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.
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.
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.
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!
I like this artists studies of birds very much. He actually paints very large.
Adisom Pornsirikavn -Wow!
Lian Quan Zhen
What a stunner this is!
Look at the simplicity of this. It's probably a half sheet painting.
Darren Woodhead - Lovely
Claude Buckle - Group of refugees, very effective
Another from Dean Crouser - I love this one too.
Just had to put this in.
This Weeks Paintings
I expect many will be sick of my puny efforts but I'm just a hobby painter folks so there it is. (I'm only half joking!).
"Green Man" (1) 16" x 12"
Green Man (2) 16" x 12"
I painted another green man a while back, still have the painting and like it. The 'Green Man' is linked with old religious pagan practices and there are "Green Man' head sculpted images in many churches and elsewhere. Each year a large music festival takes place at Crickhowell, within the Brecon Beacons, Wales. The most recent subject at my art group was 'World Culture'. I wasn't enamoured with this and scratched my head as what to do. Then I hit on the 'green man' thing. It isn't just men as women also dress up in these bizarre green costumes, adorned with leaves, ivy and other green vegetation, as well as painting faces etc green. It must take them hours to arrange this getup. I know many artists shun greens but it doesn't bother me. I used several greens in the paintings as I have many of those available. This probably sounds like a cop out but when I look at them on the blog or Facebook something seems to be lost between being photographed and transposed to the blog and Facebook.
More of My Paintings
These are this weeks batch. The portrait is an experimental approach(!)
"The Sadness of the Amerindian" 16" x 12" Lunar Black (PBk11) & Lunar Earth (PBk11)
I am very interested, although I've done nothing about it yet, in the new product Liquid Charcoal and particularly Stephie Butlers paintings using it with one or two watercolours. Some say you can get the same result by crushing charcoal and mixing it with various fluids - gum arabic was suggested, and the local art shop said linseed oil. I'll have to experiment. I do like paintings done with charcoal the only real downside it is very messy.
Sometime ago I bought the Lunar colours made by Daniel Smith which are very granular. I haven't done anything much with them but thought that - maybe - the Lunar Black might, just might, give a similar effect. This paint has gone hard in the tube and this is happening to some of my paints that I've had for a longish time. Previously I've tended to throw them away, but prices are now so extortionate that cutting open the tube and using the hard paint as though it were a pan seems the way to go. I did this with the Lunar Black and it works. I don't however use my newer expensive sable brushes except for the 'small areas of detail', but older ones that have been replaced. The actual painting , it seems in my eyes, to be better than it appears above. Still painting is all about opinion with one mans meat another mans poison.
"Breakfast (1) Approx 16" x 12"
I feel the flowers are overworked on this one.
Breakfast (2) Approx. 16" x 12"
The two paintings above were done as the subject this week at my Art Group was Birds, Butterflies and Insects.
I'm completing three or four a week at the moment, admittedly fairly simple subjects. Here they are.
"Sunflowers" 16" x 12"
"Avocet " 16" x 12"
"Butterfly" approx. 12" x 9"
Black-capped Chikadee" approx. 12" x 9"
Winslow Homer 1836 - 1910 By John Softly
It wasn’t until he was 37 years old did Winslow Homer apply himself to watercolours a medium of which he later remarked “You will see, in the future I will live by my watercolours”.
His mother Henrietta Benson Homer, herself a talented artist, obviously nurtured the young Winslow in drawing and the arts and he was sufficiently proficient to be employed by John Bufford and Sons in their lithography workshop as an illustrator. His first work there was illustrating sheet music covers.
Moved to New York in 1859, continues free lance work until 1862 when he was with the Union Army in Virginia illustrating the Civil War for Harpers Weekly.
In 1873 Homer was in Houghton Farm and Gloucester, Massachusetts and painted his first watercolour series.
Winslow Homer with his 1899 oil "The Gulf Stream"
The Berry Pickers 1873
Watching the Harbour 1873
Sailing the Catboat 1873
Prior to the late 1860’s there was little incentive for artists to paint in watercolour as it was considered a medium for sketching and preparatory work for larger oil works only and rarely attracted the attention of collectors. Watercolours gained respectability with the founding of the American Society of Painters in Water Colours and more artists started to paint in the medium, their smaller size and cheaper price started to find acceptance with collectors.
Homers early work was mainly images of local children and the sizes were usually small (8 x14”). He was working as an illustrator and his paintings reflected the techniques required for the wood engraver.
Gouache was used and it allowed him to treat the medium similar to oils - building the painting from dark to light.
Throughout his career Homer used a Whatman paper and Winsor and Newton pigments in a W& N box containing 20 full pans.
His basic palette contained colours that have long since been deleted from the W& N catalogue but some of those used by Homer the names of which remain the same today, although not necessarily their chemical composition , are :-
The New Novel 1877
Fresh Air 1878
Homer gravitated to the quieter areas of the planet and throughout his life he visited the Adirondack Mountains fishing, hunting and painting the pioneer characters of the areas eight times for extended stays. In 1875 he paid his first visit to Prout’s Neck, a small fishing village in southern Main where he eventually settled permanently.
He painted in his studio on the top floor of the building and gone were the figurative studies of the female form but instead nature and the wild Maine Coast .
Had Winslow Homer never picked up a watercolour sable his reputation in the American Art scene would have been assured due to two oil paintings he did in 1884 an 1899.“The Life Line” and “The Gulf Stream” are two dramatic marine subjects the former of which resulted, in part, to his 20 month stay in Cullercoats in the north of England where he lived among the fisherfolk of the area depicting their every day life in watercolours.
The Lifeline 1884 Oil
The Gulf Stream 1889 Oil
This visit to England and in particular Cullercoats set Homer on the road to a successful career in watercolour.
Why Homer picked the Tyneside village of Cullercoats for his stay in England has never been ascertained, although there were many artists colonies painting the fishing villages, particularly in the north of England. The distinctive fishing boats of the area called cobles, a design specific to the area since the sixth century, have attracted artists over the years and still does today.
Mending the Nets 1882
Returning Fishing Boats 1883
Inside the Bar 1883
A Voice from the Cliffs 1883
Another American painter, John Singer Sargent, who was in England at this time was painting portraits of corseted society ladies in their silks and satins, whereas Homer was depicting the robust fisherfolk of Cullercoats their women sans corsets, silks and satin.
Homers palette, at this time, took on a more subdued appearance more in the nature of the English artists and design was more to the forefront than colour.
Some criticism was levelled at the subdued colours of this period. Greys, browns and blacks with an overall cast of purple but in reality the north of England is a place of subdued colours - especially in winter.
There were no absence of models and he even purchased manikins, dressing them in the local attire but it was only locals he was interested never tourists and holidaymakers.
Maggie Jefferson, Homer’s most important model, was a fifteen year old red head whom he paid one shilling a sitting and was the subject of dozens of watercolours and drawings.
He sent 51 watercolours to his dealers in Boston. Half the paintings were sold almost immediately and although later works bear little resemblance to the Cullercoats works Homer’s reputation was established.
He initially intended to stay at Cullercoats for three months during the summer but he extended his stay a further 17 months.
Homer had always liked isolation and on his return to America gravitated to Prout’s Neck on the north coast, adjacent to Portland where he had spent several summers with his family. Only a few fishermen and farmers lived there.
His dramatic painting “The Life Line” was completed in 1884 and was a result of seeing a breeches buoy being used in Atlantic City. The atmospheric watercolours produced in Cullercoats would have helped with this monumental oil painting.
Almost every year he took a fishing trip. Adirondacks or Quebec in the summer - Florida in the winter. His oils were worked up in the studio but the trips were for watercolours all produced with speed and spontaneity.
In 1884 Century Magazine commissioned Homer to illustrate an article it was planning on Nassau.
The Bahama natives, although a world apart from those in Cullercoats had similar work ethics. Whereas in Tyneside the men plied the North Sea for cod and other cold water fish, those in the Bahamas searched the Caribbean for sponges. Once the product was landed the women took over with preparing and getting it to market
The seas around Nassau were relatively calm as opposed to Cullecoats, but conditions for the sponge collectors were non the less as arduous for the Bahaman men as they were for the 'Geordies'. Homer ignored the tourists and local hot spots preferring to depict the colourful women and sponge divers.
He also seemed to have a fixation on sharks and painted several watercolours of the creatures cumulating in the 1899 oil “The Gulf Stream”.
During the year Homer and his father were in Nassau they were entertained by the Colonial Governor, Sir Henry Blake and Lady Blake herself, an amateur watercolourist. At a fancy dress party the Blake children were dressed in Arabian costume and Lady Blake asked Homer to paint the children in costume.
The painting which was not framed eventually ended up in County Cork, Ireland. and was mistakenly considered to be the work of Lady Blake.
Fast foreword to 1987 when a fisherman found the painting along with works by Lady Blake outside a rubbish dump some three miles from the Blake family home, Myrtle Grove in Youghal.
The fisherman gave the painting to his daughter who, in 2008, took it to to a recording of Antiques Roadshow where Phillip Mould identified it as a Homer and valued it at £30,000.
It was then the subject of an episode of the TV programme Fake or Fortune, was flown to New York to be sold by Sotheby’s who, confirmed that it was the work of Homer and valued it at over £100,000.
The day before the sale the great grandson of Sir Henry Blake claimed the painting. The legal wrangling goes on to this day and is too involved to relate here but I refer the reader to Wikipedia under the heading of “Children Under a Palm”.
As with the Cullercoats works the Bahama watercolours focus on the local population but the weather conditions couldn’t be different.
Cabins, Nassau 1885
Sponge Fishing 1885
The Coral Divers 1885
The drama of Cullercoats is missing and Homer’s washes are more transparent and the white of the paper he uses to great effect.
During the 1885 Bahama visit Homer did many sketches of derelict boats presumably in
preparation for “The Gulf Stream”which was completed four years later.
Homer left the Bahamas for a five week stay in Santiago, Cuba and did eighteen watercolours, complained about heat, late breakfasts, scorpions and very bad smells. Returning to Prouts Neck and thence to Florida a State he visited seven times, but only three of these trips working on watercolours.
The main attraction, apart from the warmer weather in winter was the fishing.
Coconut Palms Key West 1886
In a Florida Jungle 1886
A Norther 1886
Back in Prout’s Neck Homer continued to paint watercolours of local subjects seascapes, fishermen, women on the shore and on land and farm boys at work.
Among the Vegetables 1887
With this painting it can be seen the Homer’s palette had become brighter wth less browns and greys. The seascapes, however, are not represented as much as the Atlantic coast scenes were more suited to the heavier medium of oils.
Homer’s Adirondacks visit in 1899 to 1900 combined watercolour, fishing and hunting. His preference for fishing locations and outdoor activities is well documented, but looking at his watercolour output one would think he lead a solitary life when in the backwoods. Nothing could be further from the truth.
He was a part of a group of influential bankers, industrialists, attorneys and judges. Former President Cleveland described the group as “The Fishing Fraternity”. “Nothing to do with those who fish for a livelihood” “those of us who fish in a fair, well bred and reasonable way, for the purpose of recreation and as a means of increasing the table pleasures of ourselves and our friends”.
This fraternity was amongst the most enthusiastic collectors of his watercolours and his depiction of leaping fish (which to me never seemed realistic) and deer being pursued by dogs with their final demise, draped over a log. Of the 87 paintings Homer did of the Adirondacks the depiction of leaping trout and dead deer pale into insignificance against the pioneer , woodsman, fishing and canoe watercolours of the time.
The Woodcutter 1891
Boy Fishing 1892
The Blue Boat 1892
Homer returned to the Bahamas in 1898 of which he said “I think the Bahamas the best place I have ever found”.
The two months he spent in Nassau resulted in 25 watercolours the subjects of which were similar to those he painted in 1885 - 1885.
After the Hurricane 1889
Bermuda Settlers 1901
The last series of watercolours that Winslow Homer did was in Florida.
He was very vocal about the quality of fishing in Key West and Homosassa.
“As many as thirteen different species of salt water fishes have been taken with artificial fly by one rod in a mornings outing”.
1904 saw another trip to Florida and this trip was purely a fishing trip but resulted in his last watercolour - echos of Cullercoats albeit in warmer climes but none the less dramatic.
Diamond Shoal 1905
Homer died in 1910 at the age of 74.
Winslow Homer’s watercolours spanned a period of more than three decades and for good reason he is considered “The Poet of the Sea”. I usually source my articles from various sources but in this instance I have used only one.
The definitive book on Winslow Homers watercolours by Helen A Cooper (ISBN 0-300-0-3695-7) is a book anyone with more than a passing interest in his watercolours should own.
May I give my sincere thanks to my friend John for the time and effort he has put in to produce this excellent article on Winslow Homer
My Latest Paintings
Here are the most recent paintings of mine. All 16" x 12" Just my work.
Cape Buffalo with little friend -Can you see him?
Second try at Highland Cattle
Even Bigger Ears! Fenenc Fox Korea
Watercolour Paintings 58
Here are Septembers batch of watercolour paintings. I think all are watercolours but cannot be absolutely certain with some of the artists I don't know. Also the names of the artists should be correct but mistakes are possible. Corrections welcome. Hopefully there is something for everybody. Several of these artists are new to me. While I like a broad range of watercolours, with a preference towards 'loose' and impressionistic ones, what I try and do here is display as wide a range as possible not necessarily because they are all to my personal taste. The intention is also to show what is possible with watercolour.
Boon Kwang Noncharoen
Morten E Solberg Snr - slightly different to Mortens wildlife paintings.
Another from Lucy Newton
John Yardley - I believe this is a recent one. Yardley is now in his early eighties.
Ng Woon Lam
Hla Thida Win
Lucy Newton - I love this artists work, See the tree creeper at the near top left.
Yong Hong Zhong
Rachel Mc Naughton
HAWTHORN ON PAINTING
This modest little book, approximately 51/2 x 8" - 91 pages, was brought to my attention by the late Charles Reid. I can't remember the exact circumstances not that this matters. Hawthorne was an acclaimed art teacher who died in 1930. The book is from students notes collected by Mrs. Charles W. Hawthorne originally published in 1938, and republished in a Dover edition in 1960.
This is isn't a 'how to' book more a philosophical and general discussion, although including how to consider all aspects of painting. Some subjects are covered briefly and how you should approach them. Watercolour actually only has 8 pages. Charles Reid has related many times how he came to paint in watercolour. He was a teacher at Famous Artists School and taught oil painting. One day he was asked to do something in watercolour which they were deficient in as far as teaching was concerned. He had no real direction or advice on how to proceed so adapted his oil painting methods to watercolour. He always said much of what he taught was unusual and against the orthodoxy with regard to watercolour, and I've no doubt he consulted Hawthorns book.
A few of the things Hawthorn said:
"A good watercolor is a happy accident - if you qualify the statement by saying the greater the artist , the oftener the accident happens"
"Do them as you do oils. that is try to get contrasts. Don't be afraid of the medium - put down what you see as spots of colour rather than as form.
"use cheap colors, if you will, but buy good paper - fifty per cent and more of your watercolors depends on the paper you use. Work very wet and don't be afraid of the colors running into each other "
"Don't make them too precious - don't bother about the object but make spots of color against each other in relation. Color makes the form - Manet did it with spots of color, spots of color together telling as one."
They are just examples but you can get the general drift. He certainly wasn't a fan of super realism.
Having done several workshops with CR together with his books and DVDs I can see how he was influenced by Hawthorn.
Should you be interested in following this up Amazon have the Kindle edition at £5.69 and the paperback at £5.99. I'm sure some other booksellers could obtain copies.
More (of my ) Paintings
This is this weeks batch. In general I'm (with reservations) quite pleased with them.
Wild Dogs - 16" x 12" Actually I did this last week. I've been unhappy with the reproductions taken with my point and shoot Canon so have tried some with my Nikon SLR with 55mm Nikon lens. The colour seems better.
Feared Apache Leader 'Nana' 16" x 12"
'Backscratching' 16" x 12"
Goldfinch 16" x 12"
My Latest Paintings
I still keep plugging away, furiously in some weeks. Is this my last chance saloon? Hope not. After 20 years I feel I've made some progress but not nearly enough. Great hobby though and have many painting friends here and around the World.
'Big Bull' 16" x 12"
'Kingfisher' 16" x 12"
This is the finished painting
'Medicine Bottle' 16" x 12"
Santee Sioux leader awaiting execution after the 1862 uprising
'Red Rooster" 16' x 12"
Big Rooster 16" x 12"
'African Wild Dogs' 16" x 12"
'A Horse" 16" x 12"
These latter two were completed today, although I may 'tweak' them a bit. Not so much colour as the ones above but the colours of these animals were generally more sombre.
New Rembrandt Watercolours
In my recent piece on the new expanded Van Gogh range I speculated as to whether Rembrandt would receive similar treatment. I received a comment saying this was so and on looking at the Royal Talens site sure enough the following colour chart was there together with a brochure giving full details. Make no mistake the changes to van Gogh and Rembrandt are major moves and raises the profile of the company to a level comparable to Winsor & Newton, Schmincke and puts them ahead of some others. Rembrandt have always had a good name, despite Handprint labelling them a 'second tier' brand, but no longer does that apply. Even so the old range has been used by such artists as Gerard Hendriks so 'second tier' is a misnomer.
There are now 120 colours up from 80. That in itself is a big leap. 67 are single pigment paints out of the 104 'standard' colours. The remaining 16 colours are either Coated Mica (8) or Coated Glass (8). Not being a techno I don't know what that means although I've no doubt a little exploration would find the answers.
Only two colours - both PR83 - are given a single star for lightfastness with five two and all the rest three. For an explanation see above. The range of pigments now mirrors the majors whereas the old range had a limited number and had quite a few mixed paints. PY129 now features called Azomethine Green usually known as Green-Gold. Green Umber is Pbr8. Spinal Grey is PBk26. There are three Dusk colours, `Yellow, Pink and Green. Aureoline is PY150. And so on. If you are interested there is something called 'Color Spotlight' on Youtube that analyses individual pigments with much interesting information.
As far as I can tell - and this is provisional - there will be three price bands as now with halfpans, 5 ml tubes and a limited number of colours in 20ml tubes. I'm not certain of this and will now explain why.
I e mailed Royal Talens (twice) asking them about availability and prices. This was two weeks ago and I've not had a reply. I then contacted Jacksons sales who knew nothing about this new range. Jacksons have never majored on Rembrandt (and don't sell van Gogh) but do stock them. Further enquiries to Jacksons brought the response that the buying department had said it might be a considerable time before they had them and to watch out for new product announcements! We await developments.
See comments below that give more information.
Watercolour Paintings 57
Here are this months batch which I've again tried to make as varied as possible. Some new artists as well as those who are famous and well-known. I keep finding more and more!. If any names are wrong feel free to correct me. I think all are watercolours but corrections here are welcomed also.
Lucy Newton. Recently discovered. Great wildlife artist.
Another from Lucy Newton
John Singer Sargent
Faustino Martin Gonzalez
Barry Hilton Is this a watercolour?
Z L Feng
This is the finished painting of the Kingfisher.
Kingfisher 16" x 12" Watercolour
My Latest Paintings
Here is what I've been painting, mostly drawing the subject at home and then painting them at my AVA Thursday group. All are 16" x 12" and painted on the reverse of my many failed paintings. It can be done providing the paper is good quality. Mostly these are on Waterford. A couple I'm not sure.
Proud Dad and chicks
Mother and Son
Unfinished - Kingfisher I'll publish the finished article when completed.
Van Gogh Watercolours
I recently reviewed the new increased range of Van Gogh watercolours, made by Talens who also produce Rembrandt. Van Gogh, although originally only 40 colours, have never been a strict student quality brand more of a mid-range type with the student quality range called Amsterdam. I used them for a time in the distant past before being seduced by the alluring charms of Artist Quality watercolours.
With the steep escalation of prices of artists quality I thought I'd try some of the cheaper ranges starting with Van Gogh. Incidentally Jacksons recently published a 'Materials Guide'. In the section referring to watercolour I was surprised to see they are now splitting them into three groups. 'Artist Quality' are no longer the top of the range which they now classify as 'Professional'. Interestingly Winsor & Newton now call them 'The Professional Range'. Artist Quality are now somewhere in the middle with 'Student Quality' the bottom range. Is this a ploy to claim they are better than some competitors or just to justify the eye-watering prices.? Cynical me looks at all this with a jaundiced eye. They also claim that 'professional quality' have a much higher concentration of pigment. This is something I once accepted until reading what the Handprint man Bruce McEvoy had to say about it. Bruce said that pigment concentrations varied from paint to paint and I suggest anyone interested find this in the relevant Handprint page and see for themselves. Although Handprint is no longer updated - sadly - it's still available tp peruse. Now on to van Gogh.
I apologise that these swatches are less than ideal, in particular the top one where the paint appears streaky. I think this is because the paper I used isn't either Waterford or Fabriano and of a lesser quality.
The bottom one is Fabriano which is better and certainly less streaky. Together they will just give you an idea which you may or may not wish to explore further.
My overall impression of the paint when sqeezing it out of the tubes is that it is quite fluid. The two dusk colours are obviously influenced by Daniel Smith introducing several similar ones. The single interference colour 'Gold' seems quite weak on first impressions, although the Dusk colours are fairly strong. They are available in 10ml tubes and half pans. Prices are too good to be true Just over £3 for a 10ml tube. This works out at 30p a ml compared to roughly 71p for a leading make.
I can't really say a lot more as I haven't attempted a painting with them yet. I probably shall as I have the complimentary colours and a few others. My main criticism of the new range is that many are multi-pigment paints, although there are sufficient single pigment paints for a moderate sized palette. Yes they aren't up to the quality of the leading makes but are quite adequate for most amateurs who are not affluent possibly a little beyond that.
My current 'best picks', using my criterion of quality and price taken together, are Lukas and Sennelier. This of course applies to the UK and most of Europe only as prices vary considerably across the globe.
Of the two I'd give Sennelier the edge with both 10ml and 21ml tubes, as well as pans, and a larger range. Lukas are limited by having a 24ml tube - although they do pan colours as well - which may be too large for many hobby painters. Sennelier paints are fairly liquid due to the use of honey but not as much as Graham. Lukas are like toothpaste consistency out of the tube but dissolve very easily and well when water is applied. This is the position at the moment but things change. Daler Rowney were once a 'best buy' but no longer with a substantial price hike. They are in the same group as Lukas so I'm wondering whether Lukas will change at some stage. Difficult isn't it.
NOTE: As Miquel says Talens have also upgraded and re formulated some paints in a major upgrade. There are now 120 colours including some 'specials'. 70 of the normal colours are single pigment paints, a big change for the Rembrandt range. Further details when I obtain them.
My Latest Paintings
Here are some of my latest paintings. One or two others I did have been binned. This is my work warts and all!
Red Squirrel 16" x 12" 'Where's that Nut?"
A Male Capercaillie - iconic Highland bird 16" x 12"
'Big cat" 16" x 12"
Isn't he cute- 16" x 12"
"Nice Horse" 16" x 12"
These were partly painted at home and finished off at my AVA Summer sessions where we do our own thing rather than a programme. I do the drawings in my tiny converted bedroom studio and then start the painting. This is usually the small areas of detail like the eyes. IF (in my opinion) I get them right I then proceed to complete the painting in stages. After completion I usually wait a day or two and look at it again when I often see things that need a little more work. I try and avoid over finishing though. Charles Reid used to say 'you don't finish a painting you stop when you reach a point when you don't know what more to do". He also said be a little crude and also don't be precious it's only a painting".
This was our recent Avon Valley Artists exhibition as part of Saltford Festival. A decent standard, although the group is smaller than it used to be, with 85 paintings exhibited.
Watercolour Paintings 56
Here are this months batch. Once again I've tried to get as good a variety as possible, although my personal preferences - which may shine through - are loose and impressionistic. One problem I have is not always being able to identify the artist. This is frustrating as there are some wonderful ones out there where the name is written in Cyrillic, or the painting in not identified by artist ! Unfortunately I'm unable to translate Cyrillic and I am reluctant to include paintings without knowing the artists.The other slight problem is whether all are actually watercolours. I think the odd one may slip in that isn't. If watercolour is involved I do include mixed media. Any corrections welcome.
The late Charles Reid
Jean Haines (?) Rather more detailed than most of her work. Is it Her?
Sarah Yeoman - Does she not like painting crows!
Catherine Rey - Always clocks!
Charles Reid - little different for him
Corneliu Dragan- Targoviste
That's it folks hope you like them,
New Product Nitram LIquid Charcoal
This new product seems to be creating much interest, although the effects it creates will be mainly of interest to those who like 'loose' and/or impressionistic paintings. Thanks to Stephie Butler who is experimenting with this product and has kindly allowed me to show her paintings.
Available in a 50ml tube or container. Jacksons have it at £21.50p at the moment and seem to be the cheapest. Other suppliers are charging two or three pounds more. Sorry about the photo this was the best image I was able to download.
I must first qualify my comments. I have not yet bought this product so have no experience of it. I am fascinated though and despite being a little shocked at the price am tempted to buy some.
Here Stephie has used Daniel Smith Wisteria. She was not happy with the initial result, due to it containing white she thinks, so added some Ds Lunar Blue which improved matters somewhat. Personally I think she's being too critical. I love it, although I don't like paints that have white in them. In my humble opinion white makes make the paint cloudy and hardens in the tube after a short while.
In this instance the added paint is Daniel Smith Iridescent Antique Copper. Great granulation from both the charcoal and the paint.
Here the paint is the new Transparent Orange (PO107) from Winsor & Newton. It's expensive introduced as a 'special' in a limited edition but now generally available. The colour is being praised by artists who have tried it but if you want a cheaper alternative try PO71 available as Permanent Orange from Lukas and Translucent Orange from Schmincke. PO107 is a bit of a mystery as it isn't listed in the pigment database.
This one uses DS Lunar Blue again with vine charcoal for detail.
This one has vine charcoal for detail and something called Brou De Noix. I have to confess I don't know what that is even though I've tried to find out.
As readers of this blog will know I am anti the high prices for Daniel Smith watercolours in the UK. There is a massive push to promote them by numerous high profile artists. I don't believe amateurs being told they must buy them is ethical, unless they are affluent which many aren't. I know they are excellent paints with some unique colours. I have bought quite a few in the recent past and they are good I don't dispute that. The Lunar colours however have gone hard in the tubes, a cardinal sin in my opinion. There are many excellent paints from Winsor & Newton, Schmincke, Lukas, Rembrandt that are equal to what Daniel Smith offer but at a lower price. None offer such a huge number but are so many really necessary? Remarkably Van Gogh (Talens) have introduced some iridescent paints and Lunar type colours in their recent revamp. I intend to try some as they are ridiculously cheap by comparison. .
I love the above paintings from Stephie and am very tempted to try this liquid charcoal I probably shall.
Here are my latest efforts. As usual I make the proviso that I don't post these as good just my work. All are 16" x 12" and mostly on the back of discarded paintings. You can do this if you use good quality paper in the first place. These are almost all on Waterford.
The Apache Kid. He never surrendered and was still about in the early 20th century before vanishing for good.
Maribou Stork - Nasty creatures and don't they look it!
The villain from the hit TV show 'Killing Eve'.
The eye has it!
One of my favourite birds the Goldfinch.
Charles Reid 1937 - 2019
The unexpected death of Charles Reid has shocked his many friends, followers and students.
Charles Reid 1937 - 2019
I first became aware of Charles Reid following an article in - I think - The Artist magazine. It may have been associated with one of his books. Later I noticed Judi Whitton, a relatively local UK artist, had changed her style and it showed elements of Charles Reid. Later I did several workshops with Judy both plein air in the Gloucestershire area, then residential at Crantock Bay in Cornwall. She told me she had gone on one of his UK workshops at Stow in the Wold and was so impressed with his fresh approach she was influenced to alter the way she painted, which previously had been more John Yardley-like (who is a personal friend).
Once I became interested I started buying his books and DVDs. My wife says when I get an interest I tend to go overboard! At around this time I had contact with Craig Young, from whom I bought some of his hand-made palettes and Craig told me Charles latest flower painting book, which followed an earlier one- the only book of his I don't have - explained all his methods in detail. I bought the book and the accompanying DVDs.
Around this time Craig had been organising Charles UK workshops, two consecutive weeks, bi-annual I think. I discovered on my first one that several of his regulars, who had been going for years, did both weeks, moving on to the second venue immediately afterwards.
I have written extensively of my experiences on his workshops, apart from anything else meeting some very interesting people including professional artists. I had intended for this to be more extensive but, when checking what I had previously written, realised I would simply be repeating myself. In addition what was previously written, especially about the workshops, was done so when all were fresh in my mind.
How did I rate Charles as a teacher? First of all you needed to buy into the Charles Reid way. He began as an oil painter and taught at Famous Artists School in America. At some stage he was asked to do watercolour and knowing little or nothing about it transposed his oil painting methods to watercolour. He said some of the things he taught with watercolour were unusual compared to the prevailing orthodoxy. This of course was the attraction to many like me. He was quite candid that not everyone liked the way he painted, and joked some people said he couldn't draw a straight line!
I regarded him as an excellent teacher always approachable - except when he was concentrating on a particularly tricky part of the painting when silence was golden. .We painted outdoors when the weather allowed and indoor subjects were still life's, portraits with a live model and old black and white photographs.
The initial drawing involved keeping the pencil on the paper all the time. He was very patient and talked continuously explaining what he was doing and why. He would go quiet when he was doing small detail or a particularly tricky bit. When he had his break he would wander off smoking his pipe. Sadly his pipe smoking apparently led to the pulmonary fibrosis which was the cause of his death. Actually I did not see him smoking much apart from when he had his painting breaks.
The things that burned into my brain from the lessons he taught included the following: You should be a little crude, mistakes are part of it, small details large generalities, try for a first time finish with little overpainting. This isn't all and my workshop reports go into more detail. One of the reasons I did the workshop reports was that I soon realised I was somewhat privileged to get on his workshops, especially in the UK. Many, many more artists would like to have done so but for different reasons couldn't. His many books and DVDs are also musts and most can still be obtained with a little searching although prices can be high on some of the books.
What were the best workshops I attended? All of them I would say apart from the last at Stow. The standard wasn't as high with ten new people on it, one of whom had never previously painted in watercolour. I was also involved in a fractious house move at the time and wasn't fully focussed. I had intended to show Charles how much my painting had improved since my first workshop but my paintings were generally poor, although I did partially redeem myself with a decent portrait on the final day.
Stow was the last occasion Charles came to England, apart from an International Artists holiday arranged by Travelrite. I obtained details but it wasn't for me involving being picked up at Heathrow (!) and travelling around in a coach with different hotels. I also felt after Stow perhaps I'd reached the end of the line.
Charles continued to be very active within America up until quite recently. I would love to have done one of his portrait workshops but he said I'd have to go to America. On the last occasion I saw him I tried to persuade him to do an up to date portrait book. He did do a DVD called 'Figurative Watercolours' instead which was filmed after Stow.
My last word on Charles Reid? The well-known guitarist Chet Atkins, when asked what the attraction was of Elvis Presley, said 'HE WAS DIFFERENT'. That's my view of Charles. HE WAS DIFFERENT. Goodbye Charles you will be sadly missed.
Articles in the blog as follows.
December 2009 - Reflections on Two Painting Courses
March 2009 - Watercolour Solutions (Book review)
January 2010 - Watercolour Landscapes Masterclass (DVD)
March 2010 - Portrait Painting in Watercolour (book obtained used)
September 2010 - Charles Reid 10 Lesson Course (Multiple DVD)
September 2010- Charles Reid Checklist (materials)
March 2010 - Watercolour Solutions (book review)
January 2011 - Thoughts on Painting Courses
October 2011 - Charles Reid at Crantock Bay
October 2011 - A conversation with Charles Reid
2012 - Figurative Watercolours (DVD)
September 2012- Watercolour Secrets (book review)
May 2013 - Another Charles Reid Workshop
May 2013- Charles Reid at Stow
July 2014 - Charles Reid
January 2015 - New Charles Reid book.
April 2015 - Charles Reid Sketchbook
The painting workshops I attended with Charles Reid were:
Catalonia (Spain) 2008
Crantock Bay 2011
Stow on the Wold 2013
My wife went as a non painting partner to both Catalonia and Crantock Bay, spent some time with Charles wife Judy and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
Rowland Hilder 1905 - 1993. A Watercolour Master by John Softly
I came to watercolour somewhat late in life and initially decided to learn all I could about past English watercolourists, whilst ruining paper and getting a palette together. The end result is over 150 books on the subject as well as almost the same number of DVD’s. Whilst deep into the careers and art of Turner, Wesson, Merriott, Buckle, Muncaster and Seago I always considered Rowland Hilder to be more of an illustrator than a watercolourist, but my opinion was changed dramatically when, whilst on a visit to my native Norfolk, early in this century, we visited a friend of a friends house who I had been told had an impressive art collection.
After a couple of drinks in the garden we were ushered into the lounge and above the mantle piece was a full sheet watercolour of Norwich Cathedral stark white against a thunder storm sky and so obviously a Hilder. The painting was so dramatic and lit up the room. I was told the provenance of the painting and shown other art work in his collection including some paintings of the Scottish Colourists which were impressive, but none caught my interest as did the Hilder.
The Hilder I was more aware of was JJ Hilder, (1881 - 1916) an Australian watercolourist who is to Australian art what Turner is to the English and there have been no fewer than eight artists in the Hilder family since 1788.
Rowland Hilder, of course, is from the same family and was born in New York in 1905 but the family returned to England in 1915 so his father, who was English, could enlist in the army.
His early school years were not happy and his American accent didn’t help matters. He was never happier than when he had a pencil in his hand and an art master suggested to his parents that he should take up art.
He was admitted to Goldsmitth College of Art and initially studied etching and then illustration. He exhibited at the Royal Academy at the age of 18 and the publishers Blackies and Jonathan Cape commissioned him to illustrate their books.,
He lived somewhat frugally as his income from book illustration only netted £120 per annum and it would have been fine had he not decided to marry Edith Blenkiron, a botanical artist whom he met at the Goldsmith College.
In 1928 he was approached by Jonathan Cape to illustrate a reissue of Mary Webb’s book “”Precious Bane” a rural novel set in the villages and countryside of Shropshire. He went to Shropshire with his soon to be wife and stayed at the novelist’s cottage. This was where he realised the potential of the winter landscape as a subject.
During the war, like many artists, Hilder was involved in designing camouflage for the War Office and painting posters for the National Savings Bank which he did for the duration. At the end of hostilities he formed a small family business with his wife and father called “The Heron Press”. They printed, amongst other things, greeting cards.
The cards depicting Hilder’s winter landscapes were very popular and the generic term “Hilderscapes” was born. It was a term he disliked but became resigned to.
At the time Christmas cards usually depicted holly, mistletoe and the mandatory Robin. These were superseded by paintings like “Winter in East Anglia” and “Shipping becalmed - Thames Estuary”This earned Hilder the unenviable title of “The Man who killed Cock Robin”.
Like another high profile artist of his generation, Edward Seago, Hilder had a boat called “Peter Pugg”which he used to sail around the North Sea and Thames Estuary gathering information for his marine paintings.
He became a member of the prestige art group “ The Wapping Group” who painted, sketched and drew on the Thames every week during the summer months, which must have been a nice break from his winter landscapes. He was active in the Group from 1950 to 1972 and was President of “The Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour” from 1964 to 1974.
Today we think of Rowland as a landscape painter, but in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s he was looked on as a superb draughtsman and his black and white graphics were second to none. This was where his reputation was initially made and also gave him a head start when it came to watercolour.
I have no idea whether he painted in oils but he certainly painted in acrylics and articles in “The Artist” reveals that he was at the forefront of that medium as soon as it hit the art world.
The articles he wrote for “The Artist” on watercolour were instructive and in depth and many were about a specific pigment - Lamp Black. This is in stark contrast to the lack of information on the accessories he used. There are photographs of him using a box easel outdoors and there are pictures of his studio palette but as for what were his preferred brushes, paper and other accessories I can find nothing.
He tells the story of John Singer Sargent and Monet who used to paint together. Sargent had occasion to borrow Monet’s palette and was amazed to find that black was absent. Monet explained that black doesn’t exist in nature and as a result had no place in his palette. Sargent couldn’t apprehend that someone could paint without using black.
The theory comes from the Impressionists and the idea mainly applies to those who work in oils, but as we know there are more watercolour artists who’s palettes are bereft of black as there are those with it.
Payne’s grey and Neutral Tint are all made today from a mixture of Lamp Black, Monastral (Winsor) Blue and Alazarin Crimson.
Hilder wrote that one can get a full range of neutral greys ranging from black to white using Lamp Black. You can then change the neutral grey tones by changing the hue and you have the formula for making any grey you require ( without resorting to the new Daniel Smith’s superfluous greys).
For a purple grey add a touch of Alazarin Crimson and for a brown grey add Burnt Sienna. A green grey is obtained by adding Cadmium Lemon Yellow. Other yellows mixed with lamp black at differing strengths can give a myriad of greens.
That, more or less, establishes that Hilder had Lamp Black on his palette - Ivory Black he considered too oily and difficult to control in large washes.
Pigments in his palette were:-
New Gamboge, Permanent Yellow, Cadmium Lemon, Raw Sienna, Yellow Orche, Alizarin Crimson, Rose Madder, Burnt Sienna, Light Red, Permanent Mauve, Monastral Green,
Orange, Brown Madder, Vermillion, Cadmium Red, Indian Red, Burnt Umber, Sepia, Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Cerulean Blue, Monastral Blue, Payne’s Grey, Neutral Tint and Lamp Black.
Rowland Hilder was and is considered to be the quintessential English landscape painter and I suggest even more so than J M W Turner.
Regarding books by Hilder John has this to say:.
"There are many books on the art of Rowland Hilder, most are biographies with little or nothing about Hilders watercolour methods. One book I can recommend is "Painting Landscapes in Watercolour". This book contains details of how he treats skies, his palette and several demonstrations together with a substantial gallery".
I have looked into this writes PGW, after my own research and what John has said on the subject. According to this Hilders first book, written in 1966, was "Starting with Watercolour" and this was reprinted in 1989 by North Light Books in America. His next book was "Painting Landscapes in Watercolour " in 1983 , followed by "Successful Watercolour Painting" in 1986. As John states some of the other books attributed to him are in fact edited by Dennis Thomas such as "Sketching Country" in 1991. A check on both Abebooks and Amazon found that most are available on the used market and prices are pretty low. That surprises me a little given his reputation.
The above are more examples of his work. This concludes another excellent piece by John.
Page created: Sun, Oct 20, 2019 - 09:05 PM GMT