Portable palettes

I saw a photo of Joseph Zbukvic doing some plein air urban sketching using the Winsor & Newton fieldbox. It looked pretty practical with integrated water container, so I just ordered one from amazon.de with the Cotman watercolors, a lot cheaper there than in the Netherlands.

For pics and other portable palettes read this nice review by Daniel Novotny: https://www.ateliernovotny.com/2017/07/21/101-4-6-how-to-set-up-your-watercolor-palette-portable-palettes-paintboxes/.

Saatchi art commission increase

Saatchi art decided to up their tax from 30% to 35%, whilst calling this a “slight increase”. For those of us who did math, this is a 16.6% revenue increase for Saatchi art.

In an important e-mail Saatchi art justifies it as follows: “Saatchi Art has not increased its prices since 2011”. Imagine your tax going up every 6 years. They are portraying a margin increase as a price increase. I can’t believe how dumb Saatchi art thinks their customer base is.

Materials used in watercolor class.

Here’s a list of materials used for my first watercolor class. All of the materials were ordered at www.gerstaecker.nl, unless mentioned otherwise. This is cheaper if you order enough so you don’t pay for shipping (above €99). Locally in Eindhoven, van Beek is a nice shop (vanbeekart.nl). I will show a few watercolors in van Beek on the first floor on Oct 1 and Oct 8, from 11:00 until 16:00, you are welcome to visit me!

Paints: Vincent van Gogh, 10 ml tubes. This is the student quality line, which is more affordable than the artist quality line (Rembrandt). The quality is very good though (I read the pigments are the same in both lines). Colors used:

  • Azo yellow light (268)
  • Permanent red light (370)
  • Quinacridone rose (366), this is a very nice bright pink, very versatile, can be used for flowers, mixes nice skin colors, and with yellow it mixes a nice kind of ochre.
  • Burnt umber (409), a warm brown.
  • Sepia (416), a dark, cool brown. Mix with Indigo for greys and black.
  • Phtalo blue (570), fairly bright blue
  • Indigo (533), a very dark greyish blue
  • Hooker green light (644)

Brush: this was the most expensive item (together with the plastic boards), about €15: da Vinci, series 36 (Kolinsky-Rotmarter), size 8. This is a nice natural hair brush (natural hair is softer than synthetic). The size is suitable for smaller size paintings. For bigger paintings you need bigger (mop) brushes, but they quickly get a lot more expensive. This is a nice size to start playing around with.

Paper: Arches, 185g, rough. This is an artist grade type paper, 100% cotton. For smaller sizes 185g is ok, for larger sizes you might want to get the thicker 300g, but also more expensive ofcourse. The rough texture allows you to add texture to your paint strokes if you quickly skip over the paper with your brush. I bought a 10-pack of full sheets, and then cut them into 16 smaller ones. I would definitely not recommend skimping on the paper quality, the cheaper cellulose papers are very hard to work with and don’t give as good results.

Pencil: I like to use 2B pencils. Harder pencils are not dark enough sometimes, and can damage the paper. Kneaded erasers are nice for erasing on watercolor paper. Refillable pencils are convenient (e.g. 0.5mm or 0.7mm), because you never have to sharpen them, and you get thin lines. I just replace the standard fillings with 2B fillings.

Palette: cheapest I could find, about €4.46: Lei Niao, Thunderburd, 24 colours. Made in Taiwan. It’s not super robust, but it works, and the thing that’s important, the watercolor sticks flat to the plastic, so you can see the colors properly. Often the plastic is a bit “oily”, and the water beads, instead of staying flat, and it’s difficult to see the color. It takes time for these type of plastic palettes to break in. Bought here: http://www.schleiper.com/onlinecatalogue/articles/TEM275–peacock-plastieken-palet-met-deksel-rechthoekig-10x23cm?lang=nl. Found even cheaper (€3.15) here: http://www.kunstmateriaal.be/product_info.php?cPath=32_36_54&products_id=2344. If you wanna get all from the same shop to save on shipping, you could try this one: http://www.gerstaecker.nl/Verf-Mediums/Toebehoren-schilderen/Paletten/Kunststof-palet.html. It’s €7.82, I haven’t tried this palette.

Tape: just some acid free paper tape, bought in the physical van Beek store (http://vanbeekart.nl/).

All these web shops charge a fee of about €7 perhaps for shipping, unless you order above some amount.

Tip: put away your painting while it’s wet to continue painting later.

Put away your painting while it's wet to continue painting later.
Sometimes it takes longer finishing your painting than you thought and you have to stop painting to go to an appointment. When you’re painting on wet paper (you wet both sides of the paper before you started painting), you can flip your board upside down on a surface that’s sealed so it will stay moist. Then the next day you can continue painting while the paper is still moist and flat on the board. I put some weights on it to keep the board tight to my table.

Drying my brushes and humidifying the air for watercolor.

Thought I’d share these terribly useful tips (and maybe you have better ways of doing it!).

Here’s how I dry my brushes (upside down, so the inside bit stays dry and doesn’t rot):

Drying my watercolor brushes

And here’s my high tech device (rice cooker) for humidifying the air. Usually the air is around 40%, and for watercolor it’s more comfortable if it’s 60% so you don’t get dry edges that quickly and you can more at a more relaxed pace.

Humidifying the air for painting watercolor