Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Shipping art: FedEx is the most trusted service

I've been running opinion polls about posting and shipping art in 2011.  These have consistently identified FedEx as being the service most people seem to trust when shipping artwork.

One caveat is that the numbers responding to the polls have not been high - hence why I'd like to encourage more people to participate in the two ongoing polls listed below.
Below you can see the charts of results from the three different polls - together with the number of respondents to date

February Poll - Which service do you trust when you post or ship artwork?

FedEx came top in February with 28% of the poll
Results of Making A Mark Poll February 2011 (29 respondents)

FedEx(UK) is the clear leader in my poll about the best post/shipping service in the UK

FedEx is just ahead of UPS in my poll about the best post-shipping service in the USA

If you are an artist and post or ship art in the UK or USA - and you have not yet responded - you can help give other artists an even better picture about which services artists prefer to use by voting in one or other of the polls on How to pack, post and ship art.

Just click the links to the polls to vote.

On Making A Mark today, there is a post which is a Review of Specialist Art Couriers in the UK.  This is primarily about the couriers used by artists to get their artwork to and from an exhibition.  Follow ups to that review will be posted on this blog.

Friday, 28 October 2011

NEW: Analysis of Lightfastness of Prismacolor Colored Pencils

Prismacolor has published its very first detailed color chart detailing the ASTM lightfastness ratings for its existing range of 132 Prismacolor Pencils.

The ratings also apply to Art Stix of the same colour.

Here's the Color Chart (download as a pdf file from the Prismacolor blog)!  See Introducing 18 New Colors; revived and refreshed for 2011!

Prismacolor Premier Lighfast Color Chart
This is the Lightfastness Legend used on the Chart.  It rates the lightfastness of different pencil colors (ie their ability to maintain their colour over time while exposed to light) from Excellent to Poor.

Prismacolor Pencils - Lightfast Legend

The colours have all been tested according to the processes laid down by the ASTM D6901-06 and the lightfastness ratings have been established.  This provides a level playing field for comparing colours and their lightfastness across different brands.

For more about lightfastness see my "resources for artists" website Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artists - and, in particular, the section about COLOURED PENCILS - COLOURS AND LIGHTFASTNESS

My own feeling is that Prismacolor now have far more colours in Groups 4 and 5 compared to other manufacturers.  I'm really not sure why they want to produce quite so many pinks, violets, purple and blues - colours which are effectively fugitive.  Certainly both Talens and Caran d'Ache, which have also had their pencils tested to ASTM standard, have many fewer pencils but virtually all their pencils are Group I and II.

I'd certainly prefer a complete set which had as a minimum a very good standard of lightfastness - even if it meant less pencils.  But maybe I'm a voice on my own on that one?

The general consensus is that artists producing artwork which is intended to be archival should only be using Class I and II (Excellent and Very Good) colours.

Below I list the new colours and also which group all the rest of the colours fall into.

Group I - Excellent Lightfastness rating
  • Artichoke
  • Lemon Yellow
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Spanish Orange
  • Goldenrod
  • Mineral Orange
  • Crimson Lake
  • Light Peach
  • Beige
  • Nectar
  • Light Peach
  • Powder Blue
  • Parrot Green
  • Yellow Chartreuse
  • Green Ochre
  • Kelly Green
  • Dark Green
  • Sandbar Brown
  • Sepia
  • Jade Green
  • Peacock Green
  • Light Umber
  • Chocolate
  • Burnt Ochre
  • Sienna Brown
  • Terra Cotta
  • Henna
  • Expresso
  • Dark Umber
  • Dark Brown
  • Warm Grey 10%
  • Warm Grey 20%
  • Warm Grey 30%
  • Warm Grey 50%
  • Warm Grey 70%
  • Warm Grey 90%
  • Cool Grey 10%
  • Cool Grey 20%
  • Cool Grey 30%
  • Cool Grey 50%
  • Cool Grey 70%
  • Cool Grey 90%
  • Black
  • French Grey 10%
  • French Grey 20%
  • French Grey 30%
  • French Grey 50%
  • French Grey 70%
  • French Grey 90%
  • White
  • Metallic Silver
  • Bronze
Group II - Very Good Lightfastness rating
  • Cream
  • Ginger Root
  • Jasmine
  • Sand
  • Pumpkin Orange
  • Carmine Red
  • Scarlet lake
  • Crimson Red
  • Peach
  • Beige Sienna
  • Chestnut
  • Black Raspberry
  • Black Cherry
  • Black Grape
  • Mediterranean Blue
  • Indigo Blue
  • Chartreuse
  • True Green
  • Grass Green
  • Olive Green
  • Kelp Green
  • Slate Grey
  • Metallic Gold
Group III - Good Lightfastness rating
  • Canary Yellow
  • Pale Vermillion
  • Peach Beige
  • Seashell Pink
  • Rosy Beige
  • Raspberry
  • Greyed Lavender
  • Violet
  • Copenhagen Blue
  • Electric Blue
  • Denim Blue
  • True Blue
  • Sky Blue Light
  • Peacock Blue
  • Cloud Blue
  • Non-Photo Blue
  • Light Acqua
  • Aquamarine
  • Light Green
  • Spring Green
  • Marine Green
  • Celadon Green
  • Muted Turquoise
  • Putty Beige
Group IV - Fair Lightfastness rating
  • Sunburst yellow
  • Magenta
  • Pink
  • Pink Rose
  • Clay Rose
  • Pink Rose
  • Mahogany Red
  • Dark Purple
  • China Blue
  • Blue Slate
  • Moss Green
  • Tuscan red
Group V - Poor Lightfastness rating
  • Yellowed Orange
  • Orange
  • Poppy Red
  • Process Red
  • Mulberry
  • Hot Pink
  • Salmon Pink
  • Blush Pink
  • Lavender
  • Lilac
  • Dahlia Purple
  • Parma Violet
  • Imperial Violet
  • Blue Violet Lake
  • Violet Blue
  • Ultramarine
  • Light Cerulean Blue
  • Caribbean Sea
  • Periwinkle
  • Blue Lake
  • Pale Sage
  • Limepeel
  • Apple Green
NEW Pencils ( but some with old colour names)

Prismacolor have also released 18 new pencils which are currently undergoing a formal assessment to determine their final lightfast rating.  These revive some of the favourite colours from the past!

I'm assuming that they have tried to address the horrible lightfastness problems that some of these pencils had in the past.

The "new" colours are:
  • Deco Yellow, 
  • Deco Peach 
  • Deco Pink
  • Permanent Red
  • Indathrone Blue
  • Cadmium Orange Hue
  • Prussian Green
  • Sap Green Light
  • Grey Green Light
  • Cobalt Turquoise
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Cobalt Blue Hue 
  • Eggshell
  • Pomegranate
  • Dioaxazine Purple Hue
  • Neon Yellow
  • Neon Orange
  • Neon Pink
The new pencils bring the complete set up to 150 pencils - which will be available soon in all new packaging.


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Book Review - The Illustrated Herbal by Wilfred Blunt

The Illustrated HerbalThe Illustrated Herbal by Wilfrid Blunt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For those interested in the history of the development of The Illustrated Herbal this is an excellent reference book. Initial indications (from skim reading it on the way home from the RHS Autumn Show at the Horticultural Show where I bought it) are that this book has amazing illustrations from a wide range of herbals - many of which are hundreds of years old. It also has in-depth coverage of the development of the herbal.

The authors are Wilfred Blunt - who wrote the much acclaimed book The Art of Botanical Illustration" - and Sandra Raphael

Very much recommended for all those interested in the history of the development of botanical art - and the the development of the illustrated herbal in particular

View all my reviews on Goodreads
View my resource site A History of Botanical Art

Saturday, 24 September 2011

POLL: Coloured Pencils - colour or brand?

Which is more important - colour or brand - when buying coloured pencils?  This post is about a new opinion poll for coloured pencil artists.
People vary as to whether they prioritise colour or brand when making their purchase of coloured pencils. 
  • My own personal preference is to go for the best colour from a reliable good quality brand. Hence I vary as to which brands I favour for different colours - and use most brands in the process!
  • For some they go for the colour irrespective of quality issues
  • Other people are dedicated to using one brand - or maybe two. Possibly because that's all the local art store stocks and they haven't yet got used to ordering online.
Here are some possible options identified in a new Opinion Poll I'm running on Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artists.  Click this link to access the poll  POLL: Coloured Pencils - do you go for Colour or Brand?
  • I'm always looking for the right colour
  • Colour is the priority - but only from brands which are good quality and reliable
  • Most of my pencils are from one or two brands
  • I prefer to stick to one brand
Below is a sample of the coloured pencils I was using yesterday while I was Sketching the Herb Garden at Sissinghurst. Guess which answer I'll be ticking!

A sample of Coloured Pencil Brands on a sketching outing
They include: Caran d'Ache Pablo, Caran d'Ache Luminance, Derwent Artists, Derwent Coloursoft,
Derwent Signature, Faber Castell Polychromos, Lyra Rembrandt Polycolour, Karisma 

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Product review #1: Wacom Inkling

The Wacom Inkling kit unpacked - Inkling case, Inkling pen, Inkling receiver, USB lead, 4 pen cartridges
I've not yet seen a Wacom Inkling - however I have seen the tutorial videos on YouTube and wanted to research it so this week I'm sharing what I've found.

In the future I'll be summarising the verdicts of those who have seen and used it - with particular reference to those who are artists and illustrators and not just technical journalists.

It appears as if the Wacom is being launched mid September in the USA but there's no date for launch elsewhere that I've yet been able to identify.

This post comes in three parts

  • First the official videos by Wacom - which is probably as blatant an example of using YouTube to market a product as I've ever seen!  Note the Wacom videos are available on the USA site but not the Europe channel of Wacom YouTube.
  • Second, a technical summary.  This includes a summary of the pros and cons as identified to date
  • Third - the links to reviews of the Wacom Inkling - for a future post as it turns out as I can't find any to date!
Last - I'd like to hear what you think of the Wacom Inkling.  My initial reaction was that I liked the idea but I'd want to wait until they brought out a "fine nib" as the current one looks a bit too "medium" for me.

What is a Wacom Inkling?

Here are the Wacom videos.  The ones after the first one were only published last week  I'd like to emphasise that all the descriptions are quotes which come straight from Wacom.
Wacom introduces Inkling, a new digital sketch pen that captures a digital likeness of your work while you sketch with its ballpoint tip on any sketchbook or standard piece of paper.
Replacing Inkling Pen Cartridge:  This video demonstrates how to replace an Inkling ink cartridge in the tip of the pen.
Charging Inkling: This video demonstrates how to charge Inkling using the carrying case and a standard USB port.
 Using Inkling:  This video gives you some specific tips for using Inking by Wacom.
Transferring Sketches from Inkling: This video demonstrates how to transfer your sketches from Inkling to Sketch Manager, where you can prepare your files for distribution or further development in other creative software applications, like Adobe Photoshop 
Installing Inkling Sketch Manager (Mac):  This video shows you how to install the Sketch Manager software on a Mac. Sketch Manager is a simple software that comes with your Inkling and is designed to help you prepare your files for distribution or further development in other creative software applications, like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator or Autodesk Sketchbook Designer.

OK - so that's the product demo - but what are the technical features?

Digital Product:  Wacom Inkling Digital Sketch Pen http://inkling.wacom.com/
Owner/Distributor: Wacom http://www.wacom.com/
Summary of Technical Details:
This is a brand NEW digital sketch pen.  What's new is that can capture a digital likeness of your work while you sketch with its ballpoint tip on any sketchbook or standard piece of paper(In other words you do not need a special tablet to sketch on).
This is the link to the Technical Specifications

  • Inkling Digital pen:
    • Dimensions: 153 x 17 mm
    • Weight: 21 grams
    • working time - up to 15 hours
    • charging time - up to 3 hours
  • Inkling Digital Receiver:
    • Dimensions: width 71mm / depth 32 mm / height 16mm
    • Weight: 38 grams (making total weight of 59 grams)
  • Inkling Sketch Manager
What you buy: Inkling digital pen, Inkling receiver, Inkling charging case, batteries, USB cable, 4 spare ink cartridges, Inkling Sketch Manager application, quick start guide, online user′s manual
Release date: due mid-September 2011 (USA) no date identified as yet for other locations in Europe
Retail Price: $199.99 / €169.90 / £?
Summary: It's a digital pen which has been designed for rough concepting and creative brainstorming.  I take this to mean they've not yet worked out how to introduce the control required to achieve fine mark-making.
Target Audience: people who like digital tools for creative picture-making
  • artists, 
  • illustrators
  • storyboarders 
  • people sharing ideas in real time with clients (as a digital file)
  • anyone who likes convenience, speed and spontaneity when loosely sketching their ideas on paper 
Suitable for: Those who use pen and ink and are interested in how to digitise the process - but aren't particularly keen on carrying a tablet around with them.
Unsuitable for:  
  • Die-hard pen and ink brigade who have no interest in digital products
  • people who like a lot of control over the products they use to create marks
  • those who like conventional ink pens with a variety of widths possible due to nib chosen
Technical Features
  • "like" sketching with a ball pen - nibs are standard ball points and there are no plans for any other sort of nibs
  • can be used on ordinary paper - no special tablet required
  • scope to use A7 to A4 paper size (portrait/landscape) 
  • receiver is clipped to edge of paper pad to record and connected to computer by USB to transmit (and you can't draw within 0.8" of it)
  • hundreds of sketches can be stored on the receiver prior to infra-red / ultrasonic transmission to PC or Mac
  • uses Wacom's pressure sensing technology - providing 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity for natural pen strokes
  • possible to create layered, digital vector files 
  • sketch files can be saved in Inkling Sketch Manager in the following formats: JPG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, SVG and PDF formats
  • Export sketches with layers directly from the Inkling Sketch Manager software into 
    • Adobe® Photoshop®, 
    • Illustrator® (CS3+), 
    • Autodesk® Sketchbook® Pro (2011+) or 
    • Autodesk® Sketchbook® Designer.
  • no need to carry a tablet around to create digital sketches - you get to carry a compact case with pen and receiver instead!
  • good range of different file formats possible
  • good range of pressure sensing capabilities - will be familiar to users of existing Wacom products
  • storage capacity seems reasonable in principle
  • useful YouTube videos for demos while you're in "interested" mode given the absence of competent product advice from merchandisers
  • videos appear to demonstrate the product claims
Think Again?
  • the issue with a lot of digital sketching products isn't the fact it can be done, it's how much control the user has over HOW it can be done.
  • unclear how much the replacement ink cartridges are going to cost (this of course is where those who sell printers make all their money)
  • files likely to need refining using a computer - which means you'll still need a digital tool that works the way you like to do this
  • some interested users want to see an eraser 
    • point made that erasure can be done when file is transferred to computer 
    • however it does underline the fact that erasure is NOT possible while the pen is in use
    • the YouTube commentator who suggested lines should be made in pencil first has rather lost the plot!
Suppliers: Available from


What do people think about the Wacom Inkling?

That's the question!

I'm still looking for reviews by people who have seen this and used it and are artists not techies or technical journalists!

My initial thinking is that I like a fine line, lots of control and am not a fan of drawing with a ball point.  It's also rather expensive and I don't like the fact we don't know how much replacement cartridges will cost.  On that basis, I don't think I can currently make a case for trying this out.

However I might be persuaded when the proper user reviews start filtering through

Monday, 19 September 2011

Book Review: Cherries from Chauvet's Orchard

This book tells the story of Postcard from Provence from the perspective of the artist's wife and partner.  It's a definite "must read" for all followers of Postcard from Provence  and aspiring daily painters.

Ruth Phillips writes extremely well - which I already knew from her blog Meanwhile. I thought I might know most of the stories from having read her blog for the last five years, however I was very wrong!

My signed special limited edition (no. 114) of  Ruth's new book Cherries from Chauvet's Orchard arrived in early June and came complete with a key to the house featured in the book which a group of us rented for three weeks in June 2011.

It was posted to me by Julian Merrow-Smith of Postcard from Provence fame.  Which is how I ended up with two keys to enter their world as the book also provides an excellent introduction to all the places around and about Bedoin in the Vaucluse area of Provence.

The chapter titles are idyllic and made me want to start reading straight away - but in the end I didn't start to read it until I was staying in their home in Provence - while Ruth played cello at the Garsington Festival and Julian got to grips with his new role of Dad of seven month old Louis!

This was an early review which I read which only served to wet my appetite.  Having read the book now I can only echo its comments.
“In Cherries from Chauvet’s Orchard, cellist Ruth Phillips makes music with words, capturing on  the page what her painter husband, JulianMerrow-Smith, does on canvas—a way of life that is achingly romantic yet not romanticized, that is earthbound yet exquisite, and one where sweat is rewarded with transcendence. As the couple struggles to build their home out of a farm ruin beneath the shadow of Mt. Ventoux and to make a living and life together, Julian must harness his muse. In a modern-day twist in this ancient place of luscious colors and cuisine, it is the worldwide web that changes their life. This is a true story of talent, ingenuity, and success against the odds, of pathos,  passion, and humor. You won’t put it down.”

--Dean King, author of Skeletons on the Zahara and Unbound
The book also uses quotations from friends, family, artists and collectors as introductions to the chapters.  My friend, fellow painter Sarah Wimperis (The Red Shoes) is one of those people.  This is the introduction to Cloud Shadows on page 160
Julian confims that painting is like running, or the violin, or the cello...it requires practice all the time. I am so sick of the people who think it pours out like a leaky tap, like it is easy or god given
Sarah Wimperis
When you start reading a book more slowly and rationing out the pages so that you won't get to the end too quickly you know you're reading a very good book which you want to savour!  After I had been reading for a while I decided to only allow myself a maximum of two chapters each night!

It starts at a point before I began to know a bit about their lives.  It tells us the stories of how Julian and Ruth came to meet and marry, of their life in Crillon Le Brave before they made the move to their 'new' house in Couguiuex and how the whole daily painting story (saga?) happened, took off and then delivered very real benefits in terms of improvements to their life style, domestic amenities and Julian's studio.  I used to stand there with the hose in the evening - watering Ruth's potager - and thinking about how the very long story of how the water actually got to put in an appearance.

What is particularly luscious for all serious foodies (that'll be me!) is the role that food plays in the book - and that's when we learn much more about how Julian's involvement with food goes well beyond what he liked to paint in his still life paintings.  Ruth's writing about food can make me salivate! I also made very sure that the potatoes got a very good watering!

It's also very illuminating and sometimes downright entertaining about what it's like living with an artist in search of his daily muse!

The latter part of the book concerns their quest to be parents and how Louis entered their lives.

This book is a definite "must read" for all followers of Postcard from Provence.  

The general consensus from all those reading along with me in Provence was that it was also a very good read, very accurate about the place and the area and we all enjoyed it enormously - and not just because we were having a go at "living the life" of a painter in Provence (see 4 Go Painting in Provence!).  I bought another copy while I was there and took it home for my mother to read!

This book was first reviewed on Four Go Painting in Provence - Ruth provides the inspiration.....
This particular edition is raising funds for the orphanage in Bamako where Julian and Ruth's adopted son Louis started his life.

Note: ‘Cherries from Chauvet’s Orchard’ is now available as a mass-market paperback for $16.95

Friday, 9 September 2011

Product Review: Liz Steel reviews Schmincke watercolour paints

If you like Schmincke watercolour paints - or have always wondered about trying them out - you should definitely take a look at Liz Steel's unique review - in her sketchbook journal - of the Schmincke paints she took to Europe this summer - see her post 110906 Schmincke Set review

Liz Steel Reviews her Schminke set - September 2011
copyright liz Steel - used with her permission
You can see a larger version of this review in her journal in her Flickr account

If you've done a review of a product send me an email containing a link to your review blog post

Monday, 5 September 2011

Product Review: Pilot G-Tec C4 Microtip 0.4mm Rollerball Pen

Pilot Pens: G-Tec C4 Microtip 0.4mm Rollerball Pen (brown ink)
- my latest "bulk" purchase @£3 per pen

Product:  Pilot Pens: G-Tec C4 Microtip 0.4mm Rollerball Pen (brown ink)
Pilot Product Catalogue description
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: The Pilot-G-Tec-C4 rollerball pen in brown ink is my pen of choice for sketching.  
:  It has an incredibly thin line making very fine hatching incredibly easy to do.  The even flow of the ink and the ease of its release also means that I can hold the pen very lightly which helps with my tenosynovitis.  There is absolutely no need to press hard.  It also is very good at NOT "blobbing" hence sketches are not ruined by a sudden release of a blob of ink.  It works exceptionally well on very smooth paper such as that found in Moleskine Sketchbooks.

There are two aspects which will not appeal to some sketchers - the ink is not waterproof hence will run if you apply watercolours over the top.  The very thin point means that there is no scope for varying the line - it is constant and very fine
Technical Details:
  • pure gel ink - which does not spread or "blob"
  • probably the finest rollerball pen you can buy
    • very fine 2mm line
  • comes in 10 shades
    • black, blue and red commonly found in shops
    • brown ink sometimes found in shops
    • generally need to order online for other colours
Who should buy this? 
  • People who sketch
  • Anybody needing a very fine pen line
  • Anybody wanting a pen with brown ink
  • anybody wanting to avoid ink "blobs"
  • anybody who needs to hold a pen lightly (the ink releases well and flows without interruption - no need to press hard)
Who should not buy this?  
  • Anybody wanting waterproof ink - because it's not
  • anybody liking a variable line 
  • people who are heavy handed and press hard when using a pen
  • tiny point glides over the page
  • it loves moleskine sketchbooks and all bristol plate and hot press paper
  • excellent for hatching and shading (see drawing at below)
  • works fine under coloured pencil (see my Travels with a Sketchbook)
  • ink runs well / good at avoiding ink blobs
  • ink seems to last a long time
  • very popular pen 
Think Again?
  • not recommended for use with watercolours as ink is not waterproof
  • difficult to find in shops in brown ink - need to buy in batches or order online (see suppliers at end)
Manufacturer / Distributor:  Pilot UK
Address: The Pilot Pen Co (UK) Ltd, 4 Dukes Meadow, Millboard Road, Bourne End, Buckinghamshire SL8 5XF
Telephone: 01628 537100
Enquiry form
Web: http://www.pilotpen.co.uk/
Suppliers:  Recommended distributor is Cult Pens - reliable and helpful suppliers which is cheapest for single purchases and bulk buys
High street stores
  • I can sometimes find these in Rymans and Paperchase (if they're in stock) - but not always in the brown/sepia colour - hence the big purchase when I do!
Online Retailers
  • Paperchase
    • Pilot G-Tec C4 0.4mm Microtip Rollerball Pen £3.00 per pen (same price in the stores and online)
    • pilot g-tec C4 brown
  • Cult Pens 
    • Pilot G-Tec C4 0.4mm Microtip Rollerball Pen £2.64 per pen (inc VAT)
    • Pilot G-Tec C4 0.4mm Microtip Rollerball Pen (Pack of 12) - Brown (£29.78 - delivered free)
A Cult Pens best-seller - the ultra-fine Pilot G-Tec-C4 rollerball writes a 0.2mm line of pure gel ink colour without spreading. Available in ten ink colours - BlackBlue Red Green Light Blue Brown Purple Pink Orange and Yellow 

Having now taken the photo and written the post I can now put my pens away in the "in stock" box!

Do let me know if you have any comments about these pens.

 Spanish Olive and Tulip Wood Apples #1
6" x 10", pen and sepia ink on Saunders Waterford HP
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Friday, 12 August 2011

DVD Review: Lucian Freud Portraits

DVDLucian Freud - Portraits [DVD] (released 18 April 2005)
Summary: A film portrait of Lucian Freud produced by people he knows well and based on interviews with people who have sat for portraits by Freud. Most of the sitters are also relatives or friends of Freud.  Images of the portraits discussed and other portraits are interspersed with film of the interviewees. I personally found it fascinating and recommend this DVD.

Technical Details: made by
  • film-maker Jake Auerbach (son of Freud's long time friend Frank Auerbach and best known for his documentary films about artists) and 
  • Freud's biographer William Feaver.  Feaver is a painter, critic, writer, and curator. He has curated the following exhibitions: Lucian Freud (2002 Tate and tour), Freud (2005 Museo Correr, Venice), and Freud & Auerbach (2006 V&A). He is the author of the exhibition catalogue, Lucian Freud (Tate, 2002). 
Who should buy this? 
  • fans of Lucian Freud
  • portrait artists
  • aspiring portrait artists
Who should not buy this?
  • artists not interested in portraiture
  • people wanting to see/hear Freud himself
  • the range of sitters/interviewees who include:
  • the range of different people's perspectives - all of whom seem to agree he was a man with a lot of stories who could be great fun. Which seems surprising given that all photos seem to be of somebody who is apparently quite sombre and serious.
  • They all provide insight into the process of the sitting - and an appreciation that the "getting to know the sitter" involved dinners and conversations outside his studio
  • the level of apparent intimacy ie these are people who know the man well and hence talk with the confidence that their interviewer understands what they are saying
Think Again?
  • I think most people will find it leaves them thinking about what Freud's grandfather - Sigmund Freud - would have made of Lucian Freud painting his daughters and granddaughters in the nude, particularly given the fact that he had been a very distant parent!
  • Region 2 DVD - meaning it's only playable in the UK, Europe, Japan, South Africa and Middle East
Producer:  Jake Auerbach Films Limited

  • available from Amazon UK and a variety of other online distributors as a Region 2 DVD 
  • has been seen in the shop at the National Portrait Gallery

Link:  Lucian Freud - Resources for Art Lovers

Monday, 6 June 2011

Product Review: KUM Automatic Long Point Pencil Sharpener

ProductKUM Automatic Long Point Pencil Sharpener
Summary:  An excellent manual pencil sharpener for those who like their pencil leads to have a long point.  Made by a manufacturer with lot of experience in the manufacture of manual pencil sharpeners.  Recommended for occasional use.
Technical Details:
  • Two stage pencil sharpener
  • the first stage involves sharpening the wood in the left hand hole - this shapes the wood and produces a blunt point and an automatic brake prevents over-sharpening
  • The second stage involves sharpening in the right hand hole - this produces a fine and very sharp point
  • The best method for getting it to sharpen effectively is to hold the sharpener and the pencil horizontally
Who should buy this? Pencil artists working away from home and in need of a small instrument to produce a sharp pencil point.  As it's manual, there are better pencil sharpeners to use at home eg electric sharpener.
Who should not buy this? 
  • people who find manual sharpening tiresome
  • people wanting a heavy duty pencil sharpener (buy electric instead)
  • efficient process despite the two stages as it avoids repetitive sharpening to try and achieve a long sharp point
  • includes an auto-stop which prevents over-sharpening in the first stage
  • includes two spare blades
  • Top flips back easily to reveal pencil shavings
Think Again?
  • the container is not big and the design means it fills with wood shavings very quickly - which in turn compromises the sharpening.  If sharpening more than one or two pencils you'll also need a bag or another container for the shavings.  I'd recommend emptying after a couple of pencils.
  • watch out for very different prices quoted by different suppliers (ranging between $27.06 and £3.99 inc VAT).  If it looks too expensive try shopping online to find cheaper prices.
  • I've read some reviews of this sharpener which suggested that the second stage starts to break the lead after a while.  However since some of those reviews were also pitching other products I'd take this feedback with a pinch of salt.  I haven't encountered any problems so far - however it only gets occasional use (away from home) as I usually use my electric sharpener for heavy duty sharpening.
Manufacturer / Distributor:  KUM GmbH & Co KG Kunstoff- & Metallwarenfabrik - a leading supplier of school and office supplies
Essenbacher Str. 2, 91054 Erlangen, Germany
Email: kum@kum.net
Web: www.kum.net
  • purchased from independent art shops
  • Online Retailers include: Artifolk

Link:  More reviews of pencil sharpeners including recommended pencil sharpeners

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Places to buy Pochade Boxes in the UK

In my new guise of "about to start learning to paint in oils" (see Learning how to paint with oils in Provence),  this is a quick reminder for me of the places in the UK which sell Pochade Boxes online. 

Julian Large Paint Box
There's nowhere near as many places as there are in the USA. However these ones looked like they'd be worth investigating.
These all vary in size and design but all work principally to the same principal of providing a compact way of providing a way to paint plein air at the time as transporting paints, brushes and other relevant material.
    You can see a video of the very small Julian Pochade Box below

    Note also that Julian also sell in Julian - Accessories
    • a carrying case with adjustable dividers
    • the hard to find painting umbrella

    Wednesday, 25 May 2011

    Prismacolor announces new Scholar colored pencils

    Prismacolor have just sent me an email announcing they have introduced a new line of art media for aspiring artists with the brand name Scholar(TM)

    Three points which any aspiring artist needs to bear in mind

    1. It's good to have more economical supplies available for children and those who aspire to be artists.  That's the way a lot of artists start - with lots of drawing in colour when they are younger.
    2. Serious artists will appreciate that serious art requires professional quality supplies and they need to move beyond a student range.
    3. Student ranges and professional ranges also don't work in quite the same way as their composition differs (ie there's a reason for the price difference!).  This often means needing to relearn how you use your pencil as you graduate from student level to professional level pencils.  Many people are amazed at the difference
    new Scholar(TM) products

      The new Scholar(TM) range by Prismacolor comprises
      • Scholar Colored Pencils: The Scholar Colored Pencils contain harder cores designed for the developing art student and crafters, but they are still soft enough to learn blending.  The range also includes new erasable coloured pencils
      • Scholar Art Markers: Scholar Art Markers are easy to use, water-based ink markers ideal for idea development, rendering and mixed media. Available in both a brush and bullet tip.
      • Scholar Graphite Pencils: The Scholar Graphite Pencils feature a specified range of hardness for shading and detail line drawing for the aspiring artist.
      New Scholar accessories include
      Now - obviously - I haven't seen of these products.  Comments are based on known issues with existing pencils.

      My final point - I'm left wondering how much this new range might cannibalise existing use of Prismacolor pencils which has been declining of late as more people become aware of other quality options.

      Sunday, 15 May 2011

      Product Review: Daylight Professional Artists Lamp

      Daylight Company: Professional Artist Lamp
      Jana Bouc (Jana's Journal) has done an independent product review on her blog of the new Daylight Professional Artists Lamp made by The Daylight Company in the UK.

      I've used The Daylight Company's daylight bulbs for years (even to the point of favouring art stores which stock them!).  This particular lamp is one I had already highlighted on my Art Equipment - Resources for Artists website - purely on the basis of my experience of their product quality over the years.

      I was really interested to see what an American artist made of the lamp.  The important point is that Jana is a person who is most concerned about having good light
      I’d bought and returned many other “full spectrum” or “daylight bulb” lamps in the past that were total failures because the light was too weak, too blue, or both.
      It's very evident that Jana is very impressed!

      Hence I've created a summary review below based on:
      • the technical product specification and 
      • the review done by Jana Bouc
      • this is being updated as additional comments are received
      Do check out:

      Summary:  "The difference is amazing" - recommended by Jana Bouc
      Technical Details (as per website's technical specifications)
      • 360° head joint to direct the light exactly where you need it
      • Bright 18w Daylight™ tube (100w equiv.) reduces eye strain and glare 
      • Flexible arm and multi-position joint allow easy positioning
      • Supplied with two clamps
        • Easel clamp: Attaches to all floorstanding metal & wooden easels up to 5cm/2" thick
        • Table clamp: Attaches to all tables and work benches up to 5.5cm/2.25" thick
      • Height: 50cm (19½ inches)
      • Weight: 2.4kg (5½ lbs)
      • Arm length: 70cm (27½ inches)
      Who should buy this? 
      • artists producing studio paintings/drawings
      • artists working at a studio easel
      • artists working with a table easel
      Who should not buy this?  
      • plein air artists who do not work in the studio
      • light quality is amazing according to Jana and helped her create better colours in her paintings
      • fully adjustable - works well
      • can be used for painting and for photographing paintings
      Think Again?
      • availability of replacement light bulbs via some suppliers (see comment received)
      Manufacturer / Distributor:  The Daylight Company Ltd, 89-91 Scrubs Lane, London, NW10 6QU.
      Phone:  020 8964 1200  |  Fax  020 8964 1300  | email  info.uk@daylightcompany.com
      The Daylight Company was created in the early 90s and is now the market-leading brand of speciality lighting technology for the hobby industry across Europe.  It aims to become the No.1 brand for Craft Lighting.
      Suppliers:  Full price it retails at £109.99 / $159.99 (May 2011 prices) however it's possible to buy it for less.

      For those who love the technical aspects you can also refer to their FAQS section (click the links to go to the FAQ):

      All you always wanted to know about lux, lumens, spectrum, CRI, SAD...
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