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.