Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Product Review: Nevskaya Palitra's "White Nights" watercolours - full pans

I seem to be totally behind the rest of the world re: the White Nights line from Nevskaya Palitra ("the Neva palette", named for the Neva River which flows through St Petersburg, where they are based). A lot of you already love their paints and I've seen a lot of folk use them but I'd kind of never really thought they'd be very good quality. BOY WAS I WRONG! A little while ago, I saw that Jackson's in the UK sold them SUPERCHEAP and that tempted me to try them. 

Let me just give you a bit of an idea of how very economical they are:
For comparison - here are the RRPs of some major brands in full-pans of professional quality paint based on PR122 Quinacridone Red or PV19 Quinacridone Violet - both are similar in cost as raw pigments. Those indicated with "*" don't sell full pans, so I've doubled the price of a half-pan to give an approximation.

Winsor and Newton - Quinacridone Magenta [PR122] £9.25 [US$12.24]
Jackson's - Quinacridone Purple [PR122] £4.00 [US$5.29]
*Maimeriblu - Rose Lake [PV19] £16.54 [US$21.90]
*Old Holland - Magenta [PR122] £18.22 [US$24.12]
*Rembrandt - Quinacridone Rose [PV19] £12.10 [US$16.02]
Schmincke - Ruby Red [PV19] £9.79 [US$12.96]
Wallace-Seymour - Quinacridone Magenta [PV19] £7.55 [US$10.00]
White Nights - Quinacridone Rose [PR122] £2.55 [US$ 3.38]

See? Economical huh? Well, it gets better - Jackson's retail White Nights fullpans starting at just £1.70 [US$2.25] which is amazing value. I was fully prepared for something really chalky and low quality but to be honest, I was amazed. The quality is a lot like Schmincke but with a slightly more sticky texture in the pans, like Wallace-Seymour, as they are made with honey. Most of the White Nights line are single-pigment colours, and they are made with honey and Gum Arabic, just like the more expensive brands.

When selecting my colours, I went for a cool triad that was actually so cool it was technically in the CMY universe, which means beautiful bright and vivid mixes but a narrow gamut - this will make for challenges of the fun kind later. I also picked 2 random colours:

Lemon (PY3 Hansa Yellow G)
Rose (PR81 Rhodamine 6G)
Bright Blue (PB15:3 Phthalocyanine Blue BGS)
Blue Lake (PB1 Victoria Blue)
Voronezhskaya Black (PBk8 Vine Black)

I love them all very much and you can see my experiences over on my YouTube channel:

If you want to buy these paints, I highly recommend Jackson's as they have international shipping and the very low prices will probably mean the shipping breaks even.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Product Review: Holbein Artists' Watercolour

The HK Holbein Watercolours brand are made in Osaka, Japan, and boast a number of special properties. I noticed in the Jackson's Art Supplies in the UK had listed them as higher quality than Daniel Smith or Winsor and Newton in their 2017 Watercolour Catalogue, so I was intrigued! I procured a Starter Set (aka Introductory Set), which contains Vermillion Hue, Carmine Lake, Viridian Hue, Permanent Yellow Deep, Burnt Sienna and Peacock Blue. I reviewed them in my recent video which you can watch here:

If you want to buy Holbein watercolours to try them for yourself, you can try the following vendors - personally, I think Jackson's have the best deals and shipping prices and they have a better range of stock as a rule:

Jackson's Art Supplies
UK based company with fantastic customer service and have international shipping options and a LOT of excellent discounts!

Amazon UK
They have a good selection and some good deals but if you want individual colours, Jackson's is probably better.

Amazon USA
Again, much like the UK site but a good selection of individual colours.

If you want the specific set that I tried out to see for yourself:

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Show Us Your Media 5 - ideas time!

I'd not seen Dina Wakley's awesome competition with Ranger each month - #showusyourmedia - until last month and my mixed media composition "Fear" was my entry to Month 4. Month 5 is now upon us "What makes you you" - that's a tricky one and quite exposing so I'm trying to come up with ideas that aren't too logical or linear. I think I will do it in my Dina Wakley Media Journal (which is nearly finished - good thing I have 11 more so I can do a whole year with them!) on a burlap page (to stretch me) and it will probably be an acrylic-based mixed-media piece - though I'm kind of tempted to go all out and use a linen canvas as then I can work on it separately to the rest of my journal and I do love the linen backgrounds. I can stick some burlap onto it for texture. Trying to move away from my temptation to use earth-tones and keep it very soft - I don't use bright colours enough when painting myself - I think it's time I tried... Ooooh maybe I could monoprint this...

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

PSA: Faulty batch of Dina Wakley Media Acrylic Paint in "Magenta"

I just wanted to put up a quick post to let everyone know in case they've had a bottle from this batch - please contact Ranger's Customer Services people. They're really helpful and swift in what they do and it was honestly really easy to deal with them, unlike many companies nowadays! They offered to ship me a replacement immediately but I didn't want one as to be honest, this paint is still useable and I've had no issues using it for monoprints or for painting with, but I wasn't planning to do any impasto work with it right now. By the time they'd get a new bottle to me from the USA, the carbon footprint and cost to them would not be justifiable given I'm happy to use it as it is - but that may not be the case for everyone so if you have one of these bottles and are struggling to use it, speak to them about it. Even if you're happy to use it like I am, contact them anyways as it'll help Ranger to trace how widespread this is. When there are issues like this, I do feel strongly that it's up to the community to help our valued suppliers by reporting how widespread the batch has gotten etc. Please also post a comment on this blog post as it may help others to know where you got it from - and obviously contact your vendor so they know to speak to Ranger themselves and maybe take it off of the shelves.

Per my recent haul, I got many 2 fl. oz. bottles of Dina Wakley's wonderful acrylic paints - all of which have a lovely thick body and dry in the conditions of my studio in under 5 minutes. The Magenta though was like milk or a thin cream - could not hold its shape and took over 30 minutes to dry. Not right! Weirdly, the bottom of the bottle didn't have a Lot Number or Date of Manufacture per usual, but Ranger's people DID manage to trace the issue to a batch that somehow got released when it shouldn't have and that was missing an ingredient - I was the first to report it so we don't know how widespread the issue is. I know the batch mine was from came into the UK between 25th Sept and 10th Oct based on it having been out-of-stock at my vendor of choice on 25th but in stock on 10th when I ordered. It only seems to be impacting the Magenta paint as far as we can tell.

Here's the bottom of the bottle showing the lack of lot/date:

And this shows the consistency when it came from the bottle - note it POURED out on its own - it didn't need squeezing. It did not hold this shape for long and formed a uniform puddle that then took hours to dry, whereas the other thick wiggle swatches I did at the same time took 15 minutes (as they were a thick layer, 5 minutes normally).

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Now on Instagram

Just a little note so say I'm now on Instagram, which I'm loving for posting sets of images rather than just 1-2 on Twitter at a time. Make sure you follow me on there! 

Friday, 13 October 2017

Art Haul: Well, it has been like a whole week since the last one, right?!

This is part of my "must have full set syndrome" kicking in - I decided to get the rest - or near as damn it - of the Dina Wakley Media acrylic paints from Ranger. I already have bought two batches - my first was Night, Blackberry and Rosy (I had not realised the latter was a metallic) and then I expanded into some primaries and more secondaries with Lemon, Lime, Tangerine, Sky, Blushing and Umber. After the haul below, the only ones I don't now have are Gilt, Penny and Medieval - three metallics - I may or may not get them as I honestly seldom use metallic paints but who knows. I've stuck to the 1 fl. oz. (c. 60mL) bottles because they're very economical and have a fine-tip on them already, and above all, they're SMALL. I like to be able to keep all of my Dina Wakley Media Paints in the largest of my Dina Wakley Media storage bags - they're always to-hand and I can move them to other locations really easily. I did um-and-ah over the Black and White - I have a LOT of black gesso, white gesso, black acrylic, white acrylic - I don't really need them. That said, for monoprinting and a lot of other techniques, having paints of the same consistency is really important and it would save me a lot of hassle having to thin CRYLA down with GAC-100 every time I wanted a runnier paint. Dina's paints are quite stiff but they're not true Heavy Body paints like CRYLA that have the consistency of clay and huge pigment loads.

The Dylusions inks are the 4 of the current release (Aug 2017) that I don't already have - I've had Vanilla Custard and Rose Quartz for about a month, and I have Laidback Lilac and Mushy Peas already in the acrylic paints, but I wanted to get the others as I love these muted, more pastel-y shades when used dilute but as you can see from the swatches down below (which I paint with one of Dina's brushes), they're SO striking when laid on thick! The Dylusions paper is designed to resist the dyes so they blot off and leave a lovely even, vivid and bright effect. If you use watercolour paper (which is what I swatch onto) such as the stuff in Dina's Media Journal, you get AMAZING intense effects! 

All of the items in this haul are from Art From The Heart (Dyan Reaveley's business in Harrogate, North Yorkshire) - superprompt service and always a pleasure to deal with. Plus what's not to love when you get a package like this one?

Ranger Dina Wakley Media Acrylic Paints in:
   Cheddar [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Elephant [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Evergreen [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Fuchsia [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Lapis [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Magenta [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Ruby [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Turquoise [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   White [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Black [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Ocean [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Ancient [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Sterling [BUY NOW: USA, UK]

For those of you in the USA, you can get 6 tube sets of the 2016 colour release or the metallic paints for just $36, which is a pretty good deal - but sadly doesn't ship to the UK - in the 2016 set, you get Blushing, Evergreen, Cheddar, Fuchsia, Elephant and Ocean, and in the 2017 set you get Rosy, Medieval, Ancient, Gilt, Penny and Sterling. These may be a good way to stash-build economically? It's about a 30% discount for each set.

Ranger Dylusions Ink Sprays in:
   Mushy Peas [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Laidback Lilac [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Periwinkle Blue [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Peony Blush [BUY NOW: USA, UK]

Again, for those of you in the USA, you can get the corresponding 6 Dylusions acrylic paints for $30 right now, which is about 25% off - well worth it, they're great colours! 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Media Journal: "Fear" (mixed media on gessoed paper)

This piece is my October entry to Dina Wakley's awesome #showusyourmedia challenge done with #rangerink, and this month we have to cover "Fear". I've put it on Instagram as we have to, but I wanted to be able to show the whole process here. To me, it is a man living in darkness looking out of a window at a world being masked by the encroaching darkness spilling from Fear which floats overhead. The colours and beauty of the world are being destroyed by Fear.

What does fear mean to me? I'm very open about my past bouts of clinical depression - I've had two in my lifetime. One hit during my Ph.D and I spent 1 month on Valium hoping it would pass, and then 18 months on Prozac when it didn't pass. I've since been in remission but I have had a few small relapses - the most recent one being around Christmas of 2016, but thankfully it only lasted a week or so and was caused by a pain drug I was trialing. Depression robs of you of so many things and for me, it robbed me of the ability to relax as I was paralysed with fear 24/7 - not the slight nervousness or worrying about finances that most people (irritatingly) call "anxiety" - I mean full blown unrelenting 24/7 clinical anxiety where your heart is racing all the day long and your adrenaline is at maximal levels and your body is ready to fight-or-flight...except you're just trying to sleep or watch TV. It's hell. It really is. NEVER dismiss someone who talks about depression or anxiety - not until you experience them can you really know what it feels like. I felt during both bouts that I'd become a shadow and that all the colour had been robbed from my life and the world. That was the basis of this work. Fear hangs over the man in the picture's world and spills out darkness. The world inside of his window is already just shadow and the world outside of his window is slowly being destroyed too. He has copper to his left, which is associated with beauty and creativity - things fear rapidly destroys.

If any of my readers think that they or someone they know is suffering with clinical anxiety or clinical depression, speak to a medical professional - don't leave it to chance. If you're unsure, you can self-test online for free, and if you live in the UK you can get free online cognitive behavioural therapy - I used that very website over 10 years ago and believe me - it works. You are not alone - but never try to ignore it. Depression is a fatal illness if not treated - you would not ignore cancer, don't ignore depression.

Ranger Dina Wakley Media Journal [BUY NOW: USAUK]
(I used a "watercolour paper" page)

Daler and Rowney Simply White Acrylic Gesso [BUY NOW: UK]
(this is not available in the USA so I recommend this instead)

Old credit card for applying gesso

Ranger Dina Wakley Media Acrylic Paints in:
   Lemon [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Lime [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Tangerine [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Sky [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Night [BUY NOW: USA, UK]

Ranger Dina Wakley Media 1" Flat Brush
(this is from the 4-pack of short-handled brushes [BUY NOW: USA, UK])

Dictionary definition of "Fear" 
(mine is from a 1951 Oxford English Dictionary from a second hand book shop)

Paper scraps - mine are from:
   Idea-ology Tim Holtz Correspondance 12" paper stash [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   Idea-ology Tim Holtz Tissue Wrap Melange [BUY NOW: USA, UK]

Copper foil tape [BUY NOW: USA, UK]

Ranger Dylusions ink sprays in:
   Black Marble [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   After Midnight [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
   London Blue [BUY NOW: USA, UK]

Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Matte Collage Medium [BUY NOW: USA, UK]

Foam brush for applying Collage Medium

Pipette for dispensing ink

Winsor and Newton ProMarker in:
   030 Black [BUY NOW: USA, UK]

Idea-ology Big Chat stickers [BUY NOW: USA, UK]

Idea-ology Small Talk stickers [BUY NOW: USA, UK]

Ranger Dylusions White Linen acrylic paint pen
(this is from the 2-pack of paint pens [BUY NOW: USA, UK])

Ranger Dina Wakley Media Scribble Sticks [BUY NOW: USA, UK]

STEP 1: I used an old credit card to apply gesso to the page in the journal and left it to dry for a few hours - this is a great way to get a really thin, even coat that is just enough to paint on.

STEP 2: I wanted the idea of colour being masked by shadow but still very much being there, just hidden, as that's what fear really does to you - it makes you forget the colour of yourself and the world, but the colour is still there. I selected Night (of course) as the shadow, and I wanted Lime, Lemon, Tangerine and Sky as my colours of the world.

STEP 3: I also wanted some collage elements and in my scraps bag, I had some strips of tissue wrap torn from the edges of a recent project and an off-cut of paper from a paper stash that had some orange on it and would match the theme. I cut a dictionary definition of "Fear" too, and I arranged the elements on the page to work out how they should go. I wanted to have the paint under them so that they were a window the viewer is looking out of, seeing fear out there, spreading shadow over the world.

STEP 4: I added paint to the page and made some bold strokes, leaving some paint thick and textural.

STEP 5: I applied Collage Medium to the elements and added them directly into the wet paint - I did not worry about ensuring every edge was stuck down. I added a few little bits of Collage Medium over the paper so that it would act as a resist in later steps, but only in a few spots.

STEP 6: Whilst it dried, I was working on another project and went to look for something I needed and I found a role of adhesive copper tape that I'd forgotten and I decided to use some, so I applied it here to add to that abstract "window" concept. The outermost layer of the rape roll had oxidised a bit which made it even better. Once I'd put it on, I added Black ProMarker down one edge and blurred it with my finger whilst wet, so that the copper hardly showed on the one side - it just needed muting a tad!

STEP 7: With the paint almost dry, I used a pipette to apply 1mL London Blue, 0.5mL After Midnight and 0.5mL Black Marble along the top of the page and in a few other places, in separate spots - the ratios were important as I wanted the lighter blue to mix into the darker colours but still be visible. I held the page vertical and let it fall, catching the ink on a paper towel at the bottom of the page.

STEP 8: One spot of the ink looked like a head, so I used Night paint and some rough brushwork (the brush was wet) to apply some shadow and to turn that head into a person in darkness looking out of the abstract window and seeing fear.

STEP 9: With the Night Scribble Stick slightly damp, I 'edged' the whole page with it. I then used Night and Black very wet to border the dictionary cut-out and to add some spatters.

STEP 10: Using the stickers and a white paint pen, I added a phrase at the bottom of the page: "Fear is when no beauty shines and darkness robs the world of life and colour". DONE!