Thursday, 7 March 2019

Roman Szmal Aquarius watercolours

Last year I received a number whole pans of watercolour from Poland. They were samples of some of the colours Roman Szmal was working on for his watercolour range. He has now launched them and it was a real pleasure to paint them all out. There are available here or here and are very affordably priced. You can read more about them on his Facebook Page.

This range is 140 full pans with mostly single pigments but also a few rather lovely mixes. They were fairly consistent to rewet though I am sure he is still making adjustments with the exact binder to pigment and honey ratios. I don't know if tube paints are being planned but in many ways I hope not - sometimes it's nice to see a company totally specialise. These are very high quality and full pans are great for brush access.

The pans are individually wrapped with hand-painted watercolour paper labels so there is no mistaking what the colour will look like. I loaded a video of unwrapping one on YouTube here. The colour chart also had hand-painted swatches. Wonderful!


It's great to see one of my favourite colours appear in this range - Buff Titanium. Nickel Titanate Yellow is often a very weak pigment that is difficult to rewet but this version was good to use. The cadmiums are finely ground and very clean.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Chinese White, Titanium White, Buff titanium, Nickel titanate Yellow,
Cadmium Yellow.
This range of cool yellow are all very similar.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Bismuth Yellow, Hansa Yellow Light, Lemon Yellow, Isoindolinone Yellow Light, Aquarius Yellow.
This range of mid yellow are also very similar.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Aureoline (Hue), Cadmium Yellow Pale, Benzimidazole Yellow, Hansa Yellow Medium, Indian Yellow (Hue).
These are brighter and more orange than they appear here - lovely warm yellows.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Nickel Azon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Hansa Yellow Deep, Permanent Yellow, Isindolinone Yellow Deep/
These are also brighter than they appear here - the oranges are clean and clear with Benzimidazole being an almost perfect mid orange and Pyrrole Orange just headed to a warm red.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Permanent Orange, Brilliant Orange, Cadmium Orange, Benzimidazole Orange, Pyrrol Orange.
This range is also similar with some interesting pigments. My favourite is PR255.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Scarlet Lake, Anthraquinoid Scarlet, Pyrrole Scarlet, Cadmium Vermilion,
Scarlet Red,


These are lovely bright mid reds.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Naphthol Red, Pyrrole Red, Azo Red, Permanent Red, Aquarius Red.


Pyrrole Rubine is my favourite of the crimson reds.

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Cadmium Red, Cadmium Red Deep, Perylene Maroon, Anthraquinoid Red,
Pyrrole Rubine.

The Flesh Tint was a sample from last year and may not be the final version of this colour.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Cherry Quinacridone Red, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Naples Yellow Reddish, Flesh Tint, Quinacridone Red.

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Magenta, Quinacridone Pink, Quinacridone Violet, Perylene Violet,
Cobalt Violet Light.
It is good to see very nice versions of these gentle violet pigments. The Dioxazine Violet is not the usual PV23 but PV37.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Ultramarine Pink, Manganese Violet, Ultramarine Violet, Cobalt Violet Deep, Dioxazine Violet.
Mineral Violet separates in a lovely manner.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Mineral Violet, Lavenda, Shadow Violet, Prussin Blue, Indigo (Hue)
Indanthrone Blue is a bit grainy but deep and rich. The three ultramarines are slightly different.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Indanthrone Blue, Ultramarine (Green Shade), French Ultramarine, Ultramarine Light, Cobalt Blue.

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Phthalo Blue (Red Shade), Cobalt Coelin Blue, Cobalt Cerulean Blue, Royal Blue, Sky Blue.

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Phthalo Blue (Green Shade), Ocean Blue, Phthalo Turquoise, Cobalt Teal, Viridian.

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Cobalt Turquoise, Transparent Turquoise, Green EArth, Chromium Green Oxide, Phthalo Green (Blue Shade).

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Phthalo Green (Yellow Shade), Cobalt Green Light, Permanent Green Light, Sap Green, Hooker's Green.

I really like these neutralised convenience greens.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Aquarius Green, Olive Green Light, Deep Green Gold, Green Gold,
Olive Green Deep.
Transparent Gold Ochre looks different on the colour chart so I am not sure that the information is correct for this colour.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Naples Yellow Light, Transprent Gold Ochre, Venetian Yellow Earth,
Natural Sienna Light, Gold Ochre.
There are a lot of yellow earth colours to choose from. I haven't figured out which I prefer...
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow Deep, Veronese Yellow Earth, Natural Sienna Mont Amiata, Italian Raw Sienna.
Mummy Transparent Red is a lovely earthy orange.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Ochre Havana, Transparent Yellow Ochre, French Ochre, Red Ochre,
Mummy Transparent Red.
It's a nice version of Quinacridone Gold.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Quinacridone Gold, quinacridone Burnt Sienna, Veronese Red Earth, Pompeii Red, English Red Light.
Roman had sent a sample of Burnt Sienna that didn't make it into the 140 colour range though I think it is lovely so have shown it here.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Terra Pozzuoli, Italian Burnt Sienna, Burnt Sienna (sample only),
Transparent Oxide Red, Venetian Red, Quinacridone Maroon.
English Red deep is the closest to an Indian Red - not as opaque though.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - English Red Deep, Transparent Brown, Mars Red, Caput Mortuum, Hematite.
Burnt Umber was also a sample that didn't make it into the range. The many versions of raw umber are not hugely different.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Cyprus Raw Umber Brownish, German Raw Umber Greenish, Cyprus Raw Umber,  Cyprus Burnt Umber Light, Cyprus Burnt Umber, Burnt Umber (sample only).

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Transparent Oxide Brown, Brown Ochre, Speia, Cyprus Raw Umber Deep,
Van Dyck Brown.

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Cyprus Burnt Umber Deep (not shown), Przybysz's Grey, Payne's Grey,
Perylene Green, Roman Black.

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Vine Black, Ivory Black, Neutral Tint, Mars Black, Aquarius Black.

Happy painting!


Handmade watercolours from Lost in Colours

Beautifully wrapped Lost in Colours package




I recently received a most beautiful package from Jyotsna of Lost in Colours. It contained a metal tin with 6 beautiful handmade watercolours that are completely non-toxic. Each half pan was wrapped in a hand-painted label and it was lovely to unwrap them.

Sealed with love :-)
The open tin - hand painted labels wrapped around the half pans.

I then painted each colour out. They re-wet with ease. The earthy colours are really beautiful. But then I've always loved earth pigments.





Lost in Colours handmade watercolour - Gold Ochre, Luberon Orange, Ercolano Red, Venetian Red, Genuine Indigo, Graphite.

The colours mixed together beautifully to create this earthy primary triad wheel.
Lost in Colours primary colour wheel with Gold Ochre, Venetian Red and Indigo.

Mixes using the primary triad above.

I don't talk a lot about health hazards much when it comes to watercolour as I see it as one of the more low-impact art supplies since there is so little wastage. However for anyone who wants to be as green and careful as possible, these colours are really eco-friendly and that is something that Jyotsna is passionate about. The website gives a good list of the colours that are safe and those that are toxic to produce or to use. It's well worth being informed.

I haven't done any lightfast tests though I'd only be nervous about the genuine indigo. For working in a sketchbook even natural indigo NB1 would be safe. 

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Daniel Smith new watercolours

New Daniel Smith colours for 2019 
I have just received the 8 new Daniel Smith colours - 7 new greys and a new primatek. It's pretty exciting to have Jane's Grey in a tube like this!

There are some excellent detailed blog posts with lots of information about these colours on the Daniel Smith website so I won't add much here, just my own usual swatches and the links.

There is more information about Jane's Grey on my blog and the Daniel Smith blog. For more about the new Primatek Red Jasper Genuine, see here. For more about the very interesting Grey Titanium see here.


New Daniel Smith colours 2019 - Jane's Grey (Signature Series), Red Jasper Genuine (Primatek), Gray Titanium.

 More information about Alvaro Castagnet's greys can be found here.
New Daniel Smith colours 2019 - Alvaro's Fresco Grey (Signature Series), Alvaro's Caliente Grey (Signature Series)

 More information about Joseph Zbukvic's greys can be found here.
New Daniel Smith colours 2019 - Joseph Z's Neutral Grey (Signature Series), Joseph Z's Cool Grey (Signature Series) and Joseph Z's Warm Grey (Signature Series).

Happy painting!




Thursday, 14 February 2019

Antique Winsor & Newton paint box

Antique Winsor & Newton 'Japanned Tin Box' palette - closed



I recently had the opportunity to test out the paints in a paintbox that probably dates back to the from the 1890s. I don't know the exact date nor how recently the paints might have been updated, but it was rather fun to see that mostly they still rewet nicely.







The box is a great size - just under 7" wide (175mm) and a little under 4" deep (98mm). It's about an inch high with the thumb ring and the domes of the mixing wells.

Antique Winsor & Newton palette 

Antique Winsor & Newton palette - open.


The paints are in ceramic half pans, with W&N ENGLAND stamped on the bottom. How lovely! It would be great to be able to get those again...

Some had labels on them, which might help with dating them I suppose.




The colours painted out nicely once any crud was scrubbed off the top. I've used the names that were on the labels where there were labels and guessed otherwise. The information on the bottom of each swatch is from a Winsor & Newton catalogue from perhaps1894 that was with the watercolour box.

Here they are painted out..

The Gamboge was made from the gum resin from Cambodia, and is not lightfast. The second yellow was really lovely. I am guessing it is Cadmium Yellow. Both Rose Madder Alizarin and Alizarin Crimson were far more delicate than I suspect they would originally have been. Rose Madder Alizarin is not mentioned in the catalogue so may date from later years.

Antique Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Gamboge (genuine), Possibly Cadmium Yellow, Chrome Orange, Rose Madder Alizarin and Alizarin Crimson.

New Blue is a version of Ultramarine but I am just guessing that the third blue is Prussian Blue rather than cerulean. It paints out rather chalky but looks like Prussian Blue in the pan. It could be Antwerp Blue, which is described as 'a weak variety of Prussian Blue containing Alunina'.

Antique Winsor & Newton Watercolours - New Blue, Cobalt Blue, possibly Prussian Blue or Antwerp Blue?
Hooker's Green would fade, or rather turn blue, due to the fugitive gamboge in the mix. Emerald Green is an 'aceto-arsenite of copper' so not exactly healthy. Terre Verte is the natural earth - hard to find the genuine article these days. Sap green is made with natural sap green (a fugitive pigment) and a green lake. Green Lakes were made from combinations of Quecitron Lake and Prussian Blue.

Antique Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Hooker's Green No 2, Emerald Green, Terre Verte, Sap Green.

Yellow ochre is a bit of a surprise - not as yellow as I'd have expected as I wouldn't expect this colour to change over the years. Burnt sienna was lovely - I'm sure this is a natural PBr7 version. Light Red and Indian Red are also lovely.

Antique Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Light Red, Indian Red.

There were two half pans of raw umber and they were slightly different. It is described as 'Native Umber of very fine quality, and possessing the greenish cast of colour which is much prized by Artists'. The warmer Burnt Umber was there and I am guessing the other is Vandyke Brown - made with 'native earth prepared for painting'

Antique Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Raw Umber, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Vandyke Brown?

Payne's Grey had already changed rom the original yellow ochre, Prussian blue and crimson lake formula that I understand William Payne devised and was made with Indigo, Cochineal Lake and Carbon Black. The same mix was used for what I assume to be Neutral Tint.
Payne's Grey, Neutral Tint?, Lamp Black.

*Quotes are from the Catalogue - 'Winsor & Newton Limited. Manufacturing Artists' Colourmen by special appointment to Her Majesty and to their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales'.

The catalogue is illustrated with wonderful engravings showing some fabulous watercolour boxes and palettes, sketcher's hold-alls, pencil sets, chalk boxes and views inside the factory. Just fascinating!

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Jane's Grey



Quick sketch of Sydney Harbour Bridge in the rain


Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine 

As anyone who's been reading my blog would know, this is one of my favourite mixing pairs. This combination of two neutralising pigments make a wonderful range of beautiful hues, from warm navy blues to deep burnt umbers and a lovely range of greys.

Daniel Smith Watercolours - ultramarine and burnt sienna - make a huge range of gorgeous colours.
While many people mix their own variations of this common two-pigment mix, I decided many years ago to pre-mix it and have it available in my palette as a convenience grey rather than mix it on the fly every time I needed it. This allows darker and stronger greys to be used more quickly, which saives time when painting en plein air.

I posted the recipe and instructions to make my particular version - Jane's Grey. I'd been putting it in my students' palettes for years and had to name it something. I rather liked the pun on Payne's Grey :-)






But unlike almost all greys available commercially, Jane's Grey doesn't have black in it. It is made with two liftable (non-staining) pigments so it is itself liftable. This makes it easier to lift out clouds in a stormy sky or soften shadows or lift out highlights.

It is also granulating which is rather nice, and without the often deadening effect of a black pigment it stays lively on the paper.












Last year it was released in the Daniel Smith Ultimate Mixing Set of 15 half pans, and I'm delighted that it is now available as a 15ml tube as part of the Daniel Smith Signature Series.











Needless to say, I use it all the time. Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine are such palette staples that it always works in any of my paintings or sketches.














In mixing it acts as a neutral tint, darkening other colours without changing them.

Mixing with Jane's Grey - Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Gold, Pyrrol Scarlet, Pyrrol Crimson, Quinacridone Rose and Ultramarine mixed with Jane's Grey

Mixing with Jane's Grey - Cerulean Chromium, Phthalo Blue (green shade), Phthalo Green (blue shade), Goethite and Burnt Sienna mixed with Jane's Grey.



In paintings and sketches I use it for skies and shadows, windows and concrete, for the shadows on trees or people or to deepen another colour.

The Old Police Station, The Rocks, Sydney.


Morton Bay fig, Sydney.
Pulteney Bridge, Bath.
Looking across at Hunter's Hill.

It's a great colour to have available and I'm delighted it's now in a tube for those who don't want to have to mix it all the time :-)