Saturday, 2 July 2016

Oranges

Week two was Oranges
Orange is one of my favourite colours, and I love the mixing pair of an orange and a blue. Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber and a number of the orange-earth pigments are also neutralised oranges as you can see in the little painted mix with Ultramarine, but I've chosen to focus on the brighter oranges here.

While I don't usually include an orange in my palette (apart from Transparent Pyrrol Orange, which I use as a warm red), since it is so easy to mix with Hansa yellow and pyrrol scarlet as shown, there are some gorgeous orange pigments available.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Yellows

This term my classes have been working through the rainbow of watercolours painting still life objects in each colour family. We started with Yellow.

I painted out a swatch of a number of yellow pigments, focusing on single pigment yellows where possible. I also included the earth yellows for comparison including raw umber, a reduced yellow.

The opposite of yellow is purple, so we used purple to put the yellow into shadow in the still life studies.

It's rather nice to see all these yellows together so I thought I'd share the swatch pages here. 

Friday, 29 April 2016

Maimeri Blu watercolours - full range

I had previously tried a number of Maimeri Blu watercolours, but have recently had the opportunity to test out the whole range. These are a popular range of watercolours from Italy. There are a large number of single pigment colours, including the more expensive but lovely cadmiums, cobalts and ceruleans. They are painted out in a fairly random way. Interestingly the colour chart also looks fairly random as they are arranged by number not by colour. 
Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. I always prefer to choose single pigment colours and there are some good options here for yellows, oranges and reds.
Maimer Blu watercolour swatches.The Cadmiums are bright and clear and paint out nicely. While I only use cadmiums for special purposes, I do like to have them available and have heard that, while generally considered toxic, in fact the amount you would have to consume to have a toxic effect is enormous as the cadmium is so well bound in the pigment compound that it cannot do any harm.
Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. These are all single pigment colours and painted out well. Only the Raw Sienna was a little less rich to work with.

Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. Cupric Green Light is PG36 - usually known as Phthalo Green Yellow Shade. 

Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. These all painted out well, except the tricky PV16 mineral violet pigment though this granulates nicely.

Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. I was less interested in these colours as they are largely mixed pigment colours.

Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. There are two versions of Ultramarine though I preferred the Deep. Faience Blue is more commonly known as Indanthrone Blue. I prefer it to be a darker more powerful version.
Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. There are two versions of Cobalt Blue too. Turquoise Green PB16 is not a common watercolour pigment - most this hue are a mix of PB15 and PG7. I didn't like the Sap Green.
Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. Cupric Green Deep is more commonly known as Phthalo Green Blue Shade. I didn't like the old version of Sap Green either. 
Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. Yellow Ochre and Golden Lake are nice yellow earth colours and I rather like the granulation of Stil de Grain Brown - I prefer the DS Goethite for this sort of colour but this is an interesting hue.
Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. The Burnt Sienna, such an important colour, wa disappointing. A nice hue and made with PBr7 but not so easy to paint out. I was working from a small sample of dried paint though - it may be better fresh from the tube. Transparent Mars Brown may be an interesting Burnt Sienna substitute for those who like a more burnt orange version.
I don't tend to use watercolours with black or white pigments in them, but was interested at how blue the Neutral Tint PBk7 appears. 

It's fun to test out a whole range and these generally paint out nicely. While I will continue to use the Daniel Smith watercolours I have enjoyed for over 20 years now, it's nice to know there are plenty of other well made largely single pigment watercolours available from all over the world.


Monday, 18 April 2016

Mission gold Watercolours by Mijello - complete set

I had painted swatches of a few Mission Gold colours previously, is seen here, but have now had a chance to try the whole range. This is an interesting brand, made my Mijello of Korea. There are 105 colours but they are largely mixed hues created with very few pigments. There are no cadmiums or genuine ceruleans and the only genuine cobalt is Cobalt Blue. The paints are very predictable to work with, in the sense that they re-wet with the touch of a brush and brush out bright and strong, with very little granulation and very little drying shift.

If you love bright colours and are starting out in watercolours, this could be an interesting range to try, though I certainly wouldn't recommend getting the full range, just the single pigment colours. Personally, I miss the granulation that I love as only a couple granulate at all.

The swatches are painted out in a rather random order, but the whole range is included. I'll add them all to my website soon. Here is the full colour chart, with the meanings of the symbols. 

In this set, I'd be most interested in the Permanent Yellow as  primary yellow and the Red Orange if you want a strong red-orange colour.

In this set, Lemon Yellow and Permanent Yellow Deep provide a good warm and cool yellow. Permanent Red Deep is a lovely rich crimson red and Permanent Magenta is the pigment used in most of the mixed purples.
Permanent Rose and Rose Madder (another rich crimson - deeper than Permanent Red Deep) are the most interesting here. the very bright colours containing BV10 don't scan properly - they are Opera Rose colours with very poor light-fast ratings.
Most interesting here is Scarlet Lake as a warm red and Indian Red.

Violet Lake is one of the only slightly granulating colours in the range. The rest of the purples and violets shown here are easily mixed from the palette colours.
 I like Indanthrone Blue, but this version didn't paint out very nicely - perhaps it was just the small sample I was using. The Manganese Blue is a hue not a genuine pigment.
There isn't a genuine Cerulean PB35 or 36 in the range. There are two choices for Ultramarine.

While some are very pretty, all of these colours can be mixed from basic palette colours. The Chromium Oxide Green is a hue, not the genuine pigment.
Most useful here is Bamboo Green, generally referred to as Phthalo Green YS. Viridian is a hue, not the genuine pigment. The other greens are all mixed greens - easy to make yourself, though of course if one is a colour you love and use a lot it may be worth having in as a premixed tube colour.

Most interesting here is the Green Gold PY150 as another primary yellow option and Yellow Ochre No 2 which is a nicely version of this colour. 
Red Brown PBr25 is used in a number of the Mission Gold mixes and is an interesting alternative to the more opaque Indian Red in the palette. Van Dyke Brown is a good rich chocolate brown.

Burnt Sienna is a real problem in this range -
it is more like a Quinacridone Gold hue and not
useful to mix with ultramarine and other
blues to create interesting greys as one would normally do.
After the blacks, the next swatches are made with mixes including white, so they feel more like gouache to paint with. Colours are the same as found in the Japanese Holbein watercolours.
These pastel tints are easy to mix if you choose to have a white watercolour in your palette

More pastel tints.
More pastel tints, and a choice of a more transparent or more opaque white.


Cobalt Green is another hue, not the real
pigment not the real colour.
Cobalt Turquoise is another hue, though
one of the few granulating watercolours
in this range.

These Pearl colours haven't scanned well,
 though there is only a slight sparkle to be seen in real life.


I enjoyed painting out these colours as they are very vibrant and 'well-behaved'. They disperse well in water and are easy to paint with, making them very consistent and predictable, as stated in the website. That will appeal to a lot of people. I admit it doesn't appeal to me - I enjoy playing with a whole range of characteristics in watercolour, but if colour alone is your goal, these are an excellent choice.

The pigments have been improved since the range was first introduced and are now more light-fast. I think they would suit those wishing to work with a full gamut palette, as the range of earth colours is limited. 

If you wanted to create a basic set I would consider Green Gold PY150 or Lemon Yellow PY3 as your cool yellow, Permanent Yellow Deep as your warm and Yellow Ochre as your earth yellow.

For reds look at Scarlet Lake for warm and Permanent Rose for cool (or Permanent Magenta PR122 if you love that pigment) I'd add Rose Madder for a crimson as well.

For blues look at Cerulean Blue (hue) PB15:3 as a cool phthalo blue and Ultramarine Light PB29 as the warm.  

For greens, only to be used for mixing, I'd suggest Viridian (hue) PG7, which is phthalo green BS and neutralises a crimson, and/or Bamboo Green PG36, which is Phthalo Green YS, and neutralises PR122 and PV19.

The earths are tricky, but I'd look at Yellow Ochre PY42 as mentioned, Red Brown PBr25 or Indian Red PR101 as an earth red. I'd probably add Van Dyke Brown as a deep brown and make my own custom version of a burnt sienna with the Yellow Ochre and Red Brown.

Happy painting and thank you to Winifred for the samples :-)




Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The power of one little symbol

I don't know about you, but I keep lists. Lists of things to do, paintings to paint, books to read (and write), blog post ideas, wish lists, movies to watch, household jobs, orders to make up, paints to order, website elements to add...I rather need lists of my lists. I keep them in a notebook, so they are all together, and refer to them often.

I work in paper notebook and with a paper diary as I still find that the most efficient way to manage my time. I had to go to October in this year's diary to find a month that has nothing in it - yet - though I plan to go to the US and Canada...anyway, here is the weekly spread from my favourite planning diary.

This diary is a great design by kikki.K. I use the A5 size diary so I can always have it with me. It
actually has enough room for Saturday and Sunday activities (!) and also a notes section on each weekly spread. That's where I plan out my weekly tasks.

It also has a planning section for each month - that's where I plan out the monthly tasks.

But it only has a few (well - 6) pages for notes in the back. There is a page for Websites, there is a Wish List page, one each for Movies, Books, Restaurants/Bars, 6 pages of Expenses and 4 for Addresses. It's been well thought through. But not enough room for all my lists. Yes I could go back to the Filofax system and have them all together in one folio but I prefer this style of annual diary.

So I keep another notebook for lists. It's better than lots of pieces of paper or stick-it notes. I have tried cutting out indentations creating different sections but you end up wasting pages when other sections take more space than expected. So I simply add an index to the back of the notebook, number each page (the Leuchtturm1917 are already numbered) and start a new page for each list, adding that page number back into my index. It works. Mostly.

I'd tick the tasks completed, asterisk the most important, and the rest would just have a • waiting to be done. I'd write them into the next week or the next month (or the next year...) and those • would still be there, catching my attention when I looked back through even though they had been written elsewhere.

Then I came across a very clever little symbol '>' in the Bullet Journal system designed by Ryder Carroll. In his system, > means migrated to another place. He also uses < to mean scheduled for another month but that is not as significant as the > to me. All those visually distracting little • marks get turned into > when I have migrated them elsewhere and I don't have to look at them any more. The power of one little symbol. Thanks Ryder!

In case you are interested, the Bullet Journal system is about keeping one notebook for everything - diary, notes, lists - everything - which is not what I was interested in, but the annotation system is interesting. Briefly -
• denotes a task. Once done, or written elsewhere, it gets changed to one of the following -
x task completed (I prefer a tick/check so will continue with that - it seems more positive :-)
> migrated to another place
< scheduled for another month
Cross out the task if it is not longer relevant - don't waste your time.
o a circle denotes an event such as a birthday
notes, quotes etc - no action needed
! research needed, *priority, etc can be added to emphasis the above notations.

Don't worry, I am not going to show my diary and notebook lists on-line (though it is amazing how many people do!) but I did want to share this little symbol as I found it very helpful :-)


Sunday, 3 April 2016

Watercolour and gouache choices - some of my palettes painted out.

I have a number of palettes of different sizes set up in many different ways and thought I'd share some of them all in one post. Most I do actually use, but some are set up ready to go and may be sold. I tend to set up the colours from light though yellows to reds to blues, then greens then yellow earths etc through to the darks. It works sell for me - I don't try to separate warms and cools as some do as I nearly always mix up warm and cool colours together.

My intention is always to set up palettes so I can paint any subject - landscape, figures, florals, urban landscapes, seascapes - rather than specialist palettes. I make pigment choices based on what type of palette it is and what sized paintings it will be used for - small travel sketches or larger studio paintings.

If I am setting up a travel or plein air palette, I will tend to include Cerulean and Ultramarine for painting skies, for example, and may well include primatek colours that are fun for extra granulation. I may also tend to put more granulating earth colours to capture the landscape. My studio palettes only contain pigments I have tested to be lightfast and very predictable as I do most of my botanical paintings in my studio. Photos of a range of palettes can be seen on my website. Here are the paint-outs.

Herring Compact half pan palette
set up with 24 half pans of
Daniel Smith watercolour,
covering the thumb hole.

This is the Herring Compact palette from the UK. This can be set up in a number of different ways. This is my favourite configuration - 24 colours with a space for a travel brush. You can see other variations on my website here. It is plastic, so nice and light, but has excellent mixing wells.

The colours are Buff Titanium, Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Gold, Transparent Pyrrol Orange, Pyrrol Crimson, Quinacridone Rose, Ultramarine, Phthalo Blue RS, Cerulean Chromium,  Cobalt Turquoise, Phthalo Green BS, Perylene Green, Undersea Green, Sap Green, Rich Green Gold, Goethite, Raw Sienna, Transparent Red Oxide, Burnt Sienna, Indian Red, Piemontite Genuine, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Jane's Grey.

This palette is wonderful for plein air as there are so many greens, interesting granulating earths and the Transparent Red Oxide and Piemontite are wonderful for painting rust.

24 colour paint-out of a wonderful plein air palette. #Daniel Smith watercolours painted in a handbook watercolour sketchbook A5 landscape.

Mijello palette set up with 18 Daniel Smith watercolours

The Mijello palette is a great design for larger brushes and I am using this for demonstrations when teaching. There are 18 paint wells so I have included less convenience mixes than the above palette.

Colours are Buff Titanium, hansa Yellow Medium, Pyrrol Scarlet, Pyrrol Crimson, Quinacridone Rose, Ultramarine, Cerulean Chromium, Phthalo Blue GS, Phthalo Green BS, Perylene Green, Yellow Ochre, Goethite, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Indian Red, Raw Umber, Jane's Grey. This is my Ultimate Mixing Set, along with yellow ochre, raw sienna and perylene green - a great range of single pigment colours.

Mijello palette painted out on Stillman & Birn Alpha paper. 18 colour Daniel Smith watercolour palette.

Little lipstick palette set up with
7 Daniel Smith watercolours.
This little palette is actually from a makeup store and was intended for lipsticks. It is too small for a normal travel brush but is set up with an interesting and practical range of 7 colours. I haven't used it yet, and may end up selling it, but I like the way these colours work together.

Colours are Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Rose, Ultramarine, Perylene Green, Burnt Sienna and Jane's Grey.

The smallest palette I will actually use is 7 colours, though I love to come up with extremely versatile limited palettes. This is one of three 7-colour palettes I have. The others are a locket and a keyring :-)

Paint-out and mixes of a versatile 7-colour palette of Daniel Smith watercolours,
painted in a Stillman&Birn Alpha A4 Sketchbook


Robertson style Paintbox with 20 colours.

This is my studio palette - a lovely handmade brass palette based on the Robertson designs. The 20 colours are a wonderful range with some convenience greens and great dark blues and greens. These are my basic colours to paint with in my studio, though I have other extras for special purposes.

The colours are Buff titanium, Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Gold, Transparent Pyrrol Orange, Pyrrol Crimson, Quinacridone Rose, Ultramarine, Indanthrone Blue, Phthalo Blue RS, Cerulean Chromium, Phthalo Green BS, Perylene Green, Undersea Green, Sap Green, Goethite, Burnt Sienna, Indian Red, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Jane's Grey.
My favourite 20 palette colours. Daniel Smith watercolour, painted in a Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook, A4.




I have another Herring full pan palette set up with gouache. It is a mix of M.Graham and Schmincke gouache as they will re-wet in a palette, along with a couple of opaque watercolours - Buff titanium and Indian Red. 

I carry this palette with me when sketching and use it in my studio. It is more convenient having the gouache ready to paint in the palette than squeezing it out freshly each time.When I use up the yellows I will probably replace them with cadmium pigments for greater opacity.

I paint a palette chart on the first page of each sketchbook. As gouache is an opaque medium I have painted this chart in the Strathmore toned tan sketchbook. It's not a perfect sketchbook for watercolour or gouache but I'll just paint on one side of the paper.


My opaque palette - largely a gouache palette with a mix of Schmincke and M.Graham gouache, along with Buff Titanium and Indian Red DS watercolours. Painted in a Strathmore Toned Tan sketchbook, 5.5"x 8.5" portrait.








This is my Little Lady, a tiny bespoke brass palette set up with my basic palette or 20 colours as painted out at the top. It has 4 extra colours on the right which I can change around. Currently it has Cobalt turquoise (great for copper domes), Serpentine Genuine (great for grassy areas), Green Apatite Genuine (lovely for foliage) and Lunar Black (an amazing granulating black) as the extra colours, though I sometimes put in Piemontite, Transparent Red Oxide and/or raw sienna if I am sketching more urban scenes.

This palette lives in my handbag, in a sketching kit. The waterbrush is an extra short one as seen in the very top photo - this is a really tiny treasure!





This is a little travel palette from Singapore, designed to hold 12 half pans but adapted to hold 14 of my Ultimate Mixing Set. It's just missing Indian Red, but you mix and Indian Red hue with the palette colours Pyrrol Scarlet and Phthalo Blue.

Travel palette with 14 watercolours -
from my ultimate mixing set.
My Ultimate Mixing set of 13 Daniel Smith colours (plus Jane's Grey) in a travel palette.


Travel palette with all 15 of my
Ultimate Mixing Set
The colours are Buff Titanium, Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone gold, Pyrrol Scarlet, Pyrrol Crimson, Quinacridone Rose, Ultramarine, Cerulean Chromium, Phthalo Blue GS, Goethite, Phthalo Green, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber and Jane's Grey.

Update - thanks to MagaMerlina (comment section) I have squashed the metal divider down (it is very well attached so will take some serious tools to remove completely) and squeezed all 15 of my Ultimate Mixing set into this little palette. I have used the slightly more square Schmincke half pans and sanded a little off the ones in each corner.

Indian Red added - I do love this colour not only to create a lovely earth triad with goethite and cerulean chromium, but also for its softness in portraits - lips, eyes and cheeks, if really watered down.

Now to get on with some painting!

Friday, 1 April 2016

Maimeriblu watercolour chart

I had a lot of trouble finding the MaimerBlu colour chart, so here is a screenshot of their 2011 chart.
I haven't tried all the colours, but I'll add some painted swatches of the ones I have tried soon.




Here is a link to the Italian website, thanks you to an email from Faith.
Thanks to Winifred, I now have the whole range to add. Watch this space!