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Art Tutorials, News 2018

Pumpkin tutorial in A&I Magazine

Hi everyone,

My new article is out in the October issue of Artists & Illustrators magazine.

A&I pumpkin article published lowres

It is a tutorial for painting a pumpkin, in time for the gorgeous Autumn colours.

I filmed the whole painting so at some point there will also be a YouTUbe video. It just takes a while to do the editing.

There are still a few places available on my Autumn West Dean course, if you want to paint one of these with me…

Happy painting!

Gardens, Plant of the month

Plant of the month – July 2018 – Rosa ‘Souvenir du Docteur Jamain’

Order: Rosales           Family: Rosaceae           Subfamily: Rosoideae            Genus: Rosa

Type: Perennial          Propagation: Seed, plant propagation, cuttings, grafting

Native to: Mostly Asia, some Europe and North America

I love roses, especially the ones who live in my garden. Yet few are the ones who manage to create an attachment as strong as the one I feel for my ‘Souvenir du Docteur Jamain’. It was love at first sight and my passion never abated, even after all these years. Yet he is not easy to love. The word temperamental comes to mind: not too much sun or the petals will bleach in disgust; not enough food and it will drop down two sizes in protest; every so often it will decide not to open its buds after all and every now and then it will take on the latest fashion of black polka dots on a mid-green foliage background. And yet, and yet… the deep crimson purple and the divine perfume, the double structure giving a peep of the orange-yellow stamen when it feels like it, the velvet petals, thick and smooth… Everything about this doctor speaks to me of the perfect dream rose. Even the name is dark and mysterious. It implies that the good doctor is dead and that he is remembered fondly… Who was this regretted Docteur Jamain and what happened?

I found some answers in a delightful article written by Darrell G H Schramm for the American Rose Society. I remember reading it a while ago and loving the poetry and playful passion with which it was written. The article is no longer online but Crystal, from the society, was very kind to send me a copy. Thank you Mr Schramm for your beautiful words.

Alexandre Jamain was born on the 18th of March 1816. He was the son of Dupuy Jamain, a French horticulturalist who also had a rose named after him. His father’s occupation is probably how our Docteur developed a taste for roses and might also be how he came across François Lacharme (1817-1887), the French “rosieriste” behind the Roses Noisettes series. Docteur Jamain seemed to have many talents when it came to medicine: starting his career as a generalist, he wrote essays and pamphlets and books about surgery, ophthalmology and conditions of the scrotum. Quite a range. He died on the 12th of December 1862, aged only 46 years old. I can find no record of what happened to cause this early death. François Lacharme bred the rose in 1865, three years after the doctor’s death. What noble deed inspired a man who never named a rose after himself to name his most beautiful creation after our doctor?

‘Souvenir du Dr Jamain’ is a good candidate for a north-facing wall, as it doesn’t need much sun and the deep claret colour tends to fade when overexposed.

The flowering starts in May/June and gently keeps going until September/October, a few flowers at the time. It is a bush but can also be trained as a climber, up to 3 metres with support. The almost thorn-free stems are flexible so it can be trained in any way you like.

Rarely have I seen such a velvety rose and the scent will make you weak at the knees. It is a perfect rose scent, rich and voluptuous, heavy yet fresh. You get one sniff and you go “mmmhhhh”, you just can’t help it.

So yes, ‘Souvenir du Dr Jamain’ is a bit of a drama queen and will need some care to thrive. Then again, who doesn’t? Its shadowy beauty is reward enough, as I am reminded every time I gaze at him in admiration and its exquisite perfume is brought to me on a random breeze…

Gardens, News 2018, YouTube Channel

New YouTube video – Masking fluid tests, abridged version (with surprise guest)

Hello everyone,

Another sunny day in the UK, filled with the smell of Rosa ‘Jasmina’ as she gently sways in the breeze, giving off waves of warm rose perfume. She really is a spectacular rose.

The baby sparrows have started their yearly invasion. They are so less reasonable than their parents. For a few weeks they will entertain us with their antics, flying like bricks across the garden and landing on totally inappropriate perches, not yet aware of what can or cannot support their fluffy weight. They land on slender stems and go right down to the ground, not light enough to stay up but not heavy enough to break anything. They take off again as if bouncing on a trampoline, disorientated but not scared enough to sit still for even a minute. It is unimaginable that these tiny throats only a few millimetres long can produce such a racket. The parents follow with beaks full of seeds and flappings full of disapproval.

I posted another masking fluid video on YouTube, a shorter version of the tests I filmed earlier. In this abridged version (only about 5 minutes), I focused on the results rather than the process, marking the 10 brands on a series of criteria such as fluidity, ease of application and removal, colour, damage to the paper, precision of the unmasked marks, etc. The video is not exactly what you’re expecting. It kind of turned into something else as I was filming. The masking fluid tests results are definitely in there but they’re not alone… I had a lot of fun filming this. The longer version was 36 minutes long and entirely serious. I couldn’t take any more seriousness. The baby sparrows must be rubbing off on me.

Here is a link:

https://youtu.be/mCjDyGC7TBQ

Happy watching!

Art Questions, News 2018, Painting, YouTube Channel

Masking Fluid video on You Tube: the full version is up

Hi everyone,

I have an article on masking fluid coming up in the summer issue of Artists & Illustrators magazine. The article is about tips for using fluid in the best ways and I made a video to go with it. I tested 10 different brands of masking fluid live, warts and all, with surprises good and bad.

This is the full version (just over 1/2 hour) but I am also preparing an abridged version. I will let you know when it’s up.

Here is the link to the video:

Happy painting!

Art Tutorials, Gardens, Painting, YouTube Channel

New YouTube video – Watercolour sketches in the garden, 2 blue flowers

I have a new video on my YouTube channel.

Last Bank Holiday week-end, while we were having a mini heatwave, I spent some time in the garden and mixed some colours for forget-me-nots and Violas. It was a sunny, warm and beautiful day. I sat under the birch tree in the dappled shade. It turns out I was also sitting under a pigeon, which I realised half way through the painting. It didn’t feel particularly safe after that discovery…

Here is a link to the video (including the pigeon):

Happy painting!

 

News, News 2018, Painting, Pigment Spotlight

The final batch of Quinacridone Gold

This is it… we knew this moment would come but it still makes me sad. Quinacridone Gold, the real Quinacridone Gold PO49, is now completely gone…

Does it show that I would miss QuinaGold?

When the pigment manufacturer stopped production in 2001, they offered Daniel Smith (who were the first manufacturer to use Quinacridones in their paints) the opportunity to buy all their remaining stocks. Of course, Daniel Smith gleefully pounced on the barrels of powdered gold without asking too many questions. They inherited warehouses full of the valuable dust. By 2005, all the other paint manufacturers had to reformulate and find substitutes, while Daniel Smith proudly paraded their exclusive pure colour.

 

They had to run out eventually. Now it is their turn to reformulate and find an alternative with the same purity and glow, trying to convince frowning artists that the new formulation is just as good and probably better. Impossible task. As a single pigment, Quinacridone Gold had a level of clarity and saturation that is impossible to replicate by mixing several pigments.

 

Daniel Smith’s announcement of the end of the real Quinacridone Gold

 

Honestly, I think that they mishandled their highly advantageous position all these years ago. They could have kept the almost extinct, precious pigment exclusively for their Quinacridone Gold paint. Instead they used it in other mixes such as Sap Green, which frankly could be made of anything. What a waste of those last drops of elixir…

Physalis painted with Quinacridone Gold PO49

If you are lucky enough to have a local art shop selling DS paints, a sneaky rummage through their Quinacridone Gold tubes is worth your while. You might yet find some treasure.

 

And how about these rumours that a Chinese pigment manufacturer is producing PO49 again? I’ll keep an eye on that and hope for a resurrection… but so far I haven’t found any trustworthy source that this is a real thing.

 

Happy stockpiling!

 

 

 

 

Gardens, Plant of the month

Plant of the month – April 2018 – Muscari

Order:                   Asparagales

Family:                  Asparagaceae

Subfamily:            Scilloideae

Genus:                  Muscari

Common Name:   Grape Hyacinth

Type:                      Perennial bulb

Soil:                       Chalk, clay, sand, loam

Ph:                         Acid, alkaline, neutral

Aspect:                  Full sun / partial shade

Propagation:         Seed of bulb division

Native to:               Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa and Asia

It is always nice to start the gardening season with a new obsession.

For the spring of 2018 I present you the Muscari!

I never really noticed Muscari before. A couple of years ago I was given a clump of the Muscari in-a-cute-wicker-basket variety. As I used it to adorn my dining room table, I got to gaze at it quite a bit. Day after day, it went from “Meh!” to “It’s actually quite cute” to “I like it” to “I have to paint this”… Good progress. When it faded I planted it out and forgot about it. This year it suddenly exploded. There is Muscari all over the garden and I love it. It is also loved by bees, which is always a good speciality to have on your CV if you’re a plant and you wish to live in my garden.

The name Muscari derives from the Latin word ‘muschos’, meaning ‘musk’, referring to the flower’s strong scent. When I read that I went to the garden to check, because I had never noticed any perfume emanating from my table display… I had to go down on all four to get to Muscari level (roses are a lot more cooperative when it comes to getting a sniff), so while I was down there I took some photos. The smell is similar to hyacinth, albeit a less overpowering version.

Although Muscari is not a truly native plant, it has been cultivated in the UK since 1576. The Muscari genus was formally established by Scottish botanist Philip Miller in 1754. It is now widely naturalised and is by many considered to deserve its “native” status.

Of course I wasn’t able to stick to the common species… I had to find out about fancy ones. There are about 40 of them. I bought Muscari latifolium “Grape Ice”. The bottom flowers are dark purple, moving up to blue, then green, topped up with a tuft of white sterile florets. Let’s hope it spreads as easily as Muscari neglectum.

 

I haven’t painted it yet, but I have prepared a drawing of Muscari neglectum, so hopefully it will happen soon…

 

Happy gardening!