9.8.06

S.O.S.F

Art equipment, by its very nature, is very ephemeral. So I was really pleased to find this dear little box in my favourite ebayer's shop, Honeysuckle Cottage - it's like an online bric-a-brac shop, but without the dust. I think this must date from the 1900's or earlier.

Inside it is a little more battered, but what treasures awaited - 4 tubes of old watercolour paint, still soft enough to use. They are Reeves brand, which went out of business some times ago, but was famous for it's spotted dog logo. The tubes are lead, of course, and I'm sure there are some toxic nasties in the paint ingredients. Extra special effort not to lick paintbrush. I was interested to see how the colour had survived, and how it compared to modern day paints, particularly the sepia, as I use it a lot in base washes and am experimenting further with it in the grissaille technique of underpainting - as seen in the unicorn painting.


I used to use bog-standard Cotman sepia, which I rather liked. But when it ran out, I thought I'd try investing in a more expensive brand, and bought a tube of Old Holland. I didn't take to it at all.



On the far left, is the Cotman, a nice regular sepia; burnt umber and lamp black. The middle one is the Old Holland one - 'sepia extra'. I have been using it as I hate waste, but really it's just a warm brown colour (brown being a technical term we artists use...) and I am not a bit fan of any brown straight from a tube, apart from lovely sepia. This is too much like melted milk chocolate for my liking. The righthand one is the old Reeves tube - a perfect cool tone, almost black, and the nearest I've seen to Arthur Rackhams shades. I couldn't resist using it in this -



Which brings me nicely on to what a few people have been enquiring about - how to get involved with the Society of Secret Fairies. There is now a SOSF blog, where guidelines and a formal invite await. I am to be the initial admin fairy, so all addresses will come to me, to be sorted 'Secret Santa' style after the closing date. It helps if you have a blog or at least a website, as we want to be sure that all the fairies are good fairies and not bad ones. Be assured that any addresses given are kept secret and safe and not passed on to anyone except your fairy friend of the moment. Now, fly away all of you, it's nearly bedtime for UK fairies everywhere.

16 comments:

tlc illustration said...

Great job Gretel. I hope you don't mind me practically lifting your announcement to also post on my blog.

(And I *love* the old Windsor-Newton paint box, with Rackam paints inside!! Wow!)

natural attrill said...

I like that paint box, what a good find! P.

Maya said...

Beautiful invitation Gretel :)

The paintbox looks delightful (insert green envy emoticon)
I can sympathise with the the quest for a perfect sepia. I use the winsor newton one, but it's a mixture, so it can make things go muddy...If only there was a single pigment transparent one...*sigh*

xxx's
Maya

Gail said...

Lovely find on the paintbox front, it's amazing that the paint still "works" ... they don't make things like they used to! ;)

I'm glad you have formalised the S.O.S.F. with the new blog ... my details are winging their way to you and my mind is working over time for ideas of what to share with everyone ... I can't wait!

Joanna said...

Thats a lovely little paint box, excellent find. I used to paint alot with sepia, and have been very anoyed in the past when i bought the wrong make and it was a completly different colour. I love underpainting, I find it hard to do anything but now.

Tanya said...

Oh fairy pants! I am too late for the fairy parcel swap :-( when is the next one please???

Donna said...

Lovely fairy pictures Gretel. I remember going to the fairy exhibition in London (the Tate possibly) a few years back now. I love fairies.

PG said...

I wonder what exhibition that was Dons? I went to the Arthur Rackham one a couple of years ago.

Tanya, oy! The closing date is 21st of September, so there is plenty of time...

tlc illustration said...

Are you familiar with Michael Wilcox's Watercolor Paint Guide? (He is hilarious - but thorough in his assesment of various paints, pigments and paint companies). His entry on Sepia is interesting - it used to be made out of squid ink - but now is just various combinations of blacks and browns. Easily mixed from your own palette, if you read the 'ingredients'.

PG said...

No, I haven't, TLC but it sounds good - it's not available on Amazon UK, so I'll go and have a look at the US site. I don't think I have any black paint, I mix darks up from indigos and other deep shades. Might have to give it a go...

lettuce said...

what a great find! lovely colours.

enjoying catching upon your blog now i'm home for a while.

tlc illustration said...

I just checked Amazon - US, and it doesn't look like it is still in print (and it is too much money for a used copy). The reviews were interesting and very mixed. People either loved it or hated it. I'm in the former category. Some of the 'hate reviews' didn't strike me as people who had actually read the thing very closely. I found it fascinating and informative - and the author is cranky, droll and very funny. I learned much more about pigments, pigment history, usability and light-fastness in this volume than I have in all other sources I've read combined... I'll keep my eyes open for an inexpensive used copy, I think...

Debbie said...

Hi Gretel, Michael Wilcox has a website http://www.schoolofcolour.co.uk/
and has a wonderful Colour Mixing Swatch Book which I am sure you would find interesting.
By the way I love the colours you have used in the invite.

PG said...

Oh Debs, that's really great, thankyou! I'm off to have a nosey...I may be some time...

Katherine said...

You're my happy accident for today - always nice to find a UK based illustrated blog but even better when I get to look at so much nice food.

I do so agree about the difficulty of finding a nice sepia colour. My recollection is that Michael Wilcox is quite scathing about quite a lot of manufacturer's 'recipes'

Anonymous said...

Genuine sepia can be bought from
Kremer in Germany.