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.

Latest Paintings

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

'The eye has it!"

"Loco" Chief of the Warm Spring Apaches c 1870s His left eye was damaged by a bullet.

"The eye has it!"

'An Aboriginal Man"

"A Natural beauty"

"Brown Wood Owl"

Van Gogh Tube Watercolours



Jacksons Raven Series 528 Short Handled Mop Brushes

 I was recently asked by Jacksons if I was interested in testing certain products. After some thought I agreed but only for those used for watercolour painting. I am not getting any remuneration for doing this - which I wouldn't accept - but admit I hold Jacksons in high regard having dealt with them for some years.

The Raven brush Size 0

Comparison with a Size 8 SAA Kolinsky round. This is just to give an idea of the size of the brush head and length

The Raven is a short handled mop brush under Jacksons own label. They brush head is made from synthetic squirrel - a new one to me - and compared to other mop brushes is fairly firm. There are 6 sizes which range from 10/0 to  4. I think thats right in order of size. They are at special introductory prices at the moment , which range from £7.06p to the largest size 6 at £17.90p. I have some Isabey mops, considered the `Rolls Royce of mop brushes, and while sizes and numbering vary considerably among makes the Isabey nearest in size is roughly three times the price. Full details are on Jacksons website.

I have played around with the brush but have to confess I don't normally use mop brushes as my style of painting is more in line with the Charles Reid and Judy Whitton way, which don't normally entail large washes. It is an interesting brush though as it is quite stiff, points well and is far more versatile than a pure mop.  

In view of this I asked my fellow artist and friend Les Benson - a very experienced artist- if he would like to try it. Les was eager to do so and these are his comments. 

" I liked it. I was impressed with its use in a variety of applications"..."The brush is easy to manipulate between fingers with good control".. It holds a good quantity of paint ansd rinses well. I found it ideal for mixing and applying washes. It also has reasonable stiffness for detail and also good for lifting out". Les's painting below.

This was painted just with the Raven

Overall a very interesting brush which seems quite versatile at very reasonable prices.



Watercolour Paintings 70

Here are Septembers batch - again some lovely paintings. Several artists new to me. Any corrections regarding names welcome. I think all are watercolour but it is sometimes difficult to be certain. Equally if I have any names that are incorrect please advise me.

Galina Shargina

Boon Kwang

David Taylor

Shirin Nemat Zadeh

Slaveika Aladjova

Jeff Suntala

Corneliu Dragan-Targoviste

Jeanette Clarke

Annelein Beukenkamp

Jeff Suntala

Joseph Zbukvic

Judy Greenberg

Cheng-Khee Chee

Olga Kharchenko

Olga Sternyk

Nadees Prabon

Navin Tan

Ben Gassenbauer

Janet Rogers

Hailey E Herrera - described as 'water media' so may not be a watercolour?

Shirley Trevena


Latest Lockdown Works

Here are my latest lockdown paintings. All 16" x 12" except where noted.

The activist ~ Alfre Woodard

The old man of the jungle

'That's lunch sorted"

Indian scoop owl.

Mother love 12" x 12"

Golden Tamarin


Roland Hilder

Zoe. If you haven't already picked this up John Softly is happy to speak to you about Roland Hilder. His e mail is softly@ozemail.com.au

Hope this helps.


Shirley Trevena

Shirley Trevenna is a British artist,  internationally renowned for her watercolours of still lifes, flowers and landscape imagery. She has a strong abstract approach and seems to me to fit the description, popularised by Kees van  Aalst,  of ' Realistic Abstracts". She has been in the top rank of watercolour artists for many years, although she might well be also considered a mixed media artist.

Some years ago , when I was flitting from artist to artist - I never intended to copy other artists, rather be influenced by them - I soon realised how difficult her style and approach was to emulate. Very feminine also.  I have seen a few paintings - not many - by one or two other female artists which resonate with her style. I bought 'Taking Risks with Watercolour (Collins 2004)', both the book and DVD www.townhousefilms.co.uk. The book was listed as being with 'Albert Jackson' and may have been her first (although she is now 79).

Other books are ''Vibrant Watercolours (2006), 'Breaking the Rules
of Watercolour' (2012) and 'Shirley Trevenna Watercolours' (2015) All still available. There are also more DVDs from Townhouse and Pulsar Productions www.pulsarproductions.com

No Craig Young palettes here but this image is not that recent.

In the first book she lists her basic kit as Artists Quality watercolours - Daler Rowney are shown in the photographs - but emphasises she is flexible , is no restricted palette supporter and particularly likes the then new synthetic watercolours being introduced for their intensity and brightness. I imagine she may well be into Daniel Smith these days. She used water soluble inks as well. Her brush choices are rounds , nothing larger than a number 10 but also cheaper brushes including Chinese. I have noticed that Rosemary is offering a Shirley Trevenna Kolinsky Sable set. Four short handled Series 22 (Rosemarys top range) sizes 2,4, 6 and 8 for £75. This is actually slighter cheaper than the prices of the four individual brushes. She also uses pencils, oil pastels, pens and drawing sticks and texture medium.You get the picture - breaking the rules! Many of her paintings are obviously mixed media but watercolour predominates. In a later video she is using Winsor & Newton watercolours and has made up a large series of swatches,

What more can I say? She likes good quality paper for the 'majority' of her paintings 140 to 300lb.  I should think a not surface, but likes smoother paper for drawing. 

I think I will leave it there as there is a mass of material about her on the web, youtube etc, including a huge number of her paintings so you are spoilt for choice if you wish to explore further. Like many good artists I am sure she has continued  to evolve so some of the information above may have been superseded. Enough to wet your appetite?


Latest Paintings

Here are my latest works. All 16" x 12" unless otherwise stated.


Nitram Liquid Charcoal and Daniel Smith Lunar Red Rock , Lunar Black. Love the Nitram.


"Mother and Child"

Blakistons Fish Owl

"The Pose"

Nitram Liquid Charcoal and Cadmium Red Light


Watercolour Paintings 69

Here are Augusts batch. Once again a vary varied collection comprising artists old and new, the new those that I have come across in recent weeks. A huge variety of styles, subjects and approaches. I hope you find much to enjoy and intrigue.  You will notice I sometimes - in fact  I often  - include more than one painting from the same artist. These are amongst my favourites as you probably guess and I hope you don't mind my personal indulgence.,

Shirin Nemat Zadeh

Dean Crouser. I love his work

Thankachen Kumaran

Charles Reid

Gerard Hendriks

Yuda Azuma

Patricia Osborne

Louise Hammett

Igor Sava

Christian Couteau

Wu Sih Shian

Rae Andrews

Ilya Ibryaev

Debbie Bakker

Lang Du Ca

Corneliu Dragan - Tarnoviste

Akbar Akbari

Bev Jozwiak The ever reliable and interesting Bev

Praful Savant

Prafin Puthra

Nguyen Lam

Chainuwat Chuäykhongthong

Charles Reid

Bev Jozwiak Another from Bev

BLOG INDEX JULY 2014. Go to the section on the right of the opening page. Scroll down to 2014. Then click on it and go to July. You will find the Index there.


Morning All.

Hello there. Just to break up the monotony I thought I'd indulge in another of my fireside chats. Not really just a few musings about things art and especially watercolour painting.

I hope everyone who reads this is well and best wishes to my many friends and followers. I sound like a sage when I say that but in reality am just a humble hobby painter. I'm still striving to improve and at the present time am painting more than I have for a considerable period, perhaps more than ever. This is courtesy of the pandemic although I'd rather it wasn't so.

At the moment halting steps are being taken to restart my Avon Valley Artists group though it is proving difficult. Salford Hall, where we meet, wants to start again for obvious monetary reasons and we've been issued with a  set of new conditions in addition to the normal ones regarding the hire of rooms. This amounts to three pages of dense print.! The group has shrunk and we are barely seventeen, although already some of that number have indicated they aren't coming back. Others like myself are reluctant to commit to the suggested start date of October. How things have changed -in every way - since this virus appeared. I was just two when WW2 began and this current pandemic is undoubtedly the most serious major event since then. Of course WW2 was different and unlikely to be equalled, at least I hope not, but the problems we have are unparalleled. I'm optimistic though and think a vaccine or vaccines will arrive sooner than later. Why do I think that? In many respects, although completely different, the current disaster is equal in magnitude to aspects of WW2. As an amateur historian of WW2 I know that technology in five and a half years, advanced at a rate that would have taken fifty years in peacetime. Why? Because things were desperate and such things as budgets and profits went out of the window. Money was no object with concerns about how it was to be paid for put aside. The best brains on all sides  worked at winning the war and fortunately the Western Allies with  the Soviet Union came out on top. This current crisis has the best brains in action on a massive scale once again.

As regards painting we do have a number of tools that help. The internet and social media like Facebook have come in for much criticism recently, but aside from that it has been a boon when so many of us have become somewhat isolated. Youtube is also very good, in fact I was looking at various videos the other day on the new Roman Szmal watercolours, which intrigue me. I'll undoubtedly try some at some stage. In addition I was asked by Jacksons if I would like to review products on my blog. After some thought I said yes but only those relating to watercolour. I am not getting any remuneration for  doing so although none was actually offered . The first product which should arrive soon is a new mop brush under the Jackson label. I've no idea if or when they might ask me to do others.

Since  the death of Charles Reid, who was only six months older than me, I've been pondering mortality, but less morbidly remembering all the workshops I did with him and his wife Judy. She sent me a very nice e mail about the obituary I wrote. I think life is proving a little difficult since Charles died.

I get regular e mails from Jacksons, the most recent listing all the makes of watercolour they sell. Very impressive and mouth watering. The problem to me is how expensive paints have become. I'm not pleading poverty because I can buy more or less what I want within reason, but both mine and my wifes parents had very little money and this has taught us prudence. Anyone starting off now with a 12 palette set can easily exceed £150!. This is a lot for 12 small tubes. When I see artists promoting Daniel Smith - good though the paints are (mostly) - I do think amateurs are being badly served. Many must buy them as Jacksons say they are 'Best Sellers'. They do say Jacksons own label are also 'Best Sellers'. I'm trying a few of the latter at the moment. Unfortunately several of the other leading makes have edged up their prices towards the DS level, although there are a few that are still very good value. Daniel Smith have a huge range with many appealing paints but most of the basic colours can be purchased from others like Lukas and some of the Asian makes at much lower prices, and are quite good enough. I know personal preference plays  a part but even so the differences are not that great for the average painter.

I wonder what has happened to the 'new' Rembrandt range? It was supposed to be introduced last Spring. I don't know what the pricing will be but the new range, when and if introduced, would compete with all the  majors  at 140 paints with excellent pigments. In the meantime Schminke continue to expand their range. As I've said prices have edged up but I'm interested in what Rembrandt do as the current artist quality range are very well priced. I also recommend trying the enlarged Van Gogh range of 72 paints. Very reasonably priced and pretty good.

That will do for now so best wishes to everyone and KEEP SAFE!.


Latest paintings

Here are the latest efforts. despite a post seemingly directing me to an artist who'll teach me how to draw  I'll continue on my path well aware that my painting  (and drawing) is far from the finished product.

"A Magnificent raptor" 16" x 12"

"Monkey Business" 16" x 12"
Nitram Liquid Charcoal and Daniel Smith Lunar Black

'Maori Chief' Third attempt.

I'm much happier with this one although it has received few likes on facebook.

"Jay' 12" x 9"

I'm pleased with this and it has been well received. Even my wife likes it!

'What Big Ears you have Grandma" 12" x 12"

I wasn't 100% happy with this, although that's the case with most of my paintings. However very well received on Facebook


Latest Paintings

My latest efforts. All A3 or 16" x 12" unless otherwise stated.

Herdwick Sheep (1)

Siaga Antelope

Herdwick Sheep (2)

The 'Young" Joni Mitchell

"The Horse Has it"!

Chaffinch 12 x 9

Maori Chief

This is my second attempt at this subject and another failure. I may have a third try. I will have to have another rethink as it is not easy, at least to me, but I'm reluctant to give up so watch this space!


Watercolour Paintings 68

Here are Julys batch. Another very varied group in terms of style, subject and colour.

Olga Litvinenko

Evangelina Stroeva

Gerard Hendriks

Robert Massia

Charles Reid

Gerard Hendriks

Edward Seago

Al Kline

Elaine Chiu

Bev Jozwiak

Robert Wade

Martin Oates

Roger Simpson

IIias Aidarov

Kaname Kano

Herman Pekel

Ewa Ludwiczak

Oleg Kharchenko

Ong Kim Seng

Liu yun Sheng

Eugeniu Goreau

Sergei Minin

Roger Simpson

Vladislav Yelisegev

Thats it folks hope you find much to like.


Recent Work

Still hard at work during this lockdown! I'm still hoping to improve but probably left it too late. I wasted several years 'experimenting' with different styles when I first started. Still it's been very enjoyable all in all.  All 16" x 12"

Mountain Sheep - although it may actually be a goat!

"African Nuguni Bull"

"The Sadness of the American Indian"

"That Hat!"


"Pampas cat"

"Chief Burning Face"

I feel this isn't quite right, especially compared with some previous similar works.

"Mother and Son"

This sounds like an excuse but  the reproductions on here tend to lose something compared to the originals. I am basically a point and shoot photographer, although I have some useful kit. I don't have Photoshop only fairly basic stuff like Snapseed  and the imaging apps that come with the iMac. I wouldn't want to make them look better than they actually are so face a slight dilemma. 


HI Folks

Sitting here watching the rain come down, very welcome, I just thought  I'd say hello to all my readers, all two or three of you.😀 The reason I want the water is I help with the  extensive
communal gardens here.  May was both hot and very dry so many plants suffered.

It's a really grim time here in the UK with one of the worst death rates in the World with Covid 19. Unfortunately without getting too deep into politics, I'll just say I've no faith in our current administration to navigate us out of this crisis with the worst damage to the economy yet to really impact, although bad enough at the moment.

Anyway enough of that. I'm painting and / or drawing most days, certainly three to five times a week. I once read that you needed to paint at least three times a week to just stand still and more if you want to improve. Unfortunately at approaching 83 it's rather late in the day after painting in watercolour for just over 20 years. I should be a lot better than I am after this time still Brabazon only achieved recognition in his eighties so all is not lost.

It's  really odd at times. Facebook regularly come up with my posts from years ago. I look at them and think some are better than  current work so has the rot already set in. A few years ago I asked an older friend and fellow artist, sadly deceased, at what age you stopped improving. His comment was that it was more a case of not going backwards. It's a great hobby though and watercolour a fantastic medium. I've already got the paintings organised for the next two  months  and there are some stunners amongst them, many from artists I was previously unaware of. While there is a strong watercolour following in the UK oil has always been the main medium, partly through the snobbery of the art establishment. The British great Edward Wesson had some of his oils accepted by the Royal Academy but none of his watercolours. He was acclaimed elsewhere but a similar problem existed with Edward Seago, although a favourite of the Royal family. There was a programme on Seago a while back and Prince Philip appeared on it. He was asked about this shunning of Seago by the establishment and put it down to 'snobbery'. I laughed at that one considering where the comment came from. The real reason was he was gay and did get into trouble over it, due to the attitude and laws  of the time, but it was covered up. Sad really because Seago was a great painter, better than Wesson in my view.

Finally I noted a while back that realistic and super realistic paintings seemed to be becoming more common. I actually got into a spat on Wetcanvas with one individual about this which turned really nasty - not on my part - and I left. This person even suggested we exchanged  e mail addresses and continued the argument. There is no place in art for this sort of abuse. I asked the late Charles Reid on one of my last workshops with him about this trend. He said he did a lot of judging and had also noticed the move towards super realism. I'm amazed at some of the paintings I find. Not only how they manage to produce such work in  watercolour, but the time it must take to produce them. Charles said a painting should take two to two and a half hours in total. That's my game! Thats it folks. All the very best to you all  in this terrible time and KEEP SAFE.


Watercolour Paintings 67

Here is the latest batch for June. Once again I ask if any mistakes I have made you can correct please advise me. I believe all these paintings are watercolour but cannot be absolutely sure so again - let me know so I can correct any errors. I always work on the principal of trying to present the widest possible range of watercolours to show the versatility of this wonderful medium, together with bringing to you the wonderful artists who proliferate across the globe. I do admit that my particular tastes also feature.

Lian Quan Zhen

Natalie Graham

Charles Reid

I was present at this demo at Stow in the Wold

Annemiek Groenhout

Bev Jozwiak


Galina Gomzina

Genevieve Buchanan

I met Genevieve on a Charles Reid workshop

Gerard Hendriks

Another from the superb artist and lovely man Gerard

Edo Hannema

Huang Huang

Jane Betteridge

Another from Bev Jozwiak/ I particularly like her jackdaw paintings.

Charles Reid

A typical Reid figure demo

Igor Mosijcuk

Kate Osborne

Munkhuu Gugu


Valery Krudikovski

Ko Byung Jun

Tatyana Zolotuhina

Sandra Strohschein

Claudie Capdeville

Gerda Mertens

Great use of colour from this Belgium artist

Reine-Marie Pinchon

Kubra Turkegul

Corneliu Dragan Targoviste-

Yuko Nagayama


llias Aidarov


Most Recent Paintings

Here are my latest over the last week or two. I have scrapped a number! All 16" x 12"unless otherwise stated.

Hares seem a very popular subject at the moment, both paintings and figurines. There are some very interesting paintings around , mostly by female artists, which inspired me to try my own.  I'm no sexist!

This is another, in this case,  inspired by the American artist Bev Jozwiak who does lots of Jackdaw paintings, and very good they are, in-fact sensationally good.

"Big Boy"


"Where are my wives"

I've actually discarded this one.

Latest Big cat.

Another Bird 12" x 9"



"Mountain Man'


Sennelier Watercolours from Great Art

This is too good to miss!

Great Art have a very good offer on Sennelier watercolours. This is 25% off and brings the prices to an affordable level, much cheaper than current Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton  for example - and most other leading makes. Great Art have a minimum purchase of I think £39.95p to get free delivery. You just need to check by 'googling "Great Art" and it will appear. Sennelier have pans and half pans and also 10ml and 21ml tubes. I'm very tempted!


Watercolour Paintings 66

Here are the latest batch for May. With the dreadful state the World is in with the Covid-19 pandemic:  the UK in a terrible situation. Arguably  the pandemic has been badly handled  in the UK, and this applies to some others, while countries like New Zealand, Greece  and South Korea, to name just three have shown the rest of us up. I normally avoid politics on here but things are too serious to be mealy mouthed. May I wish whoever reads this and their families are safe and best wishes for the future. I make the following proviso. I think all the paintings shown are watercolour but is is possible some aren't. Also I am having difficulty in finding some artists names as the sources I obtain them from don't say.  Any mistakes  are entirely my own fault and corrections welcome. I have posted a bumper lot to relieve the gloom (a little). Some wonderful artists,  great paintings and a wide variety of styles and subjects. The Wonderful World of Watercolour. Enjoy!

Alvaro Castagnet - Look at that red!

Natalie Graham

Jeanette Clark

Elke Memmler - Great colour.

Millind Mullick (?)

Charles Reid

Konstantin Sterkof

Lars eje Larsson

Gerard Hendriks

Dianne Wallace

Jem Bowden - Typical British  scene in the style of Wesson and Seago

Myint Naing

Annemiek Groenhout

Shari Blaukopf

Yuko Nagayama - enough said!

Morten E Solberg Snr

Fernando Pena

Bev Jozwiak

John Salminen

Tansu Ozmen

Fealing Lin

Celine Doderman

Darren Woodhead

Brenda Swenson

Charles Reid

Artist? ??

Karl Martens. You cannot tell from this but he paints very large

Lynne Parker

Michel Jasiewicz

Corneliu Dragan

Gerard Hendriks - enough said


Millind Mullick

Rae Andrews

Gerard Hendriks

To repeat again I'm slightly concerned I have all the artists correctly named. If anyone wishes or are able to correct me please do so. I welcome corrections.


Latest Paintings

I'm painting quite a lot at the moment, including drawing. With the way things are developing I may paint even more if we have to self isolate  at some stage.  (This was written sometime ago. We are self isolating and have been for two weeks with more to come)We've just been told by the latest press conference to 'avoid non essential' social contact. We've already shut down the AVA before the lockdown until further notice, which may last a considerable time. I fear this will threaten the survival of the group but there is nothing else we can do. These are my latest efforts. I've scrapped a couple of others All 16" x 12"

"Cowgirl "

I attempted here to treat this subject in a similar manner to a Charles Reid demo at Stow in the Wold. I wasn't on that particular workshop but Judi Whitton was and subsequently purchased it. She has it in her 2005 book ( Collins) "Loosen up Your Watercolours". and try and improve it, perhaps adding as little red. in places, just the odd spot.

Too much red on the left facing side of the face? I think so.

'Red Pandas"

I was pleased with this but very few likes on 'Facebook'. Now if I had a name!😎

An Amerindian woman - This didn't work well either as I introduced what Charles Reid used to call arbitrary colours, colours that aren;'t actually there.

Alison - First try. As I wasn't happy I did it again.

The Jay isn't  bad but I 'm not keen on the background. I'm not good at backgrounds which Charles used to say were the hardest part of a painting.

The Kiowa 'Lone Wolf"

I actually really like this but as often the case I don't get many likes on the groups on Facebook I post in. Nice to be (not) appreciated.😎 Still I'm sticking with this approach - well not all the time.

An Amerindian woman. The difficulty with many of these old indian photos is that they are either a sepia colour or black and white and the contrast is extreme. 


This is my granddaughters Jack Russell  terrier 'Herbert" . He came from a dog rescue kennel. He's nine and a little cutie. Already adored. I'm pleased with this and so was my granddaughter (although she hasn't asked for it!). The resemblance is good.

Charging Rhino - Overworked

Alison - 2nd Attempt. The eyes are a little too large otherwise better than the first one. I've actually done a little more work on this one reducing the size of the eyes. Contrary to what is sometimes said you can make alterations to watercolours although you walk a thin line when doing so. If the colours are staining, which many of the synthetics are,  then it is more difficult.

I think you can see the eyes are smaller compared to the above and are more in proportion.

Bad Hair Day Penguin

This is a fun painting and I like it.

Native American

This one has already bitten the dust. It was very hard going from the original photo, very black with very little detail. I used to publish the original photos I based the paintings on but gave it up because most comments just judged them on whether the resemblance was good or not.

Young Kickapoo Man


This was done immediately after two failures with an Amerindian portrait. Both torn up. I was very frustrated which happens sometimes.


Product Test: Nitram Liquid Charcoal

I have finally got around to trying the new liquid charcoal. I used the approach taken by Stephie Butler, to whom thanks are due. This is to major on the charcoal with the addition of one or two watercolours in moderate amounts. There is a degree of abstraction in that colour realism isn't the object.

Native American 16" x 12"

For applying the charcoal I used a No 8 Da Vinci Cosmotop Mix B brush. This is a mixed hair brush with some synthetic. This brush in various sizes is a favourite of artists like Viktoria Prischedko. I did this because of the possible effect on my Kolinsky sables, although I did use two Isabey small brushes for the eye detail. Possibly my concerns are unwarranted. The watercolours used were the Rowney Permanent Magenta and a lesser amount of Daniel Smith Lunar Violet. This latter is very dark, almost black. and not particularly violet. The Lunar colours are very interesting as they granulate really well but  otherwise on the dull side.

The charcoal was easy to use. It dilutes well and can also be used at strength for real darks. I like the effect very much. I do suspect that the Daniel Smith Lunar Black, a true watercolour, might well be able to be used in a similar way. I say this as I've just had the above photo removed from 'Watercolour Addicts; - a pure watercolour group - as 'mixed media'. I was surprised initially but then realised that technically they were right. I say 'technically' as I'm inclined to think this new product is more like watercolour than charcoal. However if you allow one thing then that might open the floodgates. In any event I've now joined a couple of other groups that allow other mediums. Why? Because I intend to do more paintings using this medium.

Nitram Liquid Charcoal is available in a 50ml tube. I bought mine from Jacksons at just over £20. This seems steep but you do get 50 ml which is quite a lot. The amount I used on the painting is probably more than with a conventional watercolour. It comes out of the tube fairly soft - not liquid - and I used it mainly diluted with water but you can utilise it full strength. I think you will get through it fairly quickly, more so than a highly pigmented watercolour.

A final word. It's just my opinion of course but I'm really pleased with the painting and give this product top marks. The caveat is the way you paint and the style you like. It won't gel with the realistic and superrealistic artists. It is more for the messy ones like me.


Jacksons Watercolours

As well as budget makes from the majors, Cotman from Winsor & Newton is one well-known example plus Van Gogh from Talens (Rembrandt),we also have house brands that have increased a lot over the last few years. One such is Jacksons. As part of my look at cheaper brands with my ongoing  campaign, and I have no great expectations of success,  against the eye watering prices of the majors I purchased three tubes.  I know this is a small sample but see later.

Jacksons started off with 40 colours but according to the website there are now 48. However the colour chart shows 43! I also wonder if the pigment information is correct. For example they are still showing PY153 for Jacksons Yellow Light, whereas PY 153 was discontinued some time ago. On the Youtube piece mentioned there is a suggestion in the comments that some changes have been made and the labels have yet to catch up. I count 27 single pigments out of 43 which is about 60%. I have e mailed them querying the discrepancy in the number of paints and have yet to receive a reply. In the past I've always found them very good at answering queries but I think they are suffering staff shortages due to the virus and are also very busy. It seems us artists are finding ways to occupy our time! I expect to get a reply in due course and will print it when received.

The tubes are not very attractive but its whats inside that really matters. This is the largest size 21ml. There are also 10ml tubes and half and full pans. 

From left to right the three swatches are Cerulean Blue, Raw Umber and Burnt Umber. When I opened the Cerulean tube I was disturbed to see a lot of liquid came out and Teoh had the same problem with certain colours.  He puts it down to an excess of gum arabic. This is separation and often happens if tubes have been hanging on racks for a long time. One of the replies to Teoh  said "shake the tubes well before use" and this indeed seems to work. I would have thought though that this range from Jacksons sells quite well and the tubes are not that old..

Once I got to the pigment the colour seems okay and I'm reasonably happy with it. The Raw Umber is a different matter. This is very dark and I think I'll have to find a better lighter one. The Burnt Umber is slightly redder than the Raw Umber and may be satisfactory. These  latter colours are not that popular with many artists, and the Australian maestro Robert Wade condemned Burnt Umber in one of his books. But then he also condemned Paynes Grey and Yellow Ochre.

I now come to a splendid piece on YouTube  from the artist Teoh Chie where he covers Jacksons watercolours in some detail and paints out swatches of fourteen. This elicited several interesting responses from some who had tried and indeed used them. It is well worth looking at this video which (I think) gives a balanced and realistic view of these paints. They are made by Sennelier but are not exactly the same. Teoh looked at the equivalent Sennelier colours and points out differences, in some instances,  in the pigments.

Looking at prices the  Cerulean at £9.50, is very reasonable for 21ml. Current Cerulean prices from Jacksons - all 15ml unless otherwise stated -  : Daniel Smith £15.30, Winsor & Newton (14ml) £13.50, Lukas (24ml) £10.00, Sennelier (21ml) £13.70p,  Shin Han £13.00, Turner £6.10 and Mission Gold £6.80.  Makes you think doesn't it? I was surprised how expensive Shin Han has become and how cheap  Turner and Mission Gold are.  On my blog  I have had  comments on all these cheaper makes and, while there are a few reservations, there has also been positives. From this though Lukas has to be the star buy. I like Lukas, apart from some of the multi pigment mixes. The paint comes from the tube like toothpaste but dissolves easily once water is added. Lukas are now part of the Daler Rowney group. My best buys not so long ago included Daler Rowney then we had a substantial price hike. I've been wondering if and when Lukas will follow.

Despite these high prices Jacksons still say Daniel Smith is a "Best Seller". I'm not disputing they are very good paints overall. There are indeed some unique colours and I might still buy odd ones but certainly not the standard colours. If I won the lottery it might be different but then everything would be different.  For amateurs like myself to spend these high prices in my opinion makes no sense. I very much doubt it makes most better painters despite comments I get, mainly from  professional artists, that the difference in their paintings is noticeable. This might apply comparing them to the budget makes but what about Lukas, Sennelier and  some of the Asian makes? There are colours in these ranges that compare very well if you are selective.

I've just had a response from Jacksons. They apologised for the delay and confirmed the range is 43 colours not 48. They will immediately amend the website.


Watercolour Paintings 65

And still they keep coming! I've said it many times before but its worth repeating. The wealth of talent across the World in watercolour never ceases to amaze me. Wonderful artists proliferate. Long may it be so. 

Jung Hun-sung
 I don't know this artist. There are so many wonderful Asian artists.

Lars eje Larsson

One of my favourite artists. A unique style.

Eugene Chisnicean

Mary Whyte

One of the doyens of American artists.

Natalie Graham

A newish one to me . I like her minimalist , loose approach

John Blockley

One of the greats of British watercolour painting

John Yardley

Another British great, fortunately still with us in his mid-eighties

Tony Couch

A prominent American who was formerly an airline pilot.

Jen Buckley

I like this very much, again a small area of detail and the rest generalities. very much the Charles Reid approach although the style is different.

Catherine Rey

The superb French artist

Jane Davies

This is very like my granddaughters new dog, Herbert which came from a dog rescue sanctuary

Emma Fitzpatrick

A new one to me. An interesting style.

Tomaz Mikutel

I like this. Hares seem a very popular subject at the moment, figurines as well as paintings.

Brian Tai

Natalie Graham

Another imaginative painting of the popular Hare from Natalie.

Joseph Zbukvic

The Master Australian

Blanca Alvarez

A new one to me

The much missed Charles Reid

Kees van Aalst

Author of 'Realistic Abstracts" which caused quite a stir when published.

That's it folks hope you find things to interest and admire. A lot can be learned by studying other fine artists.


Stages of a Work in Progress

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

Stage 2

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

Stage Three

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

Amerindian Chief 16" x 12"

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


My Favourite Watercolour Papers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Watercolour Paintings 64

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

Liu Yi

Another of these amazing Chinese artists

Jack London (?)

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

Annette Smith 

Another from Annette Smith

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

Lars eje Larsson

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

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

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

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

Ted Nuttall

One of the premier USA artists in watercolour portraits 

Aine Devine

This Scottish lady is a wonderful artist

Chien Chung-Wei

"Robert Wade' by Chien Chung -Wei

This is a great painting by the fabulous CCW

David Lobenberg

A very bold and colourful work typical of this artist

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

Fealing Lin

Another marvellous American/Asian artist

Gerard Hendriks

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

Marcos Beccari

Chien Chung -Wei

I love this for its minimalist approach

Atanur Dogan

Not familiar with the artist.

Vijay Achrekar

This Bangalore artist is brilliant

Rick Huang-Huang hua Zhao

Another from Slawa Prischedko

Janet Rogers

The fine American artist

Stan Miller

Stan produces fabulous work including a lot of portraits

kubra Turkegul

A new artist to me


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