Tuesday 12 September 2017

Dr. Ph. Martin's Hydrus Watercolours

One of my lovely students, Sakshi, lent me a full set of Dr. Ph. Martin's Hydrus watercolours to test, which was great as they claim to be a range of pigmented lightfast liquid watercolours. Not something I am particularly interested in using necessarily, but interesting to try. I'm curious how they differ from working with pigmented inks.

They came in 4 sets of 12 bottles. Three sets are standard watercolours and the third is Iridescent watercolours. I'll concentrate on the 'normal' watercolours first and I will add those later...

When Sakshi first painted them out, the colours were mostly reasonably smooth, but some have changed quite dramatically over time and had separated in the bottles. I've photographed her original wheels to show the difference (see below). 

Some bottles had pigment and lightfast information on them, but some didn't at all.

I have photographed them in a logical order, though not in the sets they were purchased in. As always I have tried to capture the correct colour and will note below how it differs on my screen.

The Hansa yellow light is a bright cool yellow, the Hansa yellow medium a clean primary yellow. Gamboge is a very warm two pigment mix -  brighter and slightly more orange than it appears on my screen. Hansa Yellow Deep and Chrome Yellow are almost the same orange-yellow hue. Rather like PY110 often looks.

Dr. Ph Martin's Hydrus Watercolours - Titanium White,  Hansa Yellow Light, Hansa Yellow Medium, Gamboge, Hansa Yellow Deep, Chrome Yellow.

Brilliant cad red has no cadmiums at all, but is a Naphthol red pigment. The same pigment is used for Vermilion hue which is just a touch less orange. In between is the mixed hue Permanent red. PR170 has two forms - one more lightfast than the other. I don't know which is used here. Same with Carmine - a pretty colour but I suspect it's the less lightfast version. Alizarin crimson and Deep red rose are almost identical in colour.

Dr. Ph Martin's Hydrus Watercolours - Brilliant Cad Red, Permanent Red, Vermilion Hue, Carmine, Alizarin Crimson, Deep Red Rose.

Crimson lake is also very similar to the crimsons above. PR269 is rated III so not lightfast enough for watercolours. The Quinacridone magenta is a lovely colour but the Quinacridone Violet wouldn't paint out nicely. Nor would the Ultramarine red violet. Cobalt violet looks very like a PV23 but no information was given. Ultramarine does not contain PB29 but a mix that is more like a phthalo blue red shade in hue.
Dr. Ph Martin's Hydrus Watercolours - Crimson Lake, Quinacridone Magenta, Quinacridone Violet, Ultramarine Red Violet, Cobalt Violet, Ultramarine.

Cobalt blue looks like another phthalo pigment - it is certainly not PB28. Phthalo blue painted out nicely. As did Turquoise blue. Blue aqua could do with more blue in it be different enough from Phthalo Green. Sap green separated badly and was very odd.
Dr. Ph Martin's Hydrus Watercolours - Cobalt Blue, Phthalo Blue, Turquoise Blue, Blue Aqua, Phthalo Green, Sap Green.

Viridian is not made with PG18 and is not even a viridian hue -  more like a phthalo green yellow shade. I quite like the Yellow ochre - that might be fun to draw with in a dip pen. The Raw sienna and Venetian red were not at all nice to paint with. Indian red is made with the perylene maroon pigment PR179 and is a rather lovely rich maroon.  Red oxide is more like a dull brown.
Dr. Ph Martin's Hydrus Watercolours - Viridian Green, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Venetian Brown, Indian Red, Red Oxide.
Burnt sienna is a very strange red-brown. No pigment is given. Burnt umber had separated like Sap green, as had Sepia. I quite like the Raw umber though. I mid brown - not really warm or cool. Payne's Grey painted out nicely and might be good in a pen to draw with. Carbon black was a little more difficult to control.
Dr. Ph Martin's Hydrus Watercolours - Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Sepia, Payne's Gray, Carbon Black.
Here are the colours as painted out when the paints were first purchased. Some look a little streaky even at this stage. She has arranged them into her own colour sets so this is not a set as it would be purchased.
The first wheel - Hydrus watercolours courtesy of Sakshi.

The 2nd wheel - Hydrus watercolours courtesy of Sakshi.

The third wheel - Hydrus watercolours courtesy of Sakshi.

The 4th set is the iridescent colours. I'll admit that am not as interested in iridescent watercolours, though I realise they are of value to many, especially calligraphers.

The 4th wheel - Hydrus Iridescent watercolours courtesy of Sakshi.
Dr. Ph Martin's Hydrus Iridescent Calligraphy colours - Saffron Yellow, Frosted Peach, Rose Lame, Amethyst, Misty Blue, Sequins Blue.
Dr. Ph Martin's Hydrus Watercolours - Metallic Green, Crystal Mint, Brass, Bronze, Copper, Nickel.

Liquid watercolours can be used in the studio of course, and it is easy to create repeatable recipes since they come with an eye dropper. They can also be used to fill water-brushes so they can be used on location. I know of one sketcher who had a water-brush filled with yellow to keep that colour clean. Another uses a range of greys. Otherwise, like inks, they are more risky on location as they can obviously spill.

I allowed my samples to dry and attempted re-wetting them without satisfactory results so they are best used fresh from the bottle.

Sunday 3 September 2017

Granulation - what and why?

Goethite, DS. PY43

Of the many characteristics the watercolour artist can explore, by far the most unique and special, is granulation. It's one of the reasons I use Daniel Smith watercolours - they are the masters of granulation.

Granulation is the effect you get when the pigment particles clump together rather than settling evenly on the painted surface. As a very general rule, the finer the particles, the less they granulate. So phthalos and quinacridones, being very fine and even sized man-made particles, appear very smooth in a wash. 

Many of the natural earth pigments, ultramarines, cadmiums and of course the Daniel Smith Primateks have larger, more irregular particle sizes and granulate beautifully.

Sydney sandstone sketch.  Watercolour.

You can increase the effect further 
by using rougher paper and more water.

As I am a realist, I really like to capture the texture as well as the colour of my subject, and granulating pigments helps to create texture in the otherwise 2D watercolour medium.

Buff Titanium, DS

Two of my palette staples are DS Buff Titanium (shown left) and Goethite (shown above). The buff titanium is a granulating ecru colour, prefect for marble, snow gums, and for making pastel hues with other colours. Mixed with Goethite it creates a wonderful beach colour. You can see a lot more about mixing this wonderful colour here and it is mentioned in many of my blog posts here.

Transparent Red Oxide,
DS. PR101 
Together this pair is also fabulous for the fantastic range of colours in Sydney sandstone or the lovely honeycomb colour of Bath.

Adding DS transparent red oxide and/or burnt sienna and allowing the pigments to move on the paper allows the pigments to create extraordinary effects. You can see the granulation of the pigments in the bottom part of the sandstone rock sketch above and the cliff sketch below.

Cliff sketch, Blue Mountains. Pen and ink and watercolour.

Governor Macquarie Rose. Watercolour.

This study of a Governor Macquarie Rose was painted in very soft washes of Piemontite and Quinacridone Rose, with just Piemontite used in the background. The colour changes when used in very weak washes or in mass-tone.

Piemontite, DS

Green Apatite Genuine, DS

Green Apatite genuine is another fabulous granulating Primatek watercolour. It can create interest in passage of foliage as it also moves from brighter greens in soft dilutions to rich deep olive greens in masstone.

The Gasworks, Seattle. Pen and ink with watercolour.

Here I have used a combination of transparent red oxide and piemontite to paint the rusty texture of the Gas Works in Seattle - I love this place and look forward to returning when I go back to Seattle in October. You can also see the texture of Green Apatite genuine in the foreground foliage.

(For more on my upcoming US trip see here)

I love painting rusty things. And dead things, and decay...they could seem a little morbid but I seem them as extraordinarily beautiful :-)

'Past their Prime'. Watercolour and Ink, 2017

The background in this pen and ink study of the dried Strelitzia was painted in a mixture of Goethite, Buff Titanium and Raw Umber. I love the way it produces a texture not obtainable any other way.

Perhaps the most spectacularly granulating pigment is PBk11 seen here in Lunar Black. I generally mix my own black hues, but I love exploring this one for amazing abstract or imaginary landscape studies as you can see in my gallery here.

 I have also shown a swatch of an experimental Daniel Smith colour - the rare and expensive YInMn blue pigment. In any other medium I have seen it, it is a lovely colour but otherwise not anything so very special, but seen here as a watercolour it is really something.

I love exploring all the characteristics of watercolour, whether for sketches on location, urban sketching, botanicals, studio paintings or just to play. But my favourite by far is granulation.