New watercolour paintings and a new brush!

Last weekend was a bank holiday in the UK, which meant we had a most welcome extra day of leisure time!

Sometimes, one of the many upsides of such events is that I’m able to spend a little more time painting. The downside every time, however, is that I always have less time to spend pulling my posts together, hence this rather last minute posting to scrape into my traditional Wednesday slot. This may not be a bad thing from a readers’ perspective as it means I have less time to go rambling on and have to let the pictures do all the heavy lifting!

I did this first painting one evening by electric light! I started it and was just enjoying it so much I couldn’t stop!

Intersection, Paris

The view is in Paris from our holiday there back in 2016. I went out early one evening as the sun was going down. I seem to recall that I had to get something from the local supermarket and took my camera along with me for company. This image is of quite a large intersection, probably about 15-20 mins walk from the Gare Du Nord if I remember correctly. I took quite a few photos of this view, but this is my first attempt at painting it. I can deny that I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

As I was having such a nice time in Paris, I decided to stay there with this next watercolour of the Eglise Saint Sulpice.

The Eglise Saint Sulpice, Paris

I’m really torn with this one. On the one hand, I quite like how the building turned out. It’s a challenge to try to simplify the amount of architectural detail on such a vast building like this, but still provide sufficient information to suggest all the detail. On the other hand however, I’d like the building to be even better! I’m a little disappointed with how I handled the top spire of the building, which feels a little unconvincing.

What I do like is the contrast between the warmth of this building against the cool buildings in the background. I’m going to live with this one for a while and think that I might return to it again and try to tackle it slightly differently.

A new brush

There was a short break in my painting proceedings while I took delivery of a new brush – delivery of which I’d been eagerly waiting for!

The brush in question is from Escoda, one of a new line of brushes developed in consultation with and to the specifications of Joseph Zbukvic. This new ‘Aquario Gold Series’ are all made from natural squirrel hair. The distinctive shape of the crimped ferrule is the same as on other Escoda brushes but, instead of being a matt grey/silver finish, it’s a polished gold.

None of this affects how it paints though so, I hear you ask, ‘why did you want this brush?’

True, I have enough brushes to last me (probably the rest of my lifetime!) but this range is slightly different to previous brushes by Escoda and I was keen to try it out. The main reason I liked the Alvaro Castagnet range of brushes by Neef is because of the length of their bristles and the point that they come to. A lot of my mop brushes by, for instance, Winsor and Newton and Raphael, are much shorter in length in proportion to the width at the ‘belly’; great for water holding capacity but, in my opinion, less ideal for any detailed work.

I’d seen Joseph Zbukvic mention this new range of brushes during an interview and his description of them really piqued my interest. After looking for a UK supplier in vain, I ended up ordering directly from Escoda in Spain. I had to spend a little more on postage costs but not that much more than UK shipping costs really.

Here’s a quick tour that I hope will give you a flavour!

The new Joseph Zbukvic Aquario Gold Series Brush by Escoda

Once I’d opened it, I was keen to have a little play with it, just for fun. I already had a sheet of paper stretched so I drew a line across to suggest the horizon, and then painted the rest of this simple scene freehand.

French Landscape as seen from a speeding train!

My reference, remaining in France, is a landscape view captured as we sped home on the Eurostar. It’s felt nice and free to do a view like this as I got to use my new brush – which I used solely on this quick study – in a range of different ways, from fully laden for washes to just dropping pigment in using its tip, to a bit of dry brush for the trees just using the side of the belly of the brush.

The upshot was that I’m delighted with my new purchase and couldn’t wait to try it out on something a little more interesting.

I’m pleased to report that I am increasingly carrying my camera with me when I’m out and about. During the recent spell of warm weather we’ve had, I’ve made a number of walks out in my local neighbourhood as the sun has been setting. This has coincided with the recent relaxation of Covid restrictions in the UK and, even though I haven’t taken advantage of these relaxations – it has been a joy to see others doing so.

This is a view looking down Church Road in Hove, just a few minutes from where I live:

Early evening, Church Road, Hove

It’s great to see families and friends sit outside together and enjoy a drink and a meal in each others company once again.

I was pretty pleased with how this turned out. It’s not something that people may recognise as this exact location, but I’m more interested in its feel. I was pleased with a lot of the simplification, especially of the buildings on the left receding into the distance. Some parts of it do feel a little heavy and overly monochromatic, the figures in particular – but there is a good harmony of colour running throughout.

Aside from the first wash – which was done with a one-inch flat squirrel hair mottler brush – again from Escoda – most of this was done with the new Gold Series brush, which is rapidly establishing itself as one of my favourites!

Thoughts on New watercolour paintings and a new brush!

11 thoughts on “New watercolour paintings and a new brush!”

  1. You are an amazing artist. I’m just begin-
    ning, and cant wait until I get to that point.
    I was given the gift from God, but haven’t
    used it. I have begun to focus on water-
    color, vs acrylics, although I would love to
    learn to do some abstract acrylic paintings
    some day.
    So I just want to comment on your beauti-
    full paintings. They are incredible.

    1. Wow, thanks so much for such kind and generous comments Diane, I really appreciate it. I’m so pleased for you that you’ve found painting (and especially watercolour painting but I’m tremendously biased on this front!) – I hope it brings you great joy (though to fully appreciate the highs, I’m afraid there will inevitably be a few lows too)! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it!

  2. That looks to be a great brush, John! It’s good to try new things, reinvigorates the creative juices! I just bought a new brush too (a flat from DaVinci) and two new colours from a maker I’ve not used before, an Orange and a Purple by Schmincke – bit nervous about those as I really love M.Graham (Jackson’s are discounting the Schmincke watercolours so I thought not too much lost)!

    1. Hi Ray and thanks for this – It is a great brush (and I’m already thinking about buying another couple of sizes in them too!). I’m a big fan of DaVinci brushes, especially their mops. I also picked up a set of their brushes called ‘Silver point’ or ‘Silver Tip’ – they’re a mixed hair brush that only come in three sizes and have extra long bristles – well worth a look! I’ve not tried Schmincke before but as I’m quite wedded to W&N (and have a massive supply that I’ve built up!). I’ve only heard good things about the M.Graham paints so really should try them out sometime.

  3. I had never heard of that brush and I too have enough brushes to last me until I die, but I think I will look into it.

    All of these paintings came out really well.

    1. I’d happily recommend it Mary! I did have someone else contact about this brush and where I got it from. This person was based in the US and I think that he’d experiencing difficulties in getting Escoda to ship to the US? – just forewarning you in case you experience anything similar! If you do get one of these, I’d love to hear how you like it (or not!)

      1. Yes, I’m having the same problem. Escoda says it won’t sell to the U.S. because of infringement on a contract with the U.S. distributor but I haven’t been able to find any U.S. distributor. So either there isn’t one yet or maybe the product is so new it’s not available yet. But it really bothers me when this happens. I missed out on an autographed copy of Olive, Mabel and Me because of this. Couldn’t even get a signed bookplate. If I’m willing to pay the currency exchange rate and extra for shipping, why can’t I buy direct? Especially since there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the U.S. selling this brush.

        1. So sorry to hear that Mary – it seems crazy that they’re unable to ship directly to customers in the states (which is presumably a massive market for them!) I think it is a relatively new product as I couldn’t find anyone supplying this range in the UK, but then I wasn’t sure if this was anything to do with Brexit (we all of us have our problems don’t we!?)

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have about this

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