We asked watercolourist, Jen Oldknow to have a go with Jackson’s Professional Watercolours. Below, Jen writes about her experience using the paints, paired with interesting images of her findings, along with some of her own artwork.
My experience with Jackson’s Watercolours
by Jen Oldknow
When I was asked if I would like to try out Jackson’s own brand watercolours, I jumped at the chance! I was given a choice of any 12 colours, so I chose some of the colours I normally use in other brands, and others which I don’t normally use as part of my usual palette. I also opted for the tube colours, as these are more easily used in my own paintbox set up.
When the tubes arrived I was immediately impressed with the style of the labelling on the tube. It had a retro look about it, it was easy to read and therefore easy to locate colours when needed (this is something I find very difficult with the new Winsor & Newton labelling). The tubes, at 21ml, compare well, in price terms, making them good value for money. This was also enthusiastically received by most of my students, who sometimes find it hard to justify the cost and the volume of the larger 37ml tubes on offer, as the 21ml tubes offered by Jackson’s give them considerably more product, at a realistic price for the amateur artist.
Whenever I use new colours, I always start by make a colour chart of them…
This makes me a bit more familiar with how the colours look, and enables me to get rid of any gum arabic binder which may have settled at the top of the tubes (although I did not find this to be an issue with any of the colours I had). Already I was impressed by the bright shades I had chosen, and liked how some of them granulated when I added water and spread them out with a brush.
I then move on to looking at how the Jackson’s watercolours compared with the shades I already used…
Comparing some of the colours to my existing palette in a sketchbook.
I have to say that I found they compared very favourably – the Prussian Blue in particular was a nicer, cooler hue than the Winsor & Newton one I usually use, and I loved the way the Jackson’s Cobalt Violets (which I tried in both the ‘light’ and ‘dark’) granulated on the paper in a most attractive way. My general first impressions were that the Jackson’s watercolours are very strong, and vibrant colours.
Next I did some studies of different subjects, using different combinations of the colours. Starting with the floral studies enabled me to give the more vibrant shades I chose a proper workout…
A quick sketchbook study.
The vibrancy of the shades, and the effects they give on the rough paper I use, shows well in this ‘in progress’ photo.
The colours I chose were perfect for this colourful floral study, straight out the tubes.
I gathered grasses and flowers to give me inspiration, and to try out the colours straight from the tubes.
Minimal colours were used for this quick and spontaneous watercolour sketch of a cat. I particularly loved the vibrancy of the translucent ‘Red Orange’, both in its pure form, and mixed with the violets to create lovely and interesting dark shades. The hard edges that formed were also nice, which is good, because I like to keep some in my work, to add interest together with the softer edges.
The emphasis on all of these paintings was to keep things loose and fresh, to enable me to judge how the watercolours reacted to my loose style of brushwork, and indeed with the brushes and paper I use.
So far so good! They responded well to everything I tried, and the colours were lovely. Time to move on to something else, to create more finished paintings…
A plein air painting – they travelled well in my paint box, and dried quickly enough to travel home without making a mess. I found that reworking the paints in the palette once they had dried worked perfectly well, and they were easy to ‘revive’. I am equally happy working with both tube or pan colours, and actually prefer tube colours once they have been on a palette or in my paintbox for a few days, and have hardened off.
And finally a painting of a hare…
Initial washes – I liked how these were still nice and strong in tone, and how edges formed where I let them, building up a more interesting surface texture.
Building up the layers – I use (as I always try to do) transparent shades, so it is easier to drop in darker shades to create depth and tone, without the painting getting too dark and heavy. The bright colours I used mixed well to create interesting earthy shades more akin to the fur of a hare.
I gradually added more detail and definition where needed to complete the painting. I finished by added small highlights of Winsor & Newton Gouache in Permanent White with a fine rigger brush, and a few sweeps for the whiskers with a mechanical pencil.
So in conclusion, I was very impressed by Jackson’s watercolours. They certainly live up to the ‘professional artists quality’ label Jackson’s have put on them. They were vibrant, and when softened out into thinner washes, they still maintained their strength without becoming too wishy-washy. Many of the colours I used granulated, which I love, as I like to keep a lot of surface texture interest to keep the expressive feel in my work. I encouraged these effects by using minimal brushstrokes, dropping in the colours, rather than stroking it onto the paper, so if you prefer a more smoother finish, it is easily achieved by using more conventional techniques. The colours flow easily, and react well to my usual techniques of applying the paint directly to dry paper, then softening the edges and dropping small amounts of colours in wet-in-wet, and a bit of splattering too! I prefer to mix my colours on the paper, instead of in the palette, and found that the Jackson’s watercolours worked well with this direct approach.
I was most impressed with Jackson’s watercolours. All in all they did everything I asked of them, and more, and I will definitely be using them again, and in fact some of the colours have already made a permanent place in my paintbox! They are great value for money too – what more could you want!
Jenny is an award-winning watercolour artist and painting tutor, who teaches workshops from her studio in Belper, Derbyshire. She has written her own online painting course, and regularly demonstrates for art groups and societies. She frequently exhibits her work, and forthcoming events include having work showing as part of a group exhibition with the Association of Animal Artists at Liverpool Cathedral (24th – 31st August), and solo exhibitions throughout November at the Studio 61 Gallery in Derbyshire, and at her own studio gallery on the28th & 29th November.
Please see her website for full details of upcoming workshops and events, and to join her email list to be kept up to date.
WEBSITE – www.jennyoldknow.com