New and Improved Van Gogh Watercolours Review

Royal Talens the company that produces Van Gogh watercolours, updated recently this line of watercolours by adding some new colours and improving the consistency of the already existed ones.

Van Goghs are the watercolours that I favour, partly because I use them for countless years due to their high quality and affordable price but mostly because they have never disappointed me. So I was curious to test ( some) of the new additions and check the improvements.

So I ordered some of these new colours and one of the older ones that according to Van Gogh belongs to those that they were updated and improved.

How to scan large watercolour paintings and edit them on GIMP – A step by step tutorial

Large watercolour paintings can be quite tricky to photograph sometimes. The camera has to be of a very good quality, with very good lens that doesn’t distort the edges of the image, and good sensors that can catch accurately the colours of the painting, mounted on a tripod with a good light installation in order to avoid shadows or glares on our photographed image.

But even if all these exist, ( and lets say that someone invested the money to have all these equipment), cameras can never catch the texture of the paper no matter how well the painting is photographed and what the lighting conditions are.

So I ended up to the conclusion that the best way to have a perfect image of larger paintings ( from A3 size to whatever size you want) is to scan them.
The advantages are:

  • You don’t have any lens distortion on your picture.
  • The colours are better and more accurately detected.
  • In HR images is visible the texture of the paper

But how is it possible to scan large paintings, on a A4 scanner?

Below I’ll make a step by step tutorial on how to do this together with full step by step ( with photographs and screenshots ) instructions on how to scan and assemble your scanned material in order to have a perfect and high definition and resolution image, chromatically accurate, that shows also the texture of the paper, ready to use for any purpose you might need it. ( either to show your work on your web site or sent high resolution images for joining competitions and such things).

A modified Prang vintage metal box and my new colours

Let me present you here how I modified my vintage metal Prang watercolour box. This was a box that was gifted to me among other Prang boxes. A review for the Prang watercolours, their lightfastness and their boxes you can read here .
The metal box was the most promising one and so I took the decision to change it a bit. This box’s dimensions are 21,5 x 5x 1 cm ( in inches is 8,5x2x something – what is this? I don’t know how the subdivisions of inch are called ha ha –  Better google it).

Prang Vintage Metal Watercolour Box-

Prang watercolour sets review and lightfastness test

Last September I received as a gift a variety of Prang watercolour sets, sent to me straight from US. Prang watercolour sets are ( as far as I know) very popular school watercolour paints. They are not available though at European market and the sets that are retailed from European online stores are ridiculously expensively priced. ( but this is a subject for another post).

The Prang sets that I received where from various different production eras.

One vintage one  metal box made in early sixties, two other sets of 8 and 16 colours made during the 80’s and an 8 colour set modern one.

Bellow are all the sets side by side

Experimenting with chalk resist (masking fluid alternative) UPDATED

According to this site:
Chalk resist: Chalk resist is a thick paste made from powdered chalk mixed with water. This paste is brushed onto the desired areas of a sheet; once it is dry, the thick layer of chalk protects the underlying paper from wet watercolor washes. The chalk can be easily removed by counter-rolling the sheet or by rubbing it gently with a knife to reveal the clean white paper underneath.

I re made and tested this masking technique.

Its pros:
It doesn’t smell.
It is easy to apply
It doesn’t destroy the brushes so you can take advantage of their precision during application.
It doesn’t stain the paper.
It is easy to remove.
It can be applied above dried colours.
It is easy to made and it is not costly.

Review Neohart A4 Watercolour Sketchbook 220 gsm paper

I have reviewed till now various sketchbooks but I want to make an honourable review to my Neochart sketchbook.
Honourable because Neochart is a local paper company that produces mainly various school paper stuff.
Its watercolour ( and drawing ) sketchbooks is a relatively new addition to their collection and of above average quality ( especially for a first try and from a company that isn’t specialized particularly on such products).
So I think that they deserve a review, though I don’t know if they export these sketchbooks abroad. They are available though in local market in very affordable prices.

I bought mine from this store in A4 size, just from curiosity, to check this sketchbook too. These sketchbooks are available in other sizes ( A5 and A3) and with soft covers too. Below is my sketchbook that is an ( actual) A4 hardbound.

Neohart A4 Sketchbook review

Kuretake Gansai Tambi 12 Watercolours Set Review

Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolours have become quite popular among watercolourists and crafters so I was very curious to check myself what is going on with these watercolour sets.

Kuretake Gansai Tambi are Japanese watercolours. Kuretake and other reviewers claim that they are something between watercolour and gouache due to the binders that are used, in other word some kind of semi opaque watercolours.

So after some thought I decided to purchase the 12 watercolours box because it contains a classical range of colours that I think that suits better to my painting and sketching style.

The 12 colours box contains 2 yellows ( cool and warm) two green ( same cool and warm) two blues, two reds, one earthy brown, one cool violet bias red, a black and a white colours. ( click on the image below)

Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media 190gsm Paper Review. Sketchbook and Roll

I recently purchased a Strathmore 500 series Mixed Media 190 gsm vellum surface sketchbook and roll and below you can read my review about this particular paper.
Strathmore’s 500 series papers are advertised as this manufacturer’s most expensive and of the higher quality papers.

I bought this time a relatively light paper at 190gsm and I chose to buy a mixed media paper as I’m big fan of vellum or vellum like paper surfaces.
The Strathmore sketchbooks come in wire and hard bound versions, I chose a hard bound ( about) A5 ( 5×8 inches/ 22×14 cm). Here is with one of my favourite stickers on its front cover.

Strathmore_500_Series_5x8_inches_Sketchbook_review- Artist Marialena Sarris

Alexandroupolis travel journal

Back from my holidays and I have already uploaded my travel journal sketches. This trip was marked by small but quite irritating disasters that had mostly to do with my equipment and the weather in Alexandroupolis. As this city is a coastal one the weather was hot and humid working on 300grs all cotton paper was not a good idea at all.  The first week had some sudden storms too, bourinia as they are called here. As you understand these two can be a real problem for sketching outdoors.

It was a huge mistake to take with me three of my custom made sketchbook with Saunders Waterford White 300 grs paper. Though this paper performs great in Athens where the weather is usually hot and dry, in the humid environment of Alexandroupolis this 100% cotton paper was a real disaster. It didn’t dry, no matter how long I waited to do so, and when it did so, made my sketches looking blurry and without clear outlines while it seemed to suck all the colour making sketches looking faded too.

Some of my sketches’ pages stuck the one on the other when I closed the sketchbook and I needed a knife to separate them and generally all the plain air landscape sketches needed double the work I usually do in order to look relatively decent.

I didn’t have and I didn’t manage to find at the local market something alternative, paper or sketchbook to use so I kept on sketching on my sketchbooks with the results you are going to see below.

But enough with moaning, my sketching trip was not an 100% disaster after all. I came back with some decent sketches and plenty of interesting photographs from beautiful sunsets and a collection of tiny shells that I gathered at the local beaches.

So let me present you my sketches and in the end of this post you’ll find a direct link to download my sunsets and sea shells photographs just in case you want to use them as reference photographs for future sketches and paintings.