Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Another Amerindian

This is my latest study. I'm not absolutely certain but believe this to be an Inuit man, possibly one of the Alaskan tribes. The original photograph dates from the 1900s. I think it shows the influence of the recent portrait course I've attended at the College of Bath.

16" x 12" Centenaire (from Great Art) 140lb (300gsm) not

Colours were quite restricted, mainly to blues and browns plus Raw Umber and Cadmium Red Light. Completed in about one and a half hours. I used Pebeo masking fluid for the fine lines in his facial hair and a few other places.

Brushes were my usual Isabey and Escoda travel brushes, it was painted at the last AVA session. I'm quite pleased with it.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Latest Avon Valley Artists Sessions.

The last two session subjects were respectively, `Spring' and `Sunshine and Shadows'. As is usual we were given considerable leeway in how we interpreted the subject. You can see this from the resulting paintings, at least some of them! Attendances have been poor recently, a cause for some concern mainly due to the increasing ages of many members. We  need some new blood!

Peter Ward

Peter Ward

Pat Walker

Pauline Vowles

Subject `Sunshine & Shadows'

Yvonne Harry

Jan Weeks

Pauline Vowles

Gerald Pink

Weeks 8 & 9 Bath College Portrait Course

The final two weeks of this 9 week course were again painting our model Linda. 


This was my first effort  Week7  

Second effort Week 8 - 50cm x 65cm Canson 140lb (300gsm) not . I think I like this best of the three.

Early stages of `3rd attempt at `Linda'

Third and final painting 50cm x 65cm Canson 140lb not . This was slightly rushed with less time spent on it compared to the previous two.

In the first two instances I painted her at more or less the same, although not identically so, whereas for the final one I was moved around to the left so had a more sideways angle. With all three paintings I experimented with the skin colour as this was new to me never having done a black person before. The colours were mainly Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber, Transparent brown (Schminke PBr41), a little Cadmium Red and Cerulean Blue. I think that's it but I've probably missed something out - possibly Ultramarine Violet. I used my Isabey and Escoda Kolinsky travel brushes with the larger sizes like 14 predominant. The final two are the largest paintings I've ever done.  The boards holding the paper, held by strips of masking tape, were absolutely vertical. While I do paint fairly upright, usually not quite so much as this. I've tried to follow Charles Reids advice to be a little `crude' and to some extent went for it with the possibility that a disaster would ensue. This didn't happen although you may disagree. Certainly the number of `likes' on the Facebook group `Portraits & Figures (People) in Watercolour', which I started - almost 13000 members so far - are not particularly flattering, very low compared to many other paintings posted. I've had a better response on my personal Facebook page.

As you may imagine this was quite an experience. I felt I coped with it quite well and came away thinking I'd definitely learned something - not bad at my age! Prior to the course I was beginning to think my learning capacity had hit a brick wall. I'm considering taking a Life Painting course with the same tutor although the timing of it is a slight problem, being in the evening rather than morning..

Friday, 27 March 2015

Best Buys

Despite talk of `zero' inflation, even deflation, prices of art products, specifically watercolour related, continue to rise. Here are a few suggestions for those who are finding it increasingly expensive to pursue our hobby. I refer naturally to the UK and the rest of Europe but for those who live outside the UK they have the benefit of not paying VAT (value added tax) which is currently 20%. As far as I'm aware UK art mail order specialists like Jacksons www.jacksonsart.com  and Ken Bromley www.artsupplies.co.uk charge carriage at cost and in many cases this will not exceed the saving on VAT.

Starting with paints I suggest the best current buys are Daler Rowney, Lukas and Sennelier. Rembrandt are also pretty good. These are all very acceptable paints. Maimeri are also currently being sold at very keen prices by Jacksons. I myself primarily buy tubed paint and where the maker offers different sizes, the larger ones like 21ml by Sennelier and Rembrandt, Lukas 24ml, are the best buys. To save money if they offer a 5ml or 10ml buy those in the colours you only occasionally use. Winsor & Newton, still the one to compare with, are frequently on special offer at much better prices than are available in the USA. I personally avoid the Korean brands like Shin Han but others swear by them. Lukas is not stocked by either Jacksons or Bromley which is a nuisance but is by Great Art, who are German but have a UK telephone number and website in English, and Lawrence. Unfortunately Great Art www.greatart.co.uk do not supply outside Europe. Lawrence www.lawrence.co.uk will but impose fixed carriage charges. There is also some movement in `student' quality paints with new ones like Turner, available from Jacksons, appearing on the market. Both Jacksons and Bromley have cheaper own label paints which are worth investigating.

Brushes are one of the most expensive items, especially sable or Kolinsky sable (however see article on sable brushes Index June 2014), These are excruciatingly expensive once you get beyond size 8. I suggest trying sable/synthetic mixes from someone like Rosemary & Co www.rosemaryandco.com or Jacksons. There are several to choose from. I have also recorded the choices of great artists like Viktoria Prischedko and Piet Lap (see article Index June 2014) who use the Da Vinci Cosmotop series, a mix of synthetic and animal hairs. One friend of mine, who is a very fine artist, Yvonne Harry, uses synthetics, normally Pro Art and much prefers them to sable brushes. There is an increasing range of quality synthetics becoming available from the Catalan maker Escoda, and Rosemary & Co has a wide range. Synthetics are considerably cheaper. and affordable compared to sables.  The claim is that the latest synthetics are getting closer and closer to sables. The mail order specialists are also increasingly introducing own label brushes which are worth a try.

As for paper 100% cotton papers continue to rise in price. Cheaper non-cotton alternatives are some from the Hahnemuhle range, Britannia being one, while the perennial British favorite is Bockingford, used by many professionals as well as amateurs. Hahnemuhle Cornwall at 210lb (450gsm) is also favoured, and while roughly the same price as a 140lb cotton paper is cheaper than the equivalent cotton ranges in 200lb.

The best value 100% cotton paper, in my opinion, is Centenaire, exclusive to Great Art.

I don't know what the situation is in the USA but with a number of very aggressive online suppliers there are regular offers.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Primate - Second Try.

After painting a  portrait of a `primate' recently - in other words a great ape -  it did not turn out quite how I wanted so I have had another try. Before starting I looked at all the possible variations using the ipad app Waterlogue, not in order to copy but see what other possible approaches there were to the subject.  My conclusion was that I needed to define the facial area much more, particularly the overall shape, while treating the surrounding areas - the hair - in a much less detailed manner. At the same time I wanted to continue with a colourful approach, including, in Charles Reids words `arbitrary colour', defined  by him as colours that aren't actually there. The original colours on the guide photo are basically combinations of brown and gray, on the dull side if followed faithfully.

`Primate' 16" x 12" Centenaire 140lb (300gsm) not

I began with a  loose but careful drawing, at least as careful as I'm capable, with the only real detail around the eyes and nose, using a  2B pencil rather than a mechanical one. I've been using pencils at the Bath Portrait course and I can see some advantages in doing so.

As you can see there are colours aplenty, Cerulean Blue, Quinacridone Gold, Translucent Brown, Ivory Black , Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Violet, Quinacridone Coral, Phalo Green, Cobalt Blue Deep and  ???  Regardless of what the `Painting Police' say I just want to have fun!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Bath College Portrait Course - Week 7

I have attended two more sessions at the above with mixed results. This week we had a fabulous black model Linda, a very tall statuesque lady, who towered above me. This isn't obvious from the photo but believe me she is tall!  Linda has a company called Kipenzi that sells Afrikan oriented products she designs www.kipenzi.co.uk


Linda - Schut Noblesse 40cm x 50cm not

As you can see the sheet of Noblesse, much larger than my normal 16" x 12", is dwarfed by the size of the boards. Most students used sheets of cartridge or similar paper supplied by the college that were board-sized or close to it. I was the only one who painted in watercolour, with charcoal and pastel predominant.

It was suggested by our tutor Jackie that we might like to include her hands, although this wasn't mandatory. She also discussed the use of colour and suggested we emphasize it. As we have Linda for two more weeks I may do a fuller length study. I did a preliminary sketch including the hands but felt I needed a larger sheet of paper. I probably will use a cut down full sheet next week. I'll need to think about it.

After the preliminary drawing, not the easiest as I would have liked to have been closer to the model, which isn't practical given it might block others vision. I then began to paint starting as usual with the eyes, then the nose and mouth.. Colours used  were a mixture of Ultramarine Blue (PB29), Burnt Umber (Pbr7) and Schminke Translucent Brown (Pbr41). I like the Schminke but a bright Burnt Sienna would do equally as well. The hatband includes Cobalt Teal Blue (Daniel Smith PG50). My guru Charles Reid has done many studies of black models, both male and female, and I've gone back to his books, mainly 'Watercolour Solutions', to refresh my knowledge of what colours he uses and how he approaches the subjects. With two more sessions there is room for experimentation. 

I mentioned the previous week. I was still feeling out of sorts and the resulting portrait with the same model as my first two weeks, painted on Schut, was a poor representation. The eyes in particular are incorrect and it is inferior to the one I did on cartridge paper, which is a good resemblance. 

Schut Noblesse 40cm x 50cm not

This was a great session with a fantastic model and lovely lady. She did vary her position a little but this is something that is inevitable with her sitting for the best part of two hours, with only a major half hour break in between. Charles Reid always gives his models a break every twenty minutes. I was pleased with my resulting painting - I'm aware as always that it isn't anywhere near perfect - and look forward to next week.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Animals - Avon Valley Artists

This was the subject at last weeks session, at which fourteen members were present. I think one can say it is a fairly popular subject.

The early stages starting with the eyes

Peter Ward - Primate 16" x 12" Centenaire 140lb (300gsm) not

I relished this subject using an image picked up from Google and saved on the ipad. I wanted to diverge  (a la Gerard Hendriks) from the fairly dull original colours, roughly combinations and variations of Burnt Umber, Raw Umber and greys, put in painting terms, and add more colour. One of my many faults is a tendency to  carelessness and I reached a stage here when I thought it would end up as a dogs dinner of a painting. I don't think it quite that but it certainly isn't as I originally intended and I've been pondering it since, and may well have another shot. The lesson - study the subject in great detail, pick out the main features and don't rush things. Although some regard this as being beyond the pale I suggest the ipad apps Value Viewer and Waterlogue can be very helpful providing you don't become over reliant on them. 

Yvonne Harry

Jan Weeks

Jo McKenna (not watercolour)

All in all an enjoyable sesion. Next week it is `glass/china !

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Avon Valley Artists - Fruit or Vegetables or Both

This was the subject last week at Thursday session. A better attendance with 13 present and a subject most people are happy to tackle. I had to leave slightly earlier due to my six month hearing aid checkup so took photos of my fellow artists working, rather than the finished paintings.

This was my setup

My initial simple drawing. I've enhanced it so the lines are much darker than actual.

The finished painting - Fruit 16" x 12" Centenaire 140lb (300gsm) not

Pat Walker - strawberries

Pauline Vowles -artichokes

Yvonne Harry - rhubarb 

Jo McKenna -beetroot (?)

Terry Twissell - gourd and onions

Jan Weeks -gourd (?)

All in all an enjoyable session with next weeks subject - animals.