Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Da Vinci Brushes

Da Vinci brushes are from a specialist brush-making company in Germany. It is not the same company as Da Vinci paint, which is from California.

They make brushes for artists, cosmetics, shaving, nail, dental - I think they are the largest brush manufacture in the world...

I've been using a lot of Da Vinci brushes lately as they are really excellent - one of my favourite brands, along with Raphael and Rosemary & Co, though of course there are many other excellent brush brands.





I took a photo to show a range of them together just to show size comparisons. I thought it might be helpful to show the studio brushes next to the travel brushes as I get a lot of questions about brushes.


Raphael 8040 sable size 4

Lamy Joy fountain pen

Da Vinci Junior flat size 6 (6mm)

Da Vinci Casaneo size 2
Da Vinci Casaneo size 0

Da Vinci red sable mop size 0

Da Vinci Harbin Kolinsky size 4

Da Vinci Maestro Tobolsky-Kolinsky sable size 5 and 8

Da Vinci Kolinsky sable travel brushes size 10, 8, 4 and 3. I use the 8 when sketching almost all the time.

Rosemary& Co R9 travel brush, squirrel quill.



I love to use natural hair brushes - sables and squirrels - but there are many great synthetic hair brushes available these days, including the synthetic squirrel Casaneo range, which come in many shapes and have also been released as a travel brush. The Harbin Kolinsky are part of the red sable range  and are shorter than the Maestro range in either the studio or the travel brushes.

For more information on brushes, see my blog posts here  or my website here

Monday, 16 April 2018

Nine Colour Mixing Grid

I've been sorting through some large sheets of paper and came across this chart from many years ago. I was always frustrated that a normal mixing chart only showed one or maybe two possible mixes, so I created this one to show 18 possible mixes.


The grid is 27cm x 27cm, created with 9 rows and 9 columns of 3cmx3cm squares. Each square is divided again to create 9 1cm x1cm squares. It's a fiddly to draw up and an even bigger fiddle to paint, but rather interesting. On single square can not really show the full range of possibilities - especially with interesting mixing neutrals like phthalo blue and cadmuim red, which creates Indian red hues, Prussian and indigo hues and a lovely mixed black. (I'd recommend using pyrrol scarlet rather than cadmium red as a warm red though)

It was made with a warm and a cool red, yellow and blue as well as three secondaries - orange, purple and green. 

The diagonal line of squares from top left to bottom right just show 9 variations of each of the 9 colours, which were lemon yellow, cadmium yellow deep, perinone orange, cadmium red, crimson red, imperial purple (mixed from PB29+PV19), ultramarine blue, phthalo blue and sap green. 

I'd use very different colours today - but this is just one of the many and varied charts I created to test out colour palettes. More mixing charts can be seen here, gouache mixing charts and wheels with a split primary palette here and some sample triads here.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Rivervale Handmade Watercolours


I've received a number of lovely samples of handmade watercolour paint from Arkansas USA, some of which are sold on an Etsy site Rivervale Watercolor, others are not. It is a fabulous collection of natural and synthetic pigments to be able to test, and I am very grateful to Elizabeth, along with the many others who have sent me samples over the last 5 years. They are labelled with pigment supplier and pigment numbers where known.


Available for sale (please note - this list was sent a while ago - before I broke my wrist last year - and may well have changed. I will update in the captions if necessary).
Rivervale Handmade Watercolours - Titanium White, Buff Titanium, Benzimazolone Yellow, Pyrrol Red, Quinacridone Red.

Rivervale Handmade Watercolours - Quinacridone Magenta, Ultramarine Pink, Manganese Violet, Carbazole Violet, Ultramarine Violet.

Rivervale Handmade Watercolours - Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Phthalo Blue (Green Shade), Mayan Blue, Verdigris Green Hue.

Rivervale Handmade Watercolours - Mayan Green (no longer aviable due to lightfast issues), Phthalo Green (Blue Shade), Nicosia Green Earth, Chromium Green, Verona Green Earth.
Rivervale Handmade Watercolours - Lemon Yellow Ochre, Yellow Ochre (Yellow Oxide), Raw Sienna, Italian Brown Ochre (Goethite), French Pink Clay.

Rivervale Handmade Watercolours - Luberon Burnt Sienna, Luberon Orange Ochre, Armenian Mummy Red Light, Ercolano Red, Venetian Red.

Rivervale Handmade Watercolours - Pink Pipestone (Catlinite), Armenian Crimson Ochre, Red Hematite, Potter's Pink, Augite Porphyry Violet Light Ochre.

Rivervale Handmade Watercolours - Violet Hematite, Luberon Raw Umber, Cyprus Burnt Umber, Van Dyke Brown (no longer available), General's Black Graphite.
Rivervale Handmade Watercolours - Lamp Black, Genera's Charcoal, Bone Black.

Rivervale Handmade Watercolours - Silver Mica, Gold Mica, Copper Mica, Pearl White Mica.
It is difficult to show the effects of interference colours...
Rivervale Handmade Watercolours - Phantom Rose (Interference Red), PHtantom Fire (Interference Copper), Phantom Fae Gold (Interference Gold) and Phantom Sunrise (Interference Orange)

Rivervale Handmade Watercolours - Phantom Magic (Interference Violet), Phantom Moonlight (Interference Blue), Phantom Turquoise (Interference Turquoise) Phantom Jade (Interference Green)




Not for sale
These pigments may have been too expensive, out of stock, difficult to get hold of or not of interest to make more, but they are shown here as it is so helpful to know what pigments from various suppliers actually look like when made into paint. (Any that have since been made available are noted in the captions)


I love the orange made with PO36! 
Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Nite Glow, Cadmium Yellow Light, Golden Arylide (now available as Kama's Isoindolinone Yellow), Permanent Orange (now available as Benzimida Orange from Kama pigments), Cadmium Red Light.

Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Perylene Scarlet, Naphthol Vermilion, Cadmium Red Medium, Perylene Maroon, Perylene Crimson (now available as Perylene Carmine).


Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Cadmium Red, Carmine, Carmine Nacarat, Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Violet (now being sold in a slightly warmver version from Kama pigments).


This is a beautiful ultramarine! The Cobalt Blue Light looks more like a phthalo blue pigment, and the Alex Artist Colors pigments tend to fade so are not recommended.
Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue Dark (not recommended), Cobalt Aluminate Blue, Cobalt Blue Light (not recommended), Indigo Genuine (NB1?).


Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Cobalt Green (home made pigment), Nickol Azo Dark, Vicenza Earth, Quinacridone Gold, Red Bole.

I may be a little biased, but I love the Australian Reef Clay. Like Piemontite from DS it has fabulous granulation.
Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Terre Pozzouli, Italian Burnt Sienna, Pink Ochre, Rosewood, Australian Reef Clay.
These rich earthy reds are gorgeous. I am guessing the two on the right would be made with PR101.
Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Quinacridone Russet, Red Hot HFT, Red Oxide, Red Ochre Dark, Wineberry Ochre

These are so rich!
Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Mars Violet, Caput Mortuum, Red Oxide Blue Shade, Cote d'Azur Violet, Nicosia Burnt Umber CC (now being sold as Burnt Umber Cold).


Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Green Umber, Natural Silver Graphite, Vine Black.

Here are some more lovely samples of handmade paint from our earth.

Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Cinnabar Fine, Dragons Blood (disolved from the sap with alcohol), Côte d'Azur Violet, Thulite, Lazurite (from Baikal)
Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Viviantie Blue Fine, Viviantie, Viviantie, Vivianite.


It was a real treat to paint out a genuine Lapis Lazuli sample!
Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Lazurite First Class (Lapis Lazuli), Azurite Optima, Azurite, Azurite BIS, Turquoise Sky Blue.

Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples  - Dioptase, Malachite Fine, Malachite, Celadonite, Celatonite.




Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Clauconite, Chrysocolla, Mountain Green (Buckthorn Green - a lovely but fugitive colour), Chrysocolla, Volkonskoite.
Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Arkansas Olive Green Tuff, Arkansas Yellow Jasper, Jarosite Light, Cyprus Jarosite, Yellow Jasper IWA-OUDO #14,

Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Tiger Eye, Arkansas Red Jasper, Red Jasper, Caput Mortuum, Indian Red.


Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Hematite Cold, Hematite, Mummy Violet, Caput Mortuum, Tuff Purple.

Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Shungite.

Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Silver Foil, Crucible Gold, Forged Gold, Crucible Red.

Elizabeth has also created beautiful samples of some rather nasty pigments. It is fabulous to see these historic tough dangerous (and/or fugitive) colours in the flesh! Vermilion is a mercury sulfide. Mimium (Red Lead) is created by heating white lead. It would turn yellow then orange. Realgar is a natural mineral of arsenic sulfide, closely related to Orpiment
Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Vermilion, Minium (Red Lead), Realgar.
Lead Tin Yellow is a highly poisonous lead stannate - and oxide of lead and tin. Gamboge comes from the sap of the Garcinia tree and is a diuretic - it is also fugitive. Orpiment is yellow arsenic sulfide.
Rivervale Handmade Watercolour Samples - Lead Tin Yellow Pale, Gamboge, Orpiment.

We are very lucky that these poisonous pigments have been replaced with safer alternatives!

Happy painting :-)






Sunday, 8 April 2018

ARTescape 2018

I'm excited to have been invited to teach at the Cairns ARTescape for 2018 - a week long workshop series in beautiful North Queensland, Australia. We'll be based in the Botanic Gardens Arts Precinct - what could be more perfect?

I'll be teaching a 5 day Watercolour Bootcamp - a great workshop for those relatively new to watercolour, or even more experienced artists, who want to really get to know and understand how this fabulous medium works. We'll set up the perfect palette for each student, explore the many characteristics watercolours, create useful mixing charts and colour wheels and paint a number of studies and more detailed paintings exploring a range of techniques and some interesting triads.

You can see the full program here




To register click here

https://reg.eventgate.com.au/Event/11496/Cairns-ARTescape-2018-


Snow Gum. Watercolour.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Isaro Watercolours

Isaro Watercolour 7ml tubes
Isaro Watercolours come from Belgium. I was familar with Blockx, also from Belgium, but hadn't heard about them until one of my blog readers told me so I am grateful for that information. I am also grateful to their creator, Isabelle, for the samples. They are available in shops in Belgium and France, and there are some videos in French on the website showing the manufacturing processes.

The website states that "The entire range of Isaro water colours has been developed to give maximum transparency to the colours. In addition, the ingredients that enter into the composition of the binder are all carefully selected. Only a top quality gum arabic is used in the manufacture of Isaro water colours. Gum arabic varies in colour from very pale yellow to dark brown. The gum, in fact, darkens on contact with the tannin in acacia bark. Consequently, it is essential for Isaro to select an acacia gum which, when dissolved in water, gives a clear solution so that the luminosity of the pigments is protected. Glycerine and honey are added in very precise proportions to ensure the paste remains supple. A single-flower honey was chosen, the honey of acacia, since good quality honey of this type is a very clear".

I received samples of nearly all the colours and really enjoyed painting them out. The cadmiums seem very finely ground and not as opaque or heavy as they can be. Some names were different on the colour chart and the website so I will note both in the captions. The dried dots of colour mostly rewet with ease. They are available in 7ml and some in 20ml tubes. The 7ml tubes feel robust with a solid lid.

It is a really nicely balanced range of just over 50 colours, plus some metallic colours, with a good mix of traditional and modern pigments. I didn't notice any pigments that are not lightfast. The tubes are well labelled with series number, lightfast stars, opacity guide and pigment information. The majority are single pigment colours but there are some useful mixes.


Isaro Watercolours - Titanium White (not shown), Cadmium Yellow Lemon, Isaro Yellow Light (also called Isaro Yellow), Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Yellow Deep.

Isaro Watercolours - Indian Yellow, Isaro Yellow Deep, Cadmium Orange, Pyrrol Orange, Cadmium Red Light.
 I love PR255 Scarlet Red (also called Pyrrole Red on the website - Pyrrole Scarlet would be a great name for this colour) as a warm red in a transparent split primary palette. The cool would be Magenta in this range, with Pyrrole Red Deep as the optional third red.
Isaro Watercolours - Scarlet Red (also called Pyrrol Red. Pyrrol Scarlet would be a great name for this one), Isaro Pyrrole Red, Pyrrole Red Deep, Cadmium Red Deep, Perylene Red.
Magenta is the usual Quinqacridone Rose/Permanent Rose colour, while Isaro Pink is the normal Quiacridone Magenta colour. Isaro Mauve is Quinacridone Violet in most ranges. Isaro Purple Deep is Dioxozine Violet.
Isaro Watercolours - Magenta, Isaro Pink (Also called Isaro Rose), Ultramarine Pink (also called Ultramarine Rose), Isaro Mauve, Isaro Purple Deep (also called Isaro Mauve Deep).
The Ultramarine Violet is a particularly nice version of this often weak pigment. I like this version of a PB35 Cerulean too.
Isaro Watercolours - Ultrmarine Violet, Ultramarine, Indanthrone Blue, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue.
Indigo Blue is made with two blues and a brown pigment rather than the usual black and blue mix, which is great to see. As far as I know, Da Vinci is the only other manufacturer to make an Indigo hue without black. There are no cobalt turquoise colours (PB36) in the range.
Isaro Watercolours - Indigo blue, Prussian Blue, Phthalo Blue, Turquoise Green (not shown), Phthalo Green.
 Emerald Green is Viridian - often not a strong pigment.
Isaro Watercolours - Emerald Green, Phthalo Green Yellow, Chromium Oxide Green, Olive Green (not shown but this is the new formula), Isaro Grey Light.
 Chartreuse Yellow is often called Green Gold - a wonderful pigment for the look of sunlight through foliage, or as a cool yellow option. The Yellow Ochre says it is made from PY42 on the colour chart but PY43 on the website. I am not sure which is correct, but it's a lovely version of this colour. Oxide Orange is the most orange version I have ever seen of a PR101 colour - really lovely.
Isaro Watercolours - Isaro Green LIght (not shown), Chartreuse Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Oxide Orange.

Isaro Watercolours - Burnt Sienna, Mars Red, Mars Brown Light, English Red (not shown), Venetian Red.
 Raw Umber was not as strong is I'd like. The Sepa and Van Dijck Brown are really dark versions of these hues.
Isaro Watercolours - Oxide Purple, Burnt Umber (not shown), Raw Umber, Sepia, Van Dijck Brown.
There are a number of 'Metallic Touch' watercolours that contain mica or copper. It is difficult to show sparkle but I have included these after the Lamp Black swatch. Steel Blue is a bit like my Jane's Grey but with mica added.
Isaro Watercolours - Payne's Grey, Lamp Black, Steel Blue, Icy Lake, Imperial Moon.
 'Or' (Gold) is included on the website but not in the colour chart, so I created a swatch fro that. I also created a swatch for Nickel Yellow as it was on the colour chart but as it is not on the website I assume it has been discontinued. It is not a very strong pigment in any brand so that's not surprising.
Isaro Watercolours - Silver Sky, Eternal Summit, Star Dust, Coppery Red (not shown), Gold (not shown), Nickel Yellow (not shown and probably discontinued.)