Oil paint order.

I ordered some oil paint from Ken Bromley online. It's Winsor & Newton artists' oil colour, they have a sale at least once a year with up to 35% off the usual retail price, and throw in a free 200ml tube of Titanium white if you buy a minimum of six tubes.

Ordered on Thursday and they arrived at my door on Friday.

So: Over a third off the full price, and next day delivery.

Service so good you feel miffed because you can't find anything to complain about.

Why did I buy Winsor & Newton?

Good enough for Turner, probably more than good enough for me.

Why artists' quality?

Colour stability and permanence. Student quality paint sometimes uses odd pigments with peculiar and unexpected colours. There's a world of difference between Cobalt blue and Cobalt blue hue, for example. Also the pigment load in artists' quality paint is higher, which means you don't end up with weirdly washed out mixes on your palette. I've used cheap paint and ended up with an over oily, low colour mess on my palette. Cheap paint is usually a false economy.

Why these colours in particular?

Cadmium Lemon: purest, cleanest yellow closest to spectrum yellow. Excellent covering and tinting power. Better for mixing clean greens than Cadmium Yellow, which tends to be a bit orangey.

Yellow Ochre: gets a lot of work done painting landscape. Good base for dirty greens, with the addition of black or blue. Also a cheap pigment, which doesn't hurt.

French Ultramarine: pure, clean blue slightly on the violet side of spectrum blue. Good in glazes and mixtures, with good tinting strength. I've been using this as a general purpose blue for a while now. Again, a cheap pigment.

Burnt Sienna: good dirty red, useful in landscape. Makes a coloured black when mixed with blue. If you use a layered technique, it's a nice warm, orangey underpainting for landscape.

Flesh Tint: should probably never be anywhere near your palette if you're painting actual flesh, but it's great for lightening landscape greens and taking the bilious edge off the green hue.

Naples Yellow: this used to be made from lead antimonate, and was a marvel at creating distance when scumbled thinly over a painting's background. Now I think it's just a mix of white and yellow ochre, but it's a convenient colour to have on your palette. Again, great for lightening landscape greens.

That's all for now. Look out for a review of Rosemary & Co. brushes next.

Horse etiquette

Having decided to do a second version of a large painting (you can see the GIMP study I did in the previous post) I found it needed more reference material.

The foreground tree was a problem insofar as it had to have an interesting trunk. I strolled around looking for a candidate, and found a couple.

The second problem was the horse, which needed a new and different pose, so I stalked the local horses with my camera. And breached horse etiquette by being a bit too sneaky, when I walked into the field where they were grazing* and startled them. Ever been glared at by a horse?

Anyway...went back next day, found the big white guy on his own, and managed to snap him. I don't think he was impressed. Once his curiosity was satisfied he turned on his heels and favoured me with his rear end until I left. 

'Put that in your picture.'

* Kindly note I would no more trespass on a farmer's land than I would stride uninvited into his kitchen and make free with his toaster. There's a public footpath through the field.  


I've been working on an old painting in GIMP, given that I wasn't too happy with the way it turned out in real life.

I changed the format from a square to a 3:2 rectangle, and introduced some changes, cutting and pasting trees from other finished paintings. Like the repoussoir on the left?* I've been looking all over for a tree that would do the job, auditioning the local hopefuls for the part. I might end up just inventing one, the way Constable used to.

Shoving pixels around with a mouse is easier than painting, that's for sure. But at some point I'm going to have to turn this back into a real painting. Wish me luck.

*Repoussoir is my word of the day. Next week, fandango.

Colour Wheel

I found these in my painting folder. 

They're from some colour studies I did back in 2013, the colour wheel starting life as an attempt in oils at a YURMBY wheel, which places red, green, and blue, between cyan, magenta, and yellow.

It went through GIMP at some point, lost the pencil lines and got tidied up a little after gaining an inner circle which places colours against their most contrasting colour.

Some painters are natural colourists, others do better with form. Which camp are you in?

Current drawings

I'm taking a break from landscape, given that the local countryside looks like a midden right now, to concentrate on figure drawing.

I started by drawing myself, after catching sight of me one morning in the mirror in the process of getting up. I thought, 'You know, you look good.' Good being a relative term, and strictly dependent on who I'm standing next to.

I began to draw myself,
which set me several difficult tasks. Such as, have you ever tried to draw your own hands from life? It requires astonishing feats of juggling.

I finished that drawing and began another. I took reference photographs, and painted a small colour study. I'm currently working on a drawing of my head from the photographs, which you can see here. 

Yes, I got the nose wrong and I have to do it over.