Category Archives: News

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.

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

Reviewing Dr PH Martin’s Bombay Indian Inks, a summary

Inky Mess 3

I have been writing a few posts recently about Dr PH Martin’s Bombay Indian Inks, mainly because I have become captivated by them.

These inks are available as singles or in sets. I bought two sets, each set has 12, 1 oz (28.4 ml) size bottles. This one,  Set 1, has Yellow, Red, Magenta, Green, Blue, Brown, Black, White, Violet, Bright Red, Teal, Grass Green. This one, Set 2, has Golden Yellow, Orange, Tangerine, Crimson, Cherry Red, Red Violet, Aqua, Turquoise, Yellow Ochre, Terra Cotta, Van Dyke Brown and Sepia.

They are also available as half size bottles but they do not have a dropper like the larger ones.

I think that if I could only get one set it would be Set 1. It has a good range of colours which, with the exception of White and Black, are translucent. The colours in Set 2 are good but I think that I could mix many of the colours using the Set 1 colours. The earth colours in Set 2 are fairly opaque and the Terra Cotta, in particular has a strange consistency. Whilst being opaque is not a fault and might be useful for some people, my reasons for liking these inks is their translucency. The earth colours in Set 2 also have a tendency to separate out on standing and if you don’t give them a regular shake them they will separate permanently and become unusable.

The photograph below shows this effect.

So my advice would be buy Set 1 and play with them to see what they will do. Mixing colours is easy because the bottles have a dropper in the lid, so you can measure out how many drops it takes to get a particular colour and then record that for future use.

 

Apple blossom time…

Apple blossom
Apple blossom

I do love this time of year, the apple trees are all in bloom here. I think that we need to invent the smellernet, the perfume from all the trees is fantastic, especially in the sunshine – when it decides to shine on us!

I planted quite a lot of them many years ago, after discovering that the huge vegetable garden that I had planned might be a little difficult, due to the lack of soil.

The field that I had intended to use turned out to have been, in the past, a stock yard, where cattle were kept. The whole area has about two inches of soil, underneath which there is about three feet of stones.

When I planted the trees I had to use a pick axe and, as there were around twenty five trees, it took me a while. Once they had their roots down the trees really loved it.  The insects love the trees and I love the fruit. As do our two dogs. They regularly inspect the trees to see if there are any apples that they can steal. Oh and the chickens like apples too, good job that I planted so many. 🙂

There are one or two rhododendrons flowering too, very pretty but no smell or fruit off them.

Rhododendron "Creamy Chiffon"
Rhododendron “Creamy Chiffon”

Red rhododendron
Red rhododendron

 

Facebook Competitions

Leaflet entry
Leaflet entry

I found out on Monday that I am a finalist in a competition. The competition is being run by the nice people at Printed.com.

The “Square Flair-Off design competition” brief competition was to design a 150mm square leaflet. I used a pen and ink drawing that I had done as the basis for the design.

Sadly for me, I didn’t read through the rules properly (let that be a lesson) and notice the fact that the final leg of the competition is being held on Facebook. Now I don’t do Facebook – just because I am contrary – so this gives me a bit of a problem.

As I am not on Facebook, I don’t have any Facebook friends and because of the vagaries of Facebook, it is unlikely that I will get enough people voting for my design. It wasn’t that good anyway…

Still if you do feel like helping out here’s the link to my entry:

https://www.facebook.com/printedcom/photos/pb.183666021710384.-2207520000.1463657142./1025425350867776/?type=3&theater

New prints on Folksy

I have been busy doing some more prints of my paintings, including the ones that other people are determined to sell without informing me!

I have also had some fun making some digital art and have listed them on my Folksy shop, which I am sad to say I have neglected for the past year or so! Still never too late…

I love animals and thought that it would be fun to create some cheerful stuff using them as the subject matter. I am using pigment inks and heavy, archival quality paper, so they should stay nice and bright for a good while!

Here are a selection:

I am now working on some prints that will be a combination of hand and digital work. I am starting off with a hand painted piece, photographing it, printing it and then adding further embellishment to each print, so that every print will be unique.

I will keep you posted on them…

They are at it again…

A Place to Live
A Place to Live

Yet again, this image is appearing on various websites, where they have the nerve to not only claim copyright of it but also attribute it to some bogus artist, not me in other words. Some are giving it away as free wallpaper, others are actually selling prints of it.

In some cases they haven’t even bothered changing the file name. I get so frustrated with this kind of illegal use of my work. If someone wanted to use my work for non profit applications they could at least ask! As for the ones making money out of it, I just hope that their karma catches up with them.

I try not to put up very high resolution images, to discourage anyone from using them but if they are really, really low resolution then there isn’t much point in displaying them at all (goes outside to scream).

OK, rant over!

Anyway if anyone wants to buy prints of this or any of my paintings, please contact me. I will be putting some into my Etsy shop, but I can’t afford to list them all just now, so if there is something that you don’t see in the shop, then contact me. I can accept payments by Paypal.