube open with a scalpel and peel the metal back. It works very well as a pan paint and despite the paint having gone hard in the tube dissolves well. Note how granular this particular colour is.

Glass & Fruit 


The Mystery of Schut Watercolour Paper.

I have written about Schut before. I first heard of this Dutch company in a book by the late Zoltan Szabo. He mentioned Noblesse, which was the top of the range paper. Later I found that Judi Whitton was using blocks purchased from a small art shop in the Cotswolds. This may be where Charles Reid also heard of it as he tutored workshops in  the Cotswolds and Judi went on one. 

Prior to this Charles used Fabriano Artistico, which he said suited his painting method. By now thoroughly aroused  (!) I followed the trail and discovered an unusual small company near Banbury called Hookers Green was an agent and contacted them. It appeared to  be a private house but they also had a small warehouse. A single foolscap sheet was posted to me and it listed several different names including Noblesse, Vivace and Flamboyant. I purchased some blocks of Noblesse and Vivace. Noblesse is (or was) 100% cotton and Vivace a 50/50 cotton and synthetic mixture. I liked both but the difficulty in getting this paper was a problem. A follow up call to Hookers Green produced no result and they don't appear to be trading any longer.

The problems of getting these papers was such that I switched to Saunders Waterford, which is excellent particularly now that they do a "High White" paper. The problem we watercolour artists face is rising prices. Fabriano has gone up considerably and I never really liked the block size of 18" x 12" - my favourite being 16" x 12". In addition when you get down towards the last few sheets the blocks come apart. This doesn't happen with the Waterford.

With prices becoming more of an issue (I am painting on the backs of failed paintings of which I have many) I thought I would once again see if it were possible to get some Schut with Vivace in mind. Enquires brought the information that the Schut mill had been taken over by Clairefontaine and the Schut papers were being marketed in the UK under the Fontaine label.

I'm assuming this is or was Noblesse. One surface offered is 'cloud effect' which seems to be new. This  is Noblesse. The not surface has a red boundary.

This is definitely Schut as Flamboyant is the old name.

Not sure about this one. 

This is a new one - black watercolour paper.

Schut also did a nice 50/50 paper - a mix of synthetic and cotton - called Vivace. I don't see that in the Fontaine offerings so far.  A full range of sizes in rough, not and cold-pressed seem to be offered including blocks and sheets. The blocks are 15 sheets, which is a pity. as this makes the prices on the high side, although Great Art has some very keen ones at the moment. If you are interested you can follow up the above  with the major mail order specialists.

Added 11/01/20:  have received a message from my friend and brilliant artist Gerard Hendriks with a link to the Schut site. Unfortunately it is in Dutch! I can't see Vivace anywhere so maybe they've dropped this paper. It is infuriating when you get links to American companies - 3000 miles away - selling Schut papers but none in the UK despite close proximity to Holland. This was exactly the same when I attempted - successfully eventually - to get some Czech Moldau paper. This was such an ordeal I've not repeated it yet it was (and may still be) available via mail order from an American company! Frustrating indeed!!!

Added 12/02/20: Not being entirely happy that I was clear about the Schut situation I contacted the company again asking for clarification/ I have received a reply from a San Bates I quote " Regarding your question about Noblesse and Vivace, I can tell you that we no longer produce Vivace but that Noblesse is indeed available under the Fontaine name through Exaclair UK".

There it is then. I assume the top illustration is Noblesse. I assume Exaclair UK is a wholesaler.



Watercolour Painting 62 - a 2020 Special!

To start 2020 here is a a bumper collection containing many incredible paintings From very realistic and complicated to  minimal and abstract. In addition very bold colour and more subdued tones. I'll leave you to decide which appeal the most.

Direk Kingnok - A fabulous Thai artist

Lars eje Larssen - I love this artists paintings.

Jean-Luc Decron  - Another new one.

John Yardley - I don't know the date of this one as he doesn't do many (if any) like this these days. He started off as a clone of Edward Wesson but soon developed his own unique style

Suwit Jaipom - Another new one!

Chien Chung Wei - an abstract from this Taiwanese artist

Steven Scott Young


David Lobenberg

Lars eje Larssen  again - What a fabulous minimalist painting


John Yardley - Still  great in his mid-eighties

Jack Tia Kee Woon - an amazingly detailed watercolour by this Singaporean artist. There is some acrylic here as well as watercolour

Konstantin Sterkov - Wow!

Willem Haenraets - Another new one although I think I've seen some of his work previously

Andrew Wyeth - American master Added 11/01/20. I meant to comment on this as a masterful example of the use of shapes and contrasts. It's basically  about shapes rather than 'objects'. Charles Reid used to emphasise this. 

Geoffrey Wynne - a new artist to me

Gerard Hendriks - Simplicity itself - with colour!

Dusan Djukaric

Mustapha Ben Lahmar (?)

Darren Woodhead - another new to me


John Lovett - Another excellent Australian

Alex Hillkurtz - New to me

Sophie Rodionov - Another new one

Jose Martinez Lozano - And still they come another new one

Tony Belobrajdic - Another new one

Any corrections to names of artists etc welcome/



To all who follow the blog and those who pay a visit may I express my best wishes for Xmas and 2020 and thanks for taking an interest in what I do.


Latest Paintings

Here are my latest efforts together with my thoughts on where I am with relevant soul searching!

"The Strand Wolf or Brown Hyena" 16" x 12"

"Big Boy" 16" x 12"

"Guess Who?' 16" x 12"

I'm very pleased with this.

"Alex" 16" x 12"

Pleased with this also

Red Cloud in later life. 16" x 12"

Increasingly unhappy about this. Will decide whether to try and rescue it or scrap and start again. A difficult one. I tend towards scrapping. The basic problem is the drawing of the face  isn't right. Two steps forward , one ( and a half)  steps back. This is painting ! Just don't give up! As the famous American teacher Edgar Whitney said "Draw, Draw. Draw!" At least I remain very self critical. Added 08/12/19. Have scrapped this. A second attempt is going much better, at least I think so,  and here is the finished painting. I still have doubts though.

"Red Cloud' Circa 1900

This is better but still not a great likeness. The above is from his last years when the Sioux had been crushed and were confined on reservations. While many Amerindians have assimilated with the general population over the years others, who have been unable or unwilling to adjust,  remain trapped on reservations

"Contemplation" 16" x 12"
Quite pleased with this. Went back over my Charles Reid stuff and tried to be more relaxed with "Pieces of Paint " approach. Not perfect but getting there. Never too old to learn.

"Big Boy" 16" x 12"

My approach here is the Charles Reid way of "small areas of detail, large areas of generality`" My feeling is that it does go a long way towards this goal. I've been viewing all my CR material, videos, books and notes from my workshops with him. I realise it's very late in the day, s source of great regret, but there it is. If I could go back ten years I would as I feel I've wasted a lot of time and my path to where I am has been  a very tortuous one. I'm still not there yet.


Watercolour Paintings 61

Here are Decembers batch, a little late and rather hastily put together as I have been otherwise occupied most of this month. Hopefully there will still be much of interest. There are a number where I haven't been able to track down the artist. Any corrections welcome.

The incredible Yuko Nagayama

Direk Kingnok

Bhira Painting

Bev Jozwiak

Gerard Hendriks
Gerard continues to amaze with his widening range of subjects


Dianne Benoit

Edward Seago

This is one of my favourites of his

Artist? Leroy Van Much?
I love the simplicity of this

The amazing Ted Nutall Look at the colours!

Zhao Zhiqiang

Artist? Another from the artist who painted the bike

 Shirley Trevena - Wow!

Henry Arfin

Tim Wilmott


Bev Jozwiak Another Wow! Love it!

Carol Hillsbery Terrific.

Vladislav Yeliseyev

Jung Hun-sung

Ann-Christin Moberg

Chien Chung Wei

Hope you like them. Some fantastic paintings in a wide range of subjects, colours and styles. Watercolour! You can't beat it!  BLOG INDEX JUNE 2014


The Pure Watercolour Society Exhibition

I visited my sister in Witney, Oxfordshire recently and took the opportunity to combine it  with a trip to the watercolour exhibition in the nearby small, delightful, Cotswold village of Windrush. This took place under the name of  the "The Pure Watercolour Society", something of a misnomer really as you can't actually join.  Well-known watercolour artists are invited to exhibit at this exhibition by James Fletcher -Watsons daughter, who continues to live in the Fletcher family home, which incorporates a small gallery. I'm not sure how frequently it is held but has been a regular event for some years. Paintings  and prints by James Fletcher-Watson were included, and there were books, cards and various other things for sale. The exhibition was staged between the 16th and 24th (today) of `November.

Jake Winkle

Nineteen artists took part including such notables as David Curtis, Trevor Chamberlain and Robert Wade. The latter, as far as I'm aware the only non British artist. Robert Wade, the doyen of Australian watercolourists,  had taken part in previous exhibitions. Three ladies, Judi Whitton, Josephine Neil and Vanessa Whimney were part of the nineteen. I counted approximately 60 paintings on the walls. On the day we attended there were quite a few visitors as one might expect.

Day and residential courses are held at the gallery and details are above and below.

This is the 2020 schedule.

Overall a very interesting and high class exhibition from a selection of top, primarily British, watercolour artists.


My Latest Paintings

Here are the most recent.

Amerindian Warrior 16" x 12"

On the top is the first version and bottom the 'modified' one.  I did more work on the eyes, the features, especially with regard to colour. I added Translucent Brown from Schmincke (PBr41) to get nearer to the actual face colour of the so-called 'red man'. I have been criticised in the past about my skin colours and while I accept this I don't want to get over-realistic - others can do this a lot better than me, Stan Miller for example and Harley Brown, although Brown's fabulous work is in pastel. I'd rather be 'unfinished' than otherwise. Charles Reids Indians are just great but emulating him is so difficult  and is it wise to do so in a copyist manner?

Musk-ox approx. 14 x 12"

I have now diverged slightly from my late mentor Charles Reid. He very much worked on the 'first try for a finish' principle. As a lesser mortal I've found I need to look at the painting several days afterwards and when I do can  discern that it may need some additional work, taking care not to overwork as I prefer paintings that are 'unfinished". In the one above I've done nothing so far but the blue looks not quite right so may try to soften this.  I know many like paintings' that are super-realistic and every inch of the paper covered with paint. That  isn't me so I'll continue to plough my lonely path. Just joking folks I know my limitations but I enjoy it so what!


Latest Paintings

Here are my latest efforts. Drawings done at home and painted at the latest AVA Thursday session. In general I'm reasonably happy with them - not 100% naturally! I keep trying.

"Two Brothers" 16" x 12"

"A Fine Fellow" 16" x 12"

"Nuts" - Unfinished 16" x 12"

'Black Redstart' 16" x 12"

Not sure about this one tempted to bin it.

Modified Version


Watercolour Painting 60

Here are the latest batch of paintings. They include some where I haven't found the artists names. . If there are mistakes corrections welcomed. A mix of old and newer (or less-known) artists and a wide range of subjects. Hope you like them

Ching Che Lin

Edward Seago - a British Great

Artist ??? (Chien Chung Wei?)

Charles Reid - Greatly Missed

Bev Jozwiak - is this watercolour , acrylics or mixed media. Never sure with Bev

Catherine Rey

John Singer-Sarjeant

Steve Griggs

Tim Wilmott- Never met him (yet) an artist local to me


Gerard Hendriks - Particularly like the rich colours here/

Karen Knutson

Bhira Painting -Great

Another from Gerard

Stan MIller. This is on Yupo paper loved by some, loathed by others although increasingly popular for the effects that can be created

Z L Feng - Beautiful blending of colours

Sherry Schmidt

Chien Chung Wei

Ian Ramsey

David Taylor - Top Australian

Viktora Prischedko - Workshops at East Devon Arts in Sidmouth together with husband Slawa

Guilio Boscaing

Lucy Newton


This Weeks Paintings

Here are my latest efforts. A couple of others have been scrapped.

Asian Peasant Farmer 16" x 12"

"What are you looking at? 16" x 12"

"Sports: 16 x 12"

I've actually scrapped this already and it's in the recycle bin. I tear them up! I like the colours but not much else.


Trying the new Van Gogh range.

I've finally got around to trying the new Van Gogh watercolours. In general I'm quite impressed considering how cheap these paints are. I tried the original 40 colour set some years ago and found them perfectly adequate.

Wild Dog Sketch

The colours are in descending order : Permanent Lemon Yellow,  Azomethine Green (PY129 usually called Green-Gold), Rose, Carmine, Quinacridone Rose, Ultramarine Deep, Pyrrol Orange, Quinacridone Purple Blue, Quinacridone Purple Red, Yellow Ochre, Light Oxide Red, Hookers Green, Sap Green, Dusk Pink, Dusk Green, Gold. 

A few observations and bear in mind this is only my preliminary view. The Lemon Yellow seemed on the weak side as is the Gold. Possibly the Ultramarine is a little weak leading to more pigment being used, so with only a 10ml tube this might be exhausted very quickly. I liked the Pyrrol Orange, both the 'Dusk' colours, Lt Oxide Red, the two greens, the reds, most of them if fact. I think I need to buy a few more colours.Sticking to single pigment paints we have  the choice of Transparent Yellow Medium (PY128), Indian Yellow (PY83), Permanent Blue-Violet (PV23), Prussian Blue (PB27), Phthalo Blue (PB15), RawSienna (PY42), Burnt Sienna (PR101 and Burnt Umber (PBr7). Four or five of these to fill the holes in the original batch I purchased of this brand. If you want  Cerulean and/or Cobalt Blue then you have to go to makes that offer the correct pigments not a 'hue' version combining Ultramarine or Phthalo Blue with white. My suggestion is Lukas, Sennelier or even Jacksons own brand (UK artists). In America there are several excellent housebrands with Cheap Joes particularly favoured.

If price is an issue these paints are an excellent choice for the hobby painter and the once a week artist. Don't be seduced into paying a fortune for the leading artists quality paints, indeed some are now calling theirs 'professional quality' with 'artists quality' a lower level! Yes if price is no object but some artists of my acquaintance aren't in this category.


St Petersburg White Knights Watercolours

White Knights, manufactured at St Petersburg in  Russia,  are an inexpensive range of watercolours popular with many artists, especially those on a budget or amateurs who paint occasionally. A professional artist, whose studio by the River Avon I painted at some years ago, there was no tuition as such, majored on acrylics but used the original White Knights when  sometimes painting in watercolour. At that time the range was 40 colours only available in full pans. The number available has gradually increased and 10ml tubes have since been introduced with 77 colours now available.

When Handprint reviewed this range in 2003 they were pretty much damned with many fugitive pigments and other criticisms. His final damning comment was "Overall  ........these paints do not compare even to the best "student quality paints". That was 13 years ago however and things change. I might add you can't take much notice what the suppliers say as all along these paints have been promoted as "Artist Quality". At the time of Handprints review - who didn't take prisoners - there were  55 colours  available in full pans only. This is a Russian company though and with typical Russian practice they don't give  much away.  Have they reformulated the range and are the additives now different ? Gum arabic is mentioned. Was this in the original paints?

A more recent analysis has been made by the Australian artist Jane Blundell www.janeblundellart.blogspot.com. Jane has done a huge amount of work looking at most makes of watercolours and her views  are undoubtedly well worth reading. Her verdict is that " These are very reasonably priced watercolours that perform well". This from September 2016. I've had some small contact with her. A charming lady. The main downside which Jane highlighted is that several fugitive pigments still remain PV1, PV3, PR2, PR4, PO13, PG8 and a few others. The suspect colours are Golden, Venetian (Hue) , Scarlet, Claret, Violet - Rose, Violet, Russian Green. This is a pity as they have - according to the information - introduced many good pigments in the more recent colours so you have to be selective and I suggest somewhat wary. Jane Blundell gives pigment details of all the range on her review of them. If you are interested her blog is a good place to start.  As far as pigments are concerned just "google" the "The :Pigment Database". Prior to this I couldn't find any pigment information on the new colours and have not yet received a reply from the UK distributor requesting they supply me with full pigment details. I have to say since Handprint went into cold storage I see signs of manufacturers backsliding, either not giving pigment details at all or incorrect ones, having changed the formulations but not the tube information.  We had the recent example of Winsor & Newton refusing to say what the pigments were in the new "Cadmium Free" range. How widespread is this becoming? Finally I checked Jacksons prices and they are currently either £3.10p or £4.10p as there are two series. 


Latest Paintings

These are two painted in the last week. I'm reasonably happy with both, particularly the Cody one which is my second attempt at him but using a different reference photo.

Navaho Chief  "Kia - e - te - nita" 1908 16" x 12"

"Buffalo Bill" Cody Famous frontier scout and Showman. 16" x 12"


Latest Portrait Paintings and Autumn subject

These are my latest attempts at portraits. Three Indians and one famous figure from the same mid- to late 1800s era. All 16" x 12"

A Lakota Sioux Chief circa 1870s

A Pawnee Warrior circa 1870s

" Buffalo Bill" Cody

Famous Frontiersman and Wild West showman.

"Fun" - Member of Geronimo and Naiches band, the last hostile Apaches to surrender in 1886, officially bringing 200 years of strife with the Apaches to an end.  Almost an end to the strife with all the Indian tribes. The Apaches were the last holdouts.There were still small scale incidents for many years but nothing of any size.

Autumn Berries - 16" x 12"

Autumn Leaves 16" x 12"

The above two paintings were done at my most recent AVA session last week. The leaves were painted from a number I collected where I live. There are a lot of trees. 


SAA Watercolours

The SAA - the Society for All Artists - is a one-off in that. as well as being  an artists society,  originally The Society of Amateur Artists,  it's a large mail order artists supplies operation rivalling Jacksons, Bromley and others.  It has a large well illustrated catalogue as well as regular updates and special offers throughout the year. I don't know if it will supply outside the UK. It publishes a magazine 'Paint' for members who pay an annual subscription and get special 'member only " offers. Originally most of the cut prices were members only but this seems to have changed with a larger number available to non members.

Annual Catalogue 169 pages!

 The non member prices were not competitive in most cases. Members enjoy the benefit of free postage even on one item. Artists societies can join on an affiliated basis, get members prices and also purchase things like public liability insurance when they hold exhibitions. My group Avon Valley Artists is affiliated and it is very useful in buying small quantities of supplies. At the moment they seem to be the sole mail order group who have the new Van Gogh watercolour range, and at very keen prices. They are also involved in various other associated activities and have a number of  artists linked with them.

My principal interest here is to examine the range of SAA  watercolours, which have gradually increased in number since being introduced some years ago, as an alternative to the increasingly expensive leading makes. I don't know who currently makes them but was told, not long after their introduction, that someone who had previously worked for Daler Rowney was the producer.

When first introduced there were 40 colours but this has gradually increased to 68 of which 33 are single pigment paints and 10 include white. As in all 'budget' makes the percentage of single pigment paints is lower than that of the majors. Price is a single very competitive £5.40p including Cerulean, the Cadmiums and Cobalts. One thing that did concern me when originally launched was that no pigment details appeared on the tubes. Approaches to them did bring a single A4 sheet with pigment details. When I decided to do this piece I approached them again and was very promptly supplied with an up to date A4 sheet. Due to the larger  number the details are very small so the magnifying glass came into play. You have to do this with many of the majors, although pigment details are normally on the websites as the details on tubes are so small.

Now to the individual colours. I stress I've not yet bought any from the expanded range but certainly am considering doing so. I as always consulted the Pigment Database (Artists Creation) the most comprehensive source of pigment details on the internet. Handprint has still much excellent information on pigments.

Scarlet Lake - PR12/PO31 .This is used with the addition of PO31. PR12 is described by the database as "Permanent Bordeaux - a bluish red synthetic organic. No other information. PO31 is "Bright Red Orange" NR (not rated)
Vermillion Hue - PR112. Napthol Red. Intense bright yellowish red, A synthetic organic "fair lightfastness" . When discussing red pigments Handprint suggested most reds should be treated with caution in this respect.
Poppy Red - PR4/PO13.  PR4 is described as "Bright Yellowish Red, Reddish Orange" - "The classic lipstick red". Now comes the catch "Not recommended for permanent art work". PO13 Benzidine Orange `'bright Yellow Orange"-" impermanent , might be a pigment to avoid". I must admit to surprise and concern when I read this, I stress this is the respected databases words not mine.
Cerulean Blue - PB35 Cerulean Blue.
Permanent Rose -PR48:2. Permanent Red, Yellow to bluish synthetic organic. There are 4 versions of PR48 varying in shade from bright to mid-red.
Cobalt Green : PB50. I suspect this is a misprint and it should be PG50? B is blue, G is green.
Rather than detail every individual paint a general summary: 
I can find no information on Cobalt Blue PB26. I suspect these may be a misprint. Could be PB36?
PBr7 appears in a lot of paints, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber as single pigment paints. This is the same as many majors. PBr7 has many versions ranging from Yellow Brown to brown to dull red.
PR101 Caput Mortem, Light Red, as well as one constituent of several mixed ;paints. Again a standard pigment, a synthetic iron oxide red in various versions with shades from brownish yellow to orange to red shades with yellow or violet undertones.
Prussian Blue is PB27, Tropical Phalo Blue and Phalo Blue Red shade PB15:1,
There appears to be 19 two pigment mixes, many with excellent pigments, and 14 three pigment mixes, again many with excellent pigments, which I'm not so keen on if used for mixing.  Although the majors have a higher single pigment number  they do still have some multi-pigment paints, apart from the Maimeri new range which  offers all 90 as single pigments. At a price naturally.
You could certainly try the Cadmiums, Yellow PY37, Orange PO20. Lemon PY37, Red PR108, Primrose Yellow PY83, Phalo Green PG7, Quinacridone Magenta PR122, Intense Violet PV23, Raw Sienna PY43, Yellow Ochre PY42, Lamp black PBr7, 

The lack of pigment details on the tubes is a problem as far as I'm concerned but may not be to some artists. I've found even many professional artists talk about colours rather than pigments. You can always ask the SAA to send you the pigment details. I did. You could certainly put together a reasonable palette of Yellows, Reds, Blues, Greens and earth colours from what is offered.

Some of the artists associated with the SAA have tested these paints and given them fulsome praise. I haven't as  yet but will try some in due course. Poppy Red? Surprised about this one. Overall there are one or two issues but remember prices are one half to one third of the majors. I recently purchased two 14ml tubes of Winsor & Newton Mars Black and Aureolin for two members of my group. Even at the discounted prices the total still came to just over £25! This is the reality we watercolour artists face.


Watercolour Paintings 59

This months batch are outstanding ( in my opinion) including many new to me.  Some stunning stuff here. It never ceases to amaze me at the wealth of talent spread across the World. I don't comment on every one and this is no reflection on those artists.  Several have featured before. I just comment off the cuff. Hope you like them. After looking at this lot I'm off to trash my paintings! Back to the drawing board. You may notice a few have 'copyright'  or the artists names emblazoned across them. I'm assuming it's alright to feature them as I have no profit or other motives. If objections were received I'll delete them as there are thousands more with no such restrictions.

Dean Crouser -
 I've always liked this American artists work and this is superb,.

Eginta Tarasevich -Wonderful!

Karl Martens.
I like this artists studies of birds very much. He actually paints very large.

Konstantin Sterkhov

Igor Sava

Adisom Pornsirikavn -Wow!

Lian Quan Zhen 
What a stunner this is!

Rick Huang

Charles Reid
Look at the simplicity of this. It's probably a half sheet painting.

Darren Woodhead - Lovely

Claude Buckle - Group of refugees, very effective

Pol Ledent

Chien Chung-Wei

Hitesh Durgani

Arthur Melville

Another from Dean Crouser - I love this one too.

Annemiek Grouenhout

Jen Buckley

Jem Bowden

Eiginta Tarasevich

Just had to put this in.


Page created: Fri, Apr 03, 2020 - 09:05 AM GMT