Monday, October 11, 2010

Still Life - WIP

Well, I decided to stop procrastinating and just get on with it.  Last night I started a painting from a basic still life scene I setup in my office.  The lighting wasn't great (not hard enough), but it should suffice.

The underpainting - lights and darks blocked in:

Stage 2
Stage 3
Initial colour layer.  Hopefully I'll be able to put some more time into this today.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Oil Paints Incoming

I placed a large order with Blick this week for the following delicious oil paints: -

Blockx: Crimson Lake · Venetian Red
Holbein: Nickel Yellow
M. Graham & Co.: Anthraquinone Red · Cadmium Orange · Cobalt Blue
Michael Harding: Crimson Lake · Genuine Naples Yellow Light · Naples Yellow · Permanent Sap Green · Yellow Ochre Deep
Maimeri Puro: Cadmium Yellow Lemon · Kings Blue Light · Sandal Red
Old Holland: Burnt Umber · Violet Grey · Persian Red
Gamblin: Perylene Maroon · Quinacridone Orange
Schmincke Mussini: Atrament Black · Bluish Grey #2 · Brownish Grey #2 · Caput Mortuum · Natural Bohemian Green Earth · Translucent Yellow · Vermilion Red Tone
Shiva Signature: Raw Umber
Williamsburg: Brilliant Yellow Pale · Italian Raw Umber · Turkey Umber.

(Hooray for the overvalued Australian Dollar!)

I ♥ Paint

Oils in Progress

I have a couple of new Qiang Huang studies in progress this week, but firstly, an update on my copy of Huang's Moon with Clouds:

Oil on panel, 6.5 x 9"
Next is Huang's Color Behind Light (which is proving most challenging). More work needs to go into my shape modeling and values.

Oil on panel, 9 x 9"
Finally, we have What a Pair.  I have been struggling with the apple here, but I like the background.

Oil on panel, 7 x 9"
It may seem odd that I'm copying Qiang Huang's work, but, confidence is always a problem, so when I get more adept at simplifying subjects and handling paint, I'll post my own works.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rublev Eighteenth Century Watercolor Palette

Browsing the Natural Pigments website recently, I noticed that they have made considerable changes to their "18th Century Watercolor Palette" product since I purchased it in May, 2008.

The lists below compare the old and new paint choices:

2008 Palette 2010 Palette
Lazurite (B29)
Nicosia Green Earth (G23)
Verona Green Earth (G23)
Italian Yellow Earth (Y43)
Gold Ochre (Y43)
Italian Dark Ochre (Y43)
Venetian Red (R102)
Ercolano Red (R102)
Italian Burnt Sienna (Br7)
Cyprus Burnt Umber Warm (Br7)
French Raw Umber (Br7)
German Vine Black (Bk8)
Prussian Blue (B27)
Green Earth (G23)
Olive Green (G23)
Yellow Ochre (Y43)
Gamboge (NY24)
Vermilion (R106)
Madder Lake (NR9)
Indian Red (R102)
Burnt Sienna (Br7)
Burnt Umber (Br7)
Payne's Grey (Bk9)
Bone Black (Bk9)

Because I do not have the updated palette on hand, I can only approximate the paint choices based on my own knowledge. Rublev make three Burnt Umber paints, and two Burnt Sienna paints (all of which I own) - so while I can make an educated guess, it is still a guess.  With a nod to Bruce MacEvoy, I have provided two small diagrams to help visualise the paint differences and their approximate place on the colour wheel:

C18th Palette, 2008
C18th Palette, 2010
As you can see, this is quite a radical shift in terms of palette colour and mixing range.  The main improvement of the new palette is that the paints chosen are better spaced within the colour wheel.  The two yellow paints were originally quite interchangeable unless applied full strength, and their mixing capability was similar. The addition of Gamboge (fugitive NY24) should make for sweeter yellow tints.  With the introduction of Madder Lake (fugitive NR9) and Prussian Blue, purple becomes possible - the previous mixture of Lazurite and Venetian Red could only produce a greyed violet-brown colour. However, the loss of subtle Lazurite is a sad one, as it is a lovely and highly textural paint.  Gone are Ercolano and Venetian Red, instead we have Indian Red (a favourite paint of mine) and bright Vermilion - the pretty but toxic PR106.

Original C18th Palette
(A comparison image of the updated C18th Palette will be added shortly.) 

I have tested almost every watercolour paint in the Rublev line, and all have delightful textural properties.  I use these paints mostly for small works or field sketches, as the paints are best applied and then left alone. Re-wetting them and brushing over them lifts them and destroys the texture.  The updated palette introduces mostly staining paints - this will reduce lifting with the brush in mixtures and help to make the paints a little easier to use.  While the updated choices are a good introduction to historical paint, I do wish strident Prussian Blue was not the only blue choice.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rublev Nineteenth Century Palette


Earlier this year I treated myself to a Rublev "19th Century Watercolor Palette".  The main attraction for me was the presence of real Vermilion (Mercuric Sulfide PR106) and a lead yellow, Chrome Yellow Primrose (Lead Chromate PY34). While both of these toxic historical pigments are readily replaced with a cadmium paint, I was curious about the originals all the same.

C19th Palette (click to enlarge).

As you can see, this is palette devoid of green paint. Because colour wheels are interesting, below is a diagram which shows the approximate location of these paints on the colour wheel:


From the website:

"Due to the large particles of this color, we recommend using this watercolor only with rough watercolor paper or with additional watercolor medium to aid the large particles to adhere to the paper."
This is good advice. These paints disturb easily and do not accept re-work, put it down and leave it. :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Review: Brush Cleaners

A couple of years ago, I was at a product event and saw a Chroma liquid soap brush cleaning product being demonstrated.  It was quite impressive.  From Chroma:
"Chroma Incredible Brush Cleaner is a superb soap for cleaning and maintaining all your fine brushes. It cleans and preserves natural or synthetic brushes, easily removes acrylic, oil or lacquer and even removes dried paint that is years old."
I can attest that all of the above is true - especially the years-old paint bit. For dried paint, make a slightly dilute solution of soap by adding water, and then coat the brush head. Best results are achieved if you leave the brush for a few hours.

The only other soap I have tried is Da Vinci All Natural Brush Soap with Conditioner (Kernseife). This curd soap is also an excellent cleaner, and seems kinder - not a lot of lather is produced from this bar of soap. The Da Vinci is not effective at removing old paint, but for normal use either cleaner will leave your brushes soft and squeaky clean. :)

After oil painting, my normal cleaning process is as follows: First, I use oil and then odourless solvent to clean my brushes, then I wash them with soap.  I swish my brushes in a few drops of the soap cleaner, and then 'comb' out the paint with a soft toothbrush to loosen it. I rinse then repeat this process a couple of times.  If you don't use any solvents to clean brushes your brushes first, the Chroma or Da Vinci will still do a brilliant job - it just takes a little longer.


Usually a watercolourist has no need for brush soap, but once a year or so I do like to clean my most used brushes. The heavily staining pigments like phthalocyanine blue/green and dioxazine purple do build up.  After cleaning a watercolour brush, make sure the brush is rinsed thoroughly.

Chroma Incredible Brush Cleaner - 250ml (~$12AU)
Da Vinci All Natural Brush Soap - 100g (~$9AU)