Saturday, December 7, 2013

Having a coffee

Self-portrait with a coffee, watercolor 38 x 28 cm
We, artists, have the option to paint ourselves as young and good looking as we want. This portrait is based on a photo from my last year's vacation. I didn't bother with small details like wrinkles and fine-lines :)

I'd like to share some recent observations with paints. For years I have been using DaVinci artists watercolors, as their price is at least twice lower than W&N. I have read different reviews, which confirm the high quality of DaVinci in terms of light-fastness and concentration of pigment. Lately, when I ran out of some pigments, I decided to try Winsor&Newton artists colors, to see how they feel, as they seem to be considered one of the best brands in watercolor painting. 

After using them for a couple of months, I am quite disappointed. They seem very gummy. When I reach to pick some pigment with my brush, it doesn't come out easily from the blob.When it eventually does, I have to work it for quite a while into a homogeneous substance. Even a very short time in the palette dries the pigment and makes these problems worse. Also, at least with the colors I've tried, it seems that the pigment is not so concentrated and I need more color to get the desired saturation. The W&N colors I have been using are Burned Sienna, Raw Sienna, Brown Madder and Cerulean. It seems to me, that the gum in the paint is too much and this is causing the problem. I wouldn't presume to give advice on which brand is better, but for myself, I will stick with the paints that I am used to, and that cost less, as an added bonus.

24 comments:

Jane said...

I recognized you immediately when I saw the thumbnail ! This is really great Blaga, to me you are spot on ! I never tried da Vinci watercolors but always use W&N....wonder if we can get that brand in Italy. Definitely some good advice here.

Rita Vaselli said...

Dear Blaga a very rich character portrait ! Rendering Beautiful and well done as always !
The Winsor & Newton colors are the easiest to buy for me, in the area where I live . They are drier than Daniel Smith and DaVinci (I had something as a gift from U.S. ) or Maimeriblu .
For some painters (such as botanical artists ) this is an advantage ...
The colors you've used can not make an idea of Winsor & Newton. The colors are as Winsor Blue ( in the various shadows ) or QuinacridoneMagenta that can give an idea of how many artists will appreciate this brand ... I personally have a mixed palette of Winsor & Newton, Schmincke , Maimeri , Blockx and the magic of Grumbacher Thalo Blue ( gift friends from America ) ... If , however, the state of conservation of the material was not perfect is not the fault of Winsor & Newton.
IF there is an ongoing sale of a product in one place, it may happen that the dealers do not provide us with material in good condition to use ... now Winsor & Newton have all changed the packaging to make it visible when the material is too old ... for me to get here would be very expensive to make American products because of duty , for which paradoxically Winsor & Newton is a lot cheaper!

Judy said...

I recognized you immediately too! A great self portrait, Blaga, I love your dreamy look! And the hands so beautifully painted!
I use the Talens paints, the Van Gogh and Rembrandt variety, a Dutch brand most easily available here and cheaper than W&N. Have a nice Sunday!

Polly Birchall said...

It's very interesting to hear artists views on different materials. I use mostly W&N, have never tried Da Vinci, sounds like it might be worth a try. I knew the painting was you and it is really very good! Happy Sunday

Blaga said...

Thank you, Jane, I'm very glad to hear that you recognized me :) I'm also happy with how the portrait turned out.

Thank you, Rita! It was interesting to learn that W&N is the easiest available and relatively cheaper brand there. It seems that the best value you always get with the more local brands.
I do have some more exotic W&N colors, like Opera pink and Winsor red, which a beautiful shades, but seldom use them.

Thank you, Judy! I'm happy you mention a dreamy look, that's exactly what i was trying to convey. I was surprised how fast and easy I did the drawing for this painting - apparently I'm making progress, which feels great.
Apparently, the local products have the best prices. I was happy to discover that the more expensive is not necessarily better.

Thank you, Polly! From what the others say, I wouldn't be surprised if DaVinci, being an American brand, is more expensive to get in the UK than W&N.

INA JACOBSEN said...

Great portrait, and I,m sure that inside yourself you are just as yong as the painting. I use San Petersburgo, white nights. It just come in cases, but it´s wonderful and the lowest price. I also use Sennelier that is exactli the same but in tubes, and much more expensive, the two have perfect colors ,bright and transparent, and one just need a very small tuch with the bruch .

renate said...

Wow Blaga! How beautiful you are even with wrinkles haha. Compare with mine it's nothing!!
You did an amazing job with this selfportrait. So relaxed! Well done. Have a nice week.xx (I use Van Gogh for over 10 years now and they still satisfy:)

Jean Lurssen said...

Nice portrait Blaga. I used to use W&N exclusively but then tried Daniel Smith watercolors and absolutely love them. If you have not tried them yu should. I now use a mix of these two brands.

Lydie said...

Hello Blagga,

What a nice portrait and with so much likeness!

I used W&N until I discovered Maimeri watercolors. Since this summer I have the opportunity to easily find colors from Daniel Smith at my provider. I love these colors, they are beautiful. I recently rebuilt my palette and I also added some watercolors from Blockx. These are very concentrated and do not seem to dry as much as others do.

JANE MINTER said...

hi blaga ...you have some wonderful things happening with your portrait

Tito said...

Hi Blaga, your self portrait is very nice indeed.
I normally use W&N colors, but I have to say that now they have less quality than some time ago. I do not know what happens, but particularly with the Burnt Sienna and the Cobalt Blue, I have seen the difference.

Eva de dueñas said...

Me gusta esa mirada perdida y ese gesto bien elaborado. Buen autoretrato Blaga. Felicidades

Blaga said...

You are right, Ina, we all feel twenty years old inside, don't we :) Thank you, for sharing your choice of paints. I just checked White Nights on the web and they seem to be a very nice quality watercolors.

Thank you, Renate! I figured that if I don't like the image in the mirror, painting a better version would lift my spirit ;)

Thank you for your comment, Jean! Yes, I've heard many praises for Daniel Smith paints, they seem to be very juicy and a pleasure to work with.

Thank you, Lydie! I think that Daniel Smith are only available by mail order here. But I've heard so many good things about them, I may try them one day. Blockx is another new name for me, thank you for sharing!

Thank you, Jane, I appreciate your words!

Thank you, Tito! You are not the only one noticing the change of quality in W&N paints. I heard similar opinions from other experienced artists at my course two months ago. They complained that some pigments they have been using for decades, have changed recently, and they don't like that.

Blaga said...

Gracias, Eva! Creo que estaba soñando de no ir a trabajar y alojarse en el resort para siempre ;)
(I think I was dreaming of not going back to work and staying at the resort for ever )

Mercedes Ares said...

Hola Blaga. magnifico autorretrato, imagen limpia y brillante tanto el rostro como las manos. UNA OBRA HERMOSA. Saludos!!

Blaga said...

Gracias mucho, Mercedes!

Elvi said...

Bellissimo autoritratto. Somigliantissimo

Sadami said...

Dear Blag, good portrait. Painting way & out-come tell who you are very well. As I always do figures, I feel how you painted it. Thank u for sharing the info. I'm learning a lot from u. It's important for us to take a risk and enjoy an adventure. It gives us a winder and deep view. Look forward to your next portrait!
Best wishes, Sadami

Mari Jose Molina said...

Nice selfportrait! I love it! :)

JANE MINTER said...

Wishing you a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS Blaga !

Tito said...

Dear Blaga, I write here my wishes to you and your family, Marry Christmas and Happy New Year!! A hug! Tito.

Isabelle said...

Je te souhaite de belles fêtes de fin d'année et beaucoup de belles choses pour la nouvelle année

cathyswatercolors said...

Happy Holidays Blaga! Great painting of YOU! I use some Windsor Newton but prefer Daniel Smith and some Holbien

Katherine Harra said...

Just found your blog, and love your work. I need to chime in on your Davinci discussion. I too have been ordering Davinci exclusively (from Cheap Joe's) for more than a decade, and have no complaints. The price and the large tubes convinced me,and made me much freer with my paint. As a cheapskate, I try to justify or minimize the expenses incurred by my "hobby". A couple of years back I won a 'merchandise award' - 48 colors of M.Graham, the honey-based paint. Many people love THAT brand, and envied me, but I hated it, and gave it all away to artist friends. I think it's what you get used to.