Zoe Elizabeth Norman is an award winning watercolourist who has been working as a professional artist and illustrator for over 25 years. Zoe’s flower, still life and animal watercolours have been successfully published as greetings cards and calendars for numerous publishers including The Medici Society, Woodmansterne, Carlton Cards and UK Greetings Cards. In 2007 she gained a diploma with distinction from The Society of Botanical Artists and her original paintings are held in private collections around the world. Zoe uses watercolour in a realistic, detailed style building up multiple layers to achieve rich luminous colour and fine detail.
We have just started stocking the Isaro Watercolours from Belgium after customers raved about them. We sent Zoe eight tubes of colour to get her expert feedback. She used them to make a painting of a place she had recently visited – Monet’s iconic lily pond.
Zoe Elizabeth Norman Reviews Isaro Watercolour paints
To get started with these new watercolour paints from Belgium I decided to create a colour wheel to familiarise myself with the colours and some basic mixes.
The first noticeable thing was how fluid the paints were, this makes them beautifully easy to mix with water however the down side is the tubes probably won’t last as long as other makes like Winsor & Newton.
All the colours were very pure and bright and I was especially impressed by the Cadmium yellow lemon which was exceptionally vibrant and strong.
Another colour which stood out for me was Isaro’s Ceruleum blue which again was very clear, sometimes this can be a slightly muddy hue but not in this range.
I have many different shades of pink from the Winsor & Newton and Sennelier ranges of watercolour but Isaro Pink was different to them all, so I am very pleased to add this to my collection; as a flower painter you can never have too many pinks!
The Scarlet red however I didn’t like as much as Winsor & Newton Cadmium Red as it was a bit too orange.
Included in the eight colours I was given to try was a Payne’s grey which was new to my palette, however I have found it very useful – when mixed with the burnt sienna it made a lovely black and with yellow to make dark green.
My colour wheel was created from the eight colours provided in my set.
- Ultramarine Blue
- Ceruleum Blue
- Payne’s Grey
- Burnt Sienna
- Cadmium Yellow Lemon
- Indian Yellow
- Scarlet Red
- Isaro Pink
Monet’s Lily Pond – Demonstration using Isaro Wartercolours
Using a sketch and photograph I chose to paint this pretty landscape of Monet’s garden in Giverny. I recently visited the famous gardens and thought it would be nice to paint the scene using the new Isaro watercolours.
I also used the following:
- Bockingford 535gms Not watercolour paper. (No need to stretch this beautiful paper)
- Kolinsky sable round brush size 0 (used for detailed drawing of leaves and lily pads)
- Kolinsky sable round brush size 2 (used for the majority of the painting)
- Daler Rowney acrylic filbert size 3 (used for wet-in-wet areas)
- Daler Rowney acrylic flat size 4 (used for wetting paper)
After drawing in the water lilies and willow tree very lightly with a HB pencil I wet the paper over the water lily shapes in the middle of the picture. I then blocked in the water lilies with three green shade mixed from 1. Indian yellow/ Cadmium yellow lemon and Ultramarine blue. 2. Indian yellow and Scarlet red. 3. Ultramarine blue and Cadmium yellow lemon. All these colours were used very wet and allowed to run into each other. I then moved onto the foreground water lilies and repeated the process but replaced colour 3. Instead I mixed Isaro pink and Burnt Sienna and used with colour mix 1 and 2 letting the colours bleed together. I also used Isaro pink. I used the Daler Rowney acrylic filbert size 3 and a Kolinski round brush size 2.
I next wet the area of the willow tree. I mixed two colours for the leaves. 1. Ultramarine blue and Cadmium yellow lemon and 2. Ceruleum blue and cadmium yellow. I used colour 2. First for the highlighted area and dropped a little Indian yellow into the wet paint on the paper. I waited till this was dry before re-wetting the areas to be in shadow and painting the leaves with my 1. colour mix. Finally I went over the whole tree with a light wash of Ceruleum blue mixed with cadmium yellow and Indian Yellow.
I wet the whole sky area and then mixed a pale blue with Ultramarine and Cerulean blue. When dry I mixed a grey green for the background trees using Ultramarine blue, Isaro pink and Indian yellow.
I wet the whole water area carefully working round the water lilies. I used the same sky mix but kept it thicker so the colour stayed more intense at the bottom and let the colour lighten towards the middle to mirror the sky. I left areas white which will reflect the willow tree and grass banks.
Using the darker green mix used in the willow tree I started adding the lightest reflections in the water before making a very dark green mix for the darkest reflections in the water. To make this dark green I used Payne’s Grey and Cadmium Yellow Lemon.
The lighter willow fronds were Indian Yellow dropped onto the wet paper and allowed to merge into the darker paint colour with the blue sky peeping through
I mixed two greens for the shadows and detail in the willow tree and bank. 1. Payne’s Grey and Cadmium Yellow Lemon 2. Cadmium Yellow Lemon and Ultramarine. Both greens were quite thick in consistency and I wetted the paper around and under the lightest willow fronds and then painted all the shadows in using wet -in- wet. When this was dry I used my tiny brush and the darkest paint to draw around the light fronts and added the branches.
Fig.7 Using the same dark green mix and my tiny brush I added the very darkest detail to the lily pads.
Fig.8 The last stage to the painting is to add colour and detail to the water lily pads. I started with the farthest ones which are in shadow and used a mix of 1.Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Yellow lemon leaning heavily to blue and mix 2. Cadmium Yellow lemon, leaning heavily towards yellow. I also mixed all my reds and browns for the rest of the lily pads so I would have these ready to drop into the green lily pad area where required. 1. Scarlet Lake and Indian yellow with a touch of blue. 2. Isaro pink and Scarlet red with a touch of Ultramarine blue. 3. Isaro Pink, scarlet red, Indian yellow and Ultramarine blue. 4. Ultramarine blue and Isaro pink. and Indian yellow. I finished by adding a bit more green reflection and adjusting the bank reflections. Lastly I signed the painting!
Zoe Elizabeth Norman
Isaro Watercolours at Jackson’s Art
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