Sunday, 15 July 2018

Da Vinci Triad - a cool triad for the northern summer

Permanent Rose, Hansa Yellow Light and Phthalo Blue
in 8ml tubes create a cool bright triad.

Da Vinci have been featuring a range of triads as they launch their new smaller 8ml tubes. I was asked to suggest a Summer triad. When I am teaching, I always encourage my students to consider basic primary (or other) triads as a starting point for their paintings. This is the second one I would normally teach in a workshop, and is rather fun for summer - a cool bright triad to paint the warm colours of summer :-)

This triad consists of a cool bright yellow, cool bright red and cool bright blue - Hansa Yellow Light PY3, Permanent Rose PV19 and Phthlao blue PB15. It will mix in a similar way to a printing CYM triad, though I rather like the rose rather than magenta. It will create gorgeous bright greens, purples and oranges, but the three colours can also be mixed to create a fabulous rich black, which can be watered down to many shades of grey. The colours are all powerful and non-granulating.

Wheel painted with Hansa Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Phthalo Blue, Da Vinci Watercolours

The mixing possibilities are extraordinary with a well-matched triad. 

Below you can see the lovely bright greens that can be mixed using the yellow and blue, the oranges and reds along with warm yellows that can be mixed with the rose and cool yellow and the lovely purples, magentas and warm blues that can be mixed with the blue and rose.

Hansa Yellow Light mixed with Phthalo Blue; Permanent Rose mixed with Hansa Yellow Light; Phthalo Blue mixed with Permanent Rose - Da Vinci Watercolours.
It gets even more interesting when you start to explore the three-colour mixes. 

Here we have a blue-purple mixed with the hansa yellow light, creating gorgeous blacks, greys and interesting shadow greens.

Next is a mid purple mixed with the Hansa yellow light, creating raw umber and mute purple hues.

Then a red-purple mixed with Hansa yellow light., creating yellow ochre, raw sienna and burnt sienna hues.

Below are greens mixed with the Rose. First is a yellow-green mixed with Permanent rose creating lovely spring greens and oranges.

Next a mid green is mixed with Permanent Rose creating great foliage greens and dusty pinks.

Then a blue-green is mixed with Permanent Rose creating lovely deep greens and blue-purples.

Finally oranges are mixed with the Phthalo Blue

A red-orange creates lovely earth red and grey and deep blue colours.

A mid-orange creates a fabulous range of olive greens, turquoises and burnt orange colours.

A yellow-orange creates more bright greens.

This sketch was painted using only the three colours. There is not much you can't create with them if you try! What you also achieve with a well-matched triad is wonderful colour harmony.

Tulip painted with PY3, PV19 and PB15, Da Vinci watercolours.

The new 8ml tubes will be a useful addition to the Da Vinci range. 
I love their massive 37ml tubes too!

Da Vinci tubes - the new 8ml, the 15ml and the jumbo 37ml.

 Happy painting.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Princeton Brushes

One of the great companies I recommend for those looking for good quality synthetic brushes is Princeton. Though they also make beautiful looking sable brushes (see the Siberia range), the ones I've tried have been the really good range of synthetic squirrel and sable brushes, in interesting shapes and sizes. These ones are really lovely. My absolute favourite is the 1" Mottler - I carry one of these little cuties with me every day in my little travel kit! It has a precise tip and is great for doing quick washes or wetting the paper in preparation for a wash and the short size it prefect for travel. for studio work the 1" short handle is great. I like the interesting tip to these green handles - it gives another painting tool for scraping paint.

Some of the Princeton Neptune brush range
The Neptune range is synthetic squirrel, so fairly soft hairs. I find this works best for the larger brushes.

For smaller brushes I prefer a bit more stiffness.

Below are some more sizes of the Neptune range, including the 1/4' Dagger and the 1/4" flat. The Mottler is there for size comparison. This brush has done some travelling!

Princeton brushes from the Neptune, Select and Elite ranges.

Sable hair is firmer than squirrel, and is what I tend to use for smaller brushes. The Princeton synthetic Kolinsky sable range is the Elite. You can see two of these at the bottom of the picture above. The number 6 flat shader is great for creating windows or other regular rectangular or square shapes, as well as general painting for those who like flats. It is also terrific for creating colour mixing charts ;-) The Elite rounds are nicely pointed and easy to control. There is also a Heritage synthetic sable range.

Another interesting range is the Select. A number from this range are shown here with the blue handles. There are some special purpose brushes in this range, such as the Filbert Grainer and the very useful Scumbler - perhaps designed for acrylic but really useful fo scrubbing out in watercolour or cleaning up the odd accidental splatter. It seems to be called the 'Fix it scrubber' on the website now.

There are many brush sizes and brands to look at, and it can be difficult to choose what to buy. I'd always suggest getting fewer great brushes rather than lots of cheapies. A good brush becomes an extension of your fingers :-)

Happy painting!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Fountain Pen Inks

I've loved fountain pens since I was a child. I've bought a number of inks over the years, though these days I am mostly using waterproof inks for drawing and sketching. Fountain pen ink that is pigmented and waterproof is relatively new and has changed the way I work with pens and sketching. Black is not longer the only option.

I thought I'd catalogue some of the inks I've tried here, and add more as I try more samples.

De Atramentis Document Range

Document Brown Ink from De Atramentis - image from the website here.
I've written a lot about these lovely German inks over the years, and created many mixing charts. Use the search button to find them, or click on the links below. I use the black for my regular pen (a Lamy Joy with an EF nib) in my diary. I also put it in a Pilot Custom Heritage 92 piston filled pen for sketching. I fill another Custom 92 with my mixed grey and use the Brown in a TWISBI diamond 580, also for sketching. This gives me a nice range of lovely colours to sketch with, all completely waterproof and lightfast. I have more pens I use with these inks in my studio, including one filled with my Burnt Sienna custom mix. I love being able to mix any colour I want with these inks!

De Atramentis Document Inks - White, Burnt Sienna (custom mix of the Yellow and Brown), Brown, Black.
June 2018 update - Urban Grey has just been added to the range - available from in Australia, it is a warm grey waterproof ink :-)

De Atramentis Urban Grey Document Ink -
added 2018

De Atramentis Document Inks - Yellow, Red, Magenta (also called Fuchsia),
Violet and Green
De Atramentis Document Inks - Grey (custom mix of the Blue and Brown), Fog Grey, Dark Blue, Blue, Turquoise (also called Cyan)

See here for mixing 
See here for three-colour mixes
See here for mixing greys

See here for mixing with black

De Atramentis standard inks

These inks are dye-based, rather than pigmented, so not waterproof or lightfast. I tried some to test, exploring the interesting effects you can get with ink and water or adding watercolour but the colours were too unpredictable. Best used for writing! I use these in my writing pens for notes in my journal or letter writing.

De Atramentis Standard Inks = Ocher Yellow, Copper Brown, Dark Blue, Dark Green, Auburn, Fog Grey.

Super 5 Ink

Super5 inks -  Darmstadt, Franfurt, Atlantic, Dublin, Delhi, Australia

These muted inks come in 6 different colours and are completely waterproof. I've written about them here. It is not a range I have explored much, though I have heard good reports of them.

Super5 ink, Atlantic.

Pilot Iroshizuku Ink

The name is made up of 'iro' (colouring) and 'shizuku' (droplet), and 'each ink name derives from the expressions of beautiful Japanese natural landscape and plants'. (From the website here

This is a relatively new range of dye-based inks. Lovely for writing but not for adding watercolour, though I rather like the softening effect on the first one. 

They come in gorgeous glass bottles. I'll explore these further for writing...

Pilot Iroshizuku Inks - Fuyo-Syogun (Old Man Winter), Kiri-Same (Autumn Showers), Tsukushi (Horsetail), Yama-Guri (Wild Chestnut) and Take-Sumi (Bamboo Charcoal) (sorry - label above spelt incorrectly).
The colours available in Iroshizuku Inks

Sailor pigmented Nano inks

I am sad to say it but these were a disappointment as I'd originally bought them for sketching so wanted waterproof inks. The Blue Black is almost waterproof but the black is not, though it was supposed to be. They are also available in cartridges. Fast drying.

Still - there are times that it is nice to draw with a semi-waterproof ink and get softened lines.

Sailor Nano inks - black and blue-black.

Parker's Quink

Quink bottle. From the website here.
Parker's Quink, Black.

An old friend . introduced in 1931 - who hasn't had a bottle of this at some stage? I actually only use this to play with, making use of the dye properties and the separation that occurs when wet. Dye-based inks are made up of many colours and the blues and reds create interesting effects. Colours available include blue, blue black, black, red and green.


Noddler's Inks

I bought a few of these inks - I loved the colours. However I started to have problems with my Lamy pens and was told the ink reacts with the plastic of the feed, so now they sit in a drawer. (Apparently this problem has been fixed so newer Lamy pens won't react.) These are large generous bottles (3oz) and great colours. Not waterproof, though there are a few in the range that are supposed to be.
Thanks to the comments below, here is the link to the PDF listing the properties of the inks.

Noodler's Inks - Apache Sunset, Kiowa Pecan, Red Rattler (lubrication ink), Blue, Turquoies (lubricating ink) and forest Green.

Platiunum Carbon Ink

Platinum Carbon Ink - black

This also comes in Blue in a waterproof ink. It is lovely and rich. Totally waterproof. It also comes in cartridges, and is great in the Platinum Carbon Pen. I also use it in my Platinum brush pen. The bottles are simple and hold a generous 60ml of ink.

This ink may be too thick for some pens - the feed of the carbon pen has been enlarged to allow the ink to flow. I haven't use it in other pens apart from the carbon pen, though others have.

Platinum Sepia Brun Pigment Ink.

Sepia (Brun) Pigment Ink from Platinum as also waterproof and is a lovely brown. I've just bought this for the first time so haven't really explored it yet...

Sailor Storia Inks

Sailor Storia Ink - Lion (Light Brown)

Made in Japan, this range is fast-drying, pigmented and waterproof.

This one is - and is a lovely raw sienna colour.

I love Sailor pens, which can have perhaps the finest nibs available, and am interested in the inks they produce.

This lovely image from Pen Chalet shows the cheerful bottles of Storia Ink.

There are 8 colours, all bright and named after a circus theme. Spotlight (yellow), Fire (red), Balloon (green), Lion (Light Brown), Clown (yellow green), Magic (purple) Dancer (pink), Night (blue).

I'd love to see these in some neutrals too. I still continue my search for a lovely waterproof grey...I may try mixing the Fire and Night to see what sort of neutral they might create...

Lamy Ink

Lamy make inks in bottles in a limited range of colours - blue wahsable, black, red, turquoise, green and blue-black. the blotting paper is very useful when filling pens!
Their cartridges come in more colours. Non waterproof.

Lamy ink - black.

 Higgins Ink

Higgins make loads of different inks but this is the only one called a fountain pen ink. I haven't tried it in a fountain pen though...non waterproof.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils

There are many brands of water-soluble pencils, but these are my favourites of the readily available ranges. They are great colours - very natural - and fairly lightfast. There is a shift in colour when you wet them but not as crazy as some pencils. They behave well and dilute nicely.

I've had a lovely boxed set of Albrecht Dürer watercolour pencils for almost 30 years and use them mostly in conjunction with other media - watercolours in particular. The current range is 120 pencils and I thought I'd draw and paint them all out to show how they all look since the colour charts can be hard to tell. I've taken screen shots of the colour chart from the Faber-Castell website to enlarge them here. I'll show the colours in the same order. 

The sample are drawn on Arches 300gsm hot pressed (smooth) paper - not what I usually use as I prefer cold pressed. The right side of each swatch has been brushed over with water then the pencil drawn through the damp section to show its full wet strength.

The Faber Castell Polychomos pencils, which are also gorgeous to use, are the same colours with the same numbers, which is very helpful!

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - White, Ivory, Cream, Light Yellow Glaze, Cadmium Yellow Lemon.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Light Cadmium Yellow, Light Chrome Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Dark Cadmium Yellow, Dark Chrome Yellow.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Cadmium Orange, Orange Glaze, Dark Cadmium Orange, Light Cadmium Red, Scarlet Red.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Pale Geranium Lake, Deep Scarlet Red, Deep Red, Middle Cadmium Red, Permanent Carmine.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Dark Red, Magenta, Madder, Alizarin Crimson, Pink Carmine

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Rose Carmine, Fuchsia, Middle Purple Pink, Light Purple Pink, Pink Madder Lake.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Light Magenta, Light Red-Violet, Red-Violet, Crimson, Manganese Violet.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Violet, Purple Violet, Blue Violet, Mauve, Delft Blue.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Dark Indigo, Indanthrone Blue, Prussian Blue (replaced with Helioblue Reddish, which looked slightly different), Helioblue Reddish, Cobalt Blue.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Ultramarine, Light Ultramarine, Sky Blue, Cobalt Blue Greenish, Phthalo Blue.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Middle Phthalo Blue, Light Phthalo Blue, Bluish Turquoise, Prussian Blue, Helio Turquoise.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Cobalt Turquoise, Light Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Green, Deep Cobalt Green, Hooker's Green.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Dark Phthalo Green, Chrome Oxide Green Fiery, Phthalo Green, Emerald Green, Light Phthalo Green.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Light Green, Grass Green, Leaf Green, Permanent Green, Permanent Olive Green.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Pine Green, Chrome Oxide Green, Juniper Green, Olive Green Yellowish.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - May Green, Earth Green Yellowish, Earth Green, Chromium Green Opaque.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Caput Mortuum, Indian Red, Caput Moryuum Violet.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Burnt Carmine, Dark flesh, Medium Flesh, Light Flesh, Cinnamon.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Pompeian Red, Venetian Red, Sanguine, Burnt Ochre, Terracotta

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Light Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow, Dark Naples Ochre, Green Gold, Brown Ochre.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Bistre, Raw Umber, Van Dyke Brown, Nougat, Burnt Umber.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Burnt Sienna, Walnut Brown, Dark Sepia, Wrm Grey VI, Warm Grey V.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Warm Grey IV, Warm Grey III, Warm Grey II, Warm Grey I,
Cold Grey 1.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Cold Grey II, Cold Grey III, Cold Grey IV, Cold Grey V, Cold Grey VI.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Payne's Grey, Black, Silver, Gold, Copper.

I have three other pencils from my original 80 colour set from the late 80's or early 90's that are no longer available - 138 Light Violet, 147 Light Blue and 148 True Blue.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils
Light Violet, Light Blue, True Blue.

There are many numbers that are missing altogether now. Whether they have ever been created or are around somewhere I don't know - please feel free to comment below.

Missing numbers are 114, 116, 122, 150, 164, 195-198, 200 - 204, 206 - 216, 218, 220 - 222, 224, 227 - 229, 232 - 234, 236 - 245, 248, 253 - 262, 265, 268 - 270, 272 - 274, 277, 279, 281 and 282.