Tag Archives: watercolor

Difference Between Hahnemühle Watercolor Blocks Review

I was very fortunate to receive watercolor block samples from Hahnemühle USA out of Crystal Lake, IL, so that I can review them and inform my fellow watercolor artist friends how they preform. That’s you!

What are watercolor blocks?
Watercolor blocks are watercolor sheets, bound together as a block. The sides of the block has dried glue to keep the pages together. Somewhere along the edge there is a section without glue, so that you can separate the page from the block. You can easily do this with a letter opener, a knife, or your finger after your painting is dry.

Why are blocks advantages?
The advantage of using a block as opposed to a loose sheet is that you do not need to prepare your paper by taping it down, or by wetting it and taping it down (no pre-stretching the watercolor paper).

For this review I painted the same scene, using the same colors, with the same brushes, in the same sequence, using the same techniques, in the same weather conditions. I needed this control so that I can understand what each type of paper was doing and to be able to spot the differences which I am happy to share.

Click any picture for a larger view.

Block #1
Cézanne
300 g/m²  140 lbs. matt

The paper itself has a cold press texture but the texture isn’t uniform or repeating. It accepted my graphite sketch with very little pressure. The sky was done wet on wet, which means I pre-wet the sky with clean water before I applied my color. When I applied my color, the pigments spread fast and fluid. The colors blended together well  and I did not have to soften the edges. The tree was done wet on dry, which means I painted the tree directly on dry paper. The colors blended effortlessly (see close up photo). This tells me that the paper isn’t drying fast and my pigment is soaking in . The paper stayed wet a fair amount of time. The ultramarine blue in the sky has slight granulation showing on the paper. The paper did buckle as I was painting, however dried almost completely flat in the end.

Recap:

  • Paper has a varied texture
  • Stays wet a fair amount of time
  • Pigment and water spreads fast and fluid
  • Paper did buckle on the block; Dried mostly flat
  • Very minimal granulation in the ultramarine blue
  • Painting has soft look

Block #2
Cézanne Hot Press
300 g/m²  140lbs.

This hot press block has a satin finish and no texture at all. The wet on wet sky technique created a bead of water and pigment on the paper which tells me that the water wasn’t quick to soak in from the previous cold press block however the surface dries much quicker. Pigment does not spread out fast nor does the pigment mix quickly. This is shown in the close up of the tree that was done wet on dry. Edges have a hard look because of the quick dry time. The ultramarine blue in the sky has moderate granulation showing on the paper. The paper did buckle on the block as I was painting but dried flat in the end.

Recap:

  • Paper is satin smooth with no texture
  • Paper dries fast
  • Pigment does not blending fluidly
  • Moderate granulation showing in ultramarine blue
  • Paper did buckle but dried completely flat
  • Painting has hard edges

Block #3
Turner Cold Press
300 g/m²  140lbs. matt

Turner cold press has a small repetitious texture that resembles a screen. The wet on wet sky produced nice fluid blending of pigments. Edges look soft. The wet on dry technique with the tree also created fluid blending (see close up photo). However when dry, I noticed white speckle pattern in the dark green of the tree. Paper showing through? There is moderate granulation showing in the ultramarine blue sky.  This paper dries quicker than Cézanne cold press but stayed wet longer than Cézanne hot press. The painting never buckled on the block and remains completely flat.

Recap:

  • Paper has repetitious tiny grid like pattern
  • Pigments blend smooth
  • White speckles appeared in darkest green of tree
  • Stays wet an ample time
  • Did not buckle on the block, always flat.
  • Moderate granulation showing in ultramarine blue

Block #4
Leonardo
600 g/m²  280lbs. matt

This one is my absolute favorite and I am very much in love. But this is my own personal preference and you should explore yours.
The heavy weight paper has a deep varied texture. I was afraid at first, because I have painted on heavy weight watercolor paper with much struggle. Not this time. Blending was effortless. The pigments ran fast and fluid just like the Cézanne 180lbs. matt but even more so!  It accepted the water well, I did not need to use more water because the paper was so thick like with inferior brands. Paper stayed wet a fair amount of time. The wet on dry technique on the tree also produced nice effortless blending of colors (see close up photo). The ultramarine blue formed large granulation on the paper. The paper never buckled and is completely flat.

Recap:

  • Large varied texture of paper
  • Ample drying time
  • Colors blend well wet on wet or wet on dry
  • Large granulation of ultramarine blue
  • Paper never buckled and remains flat

Last but not least…
Block #5
Leonardo Hot Press
600 g/m²  280lbs.

This heavy weight hot press paper is satin smooth, despite what the watercolor painting looks like. The application of pigment was extremely fluid especially wet on wet and produced no hard edges like the Cézanne hot press. The wet on dry technique on the tree also blended quite nicely. The paper remained wet an ample amount of time. The ultramarine blue formed extra large granules which surprised me because the paper is so smooth. I like granules btw, so that doesn’t bother me. For hot press paper, this one is high quality with easy fluid blending.

Recap:

  • Paper has satin smooth finish with no texture
  • Pigments blend fast and fluid wet on wet and wet on dry
  • Paper stayed wet an ample amount of time
  • Extra large granulation with ultramarine blue resulted
  • Painting never buckled on block and remains flat

I want the thank Hahnemühle for allowing me to perform a review on their watercolor blocks. I have my personal favorite, but I encourage you to experiment with your own style. You can find Hahnemühle watercolor papers at the following dealers:
Dick Blick, WetPaint in MN, DaVinci Artist Supply in NY, Flax Art & Design in San Mateo, Binders in Atlanta, and Talas in NY.

Now get out, have some fun, and paint!

Christine

 

Mr. Bad Raccoon Watercolor

20170613_mr_bad_raccoon

This is Mr. Bad Raccoon. Mr. Bad Raccoon liked to visit my bird feeder at Christ in the Wilderness promptly at 8pm every night. He was very hungry.

He was also very smart. His large body conquered the raccoon baffle on the feeder itself by standing on his hind feet, hugging the baffle, and inching his way to the top where he would lift the lid right off. Once on top, he would either cup his hands grabbing seed and bring it up to his face or he would place his whole head inside the feeder.

His determination created a soft spot in my heart and I stopped shewing him away. I reasoned with myself that if he went through all of that hard work, he must be rewarded. So I just watched in amazement. His is kinda cute.

20170613_mr_bad_closeup

Rest Here Watercolor

20170607_CITW_bench_believe

There’s something about an empty bench underneath a gorgeous, shade providing tree… I couldn’t resist.
Here you find rest. The birds sing for you. The leaves cover you from the scorch of the sun. Time slows down a tad. And your mind unclouds. Life goes on around you without your help as it should. It’s healthy to take a time out.

IMG_0871

That’s exactly what I did a few weekends ago at Christ in the Wilderness, a solitude retreat in Stockton, IL.

20170607_CITW_chapel_ink

The tiny little chapel on the property is open all day and night and perfect for solitude meditation. Every retreatant is given a bandana. If you wish to be alone in the chapel, you tie the bandana to the outside door knob and everyone respects your wishes to be alone.

When I start to feel like my wheels are coming undone and life starts to get hectic, I know it’s time for a retreat.

The Bridge – Watercolor

20170415_the_bridge

62°F and very breezy. Somehow you don’t mind the wind when it’s mild, even if strong. I could sit here for hours.

After only a few minutes, to my surprise, a flock of ducks descend on the water. But these are no common mallards. What are they? They communicate with each other by “whisping”….whisp, whisp, whisp. It’s a cross between a whisper and a hiss. One performs some kind of walk-on-water dance. Was he impressing a female? I believe these are blue-winged teals. I watch them with great wonderment. They don’t feel my eyes prying, staring like a rude intruder.

l sit for an hour painting the bridge. I contemplate where it leads and why it was built. A smile comes across my face as I think about Easter and realize that Jesus became the bridge to unite us to God. By dying on the cross (also made of wood), he bridged the gap between sinful humans and God. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. [Eph 1:7] And after paying for our sins, He rose from the dead because death could not hold him. [Acts 2:24]

This act of death on a cross came at a great, painful price. A great loving price. A free gift from the Father through the obedience of the Son. If we repent and accept Him as our Savior, He promises to forgive….no questions asked…no sin too big, nor too horrible to forgive. You will be made white as snow and He will remember your sins no more. [Is 1:18]

He wants to be in your daily life. He isn’t a God who sits on a fluffy white cloud waiting to strike you down. He is love and wants to communicate with you through prayer. He also promised to never leave you nor forsake you. That’s good news especially in our tumultuous times.

The Bridge

A stranger walks towards the water and the bridge. Not only do frogs on the fringe of the pond shriek and leap for their lives into the water, but my ducks become frightened too and swim out of sight. Chorus frogs steadily call in the background.

The seen and unseen mysteries of life are fascinating. It’s all attainable, doors will open if you knock.

Happy Easter,
Christine

Hidden Lake Watercolor – It is Well with My Soul

20170312_hidden_lake

Driving home and not intending on stopping, something told me it was deeply necessary. Necessary because the world depends on it? Well, no. But rather necessary because my soul needed it. It’s been a while.

But I don’t have time!
Stop.
But I’m expected home right now!
Stop anyway.

With art supplies in the back seat, I was able to focus on this scene and contemplate nature…the way the horizon looks a tinge peach even though I am facing east and it’s an hour from sunset…the way the dried golden grasses reflect in the water…the way the tiny foreground tree has tiny gnarly twigs…
And suddenly it is well with my soul.

I am learning lately to relinquish control and listen to that still small voice. I cannot fail if I trust in God even if I cannot fully see the situation. Today was a favorable situation and I enjoyed my quick impromptu painting, but can I still have that same positive attitude with a less favorable condition? Do I trust? Can I let go of control? Will it still be well with my soul?

Now that would be some kind of faith.

To trust in God, to trust He has a plan even when things don’t go my way or perhaps when suffering is involved, if total control is relinquished, that’s not only courageous faith, but peace and freedom too. And that faith will not go unaided, for He said:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Cor 12:9

Amen.