Preposterous – a review

A lot has happened in the last 6 months. A sentence that explains and excuses the hiatus in my blogging. The thing I have been able to stick with, in that time, is my lessons in the dark-art of water colour painting. Apart from holiday dabbling there have been forty years between my serious attempts at watercolour. In those years there has been sculpture, pottery, land art, oils, acrylics, palimpsest and collage.

Fish from Plymouth’s historic market. http://www.plymouthmarket.co.uk unfinished

Inevitably, I’ve had to buy some supplies and this is where the preposterous comes in because , with only six months experience,I’m going to review the products I’ve been using. I’m a bit of an abuser of watercolours, I do have brushes and I’m desperate to learn all the traditional watercolour techniques but I also apply the paints with all sorts of non- standard devices including twigs, feathers, sticks, sponges and fingers.I have a fabulous teacher in Shari Hills and my fellow students have years of painting experience. My ears stretch in all directions to gather the wisdom they casually drop while creating mistresspieces, masterpieces and vicarpieces ( an extraordinary number of watercolourists have God’s number on speed dial )

My suppliers are mostly independents. The one exception to that is a brand that bombards me on Facebook.

http://www.theartside.co.uk/

https://www.cornelissen.com/

https://www.jacksonsart.com/

https://www.isaro.be

https://arteza.co.uk

https://www.docmartins.com/

My products of choice are Isaro Watercolours. Handmade in Belgium by Isabelle Roeloffs a colourwoman with generations of experience. Her story can be found on the Isaro link above. I buy them direct from her or from Jackson’s art supplies.

Dr PH Martin’s Hydrus Fine Art liquid watercolour. I can order these at Plymouth’s fabulous art supplier The Artside or from Jackson’s on-line or their own site, link above.

The last of my trio is Arteza watercolour pens, bought direct from Arteza via Facebook.

Any papers, sketchbooks, putty rubbers etc come from The Artside. They also provide a great printing service.

Let’s start with the actual watercolours by Isaro. I love these paints, partly I admit, because of the romance of their production but also because they perform beautifully when used traditionally. What blows me away is that they are robust enough to use with unusual applications. Let’s not pretend these are as tough as acrylics but they go from subtle to vivid with ease . Wet on wet can be magical especially with unusual colour pairings.They respond superbly to the watercolourists guilty secrets, cling film and bubble wrap. The special effects can be subtle and vivid within millimetres of one another.

Talking VIVID as we were moments ago Dr P H Martins Hydrus watercolour is the go-to for pop and glaze. I loved the effects I got with it when I painted the views of the walk home from a hard nights on-call at BartsHeartCentre.

After On-call https://www.bartshealth.nhs.uk/cardiovascular

I use Dr PH Martin’s when I’m a bit timid about saving a painting when it is heading in the muddy direction. A quick layer of Hydrus can make a painting sing, and get me back on track.

MUDDY leads me nicely to the woe that is the lot of a novice watercolourist . Watercolours can go from manageable to mud in an instant. I’ve found that when I hit the mud zone a quick swap to the Arteza Watercolour Pens can resolve the problem. Not every time, of course, muddy can quickly slip into a quagmire and for those occasions only a bin will do. I have not yet used them exclusively for a painting

Fabulous paints are one part of the story, skill and technique are the things that need to be honed now. I’ve had some lucky breaks but fruits that look like a fanny and a sheep that could be a rockstar are moments to reflect on. Loose is the word most often bandied about in watercolour classes. By taking a slightly mixed format approach I think I would use the word serendipity alongside the ‘L’ word. I love to watch these slightly different watercolour formats jostle with each other on the paper. Sometimes they do half the creative work for me.

Figs from Plymouth’s historic market http://www.plymouthmarket.co.uk/

Rockstar sheep https://greyface-dartmoor.org.uk/

And finally an old school friend , Fred, we knew each other years ago when I was first taking tentative steps into watercolours. Social media keeps us in touch, I painted this from a photo on his Facebook page, this portrait is the first I have attempted since my delayed return to the medium. this was painted just using Isaro watercolour in Sepia.