Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Watercolour musings - talks about materials

So today is the first of my watercolour discussions. I would say straight away that I always use artist quality products - I know some other artists use cheaper materials successfully but I have tried them and couldn't get on with them at all. I use Winsor & Newton watercolour paints although I would not suggest that these are superior to other makes, but they are what I started with, liked them and have stuck with them. 

As for brushes - well I must have tried hundreds! Other than my large wash brush and my faithful old 'scrubber' all my paint brushes are sable. Well I say all, that's not entirely true - amongst them are a few brushes manufactured with various mixtures of man-made and sable hair which I have bought in optimism that maybe a new brush had been discovered which would be my perfect brush, but these have always to date, been relegated after first use to mixing paint colours or cleaning my palette. I can only paint with sable and I use a round brush. Most of my work is done with a no 3 sable as I've found with trial and error that with this size I can get a nice point or a nice splay, depending on what I'm painting, together with a reasonable amount of paint holding. Sadly brushes do lose their 'sharpness' quite rapidly and I have to supplement my brush collection frequently. I am still on the look out for the perfect brush which I doubt exists!

Now I mentioned palettes. It will probably surprise you that I still use the travelling box of paints, with the palette an integral part of the box, which I first started with so many years ago! It really is a nuisance as it's difficult to make a large amount of wash without it slopping into it's neighbour's well, but I've never even considered using another palette. In fact I do have two plastic palettes bought for me, but I have only used them for acrylic paint! 

I think paper is a very personal choice. I would suggest you visit your local art shop and buy a sheet of several different makes. You will also need to find out whether you prefer a rough, hot pressed or NOT, also called cold pressed, surface. I like NOT which is a medium surface - between rough and the smooth hot pressed. I like the Saunders Waterford brand which is 100% cotton rag and which is strong enough to take a reasonable amount of scrubbing. I always soak my paper in a bath of cold water for at least 10 minutes before stretching it. It really is important for you to try different makes as they differ enormously in the way the paint sits on them and is absorbed.

I will talk about which colours make up my palette in my next post but meanwhile, do let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

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