Before leaving London I splurged a bit and treated myself to new watercolour brushes. The brushes that I was using to start with were good natural hair brushes (though probably not Kolinsky), but really old and not in the best of shape – I believe most of them were brought from Russia when my family immigrated to Australia 20 years ago. Some of them could be my grandfathers. I suspect you can imagine what 20+ years of intermittent gentle use by me and some rougher use by my children would do to watercolour brushes.
I knew that some very accomplished artists happily use synthetic brushes to produce outstanding paintings. Therefore when I started painting more often and the state of my old brushes became an issue, I tried some good synthetic brushes – but they just didn’t feel right to me. They behaved in a different way and didn’t hold as much water as I was used to. I wanted painting to be comfortable and enjoyable experience, so decided that I would prefer to own a set of natural-hair brushes.
I kept on coming across good reviews of the UK based family-run company Rosemary & Co, whose brushes are not as expensive as some other brands, and decided to give them a go. Now I’m happily using their series 33 Pure Kolinsky Sable brushes in sizes 8, 4 and 1 to paint small paintings. I want to move to the larger size paintings and suspect I’ll need a larger size brush – so one day I may try their series 99 Red Sable as it is more affordable.
In December Artists Helping Artist podcast had an episode about Rosemary & Co brushes, which is worth listening if you want to find out more about the company, how it started and grew to what it is today.
Here is my usual painting set of last few months:
Paper – Fabriano cold pressed watercolour paper (12.5 x 18 cm),
Brushes (left to right):
- Rosemary & Co Series 33 Pure Kolinsky Sable brush size 1,
- Rosemary & Co Series 33 Pure Kolinsky Sable brush size 8,
- Winsor & Newton Cotman Series 333 Synthetic Rigger size 2,
- Winsor & Newton Cotman Series 777 Synthetic One Stroke size 2.5 mm/ 1 inch
Paints: Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolour (the original colours list plus I recently added Winsor & Newton Quinacridone Red)
On Tuesday we drove out of the straight lines of suburbia to the rolling hills of the Healesville Sanctuary to show the kids Australian native animals. I suspect that during our ride the rest of the family got a bit bored with my exclamations pointing out the blueness of the distant hills; the various shades of green in the eucalyptus trees; the striking, almost geometric, silhouettes of the black cows in the distance. At the sanctuary I continued being amazed at the wide range of colours found in nature.
Somehow my recent attempts at captureing the colours correctly in the watercolour paintings made me more sensitive to the colours around me even when I’m not painting. I guess I wished to be free to paint, but had to be content with making super-quick (1-5 minute) sketches, like the ones below.
Staedtler pigment liner pen in Moleskine sketchbook (Portrait 9×14 cm)
Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolour on Daler-Rowney watercolour postcard (10.5cm X 14.8cm)
While preparing to move to Melbourne from London I gave few things away in the attempt to reduce our possessions. I’m glad I did as life without clutter is simpler, specially in a small space. The only item I missed so far was my sewing machine. I was surprised as I haven’t used it for about two years, but suddenly I wanted to make all sorts of things for the home and the kids and maybe even myself. I shared this need to sew with my friend and she offered me her tiny sewing Genie machine, which only does one type of stitch – straight stitch. I pulled out some fabric from my stash and made a simple drawstring bag for the clothes pegs.
I felt ridiculously proud of my decisiveness and lack of procrastination. I rarely find sewing easy, but that could be because I usually attempt projects that are beyond my meagre sewing skills. Of course this project only whetted my appetite – I’d love to make few more items, maybe even a quilt.