Blog 30 : Painting for climate change

Jackie Isard BA (Hons) SBA Fellow CBM ASBA

The PNBA (Pacific Northwest Botanical Artists) asked me to write an article for their newsletter and I thought I would share this as a blog with you too. I hope you enjoy it.

The reason

This Autumn COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, was held in Glasgow Scotland. It brought together the nations of the world for one of the most important international meetings about the future of our planet. The conference had six major themes and the theme that was relevant to the ABBA (Association of British Botanical Artists) ReflectionS exhibition was:

Nature – to safeguard and restore natural habitats and ecosystems to preserve the planet’s biodiversity

Inspired by COP26, ABBA has released an exhibition focused on the crucial role that plants play in preserving the planet’s health and biodiversity. ABBA’s slogan for the exhibition is  ‘No plants – no planet’.

Thirty-five juried artists’ submissions are being exhibited in digital form in the prestigious Shirley Sherwood Gallery (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew). The exhibition is also online until March 2022 which includes all sixty-six artists’ entries, http://www.britishbotanicalartists.com/reflections-1. At present the Shirley Sherwood Gallery is featuring an exhibition by Sculptor Zadok Ben-David called ‘Natural Reserve’ and the ReflectionS digital exhibition can be viewed on a large screen within the same building.

I am very privileged to have had my work selected by the judges to be shown at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery. This blog is about the painting I made and why I felt it was important to show. The Southern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza praetissima) is a British wet meadow wild orchid. This orchid was restricted to southern UK but due to climate change, recent records now find it as far north as Newcastle upon Tyne. A warmer climate may result in this orchid declining or disappearing from southern UK altogether. Wetland is one of our essential habitats for small mammals, insects, birds and wildflower species. 

My working method

I like to find wild plants in their own habitat to make an accurate drawing and study the plant botany first. Working in this way allows you to understand everything about the plant before you start to draw. If I am able to, I will pull a plant apart and examine each individual bit before I start my composition. I make study drawings of all these parts and note measurements too. With a head full of information and notes I will start to plan out the composition. For this wild orchid, I wanted to show part of its living habitat too, which is why I included some grasses and insects in the composition. These were Grass Vetchling – growing nearby, a common blue damselfly – an insect flying around in the area and a solitary mason bee – a bee which pollinates early flowering wildflowers. I feel by including these details the plant and its story are being told.

My workspace whilst working on Geum rivale (Water Avens) for my RHS project

The journey 

I was having great trouble locating this orchid locally when the University Bristol Botanic Garden called me one day to say they thought they had a specimen growing that I could borrow. I was delighted! Having a specimen right next to you on your desk is such a benefit when drawing and painting. However, the specimen was not a true Southern Marsh Orchid but a very similar hybrid and so my hunt went on. I have a lot of experience in hunting down wildflower species as I have had to do this for all the plants which feature in my RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) botanical exhibition work. It isn’t easy sometimes and involves a lot of research, driving around and walking! 

This is the plant that was very kindly loaned to me by the University Bristol Botanic Gardens,
growing in a pot with another shrub!

I was disappointed but kept on with my research in the hope that I could find one before it was too late. There was a tight deadline! By chance whilst chatting to a local walking friend (Simon Harding), who works in the area recording wild orchid and flower species, I was told that he knew exactly where I could find plenty of specimens to study in the field. Excited and so very grateful, I followed his map to a place about 20 minutes from my home, see image.

There I found hundreds of Southern Marsh Orchids living quietly in a damp field on the nature reserve. I measured, made colour studies, sketched and also made a note of what other plants were growing nearby. I also noted insects visiting the area too. This was a typical wet meadow environment, the type I love, as all my RHS exhibition species are wet meadow plants too. My initial sketches were raw and I found the inflorescence very tricky! 

Some of my rough sketching

Research and botany

I was allowed to take a few individual flowers from an inflorescence to help me with my dissection illustrations. Orchids are difficult to dissect and understand but with the help of a botanist friend, I managed to make a perfect dissection drawing. I also painted an enlarged pollinium; a body of pollen grains forming a mass and attached to a sticky pad. There are two of them per flower on this plant. This reproductive part attaches to an insects head as it enters the flower. It is then taken by the insect to another orchid flower or plant and pollination happens. To see all the detail of these flowers I used a microscope. The front-facing orchid flower reminded me of an alien face and the side view of a baby in a bonnet! Below are images of my studies and microscope photos.

Microscope images of the reproductive area
A pollinium enlarged
The dissection and front-facing flower illustrations

Preparing to paint

The colour on this orchid was quite tricky to match. It has a lovely pink/lilac flower, burgundy/brown tinges on green bracts and the stem and foliage are quite a bright green. I tested my mixes using live pieces that had been carefully removed from plants in the field. I also took many reference photos to help me with the final drawing and colouring. Not an easy task, as photos make this plant look so different where colour is concerned, but then, photos generally do!

I decided to make this a long thin painting as the subject was tall and its foliage quite upright. I completed the drawing in outline and left the habitat part at the bottom to finish later. I really needed to start painting!

My original inflorescence sketch was too large so I outlined it in black fine liner and reduced it on my laptop, then printed it out at the correct size. It was tidied up later and drawn neatly before I transferred it to watercolour paper.

Testing colour mixes for the flowers, stem and leaves on a small practice piece

I particularly enjoyed painting the insects. This is the start of the bright blue damselfly. No black paint was used, this black is a mix of Indanthrene Blue, Permanent Carmine and New Gamboge. I prefer to mix my own black as there are many versions of black too, warm and cool! This is a warm black mix that compliments the bright vivid cool blue.

This painting was a mammoth task with such a short time to complete. I really wanted to be involved in this exhibition as the theme is very close to my heart. Protecting all our ecosystems is crucial to human survival and these environments are becoming so rare. In the UK 97% of all meadow grassland has been lost since the 1950s due to modern intensive farming, housing and draining of wetlands. Then there are pesticides that are killing the pollinators of our food plants. Something needs to change….

Extra research

I went back to the nature reserve later on to see the seeding inflorescences. I did this so that if I had time to include this plant in my RHS entry, I would have more information available about its lifecycle. It would be a different style composition to this painting here as I have done my RHS paintings in a more scientific way. I do now have all the necessary information and research to hand though, just in case! The seeds are very small, fine and delicate, almost like dust. see microscope image below.

The finished painting

Dactylorhiza praetissima (Southern Marsh Orchid) with Lathyrus nissolia (Grass Vetchling), Osmia bicornis (solitary mason Bee) and Enallagma cyathigerum (Common blue damselfly)

I was pleased with the result and thrilled that it was chosen to be shown in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery by ABBA judges. It is probably the fasted detailed painting I have ever done!

I hope you enjoyed my painting journey for the Southern Marsh Orchid.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, it’s very close now!






Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/
Instagram: @jackieisard
Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/
Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jibotanicalsGifts

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.






Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/
Instagram: @jackieisard
Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/
Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jibotanicalsGifts

Blog 26: NEW Beginners Watercolour mini-book

LAUNCHED THIS WEEK! See inside the ‘The Little Book of Watercolour for Beginner Botanical Artists’. A mini-book packed full of useful information about how to use watercolour if you are a beginner plus equipment suggestions. This little book also contains a few exercises to follow which will improve your skills. Take a look inside below in the video.

I have spent lockdown writing this little book and hope it will be useful to many. What else can you do apart from plan helpful books and paint during this frustrating period!

The printed version will be posted next week to all those who have ordered since it’s launch two days ago. There is also an E-book and PDF version for those who want a portable device version. Links to order are below.

Here is an overview of my little book. I hope you enjoy it.

What’s inside this one?

Purchase via me personally, email jackieisard@googlemail.com

There will be more little mini books in this series next year.

Keep safe everyone and have a very happy Christmas!

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@jibotanicals






Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/
Instagram: @jackieisard
Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/
Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jibotanicalsGifts

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!






Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/
Instagram: @jackieisard
Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/
Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jibotanicalsGifts

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 as you 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!


Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/
Instagram: @jackieisard
Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/
Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jibotanicalsGifts

 

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: strongs new copy 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
Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/ Instagram: @jackieisard Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/ Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/ Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jibotanicalsGifts

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!
Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/ Instagram: @jackieisard Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/ Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/ Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jibotanicalsGifts

Blog 16: The beginning of more RHS adventures

During the winter I’ve been very busy continuing with my RHS studies and finalising 3 compositions. It’s been a long trek! In between these studies I’ve been enjoying preparing for a course at Brackenwood which will cover White and Yellow Spring flowers. A subject many find hard to paint…even I do!

 


I also had a chance to go on an owl event where I had the pleasure of holding 6 different owls. The Owls in the photos above are a Barn Owl, a Tawny Owl and a Little Owl. My favourite was the Tawny Owl as we have a mating pair in the area where I live. I love hearing their calls, Twit – T-wooo. Apparently they are the only owls who make this type of call. I even got to hold an Eagle Owl. They are huge and very heavy! I’ve always admired these beautiful birds but never been this close up. It was delightful and I will remember it for a long time.

I have now completed my compositions for Cuckooflower, Ragged Robin and Greater Birds foot Trefoil.


Last week I started preparing sketchbook studies and botany notes for the fourth plant, Geum rivale – Water Avens. What a gorgeous little plant! It has delicate nodding flower heads and beautifully shaped leaves. Very much overlooked I think.

This plant has a very interesting botany. Quite different to the other plants I have studied. So much is learned about botany when dissecting and studying plants. I’ve really got into it! Like Cardamine pratensis it has different shaped basal leaves. They are more rounded at the top with leaflet pairs running down the stem. Quite attractive! It’s also very hairy in places and has hundreds of stamens all enveloped beneath 5 petals. There will be lots of fine details on this one. Here are some microscope images of the stigma (of which there are many too!), stamens and hairy buds…


So far I’ve dissected a young flower head, drawn up a budded branch, a flowering branch and one of the basal leaves. This is my drawing to date. I love the shape of those leaves! This will be a tough one to draw accurately. So much botany going on!
20190327_165811
I have chosen to include pollinators in my work and a lot of research has gone into finding suitable insects for each plant in my series. It is important for me to make the insects to be relevant to the plants. You won’t believe how long this research takes! Below is a photo of a Common Blue which I took in Alveston, beautiful!

20190528_132215
For my final 6 plant choices I have included two options for the last one. This is because it’s always good to have a back up. I have chosen 5 butterflies, a bee and a hover fly. They all use one of my chosen plants as either a larval food plant or for feeding. The butterflies are the Orange Tip, Marsh Fritillary, Wood White Common Blue and a large Scarce Blue.

This weekend I was taken on a surprise trip to a Nature Reserve by my son. I’ve been wanting to visit this place since I discovered it late last year. It is a farm in Cricklade called Lower Moor Farm. There are many fields of meadow flowers and wet meadow plants too! Although too early in the season to see the meadows in full swing, I did see evidence of plants beginning to peep through. My heart sings when I visit these places which really helps with the intense work I’ve had to carry out. I hope to view some of my chosen plants in another natural habitat later in the year when I visit again. I also wanted to see the Snake’s-Head Fritillary which are growing wild at North Meadow Cricklade not far from Lower Moor Farm. The fields of North Meadow are protected as this species is now very rare in the wild. Unfortunately, we were a little premature as they were only just starting to grow. Another visit is planned for Easter weekend to see it in its full glory.

This plant is actually not a British native species otherwise I may have chosen it as one of my Wet Meadow species. It’s a shame because it is a much loved flower to paint by Botanical artists! I have planted some in my garden wild areas which are flowering already …perhaps because the weather is milder in Bristol than North Meadow.
snakes head
So, from here I must carry on with my Water Avens studies and composition ready to begin painting soon. Three of my plants will be flowering between April and June so time will be short! I’ll be back later in the Summer with more news and to show you how I’m getting on, plus some more meadow visit photos.

Until then Easter is just around the corner, so enjoy all that chocolate!

 

 

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 watercolour! 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 A COURSE  YOU CAN JOIN AT ANY TIME! Private message me on Facebook or email me to Register, please – jackieisard@googlemail.com.

This course is for Beginners and Intermediate students. The course contains a lot of exercises, detailed course notes, pre-recorded 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! 

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!
 
• A listed palette of pigments to buy (Winsor & Newton professional watercolours). A very versatile palette of pigments!
 
• Learn how pigments work
 
• Many exercises that teach you how to mix accurately.
 
• Detailed notes and pre-recorded video tutorials
 
• Develop a structured way to test colours and mixing possibilities
 
• Understand which pigments to choose for vibrant mixes and subdued tones
 
• Practical tasks for a better understanding of colours and what they do
 
• Patient online appraisal at every stage throughout the course
 
• A dedicated student group page to share and learn
 
• A final appraisal letter and certificate
 

The course exercises 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, there is more detail in my book ‘Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists’), mixing purely with primaries and neutral beige/brown tones for those beautiful Autumn colours. Learn from the pre-recorded video tutorials and there are a couple specifically for beginners. You will be added to a hidden 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 if you choose to (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. Join my mail list for updates on courses and workshops www.jibotanicals.co.uk.

Payment can be made via PayPal, details will be sent on Registration. The fee is £105 UK and Internationals. 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 March 2021!

My first published book has arrived in the UK! 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 2021, USA arrival October 2021. E-books are 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






Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/
Instagram: @jackieisard
Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/
Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jibotanicalsGifts