Sunday, 21 May 2017

A little more disruption...

Won't be long. Hoping to be back to normal service levels some time around 5th June all being well - plenty of videos all lined up ready for when I'm back!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Service Disruption

Hello viewing millions. I'm going to need to take a break from YouTube and my website for about a month from now - so about mid-May when I resurface. I'm not going to go into details, but I will still be uploading a video or so each week on auto-drip-feed for the time being.


1) Do not email, tweet, comment asking me anything including 'just' "Are you ok?" - I'm sorry to say it but I'm hellishly busy and I honestly can't reply to that many comments/emails as it is right now - please respect my need for peace right now, as I'm up to my neck in things that need doing, so I want to take a vacation from my channel for a few weeks - I know most people will recognise that this is like Annual Leave from work and that you don't email people when they're on leave from work - but I also know from past experience of saying similar and getting 5 emails in under 24h from the same person, the first beginning "I know you said not to email you but...". I just want to avoid recurrences! 
2) Please don't speculate on or offline re: what's going on - it's no one's business but mine. It's nothing anyone needs to be concerned about, I'm just too busy to do much with my channel right now, in short, so I'm on vacation from it. The reasons don't matter to anyone but me.
3) Please don't send me anything to review/as a gift right now - I'm physically unable to DO anything with my channel right now and I have a queue a mile long of products I need to post reviews of - it's honestly not helping the backlog if people send me more stuff - I do appreciate the gesture but I would rather you gave to charity or something instead - The Albert Kennedy Trust is my pet charity.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Beginning my Daniel Smith watercolour exploration

I've started working my way through the Daniel Smith watercolours from the 238-colour spotcard that I have, after which I will also do the newer colours that are not found in that card. I have decided to cut these reviews down into the following series - you can see the first video over on YouTube already.

Standard Watercolours
I'm working through the basic colours from yellow through red, purple, blue, turquoise, green, neutrals, blacks and whites. I will break these down into a series of videos each covering about 24-36 colours.

PrimaTek Watercolours
These are the paints made from powdered minerals and which have exceptional texture and interesting granulation and depth. I have separated these out of the main series into their own videos, of which these will be 3-4 in total.

Mars Watercolours
These are granulating colours to which, effectively, black has been added or the pigments are ground course. I felt they would be more useful to my audience if separated out, so I will tackle them on their own.

Duochrome Watercolours
Each DuoChrome paint flips between two distinct, separate colours, for example, DuoChrome Saguaro can appear green-gold or copper. I will tackle all of these in one video.

Interference Watercolours
These are wonderful to have in watercolour! Usually we only get interference media in acrylic paints. They only really show up on dark backgrounds and change hue as you change position relative  to them. I will tackle all of these in one video.

Iridescent Watercolours
These paints reflect light and sparkle and shimmer like an opal. I will tackle all of them in one video.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

A mini-haul and a surprise gift!

So, whilst it is lovely when my fans send me even just complementary emails let alone anything else, I've never asked for anything and never would, but I've had a series of really nice things sent to me in the last 6 months - mostly items people are keen for me to review - and I've been left a few tips in the tip jar on my website, which all helps to keep and improve my channel of course. I did get a surprise gift this week - a set of Royal and Langnickel scrubbing brushes for removing watercolour - I've no idea  who sent them as very often vendors don't pass that information to the recipient and I would like to be able to say thank you, so if it was you, please let me know! I gave them a really quick try out in this video but will do a proper review in due course. They certainly did the job lifting some Daniel Smith Moonglow that was long-dried onto a cheap scrap of paper, with far less effort that my usual scrubbing  tool (a sawn-off £2 hog bristle flat!) in any case!

This little haul is a couple of items I ordered from Amazon USA a few weeks back, namely:

Daniel Smith Watercolour Ground (Titanium White)
Amazon USA: US$10.92
Amazon Canada: CDN$38.32 CDN$30.84
Amazon UK: £29.68
Dick Blick: US$13.94 US$7.95
Jackson's: £9.99 £8.60

Prima Marketing The Classics Watercolours

Amazon USA: US$25.00 US$17.98
Amazon Canada: CDN$32.65
Amazon UK: £48.60 £17.56

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

How much does size really matter?

No, I don't mean men's willies, I mean size as in sizing on/in watercolour paper!

When paper is manufactured, sizing is added to reduce how much water the paper will absorb. Unsized papers are basically kitchen paper and so on - very absorbent and of course useless for art. Drawing papers are slightly sized ("slack sized") and have a bit of resistance to water, but watercolour papers are much more "hard sized" to make them very resistant. Now, within watercolour papers, we often refer to some as "hard sized" to mean "very hard sized" whereas the weaker sized watercolour papers are still "hard sized" in the context of all types of paper.

When paper is being put together, sizing can be added to the pulp, which results in "internal sizing", or, onto the surface ("surface sizing" - the latter is the much more water repellent form of paper.

In this video, I compared the following - the manufacturers are indicated as follows:
[DR] = Daler and Rowney
[SCM] = St Cuthbert's Mill
[C] = Canson
Chemical Pulp:
Aquafine Hot Press. This is a fairly low-end student-grade paper, which I only use for swatching normally [DR].
Optima This is not a watercolour paper - it's a mixed-media paper that I just added for a bit of a laugh really to see how it performed [DR].
Bockingford Cold Press. This is a very good paper that I use day-to-day [SCM].
Langton Rough. This is again, a decent day-to-day paper [DR].

Cotton Rag:
Langton Prestige Rough. This is a generally good paper that is a very good entry-level-to-cotton-papers paper, for people who are moving up from chemical pulp papers [DR].
Saunders Waterford Cold Press. This is pretty hard-sized and a very high quality paper [SCM].
Arches Cold Press. This is quite hard-sized but ultimately no more so than Saunders Waterford [C].
Millford Cold Press. This is almost an "extreme sized" paper, with a very strong surface sizing. There is nothing else like this  on the market [SCM].

I did my tests using French Ultramarine by Winsor & Newton in one of their large pans - these are VERY economical and well worth having for the colours you use the most:

Amazon USA No stock at the time of writing.
Amazon UK £20.99 £15.10
Amazon Canada No stock at the time of writing.
Jackson's £20.99 £13.64

Monday, 6 March 2017

A little entertainment interlude...

I know many of you enjoy my sense of humour and my more than slightly acerbic view of the world. Tonight I have watched the latest DVD by a comedian I have loved for over 20 years, so I thought I would share her work, just in case you're interested - if not, keep walking and just ignore this. 

She writes songs that are either hysterical or heartbreaking, and, sometimes, both. Her name is Dillie Keane, and she's better known perhaps as the founding member of Fascinating Aïda. I'll give you a little taster with two songs both from her new live DVD - one funny, one serious:

"PAM" - a song of what you wish you could pluck up the nerve to say to the bit-on-the-side when you find out your better half is cheating.

"LOVE LATE" - a beautiful song she wrote in 1999 as a gift to her then new partner (who she's still with) for her first Christmas with him. It's about finding love that bit later on in life - she was almost 50 at the time.

Her latest DVD is called "Hello Dillie!" and you can buy it here in the UK, USA or Canada, respectively - you can also get the soundtrack on iTunes:
You can also get various other DVDs and CDs (and sometimes even the odd record - she has been doing this since 1983, after all!) from the following Amazon USA, UK and Canada links:

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Wallace-Seymour Vintage Watercolours

I finally completed the set of 4 different Wallace-Seymour watercolour lines and shot video reviews of all of them, which, as a reminder are:

ARTIST'S - sold only as full-pans from Turners of Manchester and aimed at general artists. They are high-quality paints with lift-off similar to brands like Schmincke. There are a wide range of colours, they are economical and some are made with unusual pigments but most are fairly mainstream. Vehicle is honey and gum senegal.

EARLY - sold only as half-pans by L. Cornelissen & Son and aimed at more experienced artists who are interested in early watercolour. They are very high quality paints but not like modern watercolour and need hot water to lift the pigments. They are a small range of under 20 colours, all of which are very traditional. Vehicle is gum tragacanth, gum senegal and honey.

18th CENTURY - sold only as sets of rounds by Turners of Manchester and again, aimed at more of a niche market. They are entirely made with 18th century pigments and even the more mainstream ones like Yellow Ochre are specially sourced natural pigments. There is an expanding range but only come as sets. Again, they don't resemble modern watercolour and need hot water to use. Vehicle is gum senegal, gum tragacanth and honey.

VINTAGE - sold only as 20mL tubes by Turners of Manchester and aimed at a more general market and those who want to make big washes with some more unusual pigments. Traditional, modern and more unusual pigments are used. They are sold individually. I don't know the composition of the vehicle but gum senegal and honey is fairly likely.

I have posted breakdowns of the pigments used in the 18th Century, Early and Vintage lines over on my Downloads Page.

The single most exciting thing about the Vintage line is the range of very rare pigments used. When deciding what paints to trial, I decided that because I had tried a warm triad (Ultramarine Blue Deep, Cadmium Yellow Mid and Cadmium Red Mid), I should try a cool triad, so I opted for Cadmium Yellow Lemon (PY35), Manganese Blue Genuine (PB33) and Rosa Magenta (PV19). A cadmium-based cool yellow and a quinacridone violet cool red are pretty bog-standard but Manganese Blue Genuine is VERY special because not only is it a beautiful, heavily-granulating cool blue, it's also not been manufactured in YEARS, and Wallace-Seymour use pigment made over 30 years ago to produce this paint. 

I wanted another triad and I spotted they had a Naples Yellow Deep Genuine (PY41), Indigo Genuine (NB1) and Sepia Genuine (NBr9) - these 3 paints in genuine form - Naples Yellows are normally made with PBr24 Chrome Antimony Titanate Buff Rutile, with varying amounts of white - but the real NY41 Lead Antimonate Yellow Pyrochlore is seldom used now owing to the toxicity of lead and antimony. True indigo is expensive (it's made from fermented plant material, which is not cheap and a bad crop can make it REALLY expensive in any given year) and true sepia is an animal product (but a byproduct of the food industry, much like cuttlebones are - and you can buy cuttlefish ink for food use, as well as cuttlefish, should you wish - I personally find it very tasty but if you overcook it, it turns into rubber - and don't worry about how much it smells raw, it's fine once cooked!) - so you won't see either in paints very often.

As you'll see in the video (below), the generous 20mL tubes are hand-filled and did find 3/6 of the paints had separated a lot from a watery vehicle, which I poured off and saved. I now think this was just excess water as the paint underneath is totally fine and not at all unusual in consistency. As is often the case, I would bet these paints have hung around in the shop/store room at Turners in the same position for a long while, so just shaking them and massaging them a bit will be enough to resolve this issue within a few days.

The colours are amazing and the yellow, red and blue are almost a CMY(K) triad - though the yellow is not close enough to a Process Yellow for this to really work, if you do mix them, you get something similar to a CMY triad - incidentally, if you do ever fancy painting the CMY universe in watercolour, I would recommend you use Cerulean Blue (PB35), Quinacridone Magenta (PR202) and Cobalt Yellow (PY40) - though you could equally use Diarylide Yellow FGL (PY97), Quinacridone Red (PR122) and Cobalt Blue (PB28).

Manganese Blue is so pretty that I will do a Colour Chemistry episode focusing on this colour, but if you like it, get it while you can: Wallace-Seymour are using up vintage stocks to manufacture this and once it's gone, it's gone - I'm going to stockpile whilst I can!

If you want to buy these paints...
...then you need to visit Turners Art Materials (who WILL ship outside of the UK but you will need to contact them by EMAIL and NOT place an order on the website - if you run into issues, you can tell them that The Spin Doctor had confirmation from them on Twitter 21st February 2017 - if need be, you can show them their own tweet which I've linked.