The sun beat down as I sat in a pleasant, shady spot beside Cavtat harbour demonstrating a watercolour, when Tarzan and Jane hove into view, both bronzed as they stood before us brazenly flexing their pectorals. Both were clad solely in thongs, otherwise naked and obligingly creating a combined landscape and life class all rolled into one. They moved round us, causing titters among the group, and at times my brush went distinctly wayward as I heaved with laughter at this incredible display of narcissistic clownery. Jane sat down in front of us, smiling like a Cheshire cat at the group, and presumably hoping someone would paint her.
This sort of distraction can un-nerve the alfresco artist, but the group chuckled valiantly and took it in their stride, producing some excellent work. Later in the week I demonstrated again in Dubrovnik, which unfortunately was so choked with cruise-ship tourists that there was hardly room to swing a sable, and as I painted I did get hand-bagged several times.
So, it was with relief we sailed to the island of Sipan where I found a shady spot to demonstrate watercolour pencils. An old bicycle formed an excellent centre of interest – it was leaning against a wheelbarrow, which was leaning against the tree, so in the interests of simplicity I left out the barrow and about a million other equally exciting things lying around, to illustrate the need for keeping things simple. I faded out the buildings adjoining the old barn. The pencils were applied first in the various colours and then this was washed over with water, blending in the colours and then drawing into the wetness with a dark watercolour pencil where I wanted to emphasise details. If you feel your watercolours get a little out of control then try the watercolour pencils. This work was done on Bockingford 140-lb hot-pressed paper, an excellent surface for these pencils.
Our annual Watercolour Seminar is just about upon us, and this year we are back in The Settlement in Pontypool, a superb venue. It takes place on Saturday 1st October and there are still places left if you feel like coming along. The theme will be injecting mood and drama into a landscape and I will be using the exciting range of watercolours from Daniel Smith, demonstrating how to take advantage of these amazing colours and give your paintings some extra zip. As well as a demonstration I will be giving an illustrated talk on the same theme, covering a wide range of landscape subjects. Details of the seminar are on my website. We look forward to seeing you there.
It’s always a pleasure to try something new. As artists we are constantly being bombarded with new products and it is easy to find ourselves overloaded with stuff we will rarely use. When it comes to colours it pays to check them out first: if they are new colours seek out reviews. Check out their permanency. How do they differ from what you already possess? Buy only a few at a time and get to know them well before taking on any more. See how well they mix.
One feature I love about watercolour paints is the manner in which some colours granulate. In the Daniel Smith range quite a number of the colours granulate beautifully. Here you can see the stunning granulation of Zoisite Genuine, an interesting grey with which you can create dramatic washes, and on the right some German greenish raw umber which is excellent for vegetation and foliage. Whilst you can introduce granulating medium into your colours, it does need copious amounts, but the colours shown on the right really do sing out with a lovely sense of textures. Check the labels for those that granulate and give one or two a try before committing yourself further.
I’ve always loved colours that granulate – that is, create a varied speckling across the wash which had traditionally been present in certain pigments such as French ultramarine and cobalt blue, for instance. This summer, my attention was drawn to the Daniel Smith watercolours which are imported from America, as so many of the colours in an extraordinarily large range tend to granulate.
In this small section of a watercolour painting you can clearly see the strong granulating effect in the sky area. This colour is Zoisite Genuine, a grey-green that is especially useful for mixing subtle greens by adding one of the yellows to the mixture. It also has a slight tendency to intermittent sparkle when caught in a certain light, and is excellent for those areas you wish to play down, yet retain a little interest in the form of the granulations.
Moonglow is another colour that granulates well, a deep violet that would be ideal if you need a ‘mysterious dark’ with a little warmth. Whilst it may be an exciting addition to your halloween paintings, it could inject some lovely moody atmosphere into your landscapes, and I look forward to experimenting further with it.
Another exciting colour is Quinacridone Deep Gold which can impart a glorious rich glow to your skies, autumn scenes, or many other applications in a painting, and if you want intensely blue summer skies the Daniel Smith Manganese Blue is a knock-out. I should also point out to those who like Yellow Ochre, but not its opacity, that in this range the pigment is transparent!
I’ve only tried a few of the colours in this range, but from what I’ve seen they do give exciting possibilities. As artists we should always be on the look-out for new colours to try out. You can buy test sheets of the whole range and these contain a small blob of colour of each pigment that you can try out. Many of the colours are metallic, they shimmer and sparkle, so not all are suitable for traditional watercolour painting, but if you wish to look further see http://www.premiumartbrands.com