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.

John Yardley - A Watercolour Master

John Yardley has been one of the very best British watercolour artists for many years. He is now in his mid eighties, as is Trevor Chamberlain a contemporary. He also paints in oils but is best known for his watercolours. I don't know how active he currently is.

I met him once at the Alexander Gallery in Clifton, Bristol. He was one of the resident artists and they were holding his b-annual exhibition. Apart from the gallery owner the only people there at the time I visited were him and his wife, so I introduced myself and had a short conversation. He is a  shy man but was very pleasant. The late Ron Ranson had previously told me that Yardley had become involved with the Alexander following the death of Edward Wesson, who was one of their major artists. They were looking to find someone similar and - at the time - according to Ron John painted in a very similar way, in fact Ron said you couldn't tell them apart. He did drastically change his style sometime after this which I will relate later.

APV films of Chipping Norton have produced at least two (at least four) videos of which I have one 'Sunlight in Watercolour'. They are all still available.  He is also the subject of several books, by Ron Ranson, Susan Haines and more recently Steve Hall . They are all good but my pick is 'John Yardley A Personal View' in the Atelier series by David and Charles. This isn't' a 'How to'  book but as the title implies - a personal view. I rate it highly as I do the similar book by Trevor Chamberlain in the same series. The Atelier series were discontinued after only a few titles were  published but should be available second-hand if you search for them, possibly at a price!

Apart from the books and videos he has until recently tutored annually at Dedham Hall in East Anglia. He is not a natural teacher and obviously finds it difficult. Looking at his videos you can see this.  I know or knew several of those who were regular attendees  at Dedham and all became friends, some painting with him on other occasions. His approach was to do a wonderful demonstration, with those present desperately trying to see how he was doing it as he didn't say much if anything. He would then disappear for a cup of tea and a sticky bun with the baffled students scratching their heads. Ron Ranson attended one such course when he was writing his book on Yardley and after he disappeared several asked him  to explain how he did it, leaving Ron somewhat embarrassed.  The Susan Haines book touches on this. All I can say is he is held in very high regard by his students, some of whom are professional artists, many becoming firm friends.

Watching his videos I was struck by the fact the only real tip imprinted on my mind was his suggestion of keeping the water container full to the brim so you can measure the correct amount of water in the brush. I can't really think of much other advice. The brush he was using was the very expensive Winsor & Newton Series 7 size 10 at over £100. Ron Ranson said in his book that there were discarded brushes all over his studio which John said had lost their point (after about 6 months). When you see him paint on the video you can see why. He scrubs them into the palette when mixing paint and uses dry brush a lot. In more recent years he joined the Escoda band waggon with a three brush set being offered with his name on the handle. Mentioning his studio he had a purpose built one  in his garden but preferred to paint in the kitchen!

In his Atelier book he relates how a visit to Venice brought about him becoming his own man in leaving Wesson behind. His palette choices are conventional although he cautions against the over use of Cadmiums. Paper is or was Arches, Lanaquarelle and Canson tinted. He originally painted on Bockingford like Wesson. Sizes are from 15' x 22' down to 10" x 14". His palette was originally a folding Roberson which he was able to replace by the similar hand made palette from Craig Young, another regular attendee at Dedham who became a close friend. On the video he is using one of these palettes, the one with the six wells, probably made specially for him.

Subject matter is quite extensive. While he paints a lot outdoors he also loves interiors. Horses and trains also feature with flowers another favourite. Figures in his paintings are prominent. On the video he actually demonstrates how to paint them. He is a very bold painter who doesn't waste a stroke. As is clearly shown painting the light is a priority.

  He is a wonderful artist and with the  books and videos available you can find out much more. There are lots more of his paintings to study if you 'google' his name. Without doubt he has few peers amongst watercolour artists, although I recognise the huge number of fabulous artists throughout the World.


My Latest Paintings

These are my latest efforts for what they're worth. Two painted in my 'studio' and the third at my art group last week. I did all the drawings in my studio.

'Moose' - 16" x12" Waterford High White Cold Pressed 300gsm.

Victoria Beckham A3 Daler Watercolour Board

This is my second portrait on this board which has a faint tooth. Not entirely convinced by it yet. I saw the guide photograph in an article on her. I'm neither a fan nor a critic. Good luck to her I say.

'On the Beach'  16" x 12" 

This was the subject at my art group this last week. All the drawings for the above were done in my home 'studio' . The portrait was painted at home also and most of the moose, which I finished off at my art group. The beach scene was roughly drawn at home and painted at the art group session. It was painted on the reverse side of a 'failed' older painting.


Watercolour Paintings 51

For this month I'm showing watercolours from a variety of artists who are new to me and I know little or nothing about.  It never ceases to amaze me how many excellent artists - in the thousands - are out there.

Jaomine Huang

Emil Kerez Kerie

Direk Kingnok

Igor Mosiychuk

Steve Hanks

Kitipong Ti

Lin Shaoling

Yvonne Joiner

Z. L.Feng

Sarah Pye Green

Andrew Geeson

Bhira Phokthavi

Jasmine Hsiao - Hu Huang
Andy Evansen

Anna Razumovskaya

Henry Arafin

Vladislav Yeliseyev

Margaretha Cornelia Johanna Wilhemina Henrieta Roosenboom (!) 1843-1896

Ye Yint Mijint Nainy

Yong Hong Zhong

Yong Hong Zhong (again)

I think I've got the names right but if you know different please feel free to correct me. I also am fairly sure all are watercolour but it's possible one or two might not be.


North American Bison

The North American Bison once roamed the plains, and up into Canada, in the millions. They were nearly exterminated by the Buffalo hunters in the mid to late 1800s, and only a few survived. Fortunately conservation efforts mean there are a  few moderate sized, protected herds. The plains Indians, the most numerous and warlike who were nomadic, in particular relied on the Buffalo for almost all their needs and this loss brought them to the edge of starvation, and was the key factor in their eventual subjugation. Not all Indians relied on the Buffalo to such an extent, such as the even more warlike Apaches, however other tribes would venture onto the plains to hunt them, although this was dangerous given the hostility of the plains tribes to intruders.

Male Bison - 16" x 12" Strathmore Aqua Cold Press 140lb.

As readers of this blog will know I like animal subjects and continue to look for interesting subjects. My approach here was to do the drawing first, as well as I'm able. This involves much rubbing out and study before I get it completed to my satisfaction. Not perfect but then I don''t aim for a very realistic to super-realistic image. Studying the subject the only areas of real detail were the eyes, mouth and horns so they were painted as carefully as I'm able. The rest was completed over two or three days after leaving time for reflection at each stage. The final few touches were done today trying to avoid over working. I'm quite happy with the result.

Colours used were Ultramarine Blue  full strength or mixed with Translucent Brown in various combinations, more blue,  more brown.  Burnt Umber, Raw Sienna, Cerulean Blue, Turquoise (Lukas PB16), Quinacridone Gold (Daniel Smith PO49), Quinacridone Burnt Orange (Daniel Smith PO48) and a little Raw Umber and Gold Ochre (W & N PY43). Various brushes, all round sables, apart from a Rosemary comber, from size 14 to 4.

You may note the paper is the highly acclaimed Strathmore Aqua. Claims that this is the 'best' watercolour paper are a little over the top. I like it a lot but -in my opinion - Waterford High White is just as good. The prices per sheet are similar, at leat in the UK.


African Wild Dog

Finished this yesterday at stage three. First stage do the drawing, next day initial painting, mainly the face, then finished it yesterday. I watch a lot of wildlife programmes and have seen several on these wild dogs. Fascinating animals much misunderstood.

Afrikan Wild Dog - A3 Moldau 280gsm

I know my paintings are not to everyones taste - actually a small minority it seems judging by the way I get few likes on Watercolour Addicts, while others get hundreds. The only one that did get a lot was my painting of an eye. Still many artists were only recognised after death  - only joking I'm well aware of my limitations. 

As you can see there are lots of strong colour. Raw Sienna, Quinacridone Gold (PO49), Burnt Orange (Daniel Smith PO48), Cerulean Blue, Burnt Umber, with the darks various mixtures of Ultramarine Blue and Transparent Brown (Schmincke PBr41). Slight touches other yellows.


Latest Paintings

I keep going with the painting although the session at m AVA group this week was a disaster (for me) . Anyway I finished off the Hare painting after scrapping the effort for this weeks subject 'City Buildings' - just not my thing. I do try to tackle the subjects we are given even though some are very challenging but overall it is a good practice as you are pushed out of your comfort zone and the results are often  better than expected., not this week though!

'Hare' - A3 Khadi Rough

I quite like painting Hares and they do seem to be a popular subject, not just in paintings but also figurines. I've seen several in galleries I've visited.

A6 Khadi Rough
Blue Tit Feeding

I like painting birds. This was a quick 15 minute sketch as I had a little spare time towards the end of the last AVA session.


New Maimeriblu Watercolours

After sticking with the existing range for over 20 years Maimeri have done a massive revamp of their popular Maimeriblu artist quality watercolours. Maimeri have always been highly rated with Handprint comparing them favourably with Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton. I used them initially when I was able to buy them from a company at Swindon at very favourable prices. Unfortunately they were then discontinued for 'lack of demand'. They are available from several of the mail order specialists although never really pushed by them. The main criticism I had was that the pricing policy was skewed with series 1 and 2 very reasonable but series 3 and 4 less so.  Some things were difficult to fathom. For example Permanent Magenta, the rose form of PV19 was in series 1, but Rose Lake, the red form of PV19, was in series 3. Golden Lake, supposedly Quinacridone Gold PO49, said PV49 on the tube, and was replaced with PY43 with the tube details unaltered.. The original paint was poor nothing like as good as the Winsor & Newton version. When I contacted them I received no reply.
The new 12ml Tubes

What  has changed? First of all there are now 90 colours instead of 72. Oddly they have dropped the 15ml tube size and replaced it with a 12ml one. Half pans are also available as before. Also EVERY paint is now a single pigment. This is unique amongst current ranges. It's difficult to define exactly what is new as they seem to have changed (reformulated?) the names of some of the existing paints, and changed the pigments, so my interpretation may be incorrect in some cases. For example Dragons Blood is now PBr25, previously a two pigment mix. A few of the colours as now constituted. Cerulean Sky Blue (PB35), Green-Gold (PY129), Golden Yellow (PY183), Gamboge Hue (PY139), Potters Pink (PR233), Permanent Violet Blue (PV23), Naples Yellow Medium (PBr24), Sap Green (PG17), Cobalt Blue Green (PB36), Hookers Green (PG17), Paynes Grey (PrN/A?), Magenta Quinacridone (PR202), Quinacridone Lake (PV19), Yellow Vanadium (PY184) and so on. Many of these pigments were in the original range under different names! Some of the names of paints in the existing range are the same but the pigments have changed. Confusing isn't it. On the Maimeri site the colour chart gives pigment details so that's something as some makers seem to be backsliding in this respect or making it even harder to find them.

 Have I any gripes? Yes indeed pricing. There are still four series and taking Jacksons discounted 12ml tube prices we get £8.00 Series 1, £9.20 Series 2 , £10.40 Series 3 and £12.80 Series 4. Bear in mind this is 20% less paint than in the previous 15ml tubes. If you ramp this up to what 15ml would be for Series 1 £10.00 and £11.50 for Series 2. This is a substantial price hike. I honestly don't know how much more us amateurs are expected to pay. I've no doubt these paints will be good because Maimeri are but .......

When on the Maimeri site I tried to look up Venezia, the budget make, to see if anything was happening there. I could find nothing referring to it despite them talking about two colour ranges. Venezia have 36 colours, many very good, in 15ml tubes. I wonder if anything is going to happen there.


Product Test - Daler Watercolour Board

I first heard of this product when Catherine Beale came to my art group to do a demo. She uses these boards for her 'gravity painting' technique. Several of the group have since tried them and indeed bought blocks. They come in A3 size, there is also a smaller version, with 10 boards costing £15- £19, depending where you buy them and what offers are current. The price is similar  for a single  sheet in a 20 sheet Waterford block.
The boards are thick and absolutely rigid. The surface has a slight tooth, somewhere between fine grain and not. It struck me they might be worth trying on portraits. They come as already said in a thick block of ten boards.

'Fish Hawk' Cayuse Indian 1905 A3 Watercolour Board.

This is the result. I actually used only two or three colours, the main ones being Perylene Maroon and Ultramarine Blue. There is a little Burnt Umber and Raw Sienna but the figure is mainly the first two colours with some Transparent Brown (Schmincke PBr41) to darken the blue. It's early days yet but I shall definitely persevere and see where (or if!) it leads me. It is very monochrome but I like it - not perfect as my stuff never is but there you are.

The brushes above are synthetic mixes apart from the white Neef that is pure synthetic. Neef are what Robert Wade uses.The redoubtable Zvonimir recently pointed out that sables were damaged quite easily on rough hard surfaces, papers like Arches or Khadi. He recommended synthetic brushes for those papers.  I have quite a collection of sables but also the three above, not previously used. I'm also concerned at the escalating and eye watering prices of sable brushes, especially when you get past size 4. So as well as the board I tried out the Da Vinci 5530 Cosmotop B size 8 and the Rosemary 401 size 10. I used a smaller older sable brush for the smallest detail. The Da Vinci brush is a mixture of animal hairs with a small amount of synthetic. Viktoria Prischedko and Piet Lap both use these Da Vinci brushes in a range of sizes and types, not just rounds. Jacksons current price for the size 8 is £11.00. Rosemary is a mixture of red sable and synthetic, and offers two round series (plus other types) 401 and 402. The size 10 401 is £10.40p or £10.70p with a longer handle., the 402, a longer slimmer brush, £11.25p. Size 8 is only £7.95p.

To be honest I don't see much difference in the above result - if any - between these and the dearest sables I use. Possibly that's just me so don't take it as gospel. How they will last is something that only time will tell. I won't be buying any more expensive sables as I have plenty. There are now a mass of new synthetic brushes on the market and possibly they are finally living up to the claims that they 'emulate sable'. Otherwise try sable/synthetic mixes - the best of both worlds.

As said these are provisional comments based on just a little experience. I will post again when I've further to report.


First Painting of 2019

Actually I did the drawing prior to Xmas, and finished the painting on the 1st, having started it a few days before BUT it was finished on the first. I have been collecting a series of references in three main categories, Birds, Animals and Native Americans.  I go through them from time to time and select ones to be painted. They all come from Pinterest.

'American Bison' 16" x 12" Cornwall 450 gsm Rough

This paper is one of the extensive Hahnemuhle range. It's a heavier weight so doesn't buckle. The surface is fairly pronounced and quite hard so the paint does not sink into the paper nor spread much. These features can be  both an advantage or the reverse depending on what sort of outcome you want. The original animal is mainly a darkish brown colour although there are hints of other colours. I approached it using Charles Reids dictum of arbitrary colours. Cerulean Blue used for cools with a mix of Ultramarine Blue Light (Lukas) and Transparent Brown (Schmincke) for the darks, sometimes more blue and sometimes more brown. Also used was Raw Sienna, Quinacridone Gold (Daniel Smith or Winsor and Newton). I still have some of the original paints made with PO49 not the current multi-mixes. Also Quinacridone Burnt Orange (Daniel Smith PO48).

I was reasonably pleased with the result although not perfect by any means. As Charles says 'mistakes are part of it'.


Watercolour Paintings 50

To start 2019 - and a Happy New Year to everybody - here is a bumper collection of watercolour paintings from a wide range of old and new artists. This is No 50 in this series of watercolours from wonderful artists  around the world.

 Marie-Claire Moudru

The wonderful Shirley Trevana. One of the leading British watercolour artists.

Trevor Chamberlain, along with John Yardley one of the 'masters' of British watercolorists.

Trevor Lingard another top British watercolour artist of more recent vintage

Stan Miller American 'Master, especially  Portraits

Janine Gallizia -  Brilliant Australian

Minh Dam - Another of these wonderful Asian artists

Lelie Abadie - A French artist producing very 'dreamy' portraits.

Chien Chung Wei - I may have featured this before It's a wonderful painting from a fine artist

Lars Eje Larsson

I love this mans work.

Genevieve Buchanan

David Taylor - Brilliant Australian

Bijay Biswaal
Gerard Hendriks - A quite different approach from the versatile Gerard

Beth Jozwiak - a typical figure study

Milind Mullick - 

Joseph Zbukvic

Arthur Melville 1855 - 1904

I recently became aware of this Scottish artist. His watercolours are superb and he also painted in oils, as do and did others like Seago, Wesson, Yardley and Chamberlain.

Another from Arthur Melville

And Another

Janet Rogers (?)

Luen? Amazing painting.

Catherine Rey - See her trademark clocks or watches

Edo Hannema - A  master of the minimalist approach

Chien Chung Wei

Genevieve Buchanan

Genevieve, who I met on a Charles Reid workshop, has recently been featured in 'The Art of Watercolour' magazine, specifically her flower paintings.

Annemiek Groenhout

That's it folks a bumper lot for the start of 2019. I hope you find lots to interest you.


Last Paintings of 2018

These are my last efforts of 2018. 

Guess Who? This was in response to a n Xmas subject at my art group. 16" x 12 

Yellowhammer 12" x 9"

Heron 16" x 12" 
This was a free subject at my art group

Mountain Sheep 16" x 12"

The original was of more yellowish shades which my wife said was bland. I added reds and oranges and got a bit carried away away but I like it! Thats it for 2018. 



May I wish all my followers and everyone else who visit this blog a Happy Xmas  and Prosperous New Year. Unfortunately we face very uncertain times both in the UK and World Wide.

In the UK the uncertainty of Brexit and what it will bring - those in favour seem to think we'll be sailing into a land of milk and honey  with little evidence to back this up unfortunately - while remainers predict disaster. I have to say I'm a remainer despite my reservations about certain aspects of the EU.

Worldwide there are all sorts of problems not least the concerns over the political situation in the United States. There are far too many others like climate change to name them all. I'm basically an optimist in that I believe all problems are solvable providing the will to do so is there. Of all the species on Earth the human race, despite its destructive tendencies, is truly remarkable in what has been achieved.

On the painting front the Watercolour scene has never been better with literally hundreds of wonderful artists all over the World producing fantastic work. I have shown more than 200 of these paintings on the blog this year and continue to find new ones all the time..

So have a great time over Xmas and let us hope 2019 will be a more positive year.


More Information on New Van Gogh Watercolours

I have received a reply to my enquiries from Yogesh Karia, Country Manager UK & Ireland. These are the replies.

1. Available from immediate effect.

2.Tubes & Pans £2.95

3. Tubes & Pans Series 2 £3.95

4.10ml Tubes and Half Pans

5. Pigment Information https://issuu.com/royaltalens/docs/vangogh_wtc

In the Uk you may struggle to find a stockist but there are some. Try 'googling' 'Van Gogh watercolour stockists.
When you get to the swatches on the issuu site use the + sign to zoom in and see the pigment details which are small.
Looking at the pigments there are quite a few multi pigment mixes, all the 'dusk' and interference colours for example but don't let that put you off there are a good number of decent single pigments, After all who has 73 colours in their palette? Personally I would avoid the 'hues' where white is added, especially the Cobalt and Cerulean Blues. I think white makes the paints cloudy and they can harden in the tubes.
That said I found Van Gogh decent in the old range. The new one is vastly improved and if you find the prices of artists quality watercolours  eye watering give them a try. They are a middle range not a student quality one.
My current best value picks in Artist Quality  for a combination of price/ quality are Sennelier (21ml tubes) and Lukas (24ml tubes).


Van Gogh Watercolours - New and Revised Range?

I was recently informed by a comment on the blog from Sebastien that a major revision of the Van Gogh range is taking place.  Added 11/12/08: Although I've still no acknowledgment from Talens to my FOUR e mails the new range colour chart is now on the Royal Talens website. No pigment details but colour swatches of all the new range. It's appeared in the last two days! Actually it's all a bit confusing. If you go to one part of the site following Van Gogh you get details of the old range of forty colours! 
However when I went on the Royal Talens site there is no mention of this and the only information is about the current 40 paint range. Sebastien gave me a link which is https://issuu.com/royal talens/docs/vangogh_wtc which takes you to this site - not anything to do with Royal Talens as far as I can see - and there it was in all its glory? Full details including swatches, reference to the brochure etc.  I have e mailed Royal Talens three times - and just sent off another one, the result being a deafening silence, no response whatsoever. Maybe this information is supposed to be under wraps and has been 'pirated' before an official release date. On the other hand is it only intended for 'certain markets'.

What does this issuu site tell us? The new range is expanded to 72, a major change in itself, and includes four 'dusk' colours, 6 metallics and 6 interference. Remind you of for example Daniel Smith? The new colours include Quinacridone Purple Red and Blue, Lavender, Turquoise Blue and Green and several interesting others. A number of existing colours are 'improved (it says) and overall this is a considerable upgrade. Pigment details are on this site although very small and difficult to read. There are no Cobalts or, only alternative 'hues", and quite a few multi pigment mixes. Some interesting pigments though , never before seen in student mixes, like PV255 and PY129. 

I've always rated Van Gogh and used them at one time. They are a mid-range paint (in my opinion), despite sometimes called student quality. However Royal Talens offer Rembrandt as the artists quality with Amsterdam as the student range. Van Gogh comes in the middle.

When whatever is happening comes about and they become available in the UK I shall certainly have a fresh look as artists quality prices are eye watering. I just hope they aren't intended for certain markets like the USA where Winsor & Newton offer a much better Cotman range than the one on offer in the UK (and Europe). Please come clean Royal Talens.


Watercolour Paintings 49

Here are Decembers batch. Another mixture of old and newer artists, including some of the very best and some of my favourites. 

Liu Yu

Trevor Lingard

Bev Jozwiak

Milind Mullick


John Singer Sargeant

Charles Reid

Karl Martens

Trevor Chamberlain

Morten E Solberg Snr

Thomas Schaller

John Blockley

Robert Zangarelli

Michel Jasiowicz

Robert Ferguson

Atsushi Matsubayashi

Claudia Artzmann

Jose Luis Lopez

John Yardley

Michele Clamp

Gerard Hendriks

Charles Reid

Andrew Wyeth

That's it folks. Hope you like them.


Catherine Beale

We don't have many demos  at Avon Valley Artists but have just had one by the Bath artist Catherine Beale -  https://catherinebeale.com/ - at our venue of Saltford Church Hall. Catherine teaches a method she calls 'Gravity Painting' using watercolour. In simple terms this is the application of wet in wet watercolour with the board vertical. 

The initial setup

Catherine starts and explains her approach and what she is trying to achieve.

Catherine begins explaining her approach and what she wanted to achieve.  However with this type of painting 'happy accidents' do occur and she improvises as she goes along, although having a strong idea of where she wants to end up. In the bottom right hand corner of her board you will see a small photograph of the clump of trees on Kelston Hill, nr Bath. This is a famous landmark and many people make the fairly steep climb up to experience the fabulous view. This was her starting point - but I emphasise not something she was trying to copy, just a guide.

 The paper is wet from the top using a one inch Protel flat brush- not the whole of the paper but in stages.. This together with a Protel rigger were all the brushes she used. She told me this is her normal approach and usual brushes. Only five colours were used. Indathrene Blue (PB60) from Daler Rowney, Moonglow (Daniel Smith PG18,PB29,PR177),  Phthalo Turquoise (W & N PB16), Sap Green and Raw Sienna. Moonglow has become something of a cult colour, a green, blue and red combination that produces a moody grey-blue, violet colour, perfect for shadows for example. Her overall preference for paints are Winsor & Newton artist watercolours. My choice of PB16 is the Lukas version, called just Turquoise. which is just as good and cheaper. A fabulous pigment and a favourite also of the terrific American artist Bex Jozwiak.

Paper used was rather unusual in that it is Watercolour board from Daler & Rowner, usually A3. This isn't very common. Catherine is also experimenting with painting on wood treated with Gesso.

Paint is applied with the flat brush and allowed to 'gravitate' helping it along but not overdoing the brushwork.

This is now now quite a way along with Sap Green and Raw Sienna being introduced in careful touches - placing paint I would describe this. The rigger has also been used for the tree trunks and the whole  
thing is now taking shape.  More work will be done on it after further thought and contemplation. She had reservations about the dark colour in the top corners but had yet to decide how to modify it.

The palettes Catherine used.

Salt - which she uses to create effects on her paintings.

Examples of Catherines paintings.

Catherine also paints Portraits as well as landscapes. Her landscape work covers real and imaginary images and arbitrary colours in some instances. Two of my fellow members of the AVA did a two day portrait course with her a few weeks ago which they thoroughly enjoyed. Although my portrait work (modest as it is) is a little different I intend to take a course with her probably in March.  I have an open mind and look at different artists all the time, hoping to gain inspiration and improve my painting. You are never too old to learn (I hope!).

Overall this was an excellent demonstration with an articulate  teacher. If you live within reach of Bath I would certainly recommend her courses.



I have just updated the INDEX. This is in JULY 2014. I know accessing this is a bit of a fag BUT there is a lot of good stuff there, including by other contributors. Sorry I originally said June.

To access the Index. 

1. Scroll down list on right hand side.

2. Click on 2014.

3. Click on July.

4. Click on Index.


Latest Paintings

Here are some of my latest efforts. I make the usual proviso I don't post them as good just what I am producing at the moment. My painting has always been on the inconsistent side, partly because I never want to get into a rut and just turn out the same stuff painting after painting.

Hare 16" x 12"

This was an exercise at my art group using a limited pallette. In this instance my choice was  three primaries but not the usual ones. The colours were: Hansa Yellow Medium (Daniel Smith PY97), Permanent Magenta (Maimeri PV19 Rose shade), Turquoise )Lukas PB16). I wouldn't normally do this but it does force you into areas you don't usually go. 

I started this one as I had a short time to spare after finishing the days subject at my art group. This is based on Charles Reid's teachings in his books/videos and workshops. The features are done first. HOWEVER on re-watching his last dvd - Figures in watercolour - I noticed he'd changed his approach ,or at least I thought he had, by doing a wash overall first. I also was looking for inspiration  and  to correct bad habits that seem to develop in my painting. I think the root cause is not painting enough. I read somewhere that to maintain your standard you needed to paint at least three times a week, even more if you wish to improve. Given my advanced age it's also a case of not wanting the rot to set in!

'Dead Horse' Flathead. c 1905 16" x 12"

This is the finished painting. I quite like it even though I'm sure I do things wrongly. I tried not to overwork this one - a perennial problem.

'King of the Jungle - 16" x 12"

I feel, while a reasonable representation I have overworked this one. Lots of colour Translucent Orange (Schmincke PO71). Translucent Brown (Schmincke PBr41), Quinacridone Gold (Daniel Smith PO49)  plus Cerulean Blue, Burnt Umber , Raw Sienna etc. I also did highlights with some acrylic white,  using a little Pebeo Gum to mask the whiskers. I almost always paint from photos these days and that does incline you towards bad habits. I have learned though not to copy every detail.

'Model' 16" x 12"

This was done on the same session as the above. The left eye facing is not quite right and I may alter it but it was mainly an exercise  in getting the skin tones right which  has  worked reasonably well. I also like the jewellery on the facing left hand side.

Khadi rough A4

A very quick exercise of a treecreeper done on about 20 minutes.

'Big Cat' 16" x 12"

'Ptarmigan in Winter" 16" x 12"

An exercise in simplicity, although not deliberately so.

'Treecreeper' Khadi rough A4

This was done previously to to the  treecreeper one above.

'Jay' 16" x 12"

'Autumn' 16" x 12'

I'm not sure what this bird is.
The papers I am using sat the moment are Waterford High White, Stonehenge Aqua and Khadi rough.


Watercolour Paintings 48

Here are Novembers batch. They are a mixture of different styles and old and newer artists. Hope you like them.

Gerard Hendriks

An excellent example of Gerards Bird Paintings

Edo Hannema

Dianne Benoit

I'm lucky if my Amerindian paintings get half a dozen likes but Dianne got a lot for this one. I'm taking note of how she has approached the subject!

Dusan Djukaric

Jerry de la Rosa

A new artist to me

Winslow Homer
The revered American artist

Trevor Lingard

Stan Miller

Morten e Solberg Snr

Yuko Nagayama

An amazing watercolour

Another from Yuko Nagayama - what a contrast to the previous painting.

Gerda Mertens

The notable Belgian artist

Charles Reid

I was on the workshop  when Charles painted this demo. It was at Burford, near Witney in Oxfordshire.The young man was a member of the hotels staff and and he posed in the garden. It was actually my first with CR and the standard was very high. He commented on this himself and I really struggled.  Although always of a high standard none of the following workshops reached the same level and I gradually adapted. There were artists from all over the World and several were professionals. 

Milind Mullick

The fine American artist Janet Rogers

Catherine Rey

Michelle Clamp

Another from Janet Rogers

Edward Seago - Legendary British Artist

Jean Claude Papieux

Alvaro Castagnet

Chien Chung- Wei

Another from Chien Chung -Wei

Jonathan Kegyir Aggrey

Different one from Jonathan.

Robert Wade

Jan Martens

This artist specialises in birds and they are actually very large

John Yardley

Janine Gallizia


Thats it folks


Watercolour Dot Cards

A few years ago Daniel Smith introduced these dot cards. At least I think they were the first. Since then they have proliferated. Winsor & Newton then offered  a few, I think with some special edition sets and also a basic primary colour set with currently a six dot card from Jacksons at 20p. Schmincke now offer the whole range or - like Daniel Smith - a reduced number at a lower price. There may now be some other dot cards from other makers but I have no current details.

Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith


This is how Jane Blundell paints out the dot cards. I think her method is best.

Prior to this the options were and still are printed colour charts which are usually free or hand painted charts, often hard to find and quite expensive.

Prices of the dot cards vary. With Daniel Smiths huge range the full 238 set costs £21.00 at current jacksons prices. They also do a 66 one for £7.50. The full 140 colour Schmincke costs £14.60 and the 80 one £9.10.

Daler Rowney Hand Painted Chart

Holbein Hand Painted Chart

Maimeri Hand Painted Chart

I also have a Winsor & Newton hand painted chart. What do I think of them? They are undoubtedly useful, especially if you major on one brand. The snag I find is that the paints are applied very evenly. This may seem an odd thing to say but with my - admittedly - less than perfect methods getting a similar result is very difficult and do you actually want them to be this bland? Jacksons also list hand-painted charts from Rembrandt - no current price. Shin Han at £34.00 and - surprisingly - Cotman at £11.20. I  believe Old Holland also do one but no details.

All makers tend to offer printed colour charts for free. My preference would be for these charts followed by the dot cards. You may feel differently.


Watercolour Paintings 47

Here are the latest batch for October. I've tried to mix them up even more this month.

D Joy McFadden (?)
What colour! Love this.

Edward Wesson

Lars Eje Larsson
The more I see of this artists work the more I like it.

Aine Devine
This Scottish lady is an amazing artist.

John Yardley
One of the greats in the modern era of British Watercolour

Ivelina Vladimirova

Kate Osborne

Viktoria Prischedko

Fabio Cembranelli

Cornelius Dragan

Winslow Homer
Am American great.

Michal Jasiewicz

Chien Chung-Wei - Thought it was probably him. Wonderful Chinese artist.

Milind Mullick

Giulio Boscaine

Yuko Nagayama

Michele Clamp

 Ted Nuttal

Catherine Rey

 Annemiek Groenhout

Aine Devine

Karl Martens

Some terrific artists here I hope most will agree. We all have our different tastes but good painting is universal. How I wish I could paint like many of those above.


Another Batch

Here are more of  my recent paintings - I usually average two per week - again I'm not suggesting they are good just my work. I tend to post initially on my Facebook page and also on the group Watercolour Addicts. I recommend Watercolour Addicts as a  source of generally  good paintings - many much better than mine. I tend to get fairly low marks regarding 'likes' with others in the dozens and even hundreds. Still I keep on trying!

Deadly Hunter 16" x 12"
I was quite pleased with this but it didn't receive many likes when I posted it.

Stone Chat 16" 12"
I liked the simplicity of this one.

Grey Wagtail 12" x 9" Fluid

Mother and son 16" x 12"

Yellow Iris 16" x 12'
Flowers for a change

Another Deadly Hunter 16" x 12"
The eyes are not quite right. I keep thinking I may try and alter them. It can be done if you are careful.

Crested Tit - 12" x 9" Fluid


Latest Paintings

Here are my latest efforts, mainly at AVA Thursday meetings, although I frequently do the drawing the previous day. I find this often works best rather than drawing and painting in one session.

Young Indian Woman 16" x 11" watercolour

Jenny Wren 16" x 11" watercolour

Molly Spotted Elk - Penobscot Tribe 1903 15" x 11"

Busy Bee (Wasp Actually) 15" x 11"

Satanta - Kiowa Chief. Stonehenge Aqua not. Likeness not good. 16" x 12"

Exotic Bird (species unknown to me) 12" x 9"

Scottish Crossbill 12" x 9" Fluid Paper

Red Cardinal. 12" 9" Fluid Paper

Wild Flower Medley - 16" 12" 

Another Flower Painting 16" x 12"


Watercolour Painting on a Budget - Pt 2 Brushes and Paper

Having covered paints I now come to brushes and paper, brushes being the first topic. 

From left to right: Robert Wade Signature Neef, Rosemary 401, Luxartis Kolinsky, Escoda Kolinsky, Da Vinci Casaneo, Cosmotop 5530 Mix-B, SAA Kolinsky

Of the above brushes Nos 1,2, 5 and 6 are not pure sable being various mixtures of either synthetic or natural hairs and synthetic.  The others are Labelled Kolinsky sables but here - while I am not suggesting that these brushes are not - I would refer you to the article/post I did on this subject.  See the Index in June 2014. It should be said before I go on that many famous artists use all sorts of brushes, often cheaper ones or good quality synthetics. The hand that wields the brush....

Sable brushes labelled 'Kolinsky' or even 'Red Sable' are incredibly expensive once you get past size 4.  It used to be after size 8 but prices now reach the stratosphere from 8 onwards. Even size 6 is expensive. However my suggestion, and it is only that, if you must have sables for detail buy either a 4,6 (or smaller) or both.

There are some excellent synthetic hair brushes on the market and the latest ones claim to emulate sable. This has been going on for years and John Yardley wrote that he'd been supplied synthetic brushes claiming to be similar to sable on numerous occasions and he considered the claims - after trying them - unfounded. However things move on. The best artist in my AVA group has always used Pro Arte Prolene brushes - usually seconds - but has now switched to Rosemary Series 401, a red sable blend, and is delighted with them, They give her the stiffness she likes but also hold more water than pure synthetic. The big thing about these blends is they are cheap the Rosemary 401 Size 8 is only £7.30p. How long they retain there points I don't yet know but then many highly rated sables aren't perfect in this respect.

What is available? Quite a lot actually so it is a question of trying some and deciding if they suit your purposes. My first picks are the Rosemary 400 series, with a large range of sizes and types. For overseas readers she exports World Wide and has an excellent catalogue - see my recent feature . The 400 series are red sable and synthetic blended together. Next - equally so - is the well-regarded Da Vinci Cosmotop Mix B  which is a mixture of  red sable, Russian blue squirrel and Russian Fitch (black sable) with small amounts of synthetic. Artists like Viktoria Prischedko  and Piet Lap use these brushes, available in a range of types and sizes.  Sable/synthetic mixes are also offered by Pro Arte, Winsor & Newton, Daler Rowney, Jacksons, the SAA and others. There is plenty of choice.  Both Princeton and Escoda are promoting their latest  brushes as 'Kolinsky Synthetics', claiming they emulate sable. They may well do but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Da Vinci have introduced a new range called 'Casaneo' in a variety of types and sizes claiming - once again - they emulate sable. We are spoiled for choice bewildering isn't it? The thing is though that all the above come in at prices that are a fraction of  sable prices, although there are cheap sable brushes on the market, perhaps best avoided.

As well as the brushes in the above photograph I have several other Kolinsky sables from makers like Da Vinci, many bought a while back at less than the current eye watering figures. My current main brushes are Isabey Kolinskys 6228 so I don't need to buy any more as they should last unless I live to well over 100!  Perhaps a slight exaggeration! That assumes I'd still be painting then. If I were to buy more it would be Rosemary 401 or Cosmotop 5530 .

I have much less to say about papers. There are lots available ranging from hand made and machine made cotton mixes to the cheaper papers, usually of synthetic mixes or 'high grade' wood pulp (Bockingford).  Some mix the two half and half, There are a few other types but the above is the mainstream. 

Bockingford has long been the choice of many amateurs in the UK while both Hahnemuhle ( Britannia and Cornwall) and Fabriano do cheaper papers that are decent. Another possibility is the Indian Khadi range of cotton papers at very reasonable prices in a large range of sizes and weights. Worth a try. Not everyone likes them  as they could be described as 'slightly rough' , but I do. I'm sure there are others I don't know or have  experience with.

Personally my favourite paper is Saunders Waterford High White in 16" x 12" blocks. Current price is £32 which is stiffish. You can get this paper in sheets which works out cheaper but my problem is a full sheet cuts into four 15" x 11" and I prefer the 16" x 12". I'm trying the Stonehenge Aqua cold press paper at the moment and it seems to me similar to the Waterford but works out slightly more expensive as the block has only 15 sheets. Fabriano Artistico Extra White is good but here I have size problems as they do an 18" x 12" block. In respect of the blocks the Waterford is very well made and holds together right until the final sheet whereas both the Fabriano and Stonehenge soon start falling apart. As far as paper is concerned some famous artists say that the one thing you shouldn't economise on is paper. I leave you with that thought.

Added: Zvonimir has pointed out that Arches and Khadi are hard papers that wear out sable brushes. I'm sure he is right and further states that's it's more sensible to use synthetics on hard papers. sables are better on softer papers with not or smooth surfaces.  He also says that it is better to use quality papers at lower weights ie 90lb than heavier synthetic papers. I've done this and it works unless you use heavy washes in which case you get severe buckling. You can stretch of course although I've done it successfully and it is a bit of a chore. I stopped when Robert Wade said he couldn't be bothered to stretch as he hadn't time!


Watercolour Paintings 46

Here are the latest batch to start off September. As usual they are a mixture to show the variety and versatility of watercolour with a little personal bias towards artists I  particularly like.

The wonderful Shirley Trevena. I have her first book and video, but to try and emulate her is not for the faint hearted!

Edo Hannema - superb landscapes

Janet Rogers - The excellent American artist 

Sir William Russel Flint - a legendary artist from the earlier era

Virgil Akins

Virgil has succeeded in developing his own unique style.

John Singer Sarjeant - enough said!

Jonathan Kwegyir  Aggrey

Bev Jozwiak.

The ever creative Bev is doing some painting on Yupo paper

Trevor Lingard

Robert Ferguson

Jonathan Kwegyir Aggrey - I should have known!!!

Gerard Hendriks - one of a series of boat paintings

Karl Martens.
I recently came across this interesting artists who specialises in birds. His paintings are actually quite large.

Yuko Nagayama.

Unusual subject of a portrait for Yuko but brilliant as usual. Eat your heart out Ward!

Another from Shirley Trevena

Janine Gallizia.

Her paintings have this amazing ethereal look. I believe she's one of the founders of "The Art of Watercolour' magazine.

Jean Haines

Very loose - maybe just a tad too loose - only my opinion.

Joseph Zbukvic  - the well-known Australian Artist.

That's it folks. Hope you like them.


Page created: Fri, Feb 15, 2019 - 09:00 PM GMT