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 :-)

A celebration is planned for the 22nd October.

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.”

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.

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!

YInMn Blue

This blog was originally from 4th December 2017, but I've updated it with another sample of this interesting pigment.

I was so excited when I heard that a new pigment had been discovered. Like many pigments, it was discovered or created by accident, back in 2009, in Oregon State University. The Professor's name is Mas Subramanian.

The name of the pigment comes from the chemicals that form this colour - Yttrium, Indium and Manganese.

Manganese oxide is normally black, Yttrium and Indium are yellow and white, so creating a blue when they were heated was a total surprise! It is a stable and non-toxic inorganic pigment, that reflects heat and absorbs ultraviolet so may be used for insulation.

The colour is described as being between ultramarine and cobalt blue. It is also compared with cobalt deep blue. I think of it as rather like a granulating Indanthrone blue - like a mix of PB60 and PB74. Very beautiful.

I've been curiously watching for it to be made into a paint. I saw an acrylic limited edition made by Matisse, and an oil version made by Gamblin but these were described as very opaque paints. Here it is in watercolour. The granulation really makes it something special.

I've tried to adjust to get the colour accurate but it is just a little more dull or greyed than it looks on my screen.

The pigment costs about 6 times more than cobalt or cerulean pigments due to the cost of the rare earth element Indium. It is not necessarily likely to be made as a watercolour any time soon, but it is not impossible if there is enough interest.

This was a Daniel Smith R&D sample and it was thought that as it is really expensive, it may not be developed further. 

Since then, this pigment has begun to trickle out in various forms and many other companies are exploring it. It is available from Kremer pigments, and Golden did some custom testing. Derivan has a acrylic version in their Matisse range and it is also available in oils. I'd only be interested in this pigment for its granulation, which shows up in watercolour. 

The second watercolour sample is from A.Gallo, a hand-made Italian brand. Schmincke has also released a version, added below. You can find it here (affiliate link). Interesting how different these first two samples are in colour - scanned together. The third sample was scanned separately but with the same scanner. 


YInMn Blue from Daniel Smith (sample only), from A.Gallo (available for sale)
and from Schmincke (limited edition). 



Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils

I've updated this post from 2018, re-scanning all the swatches and setting them out more clearly.

There are many brands of water-soluble pencils, but Albrecht Dürer, made by Faber Castell, are my favourites of the readily available ranges. They are great colours - very natural - and 'fairly' to 'extremely' lightfast. There is sometimes 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 80 Albrecht Dürer watercolour pencils for over 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 painted and drawn out below, but in a different order. 

The samples 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 can be seen in a blog post here. They are also gorgeous to use, and are the same colours with the same numbers, which is very helpful! As are the Pitt pastel colours and even the Pitt artist pens. This makes it really easy to find a favourite colour across the Faber Castell range. I've also added the full range of all pencils in alphabetical order to the end of this post.

As I have had some colours for 30 years, I've also added the newer versions of these colours next to each swatch. In some cases the colour has changed more than others. I've included the discontinued colours I have for reference.





As always, some colours are very difficult to scan accurately. The new version of #104 is not noticeably different, but the swatch is added here.


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

A number of these have slightly changed in hue and name so the newer versions are also shown.
Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Lemon Cadmium (old), Light Cadmium Yellow, 
Light Chrome Yellow, Lemon (old), Cadmium Yellow.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Canary Yellow (old), Dark Cadmium Yellow, 
Orange Yellow (old), Dark chrome Yellow, Cadmium Orange.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Light Orange (old), Orange Glaze, Dark Orange (old), 
Dark Cadmium Orange, Light Cadmium (old), Light Cadmium Red.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Scarlet Lake (old), Scarlet Red, Pale Geranium Lake, 
Deep Red, Deep Scarlet Red.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Dark Carmine (old), Permanent Carmine, Middle Cadmium Red, 
Dark Red, Madder, Alizarin Crimson.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Light Carmine (old), Pink Carmine, Rose Carmine,
Rose Mader Lake (old), Light Purple Pink, Fuchsia.

I find the change in 134 a little odd as the Magenta is now called Crimson, though is more of a mauve - perhaps a translation glitch. 
Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Pink Madder Lake, Light Magenta, 
Middle Purple Pink, Magenta (old), Crimson.

There is quite a change between the old Red Violet 136 and the new Red violet 194.
Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Wine Red (old), Magenta, Purple (old),
Red Violet, 
Red Violet (old), Light Red Violet.



Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Manganese Violet, Violet, Dark Violet (old), Purple violet, 
Blue Violet, Light Violet (discontinued).


Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Mauve, Delft Blue, Prussian Blue (old), Helioblue Reddish, 
Light Ultramarine, Indanthrone Blue.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Deep Cobalt Blue (old), Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine,
Sky Blue, Light Cobalt Blue (old), Cobalt Blue Greenish

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Dark Indigo, Azure Blue (old), Phthalo Blue, Middle Phthalo Blue,
Light Phthalo Blue, Light Blue (discontinued)


Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils- True Blue (discontinued), Oriental Blue (old), Bluish Turquoise,
Prussian Blue, Night Green (old), Helio Turquoise.






Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Peacock Blue (old), Cobalt Turquoise, Aquamarine (old), 
Light Cobalt Blue, Cobalt Green.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Sea Green (old), Deep Cobalt Green, Hooker's Green, 
Dark Phthalo Green, Chrome Oxide Green Fiery.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Viridian (old), Phthalo Green, Emerald Green, True Green (old), 
Light Phthalo Green, Light Green.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Grass Green, Leaf Green, Permanent Green, Juniper Green, 
Sap Green (old), Permanent Olive Green.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Pine Green, Moss Green (old), Earth Green, 
Apple Green (old), May Green.

I find many of these more natural greens really useful.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Grey Green (old), Earth Green, Olive Green, Cedar Green (old),
Chrmomium Green Opaque, 
Chrome Oxide Green.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Gold Ochre (old), Light Yellow Ochre, Ochre (old),
Dark Naples Ochre, Light Ochre (old), Naples Yellow.

The names of the 'flesh' colours have been changed and are far useful. I've used these mostly for botanical colours.
Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Light Flesh (now called Beige Red), Medium Flesh
(now called Coral), Dark Flesh (now called Salmon), Caput Mortuum Violet, Caput Mortuum, Burnt Sienna.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Bistre, Nougat,
Light Sepia (old), Walnut Brown.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Van Dyke Brown, Sepia (old), Dark Sepia, Green Gold,
Brown Ochre, Terracotta.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils -Burnt Ochre, Sanguine, Cinnamon,
Venetian Red, 
Pompeian Red, Indian red

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Burnt Carmine, Warm Grey 1, Warm Grey II, Warm Grey III,
Warm Grey VI, Warm Grey V.

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


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

I have shown three other pencils from my original 80 colour set that are no longer available - 138 Light Violet, 147 Light Blue and 148 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, 138, 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.

While there are many sets (affiliate link) available of 12, 24, 36 and so on, they don't necessarily have the most useful selections, often being really bright so less useful for realistic work. 

I'd suggest the following set, bought as individual pencils. This set fairly closely matches my suggested 20-colour watercolour palette colours, along with a convenience purple, orange, black and white. Add your own favourites of course!

There are wonderful storage options available for loose pencils from Derwent, Global (affiliate link) and others that are more portable than a tin or a box. While I have a boxed set of these pencils for my studio, I also have a great Global art pencil roll with my most used 30 colours so I can have them with me when travelling, and a book-style leather pencil holder for my Museum pencils.

101 White
103 Ivory (to approximately match Buff Titanium)
105 Light Cadmium Yellow (to match Hansa Yellow Medium)
108 Dark Cadmium Yellow (as an useful extra)
183 Light Yellow Ochre (to match Quinacridone Gold)
115 Dark Cadmium Orange (as a useful extra)
117 Light Cadmium Red (to match  Pyrrol Scarlet)
225 Dark Red (to match Pyrrol Crimson)
123 Fuchsia (to match Quinacridone Rose)
249 Mauve (as a useful extra)
120 Ultramarine (to match Ultramarine)
144 Cobalt Blue greenish (to match Phthalo Blue and also Cerulean Chromium)
276 Chrome Oxide Green Fiery (to match Phthalo Green)
278 Chrome Oxide Green (to match Perylene Green, though not a great match)
174 Chromium Green Opaque (to match Undersea Green)
168 Earth Green Yellowish or the slightly darker 167 Permanent Olive Green (to match Sap Green)
182 Brown Ochre (to match Goethite)
187 Burnt Ochre (to match Raw Sienna)
188 Sanguine (to match Burnt Sienna)
169 Caput Mortuum or 192 Indian red, which is a bit brighter (to match Indian Red)
283 Burnt Sienna (to match Burnt Umber)
178 Nougat (to match Raw Umber)
181 Payne’s Grey (to match Jane's Grey - not perfect)
199 Black (a useful extra in a pencil)

Here they are as a set.


Here is the full colour range of art and graphic pencils - arranged by number. It is interesting to see when certain colours were added. 
Full colour chart information by colour number, from Faber Castell 2021