Blog 28 : Colour Matters

Colours by the same name….part 2!

I’m back at last! I have decided to continue on from Blog 25 which discussed Quinacridone Gold across three brands and how very different they all were. It is very easy to make the mistake of thinking different brand pigments will be the same if they have the same name or a very similar name. Some even have the same pigment index number!

In this blog I will be looking at a number of pigment colours across the Daniel Smith and the Winsor & Newton range. All but one have identical names but as you will see many of them are quite different. One colour even shows a difference in temperature, one is warmer and the other cooler. Some are more intense than others, five are completely different!

I am a big fan of W&N as the colour selection, where primaries are concerned, suits me well. Don’t get me wrong I like DS pigments too. DS pigments are beautifully intense and I especially like their iridescent range. These are great for adding shine to butterfly wings. I just feel there is too much choice in the DS range as it is possible to mix every colour you need with 3 blues, 3 reds and 3 yellows. When you mix with primaries, I really don’t think you need 25 reds to choose from, do you? There are also 13 violets in the DS range and I only use 2 from the W&N range, Winsor Violet and Perylene Violet. Some pigment colours across both brands make you think, do you really need them? W&N Ultramarine Violet for instance, why not add a little Winsor Violet to French Ultramarine? Cobalt Violet….a little Quinacridone Magenta mixed with Cobalt Blue will do the trick! Anyway, it’s food for thought.

I have selected 25 W&N pigments for my palette and one DS, Lemon Yellow. The only reason this yellow is there is because it is very like cool Winsor Lemon but DS Lemon Yellow is transparent, not semi-transparent. I generally use 6-9 of my pigments at the most when painting, depending on the subject.

The colours with the same names (except one) that I have selected to compare across these two ranges are listed below:

New Gamboge
Indian Yellow
Quinacridone Gold
Quinacridone Red
Permanent Alizarin Crimson
Perylene Maroon
Burnt Sienna
Cobalt Blue
French Ultramarine
Indanthrene Blue (Indanthrone Blue)
Perylene Green
Perylene Violet

I have written an outline for each pigment below to show you the differences and qualities. As you will notice there are three DS pigments which are semi-transparent. I prefer to use transparent or semi-transparent pigments. Some of the differences here are huge but some are actually quite favourable!

(Note: Some photographs are not always a true representation. The DS transparency symbols are different to W&N. Their semi-transparent symbol is a circle which is half black and half white. W&N uses a square which is half white and black but in this brand it means semi-opaque).

New Gamboge
DS – Transparent PY97, PY110
W&N – Transparent PR209, PY150
DS – very close to the primary yellow with a slight orange bias. A lovely pure pigment similar to W&N Indian Yellow but nearer to the yellow spectrum.
W&N – a muted yellow, similar to Transparent Yellow with a very slight brown bias when at full colour. A little warmer than Transparent Yellow. Makes a beautiful pale cream/yellow when watered down.

Indian Yellow
DS – Transparent PY97, PY110
W&N – Transparent PO62, PY139
DS – a cool yellow with translucency. Not what I would consider an Indian Yellow, more like W&N Transparent Yellow. This pigment could be used as a transparent yellow.
W&N – a rich orange yellow, flows smoothly and makes beautiful cream/apricot tones when watered down. Great for mixing bright oranges.

Quinacridone Gold
DS – Transparent PO48, PY150
W&N – Transparent PR206, PV19, PY150
DS – a warmer, less muted version with a lovely golden glow. It has an orange bias.
W&N – a muted, duller QG with a strong yellow bias. Rich brown/gold when at full strength.

Quinacridone Red
DS – Transparent PV19
W&N – Transparent PR209
DS – a cool magenta/red resembling Permanent Rose (PV19). Quinadridone Red in the DS range is closest to Permanent Rose.
W&N – a warm primary red. The match for this red is Quinadridone Coral (PR209) in the DS range. It is quite a weak pigment in both ranges but a beautiful pink/red.

Permanent Alizarin Crimson
DS – Transparent PR177, PV19, PR149
W&N – Transparent PR206
DS – a rich intense version of this colour but made with three index colours. It has a slightly warm red bias compared the W&N version which is cooler.
W&N – a cool not as intense version which can look a little flat when watered down on some watercolour papers.

Perylene Maroon
DS – Semi-Transparent PR179
W&N – Transparent PR179
DS – a rich intense version of this colour. It has a slightly warm red bias compared the W&N version which appears a little cooler.
W&N – Nicely intense too. Very slightly cooler than the DS version.

Burnt Sienna
DS – Semi-Transparent PBr7
W&N – Transparent PR101
DS – a very different Burnt Sienna to W&N and it appears to granulate. It is also semi-transparent.
W&N – one of my favourite reds. A much warmer version than DS. It is more like Pompeii Red (PBr7) in the DS range. I would add a tiny bit of Transparent Yellow (DS Indian Yellow) to Pompeii Red to make it a perfect match!

Cobalt Blue
DSSemi-Transparent PB28
W&N – Semi-transparent PB28
DS – this appears to granulate a little more than the W&N version and is very, very slightly cooler despite having the same index number.
W&N – a lovely middle blue, granulating. There seems to be a very slight difference but it is minimal.

French Ultramarine
DS – Transparent PB29
W&N – Transparent PB29
DS – a pure primary blue slightly more intense than the W&N version. Granulates.
W&N – a vibrant primary blue with no bias. Granulates. The only difference here is intensity of pigment.

Indanthrene Blue & Indanthrone Blue
DS Indanthrone – Transparent PB60
W&N Indanthrene – Semi-transparent PB60
DS – Indanthrone Blue is more like royal blue compared to Indanthrene Blue. It has a very slight red bias.
W&N – this version is very different to the DS version. It is a deeper blue with a very slight green bias. They both have the same index number though!
These are a nice option for a choice of warm or cool dark blue!

Perylene Green
DS – Semi-Transparent PBk31
W&N – Transparent PBk31
DS – very slightly warmer than W&N. It is semi-transparent. Mix it with a rich red like Pyrrol Crimson for a true black.
W&N – this version is very similar but it has a very slight blue bias. It is totally transparent as opposed to semi-transparent. Add a rich red like Permanent Carmine for a true black mix.

Perylene Violet
DS – Transparent PV29
W&N – Transparent PB29
DS – a rich pigment but it is more muted than the W&N version, that is, it has duller appearance.
W&N – slightly brighter and more intense. It veers more towards the violet spectrum and less towards the brown. A favourite pigment of mine, seen so much in plants! Mix with different yellows for some wonderful muted ochre and brown tones.

As you have seen there are various differences for a number of pigments listed above. There are even slight differences with pigments that have the same index numbers. This variation will most likely be due to different production processes and binders. On one occasion above we saw that a comparison offered up warm and cool versions, W&N Indanthrene Blue and DS Indanthrone Blue. When mixing with these two pigments, the tones would be more muted with Indanthrene Blue and brighter with the DS version. A few DS and W&N pigments have the same name but another colour in the DS range matches more closely.

So, I hope you enjoyed this blog and that it proves useful to you. Thank you for reading and I’ll be back soon with more interesting colour matters.

Great news received today!

My book has arrived in the UK! I will be receiving one of the first copies in the post soon. So exciting! More details below.

Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists

A practical guide to accurate watercolour mixing with primaries for botanical artists
Colour mixing is a key skill for the botanical artist. In this practical guide, Jackie Isard explains how to observe and use colour accurately. She shows artists how to make informed choices when selecting pigments, as well as how to learn about colour mixing and its application.
• Gives detailed instruction and advice on understanding colour and pigments
• Explains how to ‘see’ colour and tricky mixes, from greens and reds to the difficult botanical greys
• Includes advanced colour application techniques – colour enhancement, shadow colours and colour temperature transition
• Step-by-step guides illustrate how to paint with layers, how to use underlaying colours to enhance, and colour and fine detailing

Order online via major book shops or Amazon. Published by The Crowood Press Ltd

More information on how to buy is on my website www.jibotanicals.co.uk. Please note, preorders for the USA and Canada are online. Launch in the states is October 2021. E-books are available worldwide.

USA and Canada distributor: www.ipgbook.com

Otherwise, Europe or UK can order through www.crowood.com or as below:

Amazon link UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Watercolour-Mixing-Techniques-Botanical-Artists/dp/1785008285
Waterstones link UK :https://www.waterstones.com/book/watercolour-mixing-techniques-for-botanical-artists/jackie-isard//9781785008283
WHSmith link UK: https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/watercolour-mixing-techniques-for-botanical-artists/jackie-isard/paperback/9781785008283.html

Also available as an e-book worldwide.

Blog 27 : Colour matters

Oranges and reds

For this blog I have decided to discuss how a pigment with a bias affects the mix using orange and red as an example. There are many different tones of red and orange from the bright and vivid to the muted and dark. Colours can range from a pale apricot to the bright orange in a Gerbera and with reds, from a deep dark red Dahlia to a bright red field poppy and the orange-red of a slightly unripe tomato. So, let’s start with orange and find out how we can select the right reds and yellows for the job in hand.

Mixing your own orange tones is more accurate than buying a ready-made orange pigments. There are many ready-made oranges but you will most likely find that they are opaque. Cadmium pigments are always opaque and Winsor Orange is also semi-opaque. Daniel Smith have a very good selection of reds and oranges which are mostly semi-transparent and transparent. There is a relatively new orange in the Winsor & Newton professional watercolour range called Transparent Orange. This is totally transparent and has a beautifully bright orange/red hue. However, it may not be quite the tone of orange you are looking when painting a marigold for instance, but adding a little Transparent or Indian yellow will adjust it, simples! Opaque pigments are not good for layering watercolour when painting as you will not achieve as much depth or translucency.

The image below shows the pigments used for this experiment. They are all Winsor & Newton professional watercolour pigments. Four reds: Permanent Rose (PR), Quinacridone Red (QR), Scarlet Lake (SL) and Winsor Red (WR). Three yellows: Winsor Lemon (WL), Transparent Yellow (TY) and Indian Yellow (IY). They are all transparent or semi-transparent pigments. They all have different qualities of their own. PR is a violet bias magenta red pretending to be pink, QR is a saturated and very appealing red (close to the primary), SL is a lovely warm orange biased red and WR is a richer saturated primary red with a slightly darker value. WL is a very cool green biased yellow, TY is a slightly orange biased yellow and Indian yellow is a very orange biased rich yellow. Let’s see how these colours mix together and what the results are like. You could add many more reds to this experiment such as Permanent Carmine, Perylene Maroon, Quinacridone Magenta and Permanent Alizarin Crimson. If you try mixing all these variations too you will discover a million different tones of red and orange!

The chart below shows a mix of oranges with different amounts of yellow added to each red. Three variations of each. The violet bias of the PR makes makes the mix look more muted, especially in the TY column. These mixes are not as vivid as the other orange mixes, although the PR orange is a little brighter with IY added. My favourite bright orange mix is QR or SL and IY. However, oranges come in many guises and you would need to match your subject by testing your yellow and red mixes first. Test yourself for a true colour match as the photos here are not totally accurate.

The red chart below also shows the differences in orange tones across four yellows. This time I have introduced Quinacridone Gold (QG). QG is a gorgeous colour but a very muting yellow. It is probably easier to see the difference on this chart as the first mix in each column is a red mix with a little yellow added to make orange. Again, there are subtle differences to intensity of colour depending which red and yellow are used. The QG column is quite muted. The TY column is slightly muted. The PR and WR rows are also muted in places. Brightness is appearing more in the first three yellow columns of the SL and QR rows. The differences happen partly due to the colour index numbers within each pigment which I have described for you below. Again, test yourself for a true colour match as the photos here are not totally accurate.

The Yellows
Winsor Lemon – PY175 – A lighter yellow with a green bias, this will generally brighten.
I personally prefer Sennelier Lemon Yellow (PY3) as it is totally transparent whereas WL is semi-transparent. It has a very light value and is a good primary yellow. Daniel Smith Lemon Yellow (PY175) is similar.
Transparent Yellow – PY150 – An intense very slightly orange biased middle tone yellow, very slightly muting.
Indian Yellow – PY139, PO62 – A warm orange biased yellow, a beautifully rich colour! Great for orange mixes but it will dull green mixes to olive/earthy green tones due to the orange pigment content.
Quinacridone Gold – PY150 slightly orange biased yellow, PV19 violet biased red, PR206 brown biased red. This colour has three colour index numbers. The violet bias and brown bias are the muting elements.

The Reds
Permanent Rose – PV19 – A violet bias magenta/red. A cooler red but with a warm pink undertone.
Quinacridone Red – PR209 – A saturated red with a little warmth. It is a less intense, softer red.
Scarlet Lake – PR188 – An intense orange biased red. Mix it with a cool green bias blue though and you’ll get a muddy mess!
Winsor Red – PR254 – A deeper value saturated and intense red. It will mute because of it’s deeper tone.

The orange
Transparent Orange – DPP (Diketo-Pyrrolo-Pyrrol) – a lovely rich orange/red pigment.

I hope this blog was useful and wish you all a very merry Christmas!


Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists

A practical guide to accurate watercolour mixing with primaries for botanical artists
Colour mixing is a key skill for the botanical artist. In this practical guide, Jackie Isard explains how to observe and use colour accurately. She shows artists how to make informed choices when selecting pigments, as well as how to learn about colour mixing and its application.
• Gives detailed instruction and advice on understanding colour and pigments
• Explains how to ‘see’ colour and tricky mixes, from greens and reds to the difficult botanical greys
• Includes advanced colour application techniques – colour enhancement, shadow colours and colour temperature transition
• Step-by-step guides illustrate how to paint with layers, how to use underlaying colours to enhance, and colour and fine detailing

Order online via major book shops or Amazon. Published by The Crowood Press Ltd
ISBN: 9781785008283

More information on how to buy is on my website www.jibotanicals.co.uk. Please note, preorder for the USA and Canada are online. Launch in the states is October 2021. E-books are available worldwide.


Online courses for botanical artists:
•  Mixing Watercolour Accurately for Botanical
•  Fine Details and Finishing Techniques
For more information and course outlines see my website at:
www.jibotanicals.co.uk


NEW MINI-BOOK for beginner botanical artists.
Order from me direct via email or visit my Etsy shop, link below.

The Little Book of Watercolour
for Beginner Botanical Artists

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A very useful little guide for beginner botanical artists wishing to learn how to use watercolour and their painting materials.
• Water and pigment balance 
• Brush types and uses 
• Using a palette
• Exercises to improve brush skills 
• Useful painting techniques

This self published mini-book. 148mm x 148mm

Available to purchase via me personally, email jackieisard@googlemail.com

More little mini-books which will be added to this series
All these books will be aimed at the beginner botanical artist. Subjects will include: What is Botanical art, Easy to understand botany, Measuring and accurate drawing – tips, Painting techniques and application, Colour values in painting, Botany and the botanical artist, Developing a composition – tools and tips, Framing and exhibiting – tips.

Blog 25 : Colour matters

Colours with the same name – don’t be fooled!

A little bit of advice today. Never rely on one manufacturers pigment being exactly the same as another brand, even if it has the same name.

Quinacridone Gold is one example of this anomaly. Winsor & Newton Quinacridone Gold is made with index numbers PY150, PR206 and PV19 but the Sennelier version uses PY150, PR206 and PR101 and Daniel Smith, to further confuse, is made with PY150 and PO48. All three brands will look different when painted due to this.

Quin Golds by Sennelier, Winsor & Newton and Daniel Smith

All brands have the bright PY150  yellow pigment. This is the same pigment used in Transparent Yellow. The Winsor & Newton version is definitely a more muted colour than the Sennelier version and the Daniel Smith one is quite different again. 

Let’s look at the colour index numbers first. These are the index numbers for all three brands. Winsor & Newton: PY150 is a bright yellow, PV19 is a cool magenta, PR206 is a red/brown. Sennelier: PY150 and PR101 a reddish terracotta, a little like Burnt Sienna. Daniel Smith: PY150 and PO48 a burnt orange. 

Here is an analogy of the index numbers within these three pigments.

Winsor & Newton: PY150 (yellow) + PR206 (red/brown) + PV19 (cool magenta like Permanent Rose and Permanent Magenta) – the spike of magenta makes this version more muted because PV19 is cool and very near to the violet/blue spectrum. When red/brown, yellow and the violet biased magenta are mixed we get a golden beige/brown. The magenta makes this mix a more muted gold with a slight brown bias.

Sennelier: PY150 (yellow) + PR206 (red/brown) + PR101 (terracotta/burnt sienna) – the warmth of this mix is due to red index colours being of the same warmth and bias. It is only slightly muted and more golden than the Winsor & Newton version as there is no violet or cool bias.

Daniel Smith: This version of Quinacridone Gold is made with PO48 and PY150. PO48 is a burnt orange tone. This is a warm and brighter version due to no violet or red/brown influence. 

Quinacridone Gold is a colour which sings out in this autumn subjects like this magnolia leaf below!

So when you are selecting new pigments, always check the index numbers. Single index numbers are best for mixing but occasionally you will find a colour with two or even three, like Quinacridone Gold. When mixing with pigments of more than one index number, be aware not to add too many other pigments to it. A maximum of three index numbers mixed together are best for vibrance. Quinacridone Gold is already a muted colour by having three index numbers, so adding more index numbers to it will just mute it even further to brown.

For everything you need to know about colour mixing theory and application techniques see my book below which will be available to purchase next year in March 2021.

Until then, happy painting!


Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists

Published by The Crowood Press

A practical guide to accurate watercolour mixing with primaries for botanical artists
Colour mixing is a key skill for the botanical artist. In this practical guide, Jackie Isard explains how to observe and use colour accurately. She shows artists how to make informed choices when selecting pigments, as well as how to learn about colour mixing and its application.
• Gives detailed instruction and advice on understanding colour and pigments
• Explains how to ‘see’ colour and tricky mixes, from greens and reds to the difficult botanical greys
• Includes advanced colour application techniques – colour enhancement, shadow colours and colour temperature transition
• Step-by-step guides illustrate how to paint with layers, how to use underlaying colours to enhance, and colour and fine detailing

Order online via book shops or Amazon. More information on how to buy is on my website www.jibotanicals.co.uk. Please note, preorders for USA and Canada are available online. Launch in the states is October 2021. E-books are also available.


Online courses for botanical artists:
•  Mixing Watercolour Accurately for Botanical
•  Fine Details and Finishing Techniques
For more information and course outlines see my website at:
www.jibotanicals.co.uk


NEW MINI-BOOK for beginner botanical artists being launched soon. Order from me direct when it is announced on Facebook or via email if you have joined my website mail-list www.jibotanicals.co.uk. Please note, no preorders are being taken at present.

The Little Book of Watercolour
for Beginner Botanical Artists

A very useful little guide for beginner botanical artists wishing to learn how to use watercolour and their painting materials.
• Water and pigment balance 
• Brush types and uses 
• Using a palette
• Exercises to improve brush skills 
• Useful painting techniques

This self published mini-book is available to purchase. See the preview flip through blog here on my blog. Please contact me personally to buy, jackieisard@googlemail.com

Blog 24 : Colour matters

An exercise in pink

I painted this Greater Knapweed flower head a couple of years ago and it truly was an exercise in pink even though the flower is purple. I cut it in half because I wanted to show the inner parts as well as the flower head. It also gave me the opportunity to use a technique called ‘painting in the negative’ in the area where the seeds are produced. I found this so intricate and interesting. The flower colour, in real life, is a bright purple/pink. Lighter areas are more pink in tone and darker areas more violet/purple. The whole inflorescence is exquisitely designed and beautiful to study up close. I just loved ensuring the colour mix was just right and painting in all those lovely fine details!

I have written the colour mixes next to the painting image below and highlighted where they were used. There is no sign of Opera Rose! Quinacridone Magenta was used to make the really bright pink and some Winsor Blue Red Shade added to make the purple tones. You’ll achieve a brighter effect by making sure the highlights are very light and by using good quality white hot pressed watercolour paper. So no need to go for Opera Rose which we know fades over time. Here’s the pigment list:

Transparent Yellow – TY
Quinacridone Gold – QG
Winsor Blue (Red Shade) – WBRS
Indanthrene Blue – IB
Cobalt Blue – COB
Quinacridone Magenta – QM
Permanent Rose – PR
Burnt Sienna – BS
Perylene Violet  – PV
Winsor Violet – WV

I added a thin glaze of Winsor Violet to some areas as a warm overlay towards the end of painting to enhance the violet/purple tones within the subject and occasionally a little thin cool pale blue glaze was added too. Generally, I would use French Ultramarine as a cool overlay. In areas where the pink tones appeared very slightly warmer a pale glaze of Permanent Rose was added. The creamy yellow mix for the bottom of each floret was made with Transparent Yellow and a tiny little bit of Permanent Rose. Some of this mix was also added to the central dissected area which also had many beautiful beige and golden tones.

Comparing pink pigments

Permanent Rose (PV19) is a slightly warmer pink with a violet bias whereas Quinacridone Magenta (PR122) is cooler and has a very strong violet bias. Sennelier Rose Madder Lake (PV19) has the same index number as Permanent Rose and they are indeed very similar. Although I definitely consider Sennelier Rose Madder Lake to be a tad warmer than Permanent Rose. Pinks come in many forms but all these pigments are definitely lightfast.

Many beautiful apricots and warm pink/orange tones can be made with these pigments. Quinacridone Magenta will make the mix more vibrant than Permanent Rose. Just add a warm or cool yellow like Transparent Yellow (cooler), New Gamboge (slightly warmer) or Indian Yellow (very warm). The warmer the yellow, the warmer the mix!

Opera Rose – a much loved colour

Opera Rose is loved by many but as we learned last month it is rated as fugitive. Fading would be much more obvious with certain brands. Winsor and Newton Opera Rose and Daniel Smith Opera Pink are the most reliable for this colour across brands. They will not fade as much as other brands but they will definitely both lose the added fluorescence. Both use colour index PR122. This is the same pigment colour index as Quinacridone Magenta. I personally favour Quinacridone Magenta as my brightest pink pigment purely because it doesn’t pretend to be more vibrant than it is! 

Opera Rose and Quinacridone Magenta test for lightfastness

I did a lightfast test for Winsor and Newton Opera Rose and Quinacridone Magenta over a two year period on my studio windowsill. This is quite a shaded room except for late afternoon sunshine. Testing will show more extreme results in direct sunlight. This is an example of what would happen in less intense sunlight conditions. The test was left on the windowsill from 2017 – 2019. It was hard to get an exact photo so you will just need to take my word for it! The Winsor and Newton Opera Rose (PR122) is still bright but all the fluorescent additive has disappeared making it look less vivid in colour. It now looks more like watered down Quinacridone Magenta. The Quinacridone Magenta (PR122) has not altered.

Making a swatch for testing

The swatch test in the previous image was made in a slightly different way to the example below. I painted fresh pigment onto another piece of paper in 2019 and compared it to the 2017 version. Here is another way to do it. Paint two swatches of the pigment in full colour and a weaker tint underneath on a piece of quality white watercolour paper. Cover one side with black paper. Tape this securely top and bottom so that light cannot get underneath it. Write the date onto the swatch. Leave on a very sunny winsdowsill for at least 3-6 months or longer. This is a good exercise for any colour pigments you are unsure of or that are classed as n.r (not rated).

Watch the Winsor and Newton video ‘Masterclass on Colour Permanence’ to see how a simulated 100 year lightfast test changes these fugitive colours; Rose Madder Genuine, Alizarin Crimson and Opera Rose. Here is the link: www.winsornewton.com/uk/masterclass/permanence-in-colour/

Until next month, happy painting!

Blog 23: Colour matters

Fugitives

We have all heard that dreaded word at some point in our painting career. But what does it mean? How do I know if I’m using a fugitive colour?  It always seems to be the unanswered question!

What is a fugitive and why do they exist?

In history the standards set for pigments was not as important as it is to us now. As time went on pigment manufacturers experimented with different chemicals and natural substances to make even better and more reliable pigments.

During the impressionist period the demand was for bright and vivid colours. However, many of these bright pigments were still fugitive, unreliable and faded badly. The most unreliable were red lakes, madders, carmines, purples, red leads and chrome yellows. A great deal of historic paintings look very different today than when they were first painted because of this. The few more reliable pigments that were made were much more expensive and some famous artists just couldn’t afford them. It was the same for oil colours.

Vincent van Gogh favoured a vivid palette of colours and most of his paintings have faded. His ‘Sunflowers’ painting is a prime example of a fugitive yellow pigment, chrome yellow, which fades to brown in sunlight. Today the flowers look brown. You can see his paintings on this link: www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en/vincent-van-gogh-sunflowers-best-photos-sunflower-close-up-vincent-van-gogh-paintings-wallpaper-image-sunflowers-1323376383
In Victorian times new chemistry developed synthetic prismatic and brighter colours but a lot of these were still fugitive. 

It wasn’t until 1984 that the standards became stricter with the introduction of testing. Nowadays, permanency and lightfast ratings are available for all pigments but there are still some to be aware of. Ratings for artists’ use are A, AA, I and II (companies who use asterisks or stars differ and are detailed in the company pigment lists further on). Anything less than this will not be as reliable for lightfastness. All this information can be found on watercolour company charts or online via their websites. See list of standards below:

I – Very lightfast
II – Good lightfast
III – Average lightfast

AA – Extremely permanent
A – Permanent
B – Moderately durable
C – Fugitive
V – well don’t go there!
n.r. – Not rated by ASTM

I, II ratings are given by the ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials). The society started testing pigments in 1984 to set standards for the performance of art materials, including lightfastness. Winsor & Newton use both ASTM and permanence ratings. In the ASTM system ‘I’ is the highest lightfastness available and ‘V’ is the lowest. Pigments that are not rated by ASTM or the companies who make them bear the symbol n.r.

A, AA – The Winsor & Newton permanence classifications measure not only lightfastness but also general stability of the pigment.

I have made a small A6 chart with all these rating symbols plus transparency symbols for you to download here. Watercolour rating symbols Keep it handy!

Which pigments should I be wary of?

W& N professional 
Alizarin Crimson (B) – as we learned last month Permanent Alizarin Crimson is good, this is lightfast A 
Rose Madder Genuine (B)
Opera Rose (B, really a C!)
Aureolin (II – PY40 this fades to brown despite being rated II)

Daniel Smith
Opera Pink (IV)
Alizarin Crimson (IV)
Aureolin (II – PY40 this fades to brown despite being rated II)

Sennelier
Helios Purple (III)
Dioxazine purple (III)
Quite a few Sennelier pigments are not rated. It’s best to test them yourself to be sure. 

Schmincke
Symbols vary for Schmincke colours, they are as follows:
***** extremely lightfast, **** good lightfastness, *** lightfast, ** limited lightfastness, * less lightfast, – not lightfast
Alizarin crimson (*)
Madder lake deep (**)
Rose Madder (**)
Schmincke violet (**)
Indigo (**)
Olive green (**)
These Brilliant pigments are not rated, would avoid:
Brilliant red violet
Brilliant opera rose
Brilliant purple
Brilliant red violet
Brilliant blue violet

Daler Rowney 
Symbols vary for Daler Rowney, they are as follows:
**** Permanent, *** Normally permanent, ** Moderately permanent,
* Fugitive
Aureolin (** PY40)
21 colours offer **** 
56 colours are rated ***

White Nights
Symbols vary for White Nights colours, they are as follows:
*** high lightfast, ** medium lightfastness, * low lightfast
Hanza yellow (*)
Orange lake (*)
Scarlet (*)
Claret (*)
Rose (*)
Vermillion (*)
Violet rose (*)
Violet (*)
Blue lake (*)

M. Graham
Alizarin crimson (III)

Below is a lightfastness test I did for Opera Rose and Quinacridone Magenta over a two year period (2017 left side and 2019 right side). The Opera Rose is still bright but all the florescent additive has disappeared making it look less intense in colour. The Quinacridone Magenta (PR122) has not altered. The Winsor and Newton (Opera Rose) and Daniel Smith (Opera Pink) versions of this vivid pink are the most reliable across brands using PR122. Both have added fluorescence.
test swatch
If painting for an exhibition where your work will be for sale, always use lightfast pigments. If you have to use a pigment which is less permanent then ensure you put a label on the back of your framed painting stating not to hang it in direct sunlight.

I recommend watching the Winsor and Newton video ‘Masterclass on Colour Permanence’ to see how a simulated 100 year lightfast test changes these fugitive colours; Rose Madder Genuine, Alizarin Crimson and Opera Rose. Here is the link: www.winsornewton.com/uk/masterclass/permanence-in-colour/

So, the secret is to always check the watercolour company rating charts before you buy or look for the ratings on tubes or pans in a shop! If in doubt colour test the pigment by painting it onto watercolour paper and leaving it on a really sunny windowsill for at least 3-6 months.

I hope this blog has answered a few questions for you. Please share it to help others too! Thank you.

Happy painting and see you next month!

 

Blog 22: Colour matters

Blue hues…

Welcome to the second ‘Colour matters’ blog, The topic this month is about my favourite Winsor and Newton blues and a select few that I use as an underlay colour. Laying down a pale blue underlay is a great way to cool a colour mix placed above and enhance strong highlights when added thinly along the edges of them. Just as yellow will warm from underneath and violet will darken shadows. You may have come across this method when painting richly coloured subjects like Holly and Conkers.

Let’s find out a bit more about the blues

Many blues are granulating and some are semi-opaque or opaque. It is useful to know what’s what! When painting in layers, transparent and semi-transparent pigments are best to achieve translucence and depth. Opaque pigments will make your work look dense on watercolour paper. The symbols on your tubes and pans will advise you of this. Those bearing the marks ‘A”, ‘AA’, ‘I’ and ‘II’ are ratings which are best for lightfastness and permanency. Transparency symbols look like this:
transparency symbols
Here I have split some of the W&N blues into categories. The permanency, lightfastness and transparency ratings are under each colour:

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Strongs – those which have greater intensity of pigment, you’ll need less when mixing!

granulators newGranulators – those which granulate, not good for smooth rendering! Some of them will granulate more than others. Cobalt Blue isn’t as grainy as French Ultramarine. However, Ultramarine Green Shade shows very little granulation, but it does have a very slight green bias compared to French Ultramarine. I like the intensity of this pigment compared to French Ultramarine though.

Cerulean is a particularly granulating pigment and semi-opaque. If used as an underlayer, you will not achieve a smooth see-through effect with it. It is good for textured style painting though. See the image below for a comparison. Hopefully you can see it as this was quite hard to photograph! The difference is more obvious in real life. Try it out and see for yourself.
new swatch copyAs seen above, a purple overlay was painted over base layers of Cerulean and Winsor Blue (Red Shade). The purple mix overlaid is a transparent mix. As you will see in the Cerulean example, it appears less crisp and quite mottled by the granulation. It also looks a little flatter where transparency is concerned. The Winsor Blue (Red Shade) underlay appears crisper and more see-through. So, if you are looking for a lighter blue underlay but with a slight yellow bias, just add a teensy bit of Winsor Lemon to Winsor Blue (Red Shade) and you will have a lovely smooth Cerulean look-alike!

green bias new

Green bias – those which will cool a mix or are more green in appearance. Further along the image above are the very green bias blues, turquoise. The greener a blue is, the more vivid it will be when mixing greens. It will need to be tamed by adding a tiny bit of red to make a more natural mix. Add Quinacridone Red (QR) to Phthalo Turquoise (PT) and you will make a muted purple/mauve/burgundy because of the green bias. Add QR to Ultramarine Green Shade (UGS), a less green biased blue, and you will make brighter purple and mauve. This is because the green bias adds more yellow to the mix muting it down. Yellow and blue make green (green/blue), plus red makes brown!

red biasRed bias – those which will add warmth a mix. Add Transparent Yellow to a red bias blue and you will make more natural greens. Add it to Winsor Blue (Green Shade), a green bias blue, and you will make vibrant but less natural emerald greens. Red will need to be added to tame these mixes.

Nearly greens
Nearly greens
– those which have a definite green bias. You will notice above that Cobalt Turquoise and Cobalt Turquoise Light are semi-opaque. They also granulate. I would only use these for textured, looser style painting.

nearly blacks
Nearly blacks
– those blues which are very dark pigments with a blue bias. Notice also that both Indigo and Payne’s Grey are opaque and semi-opaque. These pigments contain black which gives them their opacity. Both have the same colour index numbers – PB15 • PBk6 • PV19 but in different proportions. The black colour index will make a mix dense and flat looking. These pigments are only useful in extremely dark areas although darkening a mix is much better using transparent or semi-transparent primaries. If done this way, it will still have a see-through feel despite being almost black.

My underlay blue choices

My favourite blues for underlaying are Winsor Blue (Red Shade), French Ultramarine and Cobalt Blue. Winsor Blue (Red Shade) is particularly good when watered down as it is really smooth. It is a lovely bright red biased blue. Make sure you paint it on very pale though as it is one of the stronger pigments. It is also one of my favourite blues to mix with. French Ultramarine, although it granulates, when used very thinly it adds a nice coolness. It is a blue with little to no bias. It is great for edging highlights on dark coloured leaves like holly. Cobalt is a lighter blue which also granulates a little. Again, used thinly, it adds a nice coolness to the layers above.

Well that’s it for this month! If you like, please do message me with any suggestions of which colours you’d like to discuss next.

Until the 24th of next month, I hope you all have a great August. Maybe even have a break and be able to spend a few days away from home!

Happy colour mixing and painting!

Jackie Isard BA (Hons) SBA Fellow CBM ASBA

Blog 21: Colour matters

Colour matters – colour comparison tip

based on Winsor & Newton professional watercolours

From today, each month, I will be making a short blog about Winsor & Newton watercolour pigments and explain a few discoveries I have made along the way. Each blog will contain a range of interesting facts, tips and tricks. It will be a monthly post at about the same time each month, so look out for it around the 24th! Like my ‘Jackie Isard Botanicals’ Page to receive it on your Facebook timeline.
You will find my page on this link:

https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/

Alizarin Crimson versus Permanent Carmine…

Is Alizarin Crimson dulling your paintings? It looks really bright in the palette so why should this be? Don’t you wish it would stay bright?… well, unfortunately, that’s not possible as it will always dry a little duller than expected. This is because Alizarin Crimson (PR83) is a warm red with a slight maroon bias. It is also fugitive and will fade in sunlight. If you like to use Alizarin Crimson then make sure you buy the permanent version, Permanent Alizarin Crimson (PR206) for reliability.

Another question springs to mind. What’s the difference between Alizarin Crimson and Permanent Alizarin Crimson? There is very little difference in colour but Permanent Alizarin Crimson is very permanent, rated ‘A’ so shouldn’t fade. Alizarin Crimson is moderately permanent, rated ‘B’ and fugitive so it will fade badly. Alizarin Crimson is not good to use if you are exhibiting paintings where reliability and permanence are expected. An ‘A’ rating is always much better!

You could substitute this colour for Permanent Carmine (Quinacridone pyrrolidone) which is only a teensy, tiny bit cooler. Add a teensy, tiny bit of Transparent yellow to it and you’ll have a Permanent Alizarin Crimson match which stays bright. It will also give a slightly brighter colour mix when added to yellows and blues. Add French Ultramarine for a beautiful rich warm purple/mauve. Add Indian Yellow for really rich and vibrant orange and red mixes. Historically, Carmine was made from thousands of crushed kermes insects, ewwww… Thank goodness for Quinacridones!

Until next months, take care and keep safe!

Look out for my book ‘ Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists’ coming out later this year!

Blog 17: Painting a Faded Protea

I thought I would share the process of how I made this painting with you all. I discovered this dying protea in the training room at the Bristol Botanic Gardens when I was teaching there. It had been discarded and left to go mouldy on the shelf. You can see the green mould on the inner stamens below. I rescued it and another one which I have yet to paint!

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The whole thing began as an exciting new project. I plan to paint it for the SBA (Society of Botanical Artists) exhibition this year. It was the most mammoth painting I’ve ever made!

I started the process by studying my subject thoroughly so that I didn’t miss out any of those incredible details or colours. What looks like a flower to start with is actually a series of inner and outer bracts which protect the inner whorl of tepals containing the stamens and stigma inside. The feathery bits! The drawing took ages to complete but eventually it was all traced up onto watercolour paper (a piece of old stock Fabriano Artistico HP) and I was ready to go.

Firstly, I made a awatch of mixes to help me with the colours of my subject. I use this as a guide. My palette consisted of seven primaries (Winsor Blue (Red shade), Indanthrene Blue, Indian Yellow, Quinacridone Gold, Transparent Yellow, Permanent Carmine, Permanent Rose and two others Perylene Violet and Winsor Violet. These are all Winsor & Newton professional watercolour pigments. As you can see there are warm and cool mixes within each range below. See below drawing and practice pieces before I started the actual painting.

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I practiced three tricky elements first. After this I was happy with the techniques I needed to use to achieve a good painting. The last photo above shows the beginning of the painting.

I used a fair bit of wet-in-wet technique on the first layers for the larger inner involucral bracts and the bottom leaves. The tepals, outer thin feathery ones, I did mainly in wet-on-dry and dry brush. The photo below shows a few individual tepals which sit outside the whorl (stigma and stamens) in the very centre. All are very tightly closed to start with but as they mature they spring open and spread out revealing the straight pointed stigmas. The centre part is then exposed. That’s the bit I love!

Next I had to decide where to start! I protected my painting with layout paper and moved around the painting from left to right and then down the middle, section by section. The centre section of stamens and stigma was a little scary and I often wondered how I would approach that area. I came to the conclusion that I would cross that bridge when I came to it!

I thoroughly enjoyed painting the golden hues of the bracts and tepals with their hairy tops. Making them shine was essential too. This meant the highlights had to be prominent. The first layer of wet-in-wet was followed by graduated soft washes to build up colour. Once I had achieved this I could concentrate on the dry brush and fine detailing. This sometimes included splaying my brush into points to created rough textured lines. At times I needed to use my eradicator brush to bring up highlights and lighten the edges of the tepals where they touched another. The following photos show the techniques used.

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Painting the hairs…how do you paint white hairs on a white background I hear you say! Well, I used the very tip of my Billy Showell No. 2 brush and carefully painted in between the hairs (so painting the negative) where they overlapped another stamen in the background. For the ones that were loose with nothing behind them, I used a very pale warm grey colour and painted in the fine hairs. Of course, the red hairs were much easier. There were also little white hairs on the bracts which I painted in using a white paint……..sooooooo many hairs!

Suddenly, I realised I was reaching the centre section of stamens! Ugh….what to do? Taking a deep breath I checked the subject thoroughly to see how the colours changed over the stamens and where the warm/cool areas were. I had already drawn in fine lines to indicate where the stamens were and the little twirly hairy bits (anthers) which occasionally appeared within the mass. It was again a case of painting the negative and laying soft graduated washes down to create form. The anthers needed masking out before I started the fine detail work. I use a mapping pen for this but you must be careful not to scratch the paper as the nib is very sharp. It’s a great tool for small areas and fine lines though. See the first photo. I erased the masking fluid with a Tombow monochrome eraser pen. This has a small tip and is ideal for removing masking fluid. A soft rubber or a clean finger can also be used to do this. Make sure you do this gently to protect the surface sizing of the paper. The images below show these items.

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I started by adding a thin layer of colour to the central area. This was a creamy tone which was what I call the ‘base’ colour. From here I began painting into the negative to create the fine lines between each one. I used soft graduated washes of various beige tones to build up form on the individual stamens as well as across the whole area. Once I had built up the colour enough, I rubbed off the masking fluid. I was now ready to paint the anthers. Treating them like feathers, I detailed in the shadow tones between the hairs. This took a very long time! The whole painting took about 4-5 weeks to complete.

Now I had to finish off the top part with twiddly stamens and hairy anthers to create the rounded top. This was all done with intricate dry brush work. Painting the shadows was important here to create form and give the impression of lots and lots and lots of stamen hairs!

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Mission accomplished! Next on the agenda was to finish off the right side and the rest of the inner bracts. Once complete I used wet-in-wet technique to apply a base layer to the leaves. They had really beautiful pattering and were very colourful. See the two images here.

Laying in the subtle colour tones was great fun! This was the first layer of wet-in-wet followed by soft graduated washes and much detailed dry brush work. The hardest part with the leaves was getting them to look like the reverse of the leaf. In most cases they were reversed. Much erasing happened as whatever I did they looked the other way round! It was an optical illusion because the more I stared at it, they kept changing! The reverse of the leaf needed very short shadows along the midrib to achieve this. Eventually it all came together. But if you stare a while longer…..you may still see it the other way! See progress photos below.

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Next on the agenda was the stem, my favourite part. I just love painting woody stems. Essentially it’s a lot of wet-on-dry and dry brush work with very fine detailing. Adding every little detail in counts too! The more detail the more realistic it will look.

The top part of the stalk has lovely red/brown tones with deep grooves but faded below to a beige/grey texture. For the top I used dry brush for the fine detail and on the bottom, soft washes with a splayed brush to make the pattering as described above in this blog. See images here.

Finally, the finished painting emerged. What a journey but so worth it as it won the Margaret Granger Award at the SBA Mall Galleries exhibition! I am so delighted as this was a very ambitious project for me. I now have three awards on my wall. I feel very honoured! The photo below shows me receiving my award and my Fellow Membership from the President of the SBA, Billy Showell.

Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you enjoyed it!
Jackie 🙂

Blog 15: Online Course – Mixing Colour Accurately for Watercolour for Botanical

Jackie Isard Botanicals – Mixing Colour Accurately for Watercolour for Botanical 

colour online
A course for those who struggle to mix accurately with  watercolours! Learn how to mix watercolour accurately using primaries. You’ll be amazed at what can be achieved with practice and you won’t need to buy so many pigments!

THIS IS NOW AN ONGOING COURSE AND YOU CAN JOIN AT ANY TIME! PLEASE DO NOT MESSAGE ME ABOUT THE COURSE HERE as I’ve had some issues with replies not being sent through. Private message me on Facebook or email me please.

This course is for Beginners and Intermediate students. The course contains a lot of exercises, detailed course notes, video tutorials and a dedicated Secret Facebook Group, all designed and created by your tutor Jackie Isard. It concentrates on mixing with primaries and aims to help you ‘see‘ colour more easily whilst building your confidence in colour mixing. It’s definitely not another course with endless colour charts! An Intermediate/ Advanced Colour course will be launched in 2020.

Details of the course:

• A course designed to help you ‘see’ colour more easily and build your confidence with colour selection and application
 
• No endless charts!
 
• Learn how pigments work
 
• Exercises which help you to ‘see’ more easily with detailed notes and video tutorials
 
• Develop a structured way to test colours and mixing possibilities
 
• Understand which pigments to choose for vibrant colours and subdued tones
 
• Practical tasks for a better understanding of what has been learned through the course
 
• Patient online appraisal all through the course
 
• A dedicated student group page to share and learn
 
• A final appraisal letter and certificate

The course consists of comprehensive notes, pre-recorded video clips together with a series of exercises which can be done in your own time. We will cover pigment qualities, warm and cool pigments, those difficult greens, botanical greys (we touch on this, the advanced course will cover this in more detail), mixing purely with primaries and neutral beige/brown tones for those beautiful Autumn colours. There are tutorial videos as well as videos specifically for beginners. You will be added to a Secret Facebook Group where the video tutorials are held. In this group you can view other students work, find useful tips and post your work for appraisal (personal appraisal is always done via private messenger not publically). One-to-one tuition and help is always on hand and you will never have to wait long for a response. It is important to me that every student is given the attention and help they need to ensure they have a successful and rewarding journey throughout the course.

Exercises include making a few small reference charts, matching swatch colours, mixing with cool and warm primaries and many other useful tips/exercises from which you will learn how to ‘see‘ and mix colour more accurately.

I am always available on Facebook Private Messenger or Email (unless I’m asleep!) to answer any questions you have during the course. Please bear in mind the time difference if you are overseas! I appraise your work as you complete each of the Lesson exercises and give you a personalised final appraisal at the end of the course. You will also receive a graded certificate for your efforts!

Some student reviews:

“I wanted to learn from Jackie the day I first saw a pic of her painting on FB. Her painting was highly detailed and showed a certain sensitivity to colour. Fortunately for me, Jackie announced an online course a few days later. I paid up for the ‘Mixing colour accurately course’ but was a bit skeptical of learning online. Having completed the course, my doubts stand dispelled. The course content, the exercises and the patient online appraisal of the exercises by Jackie, all made for good learning. I recommend the course to anyone on a tight budget. It has taught me a structured way to test a colour and it’s mixing possibilities.” Raashmi

“Mixing colour accurately is exactly what this course has taught me and a most enjoyable process too. Very much a novice, the notes were clear and easy to follow. The feedback was prompt and very helpful. All in all – Brilliant, Thanks Jackie” Sylvia

“At last! I now approach colour mixing in a more organised and knowledgeable way. I now search for ‘many’ colours within a plant and have gained the confidence to closely match them. This course should be compulsory for all Botanical artists. Jackie is a knowledgeable and encouraging tutor who responds quickly to your questions and posts on the dedicated group page.” Christine

“Thank you for the very clear instructions, I read them all and watch all the videos, they are all very useful and easy to follow. Jackie Isard you are great artist and a great teacher too!” Mari

“I am very pleased with this course! After all the exercises and tasks, I finally began to see colour and understand how to mix it. I liked the fact that I had not only charts of colours but even in the end practical tasks for a better understanding of colour on real leaves and flowers. Separately it will highlight the fact that Jackie responded very quickly to questions and supported me throughout the course. I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to learn how to mix watercolour accurately for botanical” Svitlana

“The course material for this colour mixing course is structured, interesting and clear. The exercises explained well and the extra videos and Facebook group tips are a bonus. I have learned to look further than ‘first sight’ when looking at a plant. A green leaf is not just green but a myriad of green tones and hues. What I most appreciated was Jackie’s personal support and the speedy replies with appraisal. It is an important motivator when working online.” Hilde

See Jackie Isard Botanicals on Facebook and private message me for more details about me.

Payment can be made via PayPal, details will be sent on Registration. The fee is £105 UK and Internationals. The difference is purely postage cost. If you do not have PayPal, it’s really simple to set up online. Just visit www.paypal.com. Bank transfer is only available using a UK bank account.

Please contact me by email or Facebook private messenger for Registration details!

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Great news received February 2021!

My book has arrived in the UK! I will be receiving one of the first copies in the post soon. So exciting! More details below.

Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists

A practical guide to accurate watercolour mixing with primaries for botanical artists
Colour mixing is a key skill for the botanical artist. In this practical guide, Jackie Isard explains how to observe and use colour accurately. She shows artists how to make informed choices when selecting pigments, as well as how to learn about colour mixing and its application.
• Gives detailed instruction and advice on understanding colour and pigments
• Explains how to ‘see’ colour and tricky mixes, from greens and reds to the difficult botanical greys
• Includes advanced colour application techniques – colour enhancement, shadow colours and colour temperature transition
• Step-by-step guides illustrate how to paint with layers, how to use underlaying colours to enhance, and colour and fine detailing

Order online via major book shops or Amazon. Published by The Crowood Press Ltd

Arriving 22nd March for purchase. I will announce on Facebook or via email if you have joined my website mail-list www.jibotanicals.co.uk. Please note, preorders are available online. E-books will also be available worldwide.

USA and Canada distributor: www.ipgbook.com

Otherwise, Europe or UK can order through www.crowood.com or as below:

Amazon link UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Watercolour-Mixing-Techniques-Botanical-Artists/dp/1785008285
Waterstones link UK :https://www.waterstones.com/book/watercolour-mixing-techniques-for-botanical-artists/jackie-isard//9781785008283
WHSmith link UK: https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/watercolour-mixing-techniques-for-botanical-artists/jackie-isard/paperback/9781785008283.html

Also available as an e-book worldwide.

Blog 14 : Paint a Peacock Butterfly NEW Online Course January 2019

Ever wanted to learn how to paint a Butterfly?

Then do look out for my New online course coming in January 2019!

The Peacock is one of my favourite butterflies. The patterns and colours are just so stunning. We’ve seen a lot of butterflies this year as there’s been so much sunshine. Come and learn to paint one of the UK’s most beautiful pollinators with me, yes they are pollinators!

I will take you through the stages and teach you the techniques to create your very own Peacock Butterfly watercolour painting. You will learn how to mix the vibrant colours needed and how to add those incredibly fine details. There will be instructive videos to help you throughout the course. Watercolour painting skills essential please. Not for absolute beginners.

me painting peacock


Pop over to my Jackie Isard Botanicals page to see the Event date then private message me if you would like to join. Payment can be made through PayPal. The course fee is £75 UK and £85 Internationals. The difference is purely due to postage cost. For more details on how to register Private Message me on Facebook or email me.

For the Facebook course link, look under the Events tabhttps://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/

Looking forward to teaching you!