Friday, 31 December 2021

Aquarius Watercolours by Roman Szmal

Happy New Year for 2022.

For my first post of the year, I'm updating a previous post of the Aquarius range. I hope to add many more this year :-)

Roman Szmal launched Aquarius Watercolours, a honey-based range, in 2019 with 140 colours.

In 2020 this was extended to 165 full pan colours with an additional 25 colours. There was still a huge proportion of single pigment colours (all but 26) and some unique pigments for watercolours. 

In 2021, another 15 colours were added to the range. These are shown at the bottom of this post, along with suggestions for a 15-colour, 20-colour or my selected 24-colour palette.

The full range is stocked at Jacksons (affiliate link) in the UK and many other places around the world. In Australia they are available from Adamstown Art in sets or individual full pans.

For my previous post I photographed the swatches, this time they are scanned. Some colours are really difficult to show accurately using either method - the yellow oranges and orange yellows, along with oranges and reds generally! I'll try to explain the differences in my comments, and also please look at the previous blog for the yellows, oranges and reds.

Anyone familiar with my blog will know that I love Buff Titanium and use it a lot. This is less granulating than the version I use, but still a lovely colour.

Aquarius Watercolour - Chinese White, Titanium White, Buff titanium, Nickel titanate Yellow,
Cadmium Yellow, Bismuth Yellow. 

These yellows are very similar. One could argue that the Cadmium Lemon, Bismuth Yellow, Hansa Yellow Light and Lemon Yellow are slightly more lemon, then Aquarius Yellow and Isoindolinone Yellow Light are a touch less greenish and both painted out very nicely.

Aquarius Watercolour - Hansa Yellow Light, Lemon Yellow, Isoindolinone Yellow, Aquarius Yellow,
Aureoline (Hue), Cadmium Yellow Pale.

Aureoline Hue, Cadmium Yellow Pale and Benzymidazole Yellow are mid primary yellows, with Hansa Yellow Medium being the brightest and sunniest. The warm yellows Cadmium Yellow Deep through to Permanent Orange are really similar. Hansa Yellow Deep is the easy option as it is very familiar.

Aquarius Watercolour - Benzymidazole Yellow, Hansa Yellow Medium, Nickel Azo Yellow,
Cadmium Yellow Deep, Hansa Yellow Deep.

Golden Yellow and Indindolone Yellow are lovely orange-yellows. None of these swatches shows the accurate colour :-(

There is a huge range of gorgeous oranges. Golden Orange is just a yellow-orange, but Aquarius Orange is a stunning transparent mid orange.

Aquarius Watercolour - Golden Yellow, Isoindolinone Yellow Deep, Permanent Orange, Permanent Yellow, 
Golden Orange, Aquarius Orange. 

Transparent Pyrrol Orange is also very lovely but not perhaps quite as rich. Neither of these lovely oranges really shows up here. I'll add a photo below. The next four oranges are attractive, but are overshadowed by the new additions, though I still like the Benzimidazole Orange. Pyrrol Orange is just on the red side of orange, so could be used as a warm red.

Aquarius Watercolour - Transparent Pyrrol Orange, Deep Orange, Brilliant Orange, Cadmium Orange,
Benzimidazole Orange, Pyrrol Orange.

Here is a photo to compare the oranges a little better, but they are clearer in my previous blog.

Aquarius Watercolour - Transparent Pyrrol Orange, Deep Orange, Brilliant Orange, Cadmium Orange,
Benzimidazole Orange, Pyrrol Orange.

Scarlet Lake is almost identical to W&N Scarlet Lake - not that it looks like that here. Most of these are quite similar warm reds though my favourite is Pyrrol Scarlet - you can't beat PR255 for a warm red. Naphthol Red is a mid red. Two new reds were added in 2021 - shown below.

Aquarius Watercolour - Scarlet Lake, Anthraquinoid Scarlet, Pyrrole Scarlet, Cadmium Vermilion,
Scarlet Red, Naphthol Red.

These are all mid reds to slightly crimson reds. The colours are close to correct but not quite. Pyrrole Red is my favourite of the mid reds.

Aquarius Watercolour - Pyrrole Red, Azo Red, Permanent Red, Aquarius Red,
Cadmium Red, Cadmium Red Deep.

Pyrrole Rubine is my favourite of the crimson reds, though if you wanted a more primary crimson rose the PR176 is a good option. Cherry Quinacridone is a lovely coral that never looks correct on the screen. Quinacridone Red is my favourite rose and primary red colour. You can see these colours better in the photographs in my previous blog.

Aquarius Watercolour - Perylene Maroon, Anthraquinoid Red, Pyrrole Rubine, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, 
Cherry Quinacridone Red, Quinacridone Red.

The colours are starting to be more accurate now for these purple reds. A PV55 Quinacridone Purple has been added - see below.

Aquarius Watercolour - Magenta, Quinacridone Pink, Quinacridone Fuchsia, Quinacridone Violet, Perylene Violet,
Cobalt Violet Light.

This range has so many of the gentle granulating violet pigments - PV 14, PV15, PV16, PV49 as well as the unusual PV37 instead of the more common PV23.

Aquarius Watercolour - Ultramarine Pink, Manganese Violet, Ultramarine Violet, Cobalt Violet Deep,
Dioxazine Violet, Mineral Violet.

There are a number of convenience and atmospheric violets and purples here. French Ultramarine, or the new Ultramarine Intense, is my pick for this pigment.

Aquarius Watercolour - Misty Morning, Shadow Violet Light, Shadow Violet, Lavenda,
Ultramarine Light, French Ultramarine.

There are also many cobalt colours in the range. These are granulating and liftable and quite beautiful. I use PB36 along with Ultramarine in skies, though many use cobalt blue PB28.

Aquarius Watercolour - Ultramarine (Green Shade), Cobalt Blue Deep, Aquarius cobalt blue,
Cobalt Blue, Cobalt Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Coelin Blue.

Lazurite and Vivianite are new to the range.

Aquarius Watercolour - Royal Blue, Phthalo Blue (Red Shade), Indanthrone blue,
Lazurite (Lapis Lazuli), Vivianite (Blue Ochre), Indigo (Hue)

Phthalo Blue GS is one of my key mixing colours.
Aquarius Watercolour - Prussian blue, Sky Blue, PHthalo Blue (Green Shade), Ocean Blue,
Phthalo Turquoise, Cobalt Sea Blue.

Phthalo Green blue shade is another key mixing colour. Cobalt Turquoise is a lovely pigment. So is the new PG26 Cobalt Green Deep added in 2021 (see below).

Aquarius Watercolour - Cobalt Teal, Cobalt Turquoise, Viridian, Transparent Turquoise, Phthalo Green (Blue Shade), 
Phthalo Green (Yellow Shade).

Perylene Green Deep made with PBk32 is a unique addition to the range. I use PBk31 all the time for shadows in foliage.
Aquarius Watercolour - Cobalt Green Light, Chromium Green Oxide, Green Earth, Perylene Green,
Perylene Green Deep, Malachite.

These mixed greens are mostly very useful. I particularly like the Aquarius Green and the Sap Green Light for convenient realistic landscape greens.

Aquarius Watercolour - Aquarius Green, Hooker's Green, Sap Green, Sap Green Light,
Permanent Green Light, Olive Green Light.

Glauconite is an historical colour. Deep Green Gold is lovely for the glow of sunlight through leaves or as an alternative to a cool or lemon yellow.

Aquarius Watercolour - Glauconite, Olive Green Deep, Deep Green Gold, Green Gold, Naples Yellow Light,
Naples Yellow Reddish.

There is a confusion of yellow earths made with PY43. Gold Ochre is the brightest of them and would be my choice, though Yellow Ochre is Transparent. These need a bit of exploring. The new Blue Ridge Raw Sienna may be even nicer and richer than these as a yellow earth colour (see below).

Aquarius Watercolours - Transparent Gold Ochre, Venetian Yellow Earth, Natural Sienna Light,
Yellow Ochre, Veronese Yellow Earth.

This is a lovely version of Quinacridone Gold, which I love for mixing. Natural Sienna Mont Amiata is probably the best raw sienna option here. I do like PBr24 though I've never painted with it!

Aquarius Watercolour - Quinacridone Gold, Natural Sienna Mont Amiata, Italian Raw Sienna,
Transparent Yellow Oxide, Naples Yellow Deep.

The new Goethite granulates nicely, though not as much as the version I use. I rather like these earth colours, especially French Ochre and Mummy Transparent Red.

Aquarius Watercolour - Ochre Havana, Goethite, French Ochre, Mummy Transparent Red,
Mont Amiata Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Burnt Sienna.

These are all quite similar in hue, and any could be used as a burnt sienna colour. They differ in characteristics. Aquarius Brown is a super granulating pigment.

Aquarius Watercolours - Veronese Red Earth, Red Ochre, Transparent Oxide Red, Pompeii Red, 
Italian Burnt Sienna, Aquarius Brown.

The Red Earth colours are quite lovely.

Aquarius Watercolours - Flesh Tint, Terra Pozzuoli, English Red Light, Venetian Red, Quinacridone Maroon, 
English Red Deep.

 The new Indian Red has the pink undertone I look for in an earth red.

Aquarius Watercolour - Transparent Brown, Mars Red, Indian Red, Porter's Pink, Caput Mortuum,
Hematite (Violet Shade).

Brown Ochre or Cyprus Burnt Umber is my choice for a Burnt Umber colour. While it can be mixed as a hue using burnt sienna and ultramarine, having a warm dark brown is often useful.

Aquarius Watercolour - Hematite, Hematite Brown Shade,
Transparent Oxide Brown, Brown Ochre

There are many raw umber variations. German Raw Umber Greenish painted out the smoothest…

Aquarius Watercolour - Cyprus Burnt Umber, Cyprus Burnt Umber Light, Cyprus Raw Umber Brownish,
Cyprus Raw Umber, German Raw Umber Greenish, Cyprus burnt Umber Deep.

...however Cyprus Raw Umber Deep is my favourite of these cool dark browns. Aquarius Grey is a great addition - useful for concrete and urban sketching.

Aquarius Watercolour - Cyprus Raw Umber Deep, Sepia, Van Dyck Brown, Przybysz's Grey,
Payne's Grey, Aquarius Grey

I don't tend to use black pigments - with the exception of PBk31 (Perylene Green) and PBk11 - here seen in Aquarius Black - for its amazing granulation.

Aquarius Watercolour - Roman Black, Vine Black, Ivory Black, Neutral Tint, Mars Black, Aquarius Black.

New colours 2021

These scans are fairly accurate, though the Quinacridone Scarlet is actually more orange than it looks here. Ginger Red Rudy is quite an opaque and earthy orange. The new Quinacridone hue uses PR102 instead of PO48 as that pigment is no longer available.
Aquarius Watercolour - Quinophthalone Yellow, Quinacridone Gold Hue (new version), Chrome Orange (Hue),
Ginger Red Rudy, Quinacridone Scarlet.

I really like PG26 and want to explore it further - as an alternative to Phthalo Green in mixing where a granulating and non-staining green would be useful. It is more powerful than Viridian.
Aquarius Watercolour - Perylene Red, Quinacridone Purple, Ultramarine Intense, 
Cobalt Green Deep, Blue Ridge Raw Sienna

This version of Burnt Sienna is the best so far, and the one I've chosen for my selection below. 
Aquarius Watercolour - Dark Ochre, Blue Ridge Burnt Sienna, Manganese Brown,
Chrome Brown, Shadow Grey

It is daunting to come up with a set when faced with such a huge choice. Those closest to my Ultimate Mixing Set, used for my courses, would be Buff Titanium, Hansa Yellow Medium (made with PY74 rather than PY97 but a very similar hue), Quinacridone Gold, Pyrrole Scarlet, Pyrrole Rubine, Quinacridone Red, Ultramarine Intense, Cobalt Cerulean Blue, Phthalo Blue GS, Phthalo Green BS, Goethite, Blue Ridge Burnt Sienna, Indian Red, Cyprus Raw Umber Deep. These 14 would fit into a full pan metal palette. 

If you want to go from 14 to 20, consider adding Aquarius Orange if you want a convenience orange; either Mineral Violet (two pigment mix) or Dioxazine Violet (single pigment) if you want a convenience purple; Sap Green Light; Aquarius Green; Perylene Green; and either Gold Ochre, Yellow Ochre or the new Blue Ridge Raw Sienna as an additional mixing yellow earth. 

I was asked to suggest a 24 colour set of Aquarius colours in full pans for a metal palette. Here is my suggested set.
    • Buff Titanium
    • Hansa Yellow Medium
    • Quinacridone Gold (PO48 + PY150 version)
    • Aquarius Orange
    • Pyrrol Scarlet
    • Pyrrol Rubine
    • Quinacridone Red
    • Mineral Violet
    • Ultramarine Intense
    • Cobalt Cerulean Blue
    • Phthelo Blue (Green Shade)
    • Cobalt Turquoise
    • Phthalo Green (Blue Shade)
    • Perylene Green
    • Aquarius Green
    • Sap Green Light
    • Gold Ochre
    • Goethite
    • Mummy Transparent Red
    • Blue Ridge Burnt Sienna
    • Indian red
    • Cyprus Burnt Umber
    • Cyprus Raw Umber Deep
    • Shadow Grey. 
Here they are painted out. This is a really lovely balanced palette for any subject, with the convenience of an orange and a purple, along with a great range of earth tones and realistic mixed greens.

Happy Painting.

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Watercolour Triads

October has been a big month! I completed my third course, the extension watercolour course Special Effects in Watercolour, last Tuesday. My solo exhibition 'Drawn To Nature' ended on Saturday and last Wednesday I published my new book - Watercolour Triads.

My three books - Watercolour Mixing Charts, The Ultimate Mixing Palette: a World of Colours
and Watercolour Triads

My first book, Watercolour Mixing Charts, began when I found a stack of slightly water-damaged watercolour mixing charts in an art shop in Singapore over twenty years ago. They were blank watercolour charts designed by Michal Wilcox, printed on watercolour paper, and I bought the whole stock - hundreds of them.

I began creating charts of my watercolours, exploring the various mixes. I created almost a hundred of them, but started creating extra charts on each one to show variations. I tried mixing every colour I had with every other colour. I found it a really interesting process, and discovered some amazing and surprising two-colour mixes along the way. I put the charts into a cover I had painted - which later became the cover of the book - and kept them in my studio.

Much later, in 2012, I added those charts to my website and created a book so people could have them handy. 

That book has dozens of colours mixed with dozens more colours, so it's interesting for those who have loads of colours, but I wanted to create a more focused reference book using a more limited palette. This was designed for people to be able to replicate.

I did a whole lot of experimenting using two-colour mixes to choose the most versatile colours. Twelve wasn't enough to do all that I wanted and I ended up with my 15 colour Ultimate Mixing Set. I created all the charts, mixing every colour with every other colour, then a large number of interesting three-colour mixes.  I painted all the charts in two A5 Moleskine watercolour notebooks. While convenient to keep them together, it was a laborious task to have each page photographed. Those charts were published as The Ultimate Mixing Palette: a World of Colours in 2015. I created the cover using the 15 colours, to match the style of the previous cover. Later, Daniel Smith released the 15 colours Ultimate Mixing Set, including my custom mixed Jane's Grey, in a plastic travel palette. They are a terrific set to begin a watercolour journey.

I created my first totally online course Mastering Watercolours using the Daniel Smith 15-colour Ultimate Mixing Set, and the book was very helpful. However I knew another was needed.

Watercolour Triads follows from The Ultimate Mixing Palette - it begins with the same 15 colours but this time exploring them in triads. The book includes 34 different watercolour triads painted in colour wheels, including all the bright primary triad combinations, and then a number of interesting earth triads. I've also included some three-colour charts, and wheels showing interesting secondary and other non-primary triads, and some sample paintings and studies to show the triads in action. 

I started work on this book years ago - I've been teaching about working with triads for many years and have had a section on my website with some examples. I had painted many of the wheels in more A5 notebooks but decided to do them all again on full sheets of Fabriano Artistico extra white paper to make them easier to photograph and colour match. I've created my own stencils for the charts and wheels so they were a joy to draw up :-) 

Here are four of those sheets under way. The charts show the three-colours greens, oranges/browns, purples and greys that can be created with each wheel.

Painting the charts and wheels took many months, but getting the book fully written took even longer. I carefully cross-referenced each mix with The Ultimate Mixing Palette to make it easier to use the books together. The cover, designed to follow the theme of the other two, was painted in just three colours - the triad I call a Basic Primary Triad - Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Rose and Ultramarine.

My books are self-published through There are Blurb sites in Australia, the UK, the US, and Europe so you can compare currency and shipping costs. They are available in hardcover image-wrap or as softcover printed books, or as eBooks for Apple or Kindle devices. I plan to create an index for each book as a separate PDF. 

This book completes this reference series. I have two other art books in mind for the future, but I don't plan on starting work on them for a little while. Eventually I'd like to create another children's book too.

Happy painting :-)

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Drawn to Nature - Solo Exhibition

I'm delighted to announce a solo exhibition at Gallery 11:11, a wonderful teaching studio and exhibition space in Epping, Sydney. The exhibition, Drawn to Nature, runs from the 16th October to the 30th October 2021, with in-person and online viewing options available. Wherever you are in the world, you can have a look :-)

I'll be showing more than 20 watercolours, all inspired by nature. In this exhibition I have really focused on the beauty of the natural world, especially flowers, so it will be an explosion of colour. 

This exhibition contains a mix of original works on paper or canvas, and limited edition Giclée prints. There will also be a display of my sketchbooks, showing some of the original sketches created on location in the same space as the final paintings.

“My art inspiration and ideas come largely from the natural world – flowers, trees, rocks, people and landscapes – and I prefer to work from life, beginning with drawing. I enjoy the challenges of abstraction and incorporate abstracted backgrounds and features into many of my paintings.

My work covers a range of media – watercolour, pen and ink, collage, pastels, acrylic, oils and etching – often incorporating several into a single work. Of all these media, my favourite is watercolour, which I have been exploring for over 40 years. It is a remarkable medium that allows the qualities of the pigments to become an integral part of the painting, rather than just the addition of colour. I am constantly searching for new ways to incorporate watercolours and watercolour techniques into my art, including works with watercolour on canvas.”

Booking link - book a time to see the exhibition, then send an email to make it a Zoom visit.

I've added a video walkthrough to my Instagram account Janeblundellart for those who can't see it in person. To see the paintings click here.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

A. Gallo Hand Made Watercolours

A. Gallo watercolours come from Assisi, Italy. This is a honey-based range, created to be highly lightfast and free of mercury, lead, arsenic, cobalt and cadmium. These hand-made colours are available in individual half pans, or a range of interesting sets. 

There is a Naturale set of 24, or two 12-colour Naturale sets; there is a signature 12 or 24 set - the 24 set is shown below; there are various collections. There are also some lovely wooden palettes as part of a limited edition range. This is a range created with passion. A new shop is about to open in Assisi so I wish them well. They are also available from Jacksonsart (affiliate link) who ship world wide.

The pans are wrapped in watercolour paper with the colour sample brushed over it and the presentation is gorgeous. The website is very clear and the printouts in the colour chart are so well done that I almost felt I didn't need to add the swatches here. There are some lovely primary colours and interesting purple mixes. Interestingly, about half the range is made up of realistic greens and earth colours.

A.Gallo watercolours: Buff Titanium, Lemon Yellow (not shown), Lemon Yellow Permanent,
Azo Yellow gold, Royal Yellow, Indian yellow.

A.Gallo watercolours: Arancione, Hokkaido Orange, Vermilion Red, Medici Red,
Scarlet Red, Ruby Red.

Permanent Carmine was one of the most lovely to paint out - a beautiful example of this really useful primary red.
A.Gallo watercolours: Alizarin Crimson Hue, Permanent Carmine,
Quinacridone Magenta (was Opera), Pietra Rosa, Rose Madder (not shown), Potter's Pink

A.Gallo watercolours: Quinacridone Violet, Mineral Violet, Tyrian Purple, Ultramarine Violet,
Dioxazine Violet, Notturno

It is wonderful to see YInMn Blue and Lapis Lazuli in this range. YInMn Blue is the newest pigment to have been discovered - in 2009 - and Lapis is often a very washed-out colour -a far cry from its original form. 

A.Gallo watercolours: Zironium Blue, Translucent Cerulean, Assurro, Periwinkle,
YInMn Blue, Lapis Lazuli.

A.Gallo watercolours: Ultramarine Blue Dark, Midnight Blue, Indanthrone Blue, Teal Blue,
Copper Blue, Aquamarine

A.Gallo watercolours: Harbor Blue, Forest Green, Deep Sea Green,
Green Earth - Cool, Malachite

Fig Green, Sap Green, Chromium Oxide, Olive Green Deep, Buckthorn Green,
Green Earth - Warm

A.Gallo watercolours: French Ochre Sahara, Verdaccio, Green Umber, Jarosite,
Gold Ochre, Moroccan Ochre.

I found some colours were best used in a very liquid state - painting with a 'cream' consistency lost some of the glow.
A.Gallo watercolours: Raw Sienna, Raw Sienna Badia, Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Red Gold, Castle Orange, Ercolano Red.

A.Gallo watercolours: Burnt Sienna, Sartorio Red, Venetian Red, Hematite,
Morellone, Quinacridone Chestnut.

A.Gallo watercolours: Burnt Umber Cyprus, Burnt Umber Brownish, Chromite Brown,
Sepia, Indigo.

A.Gallo watercolours: Payne's Gray, Roman Black Earth, Ivory Black, Slate Gray.
Titanium White, Antique Gold.

Happy painting!