The beginning of something big?

It’s been a slow period of settling back into normality after returning from summer holidays. It’s also been a long time since I put brush to paper with any degree of serious intent and I was feeling quite nervous and apprehensive about how much ground I may have lost during my break. I cycle to work every day and know all too well how much my fitness and stamina deteriorates after even the shortest of breaks, so I was fully expecting a similar deterioration with my artistic endeavors!

It was however a great little boost to receive in the post a new Holbein 500 palette. I say new but it was yet another eBay purchase so it’s hard to say quite how ‘old’ it is but it appears to be little used. Here’s a picture of it in the hand:

Welcoming the my new Holbein 500 into my fraternity of palettes

And mighty comfortable it feels too. Despite its smaller size, the Holbein 500 feels almost weightier and more substantial than it’s bigger brother, the Holbein 1000. This ‘weight’ difference aroused the curious pedant in me so I thought I’d do a quick comparison. When closed, The Holbein 500 measures 110mm x 250mm and the Holbein 1000 measures 135mm x 302mm. The 500 weighs in at 396g and the 1000 at 440g (and that includes the paint in the palette, so the actual weight is will be slightly less than 440g). My ready reckoning indicates that the 1000 is 33% larger than the 500 but – especially taking the paint into account – is less than 10% heavier.

The enamel on the 500 ‘feels’ thicker although I fear the colour was either never a ‘bright’ white or has aged to a creamy colour, although I wasn’t sure if enamel did yellow with age (any thoughts or insight on this most welcome). Here’s my new 500 shown next to the 1000 for comparison of size and whiteness:

My Holbein siblings side by side

I still feel slightly embarrassed by how few paints I have to populate my palettes and even the fifteen colours you can see in the picture above is about 7 colours too many! I think I’ve mentioned in a recent post how much I’ve enjoyed using the Holbein 1000 for its enamelled surface but it’s quite a large and unwieldy beast so I was pleased to be able to pick up the 500. My only disappointment was that I didn’t get it for much cheaper than I could have got it brand new in the end – and for a little more I may have got a sparkling white version! Still, it was a helpful nudge towards me picking up my brushes again and I’ll just have to see whether the colour of the enamel adversely affects my colour mixing. So, with my spot the difference test over and done with, I’ll press on.

Another similarly helpful nudge toward picking up me brushes was the arrival of a whole batch of reference photos for me to work from. After returning from holiday and trying to download the holiday snaps, it became quite apparent that I had images stored all over the place. I set about trying to get everything in the same place and, in doing so, came across quite a few images that I’d been meaning to get printed off for sometime.

I sent a small batch of images off to be printed and purposefully ordered small 6 x 4.5 inch prints – mainly in the hope that small reproductions would remove unnecessary details from the images and allow me to focus on what’s most important.

In December, we spent New Year at the wonderful Graig Wen in Snowdonia. Comprised of a number of holiday cottages and a stunning campsite it’s a great retreat in an stunning location. In recent years we’ve camped there, enjoyed a brilliant bed and breakfast experience and, mot recently stayed in one of the holiday cottages at The Slate Shed. I can’t recommend Graig Wen highly enough as a location and it’s owners, John and Sarah, are brilliant hosts and a great source of insider tips on the area.

On one of our excursions, we spent a day in the nearby seaside town of Barmouth. It was a characteristically wintery and windswept day but all the more magical for it. I ended up taking quite a lot of photos of the scene below. There was something about the expanse of the sands and the lone building silhouetted against the distance hills that really appealed to me and I took photos from quite a few aspects during the course of an afternoon. I opted for the picture below for my first painting subject because I thought I could make something of if it. Oh, I also thought it looked quite easy too!

A distinctly windswept December-ish Barmouth

Seeing it on screen as I write this – I’m seeing far more detail in the image than I was able to discern from my fuzzy 6 x 4.5 inch print! I’m also feeling a little nervous about showing this photo and the subsequent painting side by side but hey-ho, this is no time for being bashful:

My version of Barmouth Beach

I purposefully changed the composition of this so that the focal point wasn’t in the centre of the image and, while I wasn’t after an exact replica of the photo, I did want my interpretation to be recognisable. I took the odd liberty with the light conditions, and the sand is decidedly more golden, but for my first foray into painting for quite a few weeks now, I was pleasantly surprised with how this turned out and I’m greatly enthused about the prospect of doing some more paintings of this scene. I’ve already ordered some more photos of different views and I’m excitedly hopeful that this could be the beginning of something big!

Thoughts on The beginning of something big?

6 thoughts on “The beginning of something big?”

  1. Hi John, I actually posted this question on your latest post, but then saw you had a dedicated page! Anyway, there are no longer available at Amazon and also Jackson’s Art seems out of stock. Do they still make them d’you know, or would you like to sell yours (:

    1. Hi David – I know that I’ve picked up all of mine on Ebay so that might be worth a look (last time I looked, you could still order Holbein palettes direct from Japan but I can’t recall what the cost was! Which one do you think you’re most interested in? I know that I’ve already parted ways with one of my Holbein palettes but I can’t remember which one!

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