Monday, August 03, 2009

Tools and fishes


I started this watercolour with a line drawing the other night and have begun to lay down layers of watercolour. This is being done on a half sheet of Arches 140lb paper and its acting horribly, almost like tissuepaper, despite having been stretched. I'll continue on with it and see how it turns out and whether it will warp badly. I've had bad luck with this batch of Arches paper with masking fluid tearing the layers and now it reacting badly to being wetted. I may invest in another brand of w/c paper, but am limited here to what's available. Looks like its another mail order.

Note to self: Buy 300lb watercolour paper in future, no matter how much it costs!

These are capelin that I was given and photographed last week. I was drawn to the colours and sheen on the skin and this piece is a bit more of an experiment to see if they turn out as I want them to do without getting muddy. This is early stages and in its ugly phase where its very much at risk of being trashed. I'm trying to see past this and into its final form which is in my head.

Its time I invested in a new set of watercolours, as I'm still working with my ancient set of Winsor & Newton half pans which are literally 25 years old or more. That shows how often I use watercolour. A number of the pans are nearly empty, but I can buy the halfpans to replace them. Or perhaps I may just go for a set of tubed watercolours.

What are the watercolourists' views on this? Pans or tubes?

12 comments:

Jonathan Manning said...

I like pans and cakes for sketching and small work because of their ease of use and clean up. Just close the lid. However, tubes offer so much better color and solubility of pigment. In studio I would always use tubes. Sketching out and about pans. Plein air I think of as extended studio.

Maree said...

This looks like an enjoyable exercise, Jeanette, and your colours are beautiful. Pity about the paper. Maybe you can lay your hands on some Bockingford 300gsm - lovely and taught to work on.

Gesa said...

Yippieh! More fish - I like your watercolours plays with them but am holding my breath for more fish prints :)

Tracy Hall said...

So sorry to hear of your problems with the Arches, Jeanette. If you can get hold of some Saunders Waterford its a super alternative and takes much more abuse before it throws a hissy fit :) I use it alot. As to paints I prefer tubes but its an entirely personal thing isn't it. Either way, I would avoid gettig a set and just buy them individually.

Thses fish look like terrific subjects!

Billie Crain said...

I've had some problems with the last block of Arches HP I purchased. Nothing I can't deal with but the paper has changed. Apparently it's not just Arches that has made changes to their papers. I'll leave you a link to a blog post that may explain why:
http://suessketchblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/sketchbooks.html

Btw, use tube paint! You'll get much better colors, especially on a project this large. If the buckling gets much worse you can always remove it from your board, dampen the backside and weight it down until dry. That should clear up those wrinkles.

Jeanette said...

You're quite right Jonathan. The tubes are better, especially for larger works in the studio. Pan sets are so very portable.

Thanks Maree. I will have to place another mail order I think to get the paper that I need.

More fish prints will come Gesa, mostly because I can't keep them on the shelf, they keep selling!

Good tips Tracy, thanks. I'll find some of the Saunders when I place my order. I think I'm going to go for tubes this time as they are more versatile and it seems the colours are richer.

That's an interesting link Billie. It does make me wonder about the Arches paper. Seems nothing but bother with the full size sheets that I bought.

And tube paint it is! From seeing your pieces, the colours are richer and more vibrant.

The buckling did virtually disappear when the painting completely dried, so there's hope yet, but I will be trying some other papers as soon as I can.

Robyn said...

Watercolours in tubes will give you the best of both worlds, Jeanette. I fill half-pans from tubes so they are convenient to carry and use paint directly from the tube when I'm working on bigger pieces. You can just start refilling that old paintbox.

Thrilled to hear there are more fish prints coming and that they are selling well!

This painting already looks very pleasing. Not to late to wet it and stretch it on a board even now before you proceed.

Jan said...

It's such a shame that you don't use watercolor more often as you work beautifully in this medium.

It's also a shame about your paper - I've also heard that papers from various companies have changed. As far as the Arches goes, I've heard they've changed the sizing formula somewhat and that the paper shouldn't be soaked for more than about 5 minutes before stretching. I don't know what has actually happened to the different papers, but I have noticed a difference also.

Can't help you with the tubes vs pans as I've always used tubes.

Ginny Stiles said...

TUBES but it sounds like you are already sold.
Pans are just for sketching en plein air.
I can't believe you are having all that trouble with Arches!!! I have used and adored Arches for years and years and years! I have never had a problem with it! I stocked up with paper about a year ago and I wonder if they have changed the formula since? If you I will be crushed! I always buy it in full sized sheets (no blocks!) I thought I read you stretched it (I don't always). You should NOT get wrinkles if you stretched! Did you staple it down on the edges while it was wet? So strange.

Niall young said...

You always chose to use such lovely colours...but you must get better paper...I use 300lb paper, and even that can distort if not stretched.As for paints...I've always prefered solid paints in pans...but sometimes opt for tube Gouache also...especially white.

Jeanette said...

Thanks for the words of advice Robyn. The buckling seems to disappear once the paper dries so I'm not too panic stricken now.

I've heard rumours of changes in paper sizing in Arches paper, but can't confirm anything. I think I will switch anyway and go for a heavier paper too.

Ginny, I've always used pans and rarely tubes. The pans are great for smaller pieces and plein air, but I'm doing larger pieces now and tubes I think will be the way for me to go.

The paper challenges may just be this batch and they are full sheets not blocks. I have a sampler pack of w/c papers that I'm going through to see what works and what doesn't.

Thanks Niall. I agree, I need better paper. Something I can rarely get here without spending $20 a sheet. I shall put pressure on my credit card and do another mail order for tubes and paper.

Now...what colours....

Robyn said...

Jeanette - Deciding which colours is a fun and expensive. I have 78 tubes of different watercolours and an embarrassing number of tubes of gouache. No, I don't use them all.

I ended up with so many because every time I read a new art book I went off chasing the recommended palettes. Of course, I now know better. But I never learn ;)

Okay, I'll suggest just one - W&N Quinacridone Gold :)