learning how to paint, part 2

Okay, first some bragging!

Here are two pictures by my little sister, who’s studying painting at the University of Washington. They’re self portrait, master studies of Chuck Close, whose work we saw together when we were in Portland in October. Aren’t they brilliant?

Geeking out about paint
I had my second watercolour class last night, and it was kind of simple, doing the colour wheel and mixing colours. But everyone had brought their own paints, and it was fascinating to compare the different makes of paint and see how they work. The tutor compared my student-quality Windsor & Newton Cotman paint with someone else’s artist-quality Windsor & Newton, and everyone thought hers would be better. But my viridian was much more concentrated, while her red was much stronger. I guess you could say her viridian was ever-so-slightly more subtle, but I’m usually more worried if things scan well than if they look good hanging on the wall. I concluded that it’s best to pick and choose, to buy student-quality viridian and artist-quality red. The person next to me had cheap WH Smith own-brand watercolours and they were kind of interesting because they almost looked like poster paint. They won’t allow much subtlety, but they might be a nice hybrid between watercolour and gouache, for getting a vivid, flat look. My mother sent me some Daniel Smith watercolours, and they seem really lush. But I don’t think they sell them in England and they’re a bit pricier than Cotman student paints. I sort of mix them in when I need to give something a boost.

I just found a copy of Seth’s sketchbook, Vernacular Drawings for the ridiculously low price of £3 at Gosh! Comics, by the British Museum. He gets a lovely flat retro look with what he calls his ‘kindergarten paints’:

These are the little blocks of poster paint given to small children. Strangely enough, I used these as a teenager when I didn’t know anything about ‘proper’ art supplies. I started playing around with them again in 1992 (I think) and now I use them all the time.

I don’t think I ever used blocks of poster paint when I was a kid, only bottles of poster paint and watercolour blocks. I must look out for some of these, they sound nice and cheap.

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