Watercolours review – Aquarius by Roman Szmal

As promised here is my review of the lovely set of 12 Aquarius watercolour paints that Roman Szmal kindly sent me to review. I had already bought quite a few colours last year from the full range of 140 colours. Within that range there are 117 single pigment colours, meaning that you can create nice clean mixes with predictable results. As I mentioned in a previous post there are also quite a lot of beautiful granulating pigments. I absolutely love these paints, so when I got the chance to try some more colours I jumped at it.

I always find using a more limited palette very interesting and I think that this set, which contains colours that were chosen by the artist Artur Przybysz is a very useful group of colours. Ideal as a sketching palette.

The set comprises of full pans of the following colours: 206 Hansa Yellow Medium Py74, 308 Nickel Azo Yellow Py150, 320 Cadmium Vermilion Pr108, 323 Aquarius Red Pr214, 225 Phthalo Blue (Rs) Pb15: 6, 405 Cobalt Blue Pb28, 401 Przybysz’s Gray Pb29 / Pr177 / Pg26, 230 Phthalo Green ( Ys) Pg36, 108 Natural Sienna Light Py43, 115 Red Ochre Pr102, 239 Caput Mortuum Pr102, 131 Van Dyck Brown Nbr8

I like the fact that all the information about which pigments are used in each colour is clearly visible on the box. The paint is heavily pigmented and lifts readily out of the pans. Because they are full pans it is much easier to get your brush into them, especially if, like me, you use quite large brushes a lot of the time.

They come in a plastic and cardboard tray with a cardboard sleeve, perfectly serviceable as it is, or it is easy to transfer pans to a different tin if you wanted to. I am quite happy with them in their original box. It is nice and light to carry around. I can see me using this box quite a lot for sketching when I am out walking.

As is usual for me when trying out new paints, I proceeded to see what sort of dark mixes that I could create. I find that I often need greys or “blacks” that are nuanced towards certain colours, so for example a greenish grey or one with a slightly pink undertone maybe, depending on the subject that I am painting.

My examples below look a bit untidy but it is how I always do it, by mixing colours on the paper, rather than on the palette. As you can see there are some fabulous mixes that you can get from this set. Either of the reds mixed with Phthalo blue and green give a very deep colour. The other sheet is mainly green mixtures with a couple of other colour mixes thrown in for good luck! By the way the paper that I use for trying out paints is from a Clairefontaine Goldline Watercolour Studio Glued Pad, 24 x 32 cm, 200 g, 100 Sheets.

The only colour that I initially had my doubts about was the Van Dyck Brown. It is quite a neutral sort of brown, granular but also with a strange translucency to it. This pigment has the same characteristics regardless of brand, so I am not implying that there is any kind of deficiency in it in this set.

However, when I actually came to paint for real with the Aquarius paints I found it very useful for areas where I wanted a dark brownish black. The painting of a fox at the start of this post is an example where I used it on the ears and round the eyes. A true black would have been much too harsh and whilst I could have mixed up a colour it was handy to have it ready to use. The other colour that was very handy in this painting was the Red Ochre.

Also if you wanted a bright violet you won’t get it from the colours in this set of 12 but to be honest it is very rare that I need a bright violet and I can mix some lovely subdued violets from this set. There are quite a lot of violets, and colours that will mix violet, in the rest of the full range of 140 colours of Aquarius paints though, so you could always get a couple of those if you needed them.

What you do get with the Artur Przybysz’s set is the ability to mix a wide range of realistic greens and lots of beautiful dark colours, along with the colours that you will need for sketching out in the countryside or town, such as gentle cobalt blue for skies and plenty of ways to create mixes for stones and bricks.

In conclusion this little set is wonderful value for money, in the UK it can be bought from Jackson’s Art for £39, or from Szal Art in Poland for 28.43 Euros. There are other European suppliers but I have bought from these two before so feel happy to recommend them.

I hope that you feel encouraged to try some of Roman Szmal’s paints, I don’t think that you will regret it!

A New Shop!

I recently launched a new shopping site, www. doricdragons.com and have been steadily uploading images of the items that I have for sale. Today’s uploads included some wildlife coasters that I have been making with a little heat press that I got last week. It has given me so many ideas for making things, using my artwork, I can’t wait to try them all out.

The original fox painting was created using paints by Roman Szmal Art and I shall be posting a review of them this coming week, so I hope that you will come back and look for it.

Fabulous new brand of watercolours! Creepers and Grannies…

First of all I must apologise, as this review is long overdue. A couple of months ago, after reading glowing reviews of Roman Szmal‘s Aquarius watercolour paints, I decided to splash out and buy some. I got a bit carried away and ordered 53 pans of paint. Part of the reason for ordering so many was that I ordered them from Poland: https://www.szal-art.pl/szmal-aquarius-akwarele-w-kostce_1857_8170/ It was more economical on postage to buy in bulk. Another reason was the very reasonable cost of the paint, from 1.75 euros per full pan.

Since then, Jackson’s Art in the UK : https://www.jacksonsart.com/roman-szmal-aquarius-watercolour-paint have started stocking them, although they are a little more expensive there, starting at £2.50 a pan. To be honest, I would probably order from Poland again as they were sent out the same day as I ordered and only took a week and a half to arrive.

I had meant to do a review as soon as I received them but time got away from me. As you can see I have been playing with these quite a bit since I bought them. These two boxes are cheap ones that I bought off Amazon and filled with the Aquarius paints. All except two of the pans in them are Aquarius. One, Cobalt Teal, was a colour that was out of stock when I ordered, so I substituted a Daniel Smith tube paint in that pan. The other non- Aquarius paint is another Daniel Smith, Serpentine Genuine, which I couldn’t find an equivalent of in the Aquarius paints.

I have to say that I absolutely adore these paints. As you will see if you look at my doodles below, I am fascinated by granulating colours (grannies). Many of the Aquarius paints granulate beautifully. Another thing that I love are what I call the creeper paints, which force their way into other pigments. So for example Cherry Quinacridone Red (PR209) put down alongside Perylene Green (PBk31) will push into the patch of green and all but take over. Many of the quinacridone colours behave in this way. Another example is Cobalt Turquoise (PB36) and Naples Yellow Deep (PBr24), this time it is the turquoise that pushes the yellow.

I very much enjoy using these paints, they are rich and lift up readily from the pan. There are a total of 140 colours! 116 of the colours, are single pigment colours which is great and the ones that are mixes are really useful ones. There are a couple of lovely greys, Shadow Violet and Przybysz’s Grey as well as some colours that settle into their component colours as they dry giving some beautiful effects. All of the colours are wonderful. 🙂

I think that as soon as I can save up some more money I will be trying the rest of colours on offer. I can thoroughly recommend these paints to anyone, amateur or professional. They are high quality paints at an affordable price.

Do you think that my gauge is off?

I saw a very cute pair of crochet mitts on this site http://freecellpenguin.blogspot.com/2014/03/da-bears-fingerless-gloves.html

The blogger who runs the site, Freecell Penguin, has very kindly shared her pattern, so I thought that I would try it.

The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn and a size H hook, which as far as I know is a 5mm hook, and the pattern is sized for an adult. However being awkward I thought that I would like to make a child sized pair. I decided that I would use a 4mm hook and DK yarn which – you would think wouldn’t you – would make for a smaller mitt. Hmmm!

By the time that I had crocheted the cuff I realised that they were way too big for any child that I know. Not to be deterred I decided to carry on anyway and modify the rest of the glove to fit me. So instead of a slit for the thumb I did a thumb gusset and made the whole mitt a bit longer.

So, yes, I think that my crochet is a bit off gauge!

As I have hands covered in paint I decided that modelling them wasn’t an option.

Anyway, many thanks to Freecell Penguin for her generosity in making this pattern available.

Planners – What Size Do You Use?

Goldilocks was nowhere to be seen…

I have recently been designing planner inserts. I started out making some for myself. It occurred to me that it might be something that other people could use too, so I created a few Weekly Planner inserts in different sizes.

I use a Personal sized planner but there are so many different sizes available. What size do you prefer? Many people that I have spoken to seem to like the A5 size but I suppose that it depends on how much information you need to put into it and also whether or not you will be carrying it around with you.

There is a lot of opportunity for customisation too. I love owls, foxes, etc. The whole furry friends from the forest thing! So I put some on to my inserts.

I have ideas for all sorts of other inserts too, from shopping lists to sewing project sheets and all sorts of other things in between! I also have lots of ideas for different designs.

I would love to hear your thoughts on planners. Do you use one? What Size? Fancy or Plain? Are there any inserts that you would love to have but cannot find in the shops?

I decided to make my inserts into digital downloads. That way anyone who buys them can make themselves some new inserts without having to go out to the shops. I live out in the sticks so the ability to easily print off things and use them straight away is important to me.

The inserts that I have made so far are available here

These are the Weekly Planner inserts that I made first.
Quickly followed by some dividers
Some extra pages…

Dance

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I am intrigued by the patterns that I see in nature and the fact that they are repeated on different scales. From blood vessels to river deltas, these fractal patterns are everywhere.

This often ends up with some of my work having a slightly visceral quality. I even did a series of paintings called “visceral landscapes”.

This painting included papers that I had previously decorated with acrylic paint and then were then collaged on to the painting. I also used various bits of paper from magazines. After the collage I worked more layers of paint until I was happy with it.

It turned out more obviously “visceral” than usual!

I showed it to a few people recently and it has been interesting to see the reactions of those viewing the painting. It seems to be that they either love it or loathe it. What is your opinion?

More Minis…

Here are four more little abstracts. This series is turning out to be fun. Challenging but also an opportunity to try out various ideas.

These are the same size as yesterday’s bunch, 2.5 x 3.5 inches, in a 6 x 8 inch off white mount. I used watercolour, ink, Neocolor 2 and a touch of acrylic on watercolour paper.

I will be putting these into a local gallery, Elgin Gallery, rather than on Etsy as I did with yesterday’s selection, which you can view here.

Miniature Abstracts

Working on a small scale

Every so often I challenge myself to work on a small scale. I find it much more difficult to work on smaller pieces without losing spontaneity.

I have been using various media – watercolour, collage, pastels. It means that I have to think a bit harder (often a problem for me :)) but it is always fun.

Here are a few examples. I will be selling these on Folksy and Etsy. Another bonus is that, because they are small, they don’t cost as much! They measure just 2.5 x 3.5 inches. I am selling them mounted in a 6 x 8 inch mount, so they are ready to pop into your own frame.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Doricdragons?ref=l2-shopheader-name

New mixed media paintings

Stripes 2

I have been playing about with my acrylic paints, inks and Neocolors. I used  heavy weight water colour paper as a base.

The ink is from Sakura’s Pigma pens, which are pigment based and fade proof. I especially love the brush tip version.

The Neocolor crayons are water soluble, so will dissolve with water to create a watercolour effect. I used to be sceptical about their usefulness, until I got some to try. Now I wouldn’t be without them. They are great to take sketching too.

 

Art, crafts and life