Part 1 – Project 1, Exercise 1 – Brushes

We are asked to explore the range of marks and shapes that can be made with our brushes – using different ones from flats to filberts.  Then from memory, paint a simple A4 landscape and after that, make a still life with fruit in direct light.

I recently purchased a small discounted set of Daler Rowney Gold Taklon synthetic brushes, which came with various types (although all very small) – I felt they would be great to work in my A5 sketchbook, which I intend using for a lot of practise work in this course.   I tried out brushes from this new set (Angle shaders, Fan, Flats, Liners, Filberts) using Gouache (Vermillion Hue, Coeruleum Hue).  I also have some larger Daler Rowney Cryla brushes so tried out the Fan blender with Deep Yellow Gouache as well an Aquafine Round with inks rolled across the paper.   And finally I tried out the new brushes with my new oil paint – see below.

Cobra water-mixable oils

I have previously mentioned that I am very hypoallergic to specific oil paints and cannot use most solvents – especially turps, thinners, linseed oil.  I initially thought that I would be okay doing this course using acrylics (the medium I have the most experience with), perhaps watercolours, inks and gouache.  However, after reading through a few more of the exercise requirements, it did seem that I am going to have to use oils at some point.   I also want to get familiar with oil paints as on the few occasions when I’ve managed to use them, I’ve had good results and I enjoy their consistency.   I have Winsor Newton Oil Bars and some oil paints in tubes but these are all a no-no for me at the moment, because I just cannot use them without suffering some form of allergic reaction (even when I use gloves).  

I had seen that Winsor & Newton produce the Artisan range of water-mixable oil paints, and Daler Rowney have the Georgian water-mixable range but it still seemed like there was a requirement to use other oils and solvents with these paints.  I did some more research online and came across Royal Talens’ brand ‘Cobra’ – they are more expensive than other brands I’d seen but I decided to splash out and see if they would be any good.  I am so pleased that I did!

Royal Talens Cobra water mixable oil paint

These paints are fantastic and require only a little amount of water to work them, or they can be used straight from the generously sized tubes (mine are 40ml in size) to create a more impasto look. They are completely odorless.   The colour pigmentation is really strong and they remain ‘open’ to work with for a long time. They don’t take very long to dry once you’ve finished using them on the substrate.  I have not used them with knives yet, as this is something to be done in later exercises and probably won’t use them for all the exercises, because of the cost factor, but I am excited to try them out for assignment pieces. 

We are asked to use big brushes and forget about detail for this exercise. I did a gouache landscape first and then re-did the same idea with the Cobra paints – there is a vast difference in depth of colour and tone. 

set up for gouache landscape
A4 landscape – gouache

I only need to use a tiny amount of the Cobra paint to get a good coverage on paper.  Because I am new to these paints I am being a bit heavy handed but hopefully will learn to be more frugal with them as I get more familiar with their properties.    I love these paints!    I just made a card palette (covered with some old plastic/cellophane that i had lying around and stuck down at the back with cellotape – works well!)

set up for oils – landscape
A4 landscape Cobra wm oils

Then I tried the fruit still life, using an apple as a subject with the Cobra paints first.  I am not used to how they blend but managed to get a handle on it towards the end of the little painting.  I like the lushness of the colours, they are so juicy.  I did a comparison study with acrylics and actually thought this would turn out better, because I have more experience with this type of paint but I wasn’t as pleased with the result as I was with the oils.   

set up still life for oils (note didn’t use that fanbrush)
A4 – Apple – Cobra Wm oils
set up apple – acrylics
A4 Apple – acrylics


Apple study – comparison

I used the same technique for both small paintings. I first drew a rough sketch on the paper (I used Canson Oil & Acrylic 290g paper), then painted in a thin wash of yellow over the entire apple. I used a similar background design. For the oil painting I used: Permanent Yellow Light, Pyrrole Red, Titanium White, Ultramarine, Permanent Green Deep and Yellow Ochre. I blended the red and green for the shadow around the apple base.

For the acrylic painting, I used Daler Rowney System 3, as well as Royal Langnickel acrylics. Process Yellow (DR), Cadmium Red (RL), Process Magenta (DR), Titanium White (DR), Bright Yellow Green (RL) and Fluorescent Blue (DR). I used a mixture of red and blue to create the shadow at the base of the apple for the acrylic painting.

For both paintings I used a flat 12 brush from the Gold Taklon range.


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