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.
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.
CHARLES REID 1937 - 2019
I was shocked to learn today that Charles Reid died last Saturday. Apart from the fact I did five workshops with him, four in England and one in Spain, we were also close in age, he was slightly older by not quite five months.
I shall write an appreciation when I have had time to absorb this and gather my thoughts.
Watercolour Paintings 55
This month most of these are from high profile watercolour artists. I'm very envious of their talent and what they can produce. Some are amongst my favourite artists, although there are many more spread across the World who come on the same category. I hope you like them.
The Great Gerard Hendriks - just gets better and better!
Yuko Nagayama - this Japanese artists needs no introduction. This is rather different to her usual subjects - mainly flowers.
Bev Jozwiak - She has many subjects this is terrific love it.
From Stephie Butler an experimental painting using the new liquid charcoal and the similarly new Transparent Orange from Winsor & Newton . I think it great.
Vickie Nelson -another excellent American
Morten E Solberg Snr. A terrific exponent of wild life paintings
Catherine Rey - She loves clocks!
Alvaro Castagnet -The Workshop King does he ever rest! That red appears in many of his paintings.
Janine Gallizia - The Australian Artist long time in Europe but now going back home.
Charles Reid - My Guru
Myint Naing from Myanmar - Another of these fabulous Asian artists
Rae Andrews Gillian - I don't know this artists but like her style.
Another from Bev Jozwiak
My Latest Stuff.
The following are my recent paintings. Some others have been binned, or rather recycled. Again I repeat I don't show these as being good just my current work. All are 16" x 12".
Clematis - Painted yesterday.
Where's my next meal coming from?
Cheetah Mother and Cub
This was for an AVA subject 'In the Garden'.
This was also an AVA subject
Isn't Life Boring.
Pink Footed Duck
These last two I wasn't happy with but I put them in anyway.
EDWARD WESSON 1910 - 1983 By John Softly
In the past I've collaborated with my friend John, notably on brushes and easels, taking advantage of John's experience and expertise on these subjects. On this occasion his knowledge of the iconic English artist Edward Wesson is unsurpassed so the obvious thing was to get John to write the article.
Edward Wesson died in September 1983 and yet his popularity is greater now than it was during the years prior to his death. Known primarily as a watercolourist but like many others working in the medium also painted in oils.
He was prolific and said that one painting in four was a keeper - the rejects were usually given away to students in his courses and there are art dealers scouring the country in search of these rejects as they are worth their weight in gold - literally.
Born and in the closing days of the Edwardian era (April 1910) in the London suburb of Blackheath, upon leaving school he found a job in the textile industry.
It was after his marriage to Caroline, always referred to as “Dickie”, in 1937, that Ted became interested in painting and studied the methods of E W Haslehurst and Adrian Hill.
He served in the Middle East, Sicily and Italy during World War Two and an encounter with Ascanio Tealdi, a Tuscan oil painter, was responsible for Ted learning to paint in oil. Within three years of being demobbed his oil paintings were being accepted by the Royal Academy.
The Academy never accepted any of Ted’s watercolours but the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours did as did the Royal Society of Marine Artists.
Ted’s work ethic was amazing and it was recorded that, at on time, he did five watercolours in the forenoon and cut the grass in the afternoon. He painted in the English tradition and had little time for gimmicks. His comment was “Those who can do - those who can’t teach - and those who do neither become critics’.
The most publicised thing about Ted’s technique was his use of a polishers mop. He found the first one in France and later the Herring brothers of the Dorchester art supplier obtained them for him. He used sizes 6, 12 and 15 but I think they were rounds although Ted’s brushes given to Steve Hall by Ted’s daughter, Elizabeth, had a couple of smaller sized squirrels and as we know the sizing of these brushes has never been standardised. In addition I have had a good look at Steve Halls video 'Watercolour Secrets' on the big screen. The brush roll given him by Elizabeth Wesson as being the brushes left in Teds studio, at the time of his death, are dissected by Steve and the numbers I gave 6, 12 and 15, certainly refer to the mops. There doesn't appear to be a round larger than 8 and the mystery brushes are three flats. Ted never mentioned flats in any of his articles, and although they appear pristine they must have been there for a reason. I've always assumed the 'mops' are what are currently known as Isabeys? PGW
His gear consisted of a Winsor and Newton Perfect Easel, where he complained that the wing nuts used to unscrew and land in the snow or sand, initially a De Wint palette, followed by a Binning Monro and finally a Holbein 1000. They were filled with the following W&N artist tube colours :-
Raw Sienna, Winsor (or Cadmium) Yellow, Burnt Umber, Light Red, Burnt Sienna, Winsor Blue, Ultramarine Blue and Cobalt Blue.His palette for his pen and ink wash was:- Payne’s Grey, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna. The other colour he used extensively was “filth” which was the amalgamation of all the used colours on his dirty palette.
The Bockingford paper he used was made especially for him by Reme Green of Barcham Green the surface being rough and the weight 140 pounds and heavier. According to Ranson he approached Green and asked him to make a heavier weight. The result was the 200lb Bockingford which is popular to this day. John says that this was the rough surface and was the only one made at the time. Now 200lb Bockingford in both rough and not surfaces is readily available and they even make a 250lb weight. PGW
His method was to place a few pencil dots on the paper for key points and then straight in with the washes. No sketch books or detailed drawings?.
Ted Wesson traversed the country in his Renault doing courses and demonstrations and was always happy to pass on his knowledge of the medium. He was also an excellent organist and would play church organs in many of the places where he conducted courses.
A source of income was the London store Liberty’s and Elizabeth Wesson recalls that they would ring up for “ Four more paintings of Tower Bridge or some other location” which Ted would have to do immediately. There were times when Ted would take Elizabeth to London with him and she had to be on her best behaviour as “We would be seeing the Lady from Liberty’s” .
Ted wrote his autobiography “My Corner of the Field “ in 1982, a superb book of which he was justly proud. His other foray into journalism were articles for “The Leisure Painter” ( 13 issues) and “The Artist” (18 issues). A couple of these were on oils but they were mainly about watercolour. There have been 5 biographies written on Edward Wesson, two of them co authored by Steve Hall, who paints in the Wesson style and has done more than anyone else to keep the memory of Edward Wesson alive.
Had there been APV and Townhouse instructional videos in Ted’s day he would have surely been keen to use the medium as he was one of the best teachers of watercolour the country has produced
Wesson was amongst a group of artists commissioned by British Rail to paint posters of specific rail destinations for promotional use and also to be displayed in railway compartments - under the luggage rack. Later the Post Office Savings Bank asked him to do promotional paintings of small obscure Post Offices in the British Isles a task which necessitated travelling to small villages in far flung corners of the country. The Post Office paintings were true watercolours whereas the Railway posters, by necessity, were done in gouache.
In 1958 “The Wapping Group” invited Ted to join their number and during the summer months he would travel from Guildford to London every week to paint scenes on the River Thames with the group. Due to his workload of courses, lectures and exhibitions his time with the prestigious group only lasted a year but resulted in many marine works.
On a personal note. Edward Wesson’s paintings have been a source of enjoyment to me over the years and obtaining all the Leisure Painter and Artist articles as well as the six books was a labour of love. Anyone wanting to delve further into Ted Wessons art could do no worse than obtain a copy of 'The Art of Edward Wesson' by Ron Ranson, himself a watercolourist of note, who has written biographies of several artists, all of which are excellent. My thanks to John for producing this superb account of Edward Wesson, without doubt an iconic English artist and - I believe- a real 'character' in the English sense.
This is the East Anglian village where John, resident in Australia, was born.
There have been a few errors concerning the paintings, entirely my fault and not John's. They've now been corrected apart from one painting that is in gouache but I'll leave that in. John was responsible for the text and myself the illustrations. As you know he's in Australia and I'm in England (and we're both getting on, especially me, a bit.) so apologies again.
Watercolour Paintings 54
For this latest batch I've tried to go a little 'left field' if that is the right expression, at least with a proportion of them. The idea is to represent watercolour in as wide a range as possible. A lot of these artists are new to me. I never cease to marvel at the incredible artists from China, Taiwan etc. I hope there is something here for everyone.
Yong Hong Zhong
Judi Whitton - I enjoyed several workshops with Judi, both at Crantock Bay and Painswick
Lucia Del - The simplicity of this appeals to me.
Orhan Gurel - Great Artist
Joanna Boon Thomas
Marc Taro Holmes
Catherine Rey - I love Catherines work
Stephie Butler - trying out a new Daniel Smith colour Wisteria
Charles Reid - possibly from an old black and white photograph
Charles Reid again - a sketchbook painting - love it.
Brian Dickinson- terrific
Tina Klitgaard Eriksen
That's it folks!
Beware the Hype!
As readers of this blog will know I have something of an axe to grind regarding the very high price of watercolour materials, specifically paints. but also brushes and papers to a lesser degree. What has prompted this piece is the campaign by Daniel Smith (and others) to appoint 'ambassadors'- using well-known artists - or other titles to promote their products. We get the usual stuff with the designated artist claiming they are the 'best in the world' or the best they have ever used 'etc etc. The latest instance had the artist squealing with delight and receiving posts from followers on her Facebook page congratulating her and 'assuming' she was getting them free.
I know Daniel Smith watercolour paints are very good but 'best in the world'? They certainly have the largest range at 200 plus and growing. They do include some unique colours. However do we really need 20 plus or more shades in reds, yellows, blues, browns etc. On my dot cards many seem similar or have only minor differences. Who has a palette with 50 or 60 colours let alone 200. I would guess the average varies from about 12 to 24. Is it really ethical for these successful artists to encourage their followers or students, many of whom will be amateurs or hobby painters, to pay the very high prices charged for Daniel Smith in the UK? The late Ron Ranson told me privately that the whole thing about watercolour materials was a ripoff. Of course he wouldn't say it in print but personally used Cotman paints, less than a dozen, cheap brushes and Bockingford paper. The famous Chinese master Guan Weixing reportedly uses Cotman also. These are approximately one quarter the price of the Winsor & Newton 'Professional' range. There are many who will say this is their preferred paint for this or that reason and personal preference is a factor but the idea that they will help you produce better paintings is debatable. In the case of Daniel Smith the lure of many of these colours is hard to resist. I've fallen for it in the past and bought umpteen which you then struggle to incorporate in your paintings. Other top makes like Schmincke and Winsor & Newton now have over 100 in their ranges and this seems likely to increase. Maimeri have gone from 72 to 90 and even - most intriguing of the lot - Van Gogh a budget make increased recently from 40 to 72.
Some years ago I did a series of workshops with an artist who used and promoted Daler Rowney watercolours. He didn't say they were the best in the world but nevertheless his students took note. One of the participants, who knew him well, said they were provided free. Later this was withdrawn and the next thing was articles appearing in an art magazine promoting another make.
A few years ago I got into a spat with a well-known artist who was promoting various makes as 'the best in the World.' These included Da Vinci paints and Escoda brushes with the statement that Charles Reid used Escoda. I pointed out that on all the workshops I'd done with Charles Reid he used and recommended Da Vinci Maestro brushes. This was not well received and I got an unpleasant response and subsequently received further vitriol. Charles was on a workshop in Spain and visited the Escoda factory where he was given the VIP treatment. In my final workshop with him he was using some Escoda brushes and not long afterwards a three brush set with his name on the handle was introduced. Escoda have done this with several other artists and they are at slightly higher prices than the normal Escoda range, presumably because the artists get some sort of monetary return. John Yardley, who always previously used the Winsor & Newton Series 7 Size 10 brush (at over £100 each) also has a three brush set now from Escoda with his name on the handle. I'd clarify that I've some Escoda brushes. I bought a size 14 Kolinsky after examining one that Charles Reid was using, and have one or two others. They are excellent brushes but smaller size by size than makes like Da Vinci. Best in the World? I think Da Vinci and others would strongly dispute that. Very good certainly but that isn't the same thing. Does a name on the handle make your paintings better?
I know many artists struggle to make a living from painting alone. This is one reason we have them doing demonstrations, paintings holidays , workshops etc. However the successful artists who promote various products are - presumably- far from struggling financially. I am an amateur or hobby painter and the majority who paint are in the same category. Some are reasonably affluent but many are not. Is it really ethical to suggest amateur artists must buy the highest priced artists quality paints? I suggest the answer is no as there are quite a few much more reasonably priced makes that are perfectly adequate. In the case of 'artists quality' Sennelier, Lukas, Rembrandt amongst the European makes, and then you have Shin Han, Mjello and Turner from Korea and Japan. New ones seem to be appearing regularly which includes house brands, all worth consideration especially for the standard colours. While I have some reservations about some of the Asian makes; if you look at them selectively and avoid certain ones there are many with good single pigments that are worth trying. The ranges are quite large, much more so than the recognised budget or 'student' quality makes. The new Van Gogh range is worth a try. I've used them in the past and they were perfectly acceptable. With 72 paints (from 40) they have quite a few single pigments and some that haven't appeared previously in budget makes. I would avoid certain blues like Cobalt Blue and Cerulean as they are combination of Phalo blue and white. I don't like paints with added white as they are more opaque and , in my experience, tend to solidify in the tube after a relatively short period. The same reservation I make about multiple pigment paints due to the unreliable results that can occur if used for mixing. One other way of saving money is to buy 5ml or 10ml tubes, where offered, of colours that are not regulars.
I'm not going to cover brushes or paper in detail as I've done so fairly recently. Naturally I can only do so where I've actually used them myself or looked at what recognised artists use. With paper Bockingford is the most popular in the UK and there are also some good synthetic papers in the Hannemuhle range. I do agree it is desirable to use a good quality paper. It doesn't have to be hand-made but 100% cotton like Saunders Waterford, although increasingly expensive, is my favourite in the High White not surface. As for brushes I believe the standard of synthetic brushes is now very high, and while they may not be exactly like sable they are getting closer all the time. A good compromise are the sable/synthetic brushes readily available from makers such as Rosemary. The best amateur artist I know - semi professional in some respects - used Pro Arte synthetics almost exclusively - seconds at that - but has been impressed by Rosemarys sable/synthetics.
I have on occasion contacted some manufacturers with specific queries. In the case of Daniel Smith and Maimeri I received no replies, even to a second e-mail to Daniel Smith. Winsor and Newton, to their credit replied promptly and - while not bending an inch - gave their reasons for not doing so. I disagreed and said so but what can I do? That's it folks.
My Indian paintings tend not to be very popular. I post the better ones on Facebook/ Google groups like 'Portraits & Figures in Watercolour' - which I started - and 'Watercolour Addicts' as well as my own Facebook page. When I see the huge number of likes some others get I admit surprise and puzzlement at times but there you are. I'll keep trying. The one below is my latest and I quite like it. Some of my older ones, when I see them now horrify me as they are so bad and they quickly end up in the recycle bin. I'm still, at this late stage, trying for a more consistent result but it remains elusive.
Indian Brave - 16" x 12" Waterford High White not
The overall affect is fairly close to what I was aiming at, although the eyes may be too close together. Resemblance to the guide photo is moderate but I don't aim for a particularly realistic result. I have learned some lessons over the time I've been painting but it has taken longer than it should have done, partly because I took up watercolour - indeed painting - at a late stage in my life. Still I enjoy it !
Watercolour Paintings 53
Here are this months batch. Varied as usual showing a wide range of styles and subjects. Hopefully there is something for everyone although this is always a tall order to fulfil. Some of the artists are no longer with us, some are already famous and World renowned, some well known and some lesser known or not at all, at least to me. Of course many may have reputations in their own countries or local reputations where they are based.
Robin Berry - This is very recent from this fine American artist
Leilie Abadie - A study in delicacy from this French lady
Alvaro Castagnet - The Workshop King, Great Artist.
Herbert Brocklebank 1892 - 1932 A fine Australian artist
Correction - Stephen Zhang - Still Stunning!
Ross Paterson - one of the leading Ausrtralians
Harold Herbert - Very Charles Reid like.
Lorna Muir 1920 - 1990 - Another Australian
John Salminen - Amazing!
My Mistake! It is Charles Reid- Thanks Ray
Any name corrections or more information on the lesser known artists above welcomed
Winsor & Newton 'Cadmium Free' Watercolours
Winsor & Newton have introduced seven new paints which they say act exactly like the Cadmium versions but without the toxicity. They call them 'Cadmium Free' after the names, Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Red etc. In addition three other paints have been introduced Smalt (Dupont's Blue), Transparent Orange and Quinacridone Violet (PV55). All these paints are in Series 4 - the most expensive. I have e-mailed W & N to ask for the pigment details and will post their answer (if I get one).
Smalt was available as part of a special 5ml edition in 2016. Presumably due to demand it is now part of the full range. Here there is a problem, if you like to call it that. The paint is based on PV15 which in my book is Ultramarine Violet so should be called a 'hue'. The true Smalt had a different composition.
Transparent Orange is shown on the website as Pigment 'DPP' but on the colour chart comes up as PO107. I've never heard of this one and neither has the Pigment Database which ends at PO86. Interesting must be a new one. Quinacridone Violet is PV55, first introduced by Daniel Smith. The pigment database calls it 'Quinacridone Purple' and says 'it is claimed superior to Quinacridone Violet PV19 and close to PV23'. I bought the DS version and eventually discarded it as the paint went solid in the tube.
Looking at the 'Professional' range in total the number offered is 109, 100 plus in 5ml, 96 in 14ml and 24 in 37ml. There are also 95 in half pans and 72 in full pans. Current W & N prices at Jacksons are (14ml) Series 1 £9.80, Series 2 £11.30, Series 3 £13.10 and Series 4 £15.40! These are stiff and have escalated over the last year, as have many others.
At the moment my recommendations using my markers of price and quality together are first choice LUKAS in 24ml which may be too much for some unless you use a lot of paint. An alternative is Sennelier who offer both 10ml and 21ml tubes, while I'm considering giving Shin Han another try. I might also try Turner. The other option is the new Van Gogh range, increased to 72. My main reservation with the Van Gogh is the smallish number of single pigment paints but nevertheless there are some interesting newcomers amongst the range. I realise of course that personal preference plays a large part in choosing what to buy. I think however one should have an open mind as prices of top ranges are reaching stupid levels for keen amateurs or just hobby painters. Ron Ranson used Cotman and thought the whole thing was a con, while my friend Zvonimir regards it is as ripoff since the pigments in watercolours are the same as in oils and acrylics, which are not as expensive volume for volume. In addition to the above suggestions have a look at house brands like Jacksons, the SAA and Bromleys. In the US all the big dealers offer them and some are very well-regarded.
I have received the following reply to my queries from Debbie at Winsor & Newton:
'Since we have developed Cadmium Free colours we cannot give the pigments away for other companies to use. We have spent years perfecting these colours to mimic as close as possible the original Cads and we are protecting our own interests.
Transparent Orange contains pigments that are not registered with the ASTM this means that the ASTM (the America Society for Testing and Materials) has not given it a C.I. number. D.P.P stands for Diketo-Pyrrolo-Pyrrol. Additional Note: On Jacksons website PO107 is shown on the details for the new Transparent Orange.
I have to say this concerns me. Since Handprint stopped updating pigment details and testing them I know for a fact some companies are changing pigments without altering the packaging. Others seem less inclined to give details. Most of the makers websites do still give details but it is getting harder to find them.
Trevor Chamberlain - A Watercolour Master
Trevor Chamberlain is a contemporary of John Yardley. I think it fair to say they have been at the pinnacle of British watercolour artists for many years, both now in their mid-eighties. John Yardley is a shy and reserved character although, according to his many friends much less so when you get to know him. Trevor is even more reserved in that he has never made a video nor held workshops or given demonstrations. I imagine over the years he has received many requests to do so. When Steve Hall wrote his book on Trevor he told me he was initially rather reserved and perhaps suspicious, but once Steve gained his confidence was fine. Trevor is a prominent member of the famous Wapping group of artists founded in 1946- www.thewappinggroupofartists.co.uk/ - so has many painting friends. They paint outdoors weekly April to September, much along the River Thames. Numbers are restricted to 25 although their splendid website currently has 26, 25 men and 1 woman.
The two paintings above are my favourites. The one on the oil tanker, I believe painted at Falmouth is quite small which makes it all the more amazing. I could be wrong on the size.
There have been a number of books on Trevor. He is shown as author of two, one on oils in Ron Ransons Painting School series, and (my favourite) 'Trevor Chamberlain - A Personal View' in the superb David & Charles Atelier Series, sadly discontinued after only a small number of titles. Angela Gair is credited as assisting on the Atelier book. The other books are a section in Ron Ransons splendid 'Watercolour Impressionists' and the latest by Steve Hall and Barry Miles 'Trevor Chamberlain England and beyond.
What is Trevors approach? As Ron Ranson says in 'Watercolour Impressionists'... 'The effect of light is everything to him and it is the constant theme that runs through his work whether it be oils or watercolour'. As noted Trevor also paints in oils and when he decided to do watercolour he states in the Atelier book that it took him a year to master the medium. Lucky him as some of us still struggle after many years - at least I do. As Ron also says he is something of a slave to the weather as he paints exclusively outdoors, but he's by no means a 'fair weather' painter. This limits him to about two paintings per week.
What is Trevors approach to painting? He paints 'loose and fluid' using what is called the 'controlled wash' method , Jack Merriot, who promoted this, being one of his early influences. To quote him from the Atelier book 'Much of the picture is completed in a single wash, with the addition of one or two additional washes to define forms'. This gives in most of his paintings a very soft look. This does not appeal to everyone. My friend John Softly isn't a great fan of this 'soft' approach. Each to his own as we say. His methods are detailed in the Atelier book so I won't go into detail just say if you are interested seek out the Atelier book and Ron Ransons 'Watercolour Impressionists' I don't have the latest available book by Hall.& Miles. The others are out of print but searching may find copies in the second- hand market.
What materials does he use? He likes many of the old papers and built up a stock of several makes. which are probably exhausted by now. Of current papers he likes Arches, Bockingford, Waterford, Fabriano and Two Rivers, usually 140lb stretched to avoid cockling . He will paint very large in the studio- full imperial - in which case he has 300lb paper -from a small outdoor sketch. Brushes are Kolinsky round sables in sizes 8, 12 and 14. On larger paintings he may use a 'french polishers mop' - presumably Isabey for the initial wash. He also sometimes uses a shaving mop and has an 18mm flat brush for lifting out. A No 4 rigger for fine detail completes the number, although he also uses an old brush to apply masking fluid, used very sparingly.
Artists quality paints are his choice, both tubes and pan colours, Raw Sienna a favourite and also mentions Olive Green, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine, Viridian, Burnt Umber, Venetian Red. Permanent Magenta - a softer colour - has replaced Alazarin Crimson. After trying many different Viridians he'd found the one by Talens (Rembrandt) 'really good'. I bought the Rembrandt Viridian on this recommendation but couldn't see it was much different to others. Still I'm not Trevor Chamberlain.
Trevor is a close friend of the artist David Curtis who told him about Craig Young and his hand-made palettes based on old designs. He purchased the one similar to the Binning Munro without the flap. I've one of those with the flap and it is still pristine and unused. I can hardly bear to spoil it but as my other two Craig Young palettes are showing the worse for wear will have to bite the bullet shortly.
I think that's pretty much it. As said enquiries on the internet will bring more information and lots of paintings, and searches amongst second-hand booksellers may result in copies of the books mentioned. Without a doubt a wonderful artist.
Nearly But Not Quite.
This is an odd title but denotes what I feel about many of my paintings. A sense of not quite getting there. The one below, done this week, is an example.
What I was interested in here was the heads of the animals, a rare Scottish breed, I reached this point and didn't quite know what to do next. Perhaps I should have stopped. Charles Reid says when you look at a painting and wonder what to do next the best thing it to stop. After reflection I carried on, feeling it was a bit too unfinished but was I right? I don't know. Certainly overpainting is one of the worst faults artists painting in watercolour do. They just keep on when stopping - even if the painting is slightly unfinished - is the best option. Judi Whitton taught something similar.
Stonehenge Aqua not 16" x 12" 'Highland Cattle 'or 'Mother & Son'.
One of Charles other pearls of wisdom is that you reach a certain point in a painting where - if you make the wrong decision - it goes downhill or alternatively the right one and a decent painting emerges.
The other day I decided to take Robert Wades advice, illustrated in one of his videos, of going through that pile of paintings and discarding the ones that don't come up to scratch. In his case most of us would be delighted with the ones he tore up but.... I have a huge pile built up over some years so started on the first batch, about half the total. I segregated them into three piles. Those to be discarded, those where I could paint on the back - at over £1.50p a sheet now per block of Waterford this is an option, and you can do it whatever might be said to the contrary. The late Ron Ranson told me he had a painting hung at the Royal Academy that was on the reverse of a 'failure'. The third pile were those I considered decent, although a few are borderline. Remember this is a hobby painter talking not a high profile artist. The discarded ones were torn up and put in the recycle bin. Do I feel better after doing this. Robert said he did and so am I. Actually it tidied things up somewhat.
Watercolour Paintings 52
Here are the latest batch, a very varied collection, which hopefully has something for everybody. It once again displays the wide range of styles and subjects that watercolour now encompasses. I know some of these artists but not all. Further enquiries on Facebook or Pinterest should bring more information.
Another from Rachel McNaughton
This one is very similar to the paintings John Blockley produced at the earlier stage of his career. His paintings were quite bleak with sombre colours however. He later introduced more colour and even became President of the Pastel Society. Interestingly his daughter Ann, an accomplished flower painter, has also changed direction with a far more abstract approach and very strong colour.
Steven Scott Young
This British artists wife runs the Luxartis brush company, although the brushes have 'Germany' on the handles presumably where they are made.
Ann Christian Moberg
Koo Cheang Jin
One of the leading Australian artists.
J W M Turner
Turner has an International reputation although not everyone likes his work. Charles Reid amongst them.
Lars Eje Larsson
Thomas W Schaller
This was painted in Saltford nr Bath, where I lived until fairly recently. I'm still close by at Keynsham. Seago painted at least one oil at Saltford, down by the river Avon.
A top American Bev loves painting Jackdaws.
The simplicity of most of Wessons paintings is typified by the above. Don't think though that such works are easy to produce.
Page created: Mon, Aug 19, 2019 - 09:05 PM GMT