Delicate under drawings for watercolor botanical painting are vital to the success of the finished artwork in a specific technique. Using the best pencil is an essential part of that success. In the my work, pencil drawings have become more and more a central part of the overall botanical painting. The quest for the best pencil has become imperative. Let the games begin!
In the first leg of the games, a number of pencils from leading manufacturers of drawing materials have been acquired. Using these pencils individually on the same subject will provide a decent comparison. After all pencils have been used in drawings of the same flower, (in this case a calla lily), watercolor will be added to determine the effects each pencil has on the final outcome of the painting.
There may or may not be a winner! Some pencils may prove to be better at some aspects of creating a botanical painting. Pencil boxes will likely still be needed but the size may be reduced. Cash outlay for art materials could be reduced too!! We will see!! On your mark, get ready, GO!
The very-expensive, highly-toxic Vermilion red was replaced by the lesser expensive and less toxic Cadmium reds in artist’s palettes in the nineteenth century. Less toxic and less expensive was less than perfect so the search for the perfect red continued. Eventually, chemists came up with a fairly good substitution for Vermilion and Cadmium. Naphthol Red was born in a chemistry lab as a derivative of coal tar.
Just Paint on the Golden Paints website describes Naphthol Red as, “bright, opaque, fire engine red.” Gamblin’s website says Naphthol Red is a, “modern organic, warm red that closely matches Cadmium Red Medium,” though Naphthol Red “makes more intense tints” and is “more transparent.” Gamblin also reports Naphthol Red is “excellent for high key painting.” AArbor Colorants recommends Naphthol Red for printing inks and gives it an excellent light fastness rating. Some sources report Naphthol Red as fading in tints. Confirmation of this claim was not confirmable so tests may be in order.
Naphthol Red does not have the toxic properties of Vermilion and the Cadmiums and is considerably less expensive. The Material Safety Data Sheets give Naphthol Red a very low toxicity rating. The MSDS says Naphthol Red may cause some mild skin irritation, nausea if consumed, or some respiratory irritation if inhaled. Contact in large amounts could be more toxic.
If in need of a bright intense fire engine red, Naphthol Red may fit the bill, especially if you don’t want to shell out a lot of money. Just don’t have the Naphthol Red for dinner or add it to body lotion. It’s probably not a good idea to set any dried pigment around a fan either. Otherwise, Naphthol red can be a palette staple as a strong red without fear of damage to health or wallet.
My preferred red for botanical painting is Naphthol Red or its sister: Windsor Red. Thinning is required to achieve the transparency of botanical painting. No other red comes close to the intensity of Naphthol Red or Windsor Red so use with extra water and enjoy the intensity!
Mary Phillip, (Notions Journey), Misty Swann, Sandy McNeal, and Emily Hudgins Gibson graciously agreed to assist with my learning curve on Zoom. This is their beautiful work. Full disclosure: they have all taken either workshops from me or other assistance with their work. However, they are each accomplished artists and I love working with them. An online format for teaching art is a whole different animal. These artists adapted easily. I was amazed!
Sandy McNeal is the newest member of the group. Her usual medium is oil. Watercolor is a new venture for her and botanical watercolor, especially. The style was unfamiliar to Sandy so hers was not as finished as the others in the 2-hour time frame but a really beautiful and delicate start. Sandy has a natural feel for what the paint can do. The specific paint colors for botanical painting were new to her too. The zoom format was a challenge for me in demonstrating color use. Sandy had no trouble picking it up!
White flowers are Misty’s specialty. This yellow rose was not an issue for her at all. She was able to almost completely finish this painting in our two hour zoom. I particularly love the center with the stamens reaching out. Her depth in the flower with the subtle use of the yellow paint is amazing. A very delicate and sweet painting. Yellow is a color easily put on too thickly. Misty was able to control the layers of yellow to keep the rose light and airy. During the Zoom time, I was able to follow her progress easily by her use of her phone to capture the painting as it developed.
The last artist, Emily Gibson is still working on her Lily, progress held up by a personal issue but hopefully we will soon be able to post it too!
Thanks, to these four artists, I have been able to gain a feel for the use of Zoom as an art instruction format. The plan is to soon set up more Zoom workshops. Sign ups will come through this site.
Adapting to new ways of teaching has been my focus for the past two months. Yesterday was the first Zoom workshop in Botanical watercolor. It went amazingly well. It was not as difficult as I had imagined. This could be a very good way of teaching for a number of reasons. For this first workshop, the participants were artists I had worked with previously, so their styles were all familiar.
Yellow flowers were the best option for this trial because they required fewer glazes of color. The workshop was held to a two hour format. Two people were able to completely finish their paintings except for some minor finishing touches. The other two were more than halfway to completion. For future workshops, I believe the 2 hour format is probably best but depending on the type of flower and whether or not the artists are beginners or advanced. More complicated flowers could be a series of 2 hour workshops. Beginners could be offered a series as well.
All in all, the zooming was a great platform for teaching botanical art. I am excited to set up some more. Additionally in the works, is a gallery page for workshop attendees to showcase their work here! The guide to daffodil painting will soon be available, as well.
Looking forward to this new adventure! All suggestions welcome!!