Exhibition stories: special visitors

Exhibitions are about connecting with people, and about visitors being able to connect with your art.

Last weekend I took part in the Society of East Anglian Watercolourists popup exhibition just outside Cambridge. It’s always a very social event. Despite pretty intense heat on Saturday, this weekend was no different. We had delightful visitors.

One of my favourite exhibition stories was reported by my friend and fellow artist, Stephie Butler:

She was approached by a little boy who said, “Do you work here?”, followed by “Can I buy something?”  It turned out that he wanted to buy a card. Stephie asked who the card was for.
“My mum”, came the reply.
“What does your mum like?” Stephie asked.
“She likes Lands.” said the little chap. And so, he duly purchased a card with ‘Lands’ for his mum. I am deeply honoured that he chose one of my Lands to gift his mum.

Exhibition Stories. Tregardock red was chosen as a gift for a little boy's mum
Tregardock Red. Watercolour, ink and oil pastel.

Social media connections

I was so pleased to have a visit from someone who found my social media feed through a mutual friend and who came to purchase one of my paintings. (Thank you Emma.) One of my favourite types of exhibition visits is meeting someone who enjoys your Instagram or Facebook feed.  Anyone who uses social media to share their story knows that far from being easy, it is relentless hard work creating copy to fill the feed – although enjoyable at the same time. Being able to have a real-world conversation with a social media friend always makes my day. If you get the chance to go and say hello to someone whose feed you follow – I would say yes! Do it.

A couple who had bought one of my paintings at Foxton Art last year came past and stopped for a chat. They recognised my style and came over to say hello. They love rainforests as much as I do and the painting they bought makes them think of their own rainforest visits whenever they see it. How those sort of exhibition stories warm my heart.

And somethings there are pre exhibition stories

These little chaps came waddling over while we were setting up. They may have been everybody’s favourite visitors of all.

Lim Cheng Hoe: Paintings of Singapore

Lim Cheng Hoe. Watercolour. Boats by the waterfront
Lim Cheng Hoe. Watercolour Boats by the waterfront

On our way back home from Australia I discovered  paintings of Singapore by Lim Cheng Hoe (1912 – 1979) at the National Gallery.  His watercolours are captivating. They have a sense of confidence and spontaneity that is the sign of a true watercolourist.

I love finding the work of an artist I wasn’t aware of before, and in this case, there is so much to inspire me. I did a bit of research on this fascinating artist who is well-known in the art world of Singapore.  Although he discovered his love of art while at school, Lim Cheng Hoe could not afford to become a full time artist.  He spent his working years employed as a clerk and painted in his spare times. On Sundays he could be found painting with a group of fellow artists at the Singapore river and other popular plein air locations around Singapore. From all accounts he was always welcoming and greatly encouraging towards newcomers to the group. He had a reputation for sharing his knowledge generously, and is possibly best known as one of the founders of the Singapore Watercolour Society.

His paintings on exhibition

The National Gallery is a set in the old Supreme Court building and is well worth a visit. Staff are incredibly helpful and keen to offer information about the exhibitions. Photographs are permitted, as long as they are taken without flash. I was therefore able to take photographs of the paintings I felt gave a good feel for Lim Cheng Hoe’s style which I have used in this post. The only issue is the fact that in some paintings, there is a visible reflection of the gallery lights, for which I apologise.  All paintings in this post are watercolours by Lim Cheng Hoe.

Painting Materials

His love of plein air painting was legendary and his painting kit quite simple. By today’s standards, he achieved a huge amount with very little.

Lim Cheng Hoe – perfecting watercolour

Always dissatisfied with his work, he invested a huge amount in perfecting his art. He would often going back to the same place a number of times to paint the same scene in different ways.  One method he employed to challenge himself was to paint one version in landscape orientation and another in portrait.

Singapore River (Portrait orientation)
Watercolour. Singapore River (Portrait orientation)
Watercolour. Singapore River (Landscape orientation)
Watercolour. Singapore River (Landscape orientation)

His dramatic skies were masterful and he was not afraid to let the watercolour merge and blend on the paper, sometimes even leaving the marks of rain or blooms to become part of the final work.

The Estuary
Watercolour. The Estuary
Watercolour. Attap and Nets at Kukup
Attap and Nets at Kukup

His use of colour could be bold and dramatic at times.

Not Titled. Sunset Beach
Not Titled. Sunset Beach
Not Titled. Sunset
Lim Cheng Hoe. Watercolour. Not Titled. Sunset

Many of his paintings showed his ability to use soft wet-in-wet technique to evoke the atmosphere

Lim Cheng Hoe. Watercolour. View from the Hilltop
View from the Hilltop
Lim Cheng Hoe. Watercolour. Nocturne
Nocturne
Lim Cheng Hoe. Watercolour. Misty Morn at Singapore River
Misty Morn at Singapore River
Lim Cheng Hoe. Watercolour. Kaleidoscope
Kaleidoscope

True to the maxim that more of the watercolour is created before a brush touches paper, he placed a lot of emphasis on composition, and long after his fellow artists had started painting, he would still be walking around to find the perfect spot from which to paint the scene.

Written word

Diaries were as important as the paintings themselves. He was a meticulous taker of notes and documented every day in the closely written pages of his diaries.

This, written when he was just 18 years old, records events of his daily life.  Apparently, he made meticulous records of events and of his painting sessions at the river.

The discovery of Lim Cheng Hoe has been a highlight of my trip and I will be looking out for more of his work from here on.

If you enjoyed this blog post and you’d like to support it, please do share it with someone you think might like it. Thank you for reading. Your support means a lot, and If you’d like to read more of my arty ramblings you could subscribe to my blog by email, or on an RSS feed. Or sign up for my (approximately) monthly newsletter. You can always unsubscribe if you change your mind.

Red Earth Colours

Earth colours are appearing in my paintings. What I mean is red earth colours. Not the loamy dark browns of the northern hemisphere.

I am drawn to the sight of red earth. It’s a throwback to a childhood in Southern Africa. The familiar rich red colour of the earth always makes me feel at home.  On the way from the airport when we arrived here, we passed an extensive road construction project and there, heaped up on the side of the road, was a pile or rich dark red soil. It was almost as if this part of the world was inviting me to add a new dimension to my work.

Even though I love the sight of rich red earth colours, these are not colours I generally put into my landscapes. Usually, it’s blues, greens, yellows and just sometimes, some pink/lavender tones. colours that are all very refined and safe.  They are very northern-hemisphere, cool-light colours. So does this imply that your surroundings influence the colours you use in your paintings? It certainly could be part of the reason, I suspect.

At art college, my sister was advised to wear neutral colours.  The theory was that the colours you wear have a tendency to creep into your palette. That may be true. I wear a lot of blue and lo and behold, there it is in my paintings.  An old friend commented on one of my Facebook posts that Australia is doing interesting things to my work, and then the conversation continued to the point of speculating about whether the English light would change that when I get back into my studio. That remains to be seen but I hope it doesn’t.

Earth colours in my paintings

Earth colours - rainbow beachThere is a different quality to the light here, and to the landscape. It’s bigger, and it’s redder. To my eye, the earth colours seem to come to the fore more here.  That could be because I am more attuned to them because of my childhood. But whatever the reason, they are there and I am relishing the bold brashness of them.  I have painted a couple of dozen small paintings for Running With Brushes while I have been here. They have the advantage of being small and portable. I can work out my thinking for larger paintings by creating a smaller version. I’ll pick the ones I like best and work them up to bigger paintings when I am back in my studio.

At first, the earth colours were appearing in a more figurative form in the paintings. But gradually, as I have spent more time here, the reds have just had to be put down on paper.

The paint colours

Fortunately, my palette has a glorious Pyrrol Scarlet pan, and I squeezed a juicy blob of Transparent Pyrrol Orange into one of the extra pans. (The orange is one of my all time favourites. Depending on how intensely you use it, it can range from being almost red to a delicate orange. I recommend it.) Of course, there have been washes of beautiful quinacridone gold, sepia and burnt sienna. But the reds and oranges are the ones that pop.Earth colours - pandanus tree Perhaps my choice of palette was starting to change before I got here and being away from my studio has only made me realise it. But it definitely feels as if there’s a shift away from playing safe.

In my last week here, I’ve sketched a red pandanus tree. What next? I’m not sure, but I am looking forward to splashing some earth colours around on bigger pieces when I get back into my studio.  If you want to see more of my little plein air Australia paintings, they’re on my Instagram feed. Let me know what you think. Do you like the funky reds?

If you enjoyed this blog post and you’d like to support it, please do share it with someone you think might like it. Thank you for reading. Your support means a lot. If you’d like to read more of my arty ramblings, you could subscribe to my blog by email, or on an RSS feed. Or sign up for my (approximately) monthly newsletter. You can always unsubscribe if you decide it doesn’t enhance your inbox.

 

Watercolour of the mother of mountains

Watercolour of the mother of mountains This little watercolour of the mother of mountains was inspired by two sunset visits to points overlooking the Glasshouse Mountains. The sky ranges from purple through all the pinks to coral colours and the forested area around the mountains creates a darker bed from which the peaks emerge.

The last light warms the west-facing side of mount Beerwah, the mother of mountains. As the sun goes down, it creates a glow on her flank. There’s an Aboriginal legend about the Glasshouse Mountains.

The Legend of the Glasshouse Mountains – inspiration for the watercolour of the mother of mountains

“Now Tibrogargan was the father of all the tribes and Beerwah was his wife, and they had many children.

Coonowrin, the eldest; the twins, Tunbubudla; Miketeebumulgrai; Elimbah whose shoulders were bent because she carried many cares; the little one called Round because she was so fat and small; and the one called Wild Horse since he always strayed away from the others to paddle out to sea. (Ngungun, Beerburrum and Coochin do not seem to be mentioned in the legend).

One day when Tibrogargan was gazing out to sea, he perceived a great rising of the waters. He knew then that there was to be a very great flood and he became worried for Beerwah, who had borne him many children and was again pregnant and would not be able to reach the safety of the mountains in the west without assistance.

So he called to his eldest son, Coonowrin, and told him of the flood which was coming and said, “Take your mother, Beerwah, to the safety of the mountains while I gather your brothers and sisters who are at play and I will bring them along.”

When Tibrogargan looked back to see how Coonowrin was tending to his mother he was dismayed to see him running off alone. Now this was a spiritless thing for Coonowrin to do, and as he had shown himself to be a coward he was to be despised.

Tibrogargan became very angry and he picked up his nulla nulla and chased Coonowrin and cracked him over the head with a mighty blow with such force that it dislocated Coonowrin’s neck, and he has never been able to straighten it since.

By and by, the floods subsided and, when the plains dried out the family was able to return to the place where they lived before. Then, when the other children saw Coonowrin they teased him and called “How did you get your wry neck – How did you get your wry neck?” and this made Coonowrin feel ashamed.

So Coonowrin went to Tibrogargan and asked for forgiveness, but the law of the tribe would not permit this. And he wept, for his son had disgraced him. Now the shame of this was very great and Tibrogargan’s tears were many and, as they trickled down they formed a stream which wended its way to the sea.

So Coonowrin went then to his mother, Beerwah, but she also cried, and her tears became a stream and flowed away to the sea. One by one, he went to his brothers and sisters, but they all cried at their brother’s shame.

Then Tibrogargan called to Coonowrin and asked why he had deserted his mother and Coonowrin replied, “She is the biggest of us all and should be able to take care of herself.” But Coonowrin did not know that his mother was again with child, which was the reason for her grossness. Then Tibrogargan put his son behind him and vowed he would never look at him again.

Even to this day Tibrogargan gazes far, far out to sea and never looks at Coonowrin. Coonowrin hangs his head in shame and cries, and his tears run off to the sea, and his mother, Beerwah, is still pregnant, for, you see, it takes many years to give birth to a mountain.”

Credit to Coolrunning.com for this version of the legend.

Storing watercolour paints: a studio hack

If you’ve been painting for any length of time, you may have accumulated a collection of tubes of paint and storing watercolour paints becomes an issue.

We all know that, in theory we only need a dozen colours. We know it, but those darned colours are so seductive. I don’t know a single artist who can resist the lure of an art materials shop. And there are a number I’ve been gifted by people who have decided not to paint any more, or didn’t like a particular colour. It all adds up to a lot of tubes.

A couple of months ago, at a workshop, I realised I was running low on a couple of my favourite colours. Sadly, I didn’t make a note of just which ones. When I next had a chance to go to the art shop, I dashed into the studio to check.  I rummaged through my plastic tub of paints to find the tubes that had been squeezed down to a stub. Only once I got back did I realise that in my haste, I had missed one of those I use the most.  I’ve tried various methods of storing watercolour paints. Most recently I’ve used three plastic trays: one each for transparent, semi-transparent and opaque tubes.  I lean towards the transparent colours so it helps to have them sorted.

Storing watercolour paints: my new solution
All laid out. You can see which colours I use the most.

My new solution to storing watercolour paints

I’ve seen various versions of branded pre-made boards with clips or the home-made nails in walls or boards.  My problem was that I didn’t really want to be putting nails in my studio wall.  I wanted something affordable and flexible. I was starting to think it would need to be screws in an MDF board.

While I was debating this, I saw a great post on the Making a Mark page about an artist who was using an Ikea board with clip-in trays to store his materials and I realised this could solve my paint problem too. I just needed a few amendments. So, board acquired, I looked for some appropriate hooks. The Ikea ones that go with the board come at £2 for 5 which doesn’t sound like much until you realise that to hang as many as I needed would cost almost £50. Added to the £18 for the largest of the three Ikea boards, that seemed a bit steep in terms of overall cost for this application.  They’re also quite long so they use up more board space than I wanted.

So, I scoured the web and eventually found packs of stainless steel hooks on a shop fitting website. The size is perfect and they cost me a mere £10 for the number I needed. Bulldog clips applied and paints sorted –  I can now see exactly which colours I have duplicated, which I use the most, and which are like those holiday outfits hanging in the wardrobe: seemed like a good idea at the time, but didn’t quite live up to expectations.

Storing watercolour paints by transparency factor.

The geek in me still wanted a way of easily sorting the tubes by transparency factor. I came up with an easy visual code: yellow dot for transparent, green dot for semi-transparent and blue dot for opaque. With the tubes sorted in a colour range, I can now easily pick the colour I want and know the transparency without having to check. Now I just need a solution for granulating and staining factors.

Studio Stories

I’m painting in Australia at the moment and I’ll be putting together a newsletter with some stories from my travels. Here’s my last newsletter if you fancy a read. Please share the love by sharing the link if you know someone who might like to follow my studio stories

In the Studio with the Royal Watercolour Society

This is a retrospective post about my visit to In The Studio, the exhibition by members of the Royal Watercolour Society at Bankside Gallery.  If you didn’t get to see it, many of the works that were in the exhibition are still available on the RWS website.

I am always interested in the processes that go into creating works of art. Every artist has their own particular way of working so the possibilities are infinite. In this exhibition, the paintings on the walls are interspersed with photographs of the artist in their studio and snippets of information about the way they work in the studio. A series of videos showing RWS members working in their studios to give visitors more of the ‘behind the scenes’ view of the show.

Paintings by John Crossley VPRWS, Janet Golphin RWS, Anne Marlow RWS and Jill Leman PRWS
Paintings by John Crossley VPRWS, Janet Golphin RWS, Anne Marlow RWS and Jill Leman PRWS

Including the information about the artist in their studio is a format that gives the viewer more insight into the artist as a person.

I took a few picture of works that appealed to me (having first gained permission to take photographs).

In the Studio – some of my favourites

Its always difficult to get a good photograph  without reflections when paintings are behind glass. I apologise for the quality of some of these.

Kitten Heels with Fairy Lights by Gertie Young RWS
Kitten Heels with Fairy Lights by Gertie Young RWS

There’s no surprise in my loving this one at first sight: playful, colourful and…. shoes!


Red Facade No 2 by Rika Newcombe ARWS. In the Studio exhibition
Red Facade No 2 by Rika Newcombe ARWS

I had already seen this on social media. When I was standing in front of it, I was struck by the detail and delicacy of the marks on the paper. There’s a wonderful elegance about each little abstract section. No wonder it was a gallery staff pick.


Dried Grasses with Delphiniums in the Studio with Violet Shadows by Sophie Knight RWS
Dried Grasses with Delphiniums in the Studio with Violet Shadows by
Sophie Knight RWS

This is one of three large works by Sophie Knight. Her work is always atmospheric and dynamic.


Somewhere over Siberia by Liz Butler RWS
Somewhere over Siberia by Liz Butler RWS

Three aerial views by Liz Butler appealed to the traveller in me. They are views that you might see when flying over a dramatic landscape.


Links to other works I didn’t get good enough photographs of, and some that are pictured above:

Liz Butler RWS – Somewhere over Siberia (pictured above)

Liz Butler RWS – Cloncurry District, Australia

Sue Howells RWS – Glow of Day Fading Away

Richard Pikesley RWS – Axe, Summer Evening

Neil Pittaway RWS – Dusk Evening Light on the Glacier du Bonibassey, France

Gertie Young RWS – Kitten Heels with Fairy Lights

This exhibition felt different to some of the others I’ve seen at Bankside. It was lighter and made the artists seem more approachable. I’m going to be visiting Bankside Gallery more often.

Painting a Mill Wheel and The Brecon Beacons

I’ve just had a weekend of wonderful contrasts: I’ve painted the Brecon Beacons from the top of Pen y Fan at 5.30am, and  I’ve spent a quiet hour painting a mill wheel in the garden of the idyllic restored mill we were staying in. Wales has treated us to continuous rain every time we have visited. For the first time, this weekend the weather was absolutely perfect.

Hiking Pen y Fan in June 2018
Pen y Fan – June 2018. Zero visibility.

I love big landscapes. They are what started me painting in the first place. So given the fact that the weather was so good, we decided to be intrepid and hike up Pen y Fan to watch the sunrise. It wasn’t the hike that was daunting – rather the 3.00am alarms that got us out of bed to get there and walk to the top in time to see the first glimpse of the sun.  You never know what you’ll find when you get to the top. There can be clear views at the bottom while the top is enveloped in cloud. This was what we discovered on our first ascent in June last year.

This time was different though. The moon was full so we could easily walk up with no torches to light our way. And then, when we reached the top – the view was just breathtaking!

Pen y Fan – April 2019. A view from the top of the world.

My backpack contained my water bottle, a packet of biscuits in case of emergency hunger, and my sketching kit.

Capturing the colours of Brecon Beacon sunrise in watercolour in my sketchbook
Capturing the colours of Brecon Beacon sunrise in my sketchbook. Its impossible to recreate the beauty of nature, but this was as close as I could get.

For the artists amongst my readers, the colours: (All Daniel Smith) Quinacridone Gold, Transparent Pyrrol Orange, Sharow Violet, Undersea Green.

Watercolour painting the view from Pen y Fan at sunrise
As the sky lightened the features of the landscape became clearer.

If it hadn’t been so cold I would have sketched for longer, but by this stage, my fingers were numb with the cold. Time to stop.

Subject for Painting a mill wheel - Park Stile Mill, Kington, HerefordshireHow often do we complain that we have the urge to paint, but can’t settle on a subject that inspired us enough? I’ve started looking for things in my immediate surroundings for some inspiration.

Painting a mill wheel
Capturing the shadows and the patina of age on the old mill wheel

With the Brecon sunrise safely in my sketchbook to be developed in the studio at a a future date, I looked for something new to paint.

Right there in the garden was the subject I was looking for – the old mill wheel. So I ended up painting a mill wheel. I did a few small paintings – one of which is pictured here. The rest are in progress.

It is wonderful to go and seek out grand inspirational views which will become part of your memory bank of images to draw on. But equally, there painting subjects in our environment almost all the time. It just takes practice to see them.  Sometimes we don’t notice them until we stop and take a good look around us.

Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours Exhibition – some highlights

The opening day of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 207th Exhibition took place on 3rd April 2019. The exhibition is on at The Mall Galleries until 18th April 2019. This is my must-see exhibition every year. It is a showcase of the breadth and depth of this medium; a display of many styles of work, all in watercolour or water-soluble mediums.  I managed another visit this week on my way to some meetings in London and found it just as inspiring the second time around.

If you can’t get to the exhibition, the RI’s 207th Exhibition catalogue is online on their website.

Some Highlights

Some of the paintings I was drawn to were the simplest ones. It’s a real challenge to do simplicity this well. It takes exceptional expertise.

The outstanding works by Lillias August RI were all worth mentioning and one in particular was acknowledged with two awards: Empty Nests was the recipient of The Escoda Barcelona Award as well as The Megan Fitzoliver Brush Award.  I didn’t manage to get photographs of Lillias’ paintings, although they can be seen here on her Facebook page.


Harbour Church, LIttle Kitty and All Girls Together. Paintings by Rosa Sepple PRI.
Harbour Church, LIttle Kitty and All Girls Together. Paintings by Rosa Sepple PRI.

RI President, Rosa Sepple’s collection were a particular highlight. Her painting, Harbour Choice was the centre piece of the main gallery. It is a large painting with a real presence that draws the viewer in. I saw one visitor standing alone in front of it for ages gesturing at various features in the painting with his catalogue, while he ran a very personal commentary to himself.  He was completely absorbed in the painting.

Some collections

Chris Forsey RI exhibited a collection of works showing rugged coastal views of North West Cornwall.


Shirley Trevena never fails to captivate with her vibrant colours and shifted perspective of the world. Always different, always beautifully individual.


Guillemots, Sea Beet and Tree Mallow (Top), Wild Swimmers, Liquid Gold I, and Liquid Gold II by Deborah Walker RI RSMA
Guillemots, Sea Beet and Tree Mallow (Top), Wild Swimmers, Liquid Gold I, and Liquid Gold II by Deborah Walker RI RSMA

I had to wonder whether the magnificent monolith in Deborah Walker’s painting was the one of the stacks at the Green Bridge on the Pembrokeshire coast. It reminded me so much of standing there in the wind sketching the birds last June.


David Poxon RI incorporates texture and light to give old equipment a new lease of life.


Although I didn’t get photographs of his work, another artist whose work never disappoints is David Parfitt RI. His collection in the main gallery show his mastery of light in the landscape.

And two slightly quirky ones

Run by Louise Rowe
Run by Louise Rowe

Dynamic and different, and with a real sense of a love of running.

And finally the smallest painting in the exhibition: only the size of a postcard – including the frame.

Self-Portrait by Desk Light by Suzon Lagarde
Self-Portrait by Desk Light by Suzon Lagarde

It is difficult to get good photographs of the works on the walls – my photographs don’t do many of them justice. And this is just a small selection of the exceptional work on the walls in this exhibition. If you can get to London before next Wednesday, I highly recommend a visit to The Mall Galleries

The 207th Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours is on daily from 10am to 5pm.

Spring exhibition in Long Melford

The Society of East Anglian Watercolourists’ Spring exhibition in Long Melford is my second exhibition of this year. This is stacking up to be a busy year for my art.  The exhibition will be open to the public from 18th to 28th April. It’s a 10 day window of opportunity to go and immerse yourself in some of the best watercolours in East Anglia.

The poster for this exhibition is a beautiful work of art in itself. It was designed by Lori Bentley and the background image was painted by SEAW member, Gilly Marklew.  Scroll down to see which paintings I’ll be showing.SEAW spring exhibition in Long Melford

My submissions for the spring exhibition in Long Melford:

My changing style is reflected in the variation of these paintings. Normally, I would curate a more cohesive collection. But for this time, it’s just an honest reflection of pieces that speak to me now.   None of these have been on exhibition before so its a first outing for them all.

Daniel Smith Half Pan Set – my thoughts

Once I discovered tube watercolours, I really battled with using pan paints – but the Daniel Smith Watercolour half pan set has changed my mind.

I was thrilled to receive a set from Premium Art Brands a couple of months ago. The Daniel Smith watercolour half pan set come in three different colour combinations. When I saw that I had received the blues set I did a little happy dance. I’ve always loved blues and they appear in just about every one of my paintings.

I was planning to use this set on my travels in February, but an accident stopped me painting for about a month and I’m just getting my painting mojo back now. Playing with my new half pan set was a nice way to get back into the swing of watercolours. This weekend I put my Daniel Smith half pan set to the test in earnest. I spent half a day in my studio painting small watercolours for charity.  I’ll be posting the results to my Instagram account this week.

Why the Daniel Smith half pan set has changed my view.

The key is in the fact that they are hand poured which basically means they’re tube paint in pans. That means all the gorgeous juicy paint consistency and intensity of tube colour. I also love the option of being able to select my own colour palette. In the past I have made a hack using little plastic pill boxes and a pencil case. It worked, but it was bigger than I wanted, pretty messy, and fiddly to use. The Daniel Smith set feels like everything I was trying to achieve with my pencil case hack, but better and in a very well conceived design.

Daniel Smith Watercolour half pan set blues. Painting on sketchbook paper by Vandy Massey
Daniel Smith Watercolour half pan set blues – I was so keen to get started I forgot to take a photo before it got messy

This is how the pan set arrives – with six lovely colours in the centre and nine spaces for your own selection of tube paints.

So what colours did I choose?

You can see the original six blues in the middle: Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, Cerulean and Lunar Blue in the top row of blues. Then Indigo, Sodalite Genuine and Payne’s Blue Gray in the row below.  My additions from bottom left moving up and to the right are: Undersea Green, Shadow Violet, Burnt Umber, Quinacridone Gold, Aureolin, Sepia, Quinacridone Burnt Orange, Transparent Pyrrole Orange and Quinacridone Coral.  I’ve just put a small amount in some of these as I may adjust this set slightly once I’ve used it for a while. Once I am sure this range will work, I’ll be filling those pans!

My colour swatch for the Daniel Smith half pan set
My colour swatch for the Daniel Smith half pan set

Another aspect I like is the size. Expect to see these colours in my sketchbooks and small paintings from now on.  Here’s my new ‘grab it and go’ watercolour kit:

My new watercolour travel kit: Daniel Smith half pan set, moleskine A6 watercolour sketch book, travel brush and small water spray bottle.
My new watercolour travel kit: Daniel Smith half pan set, moleskine A6 watercolour sketch book, travel brush and small water spray bottle.

To summarise my thoughts on the Daniel Smith half pan set:

Pros

  • Colour choice. I just love being able to use my own colours
  • Size – perfect for pockets
  • Paints – creamy and easy to activate
  • Pan size – bigger than most others so you can give your tubes a generous squeeze when you’re filling your pans.

Cons

  • Its hard to find many down sides, but I wonder if an extra 3 pans would make it even more useful while still keeping the size down? It would still be no bigger than my A6 moleskine.

This post is not a sponsored blog for Daniel Smith watercolour or Premium Art Brands. This is just my personal view of the Daniel Smith watercolour half pan set.