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 Aรฏda. 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.

Thursday 2 March 2017

You Heard It Here First...

So, I have a few little mini-announcements to make. I've got over 2,500 subs on YouTube now, which is beyond anything I ever expected, and this month is my one year anniversary of this iteration of my YouTube presence :) I will be doing some anniversary giveaways - watch this space.

If you've not already seen it, I looked at the 35 new Schmincke colours yesterday - this (below this post) video's already been really popular and I think a lot of people are enamoured by Phthalo Sapphire (PB15:6 - the same as the Phthalo Sapphire that Winsor and Newton had in their Desert Collection) - but were struggling to find it in their area or at a good price - I've seen today that you can buy that at Jackson's as they have plenty of stock, AND they ship worldwide for reasonable prices - plus these are some killer reductions for a brand new release, right?!:

Full Pan (RRP £8.00, £6.30)
Half Pan (RRP £6.00, £4.24)
5mL Tube (RRP £6.00, £4.42)
15mL Tube (RRP £11.00, £8.74)

I wanted to let you all know about a few NEW THINGS I'm trialling to help my audience even more! I was going to do a Spin Doctor Speaks video but I decided to write it instead - I wanted to watch TV at the same time ;) I often have the TV on in the background when painting just for not having silence, or I listen to music sometimes - I did see in the comments on one of The Frugal Crafter's videos last week that a few of you like to listen to audiobooks when you're painting, which sounds like a great idea and one I am going to be trying. I noticed Amazon USA has a deal on right now for 2 free audiobooks if you sign up for a FREE 30 day trial of Audible, which I thought would be worth sharing with you all? It seems Amazon UK has a similar deal with 1 free audiobook if you sign up for a FREE 30 day trial of Audible.

The Spin Doctor's Emporium
Sadly, this is only really of use to my (USA, mostly) peeps, but it will help y'all a lot! I've set up an online store with Amazon (you can see an embryonic version - totally unformatted - under "Emporium" on my navigation bar at the top of my website) which allows me to annotate products and help direct you to things that might be useful. For example, for those who follow my Surgery series of watercolour lessons, each week's supplies will have a store page to help you grab them really quick with no effort, if you need to restock your colours. I'm going to use this to help guide you through things like which colours you need in palettes for different uses - once it goes live properly, I'll make a formal announcement on YouTube.

Postmortems with The Spin Doctor
Yeah, yeah, it's morbid, but we all have those paintings from time to time where we just don't know why it went wrong, right? You can get professional 1:1 feedback on your paintings from some online sources for up to £30 per session (US$50), but sometimes you only need to hear "you used too much water", and then it's not worth paying it. So in this new series, you will be able to submit your paintings to me online and I will show them (without names/etc!!!) on screen and talk through my thoughts for maybe 1-2 minutes on each one, once a month and only one painting per person per month. I'm going to do it to see how it goes - but if I get 500 paintings in the first month, I'm quitting right away!

The Spin Doctor's Atelier
I have a thing for flowery English and I call rooms in my appartment my "front parlour", "bedchamber" and so on, because it makes me laugh - so my studio can be an "atelier", right? (Ah TELL ee ay) In this series I'll be letting you watch me create - a little like The Spin Doctor Sits, but that's more about trying other peoples' methods/ideas to see how they work for me - but this is more about original material.

The Spin Doctor's Clinic
This is going to be a LIVE Q&A/quick-tips-demo where you ask questions and I answer them/show you things quickly - anything can happen! It'll only be once or twice a month at most until I get a feel for how useful folk are finding it.

Schmincke Horadam - New 2017 releases!

I'm a very lucky boy, because Schmincke have VERY kindly sent me a very large number of watercolour paints to try out and review (a very large number of similar magnitude is formally known as "one f*cktonne", FYI).

I've recorded a video (embedded at the end of this post) of me swatching out all 35 colours in the sampler they sent to me, but I've got ACTUAL TUBES AND PANS so I will be doing some proper paintings with them in due course to try them out which will be in Part 2 of the review later in March. I will also be doing reviews of Schmincke's other watercolours as they sent me the entire series in various formats, which will be a joy! 140 colours!!! If you're not au fait with Schmincke, they're a fantastic company with beautiful paints that lift-off onto your brush SO easily and which are very easy to control because they carefully optimise the vehicle for each and every colour - so they all behave optimally - they also physically cram the maximum amount of pigment into every paint, so you're getting a lot for your money and they really last a long time. You can see them in action in my previous review of their really cute 12-half-pan set, which has a lovely selection of colours. 

It's worth noting this video was the first proper outing of that Size 10 Prolene Plus travel brush I featured previously - it's SO good - nothing but praise for it and it worked great on the paints that are more stubborn to re-wet.

You can buy these 35 new paints from Jackson's where they are very reasonably priced and ship worldwide - they are selling almost all of them at up to 30% off of the RRP, which represents a fantastic saving. I use Jackson's all the time and they always give prompt service and are great at customer care - I can honestly say that they're one of my favourite retailers of art materials and they always have great prices. If you want any of the original Schmincke watercolours, you can also buy those from Jackson's too. I also noticed they had some great deals on sets of Schmincke paints too - from as little as £39.60 (reduced from £59.00) - which is US$48.00 down from US$72.50.

You can also get Schmincke 12-pan sets from various vendors worldwide (all prices correct at time of posting):
Amazon USA: US$191.31, or US$62.74 if you don't mind a long lead time!
Amazon UK: £59.76 reduced to £54.01
Amazon Canada: CDN$170.92 reduced to CND$142.96
DickBlick U$227.55 reduced to US$155.59 [NB: this is the set of FULL pans, not half pans, which means this is one KILLER deal - not only 31% off of the list-price but even cheaper than the half pan set usually is and TWICE the amount of paint!]
JACKSON'S ART SUPPLIES: £63.19 reduced to £49.50.
[don't forget, if you're using Amazon USA or UK, you can make major savings on shipment using Amazon Prime, which you can try for FREE for one month right now - sign up (USA) or sign up (UK)]