While looking over customer reviews we noticed Robert (Bob) Higgins’ comments on a Jackson’s Handmade Oil Primed Extra Fine Linen MDF Board saying that he ‘used them for the first time recently and loved the way the surface seemed to ‘grip’ the paint.’ We asked Robert to explain how using the panels fitted into his practice and gave him a £25 Jackson’s Gift Voucher as a reward for writing the most informative and useful review of the month.
Robert (Bob) Higgins
A bit about me
Drawing and painting have always been a big part of my life, from drawing horses when I was 4 years old to now in my late sixties enjoying sketching and painting again in oils. I studied interior design, graphics and life drawing at college and went on to have careers in technical illustration, packaging illustration – preserve labels etc, through to retail design, where I was responsible for brand design, store interior design, external signage and imagery.
During my working life painting suffered, in fact I didn’t do any painting for my own enjoyment for about 30 years! (marriage and children were also a factor). Now in retirement I can devote more time to painting along with my other interests of joinery, tennis and golf. My aim is to venture out more often and paint ‘plein air’ in order to loosen up a little – too many years of detailed work to shake off.
I love the work of Peter Brown, his spontaneity and vitality are fantastic and there is a real juiciness in his paints.
I have only started using the Jacksons linen boards recently to see how they compared to the panels I was previously using. Mostly I work on MDF panels, primed with three coats of acrylic gesso and then toned with diluted oil paint. Have also occasionally tried canvas boards, but I found the texture too ‘mechanical’ and interfered with the look of the painting. These Jacksons linen boards are fantastic, I chose the ‘extra fine’ version, which sit perfectly between the smoother finish of the MDF panels and the cruder texture of the canvas boards.
The result is that you can feel the paint ‘grip’ to the panel and it only leaves a slight texture, which I prefer. I like to start a painting with the paint quite thin, blocking in the main shapes that form the composition and then build up with body colour where necessary as the painting progresses.
I generally use Winsor & Newton Alkyd fast drying oils, as I like the underpainting to dry quickly before building up the colour. These are great for taking on holiday as the painting are touch dry ready for travel. The only disadvantage of using fast drying oils is that they tend to dry quite quickly on the palette, especially in warm weather. However for me the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. I also have a selection of ‘artists’ oils (various brands) which I use when I’m doing a painting that will spread over many sessions.
For the solvents I use ‘Sansodor’ mixed with a little refined linseed oil in the later stages.
I have been using the Jackson’s Akoya Brushes – Bright series 364 since I discovered them about three years ago. They have great spring, keep their shape and also allow for sharp marks to be drawn with the edge of the brush, even from the largest ones. I also use the Akoya Pointed Round series 363 for more detail work, these retain a nice point.
I have also some brushes from the Jackson’s Shiro range, these I use when blocking in larger areas in the initial painting.
Painting example – Houseboat at Burnham on Crouch
During a day out to the Essex coast for some sketching, I came across this scene when the tide was out. I particularly like the colours and reflections in the wet sand, but mostly the dark shape of the hull and the dark shadows cast by the boat in contrast to the bright sky and sunlit shoreline and houses.
I produced a sketch, which helped to imprint the subject in the mind and also took some reference photos.
Setting out the painting I decided to place the main subject and horizon high on the board, following the old two thirds/one third principle. This not only gave a stronger composition, but allowed me to have fun painting the wet sand, which was applied with a palette knife. I just went for the colours I felt captured the emotion of the subject as I remembered when sketching, rarely looking at my reference photos. I only used my reference photos to initially set out the main objects, check relative proportions and some details of the boats and buildings.
You can contact Bob Higgins via email here:firstname.lastname@example.org
Calling all artists to share their views!
We would like to encourage you to write a review on our website of any products that you have used. Simply navigate to the product you wish to review and click on the ‘Reviews’ button beneath the product image. Be thoughtful and detailed – think about what information will be useful to others.
Each month we will be selecting several well-written examples which will be published on our blog. The writer of the best review will receive a £25 Jackson’s gift voucher plus a photograph of them in their studio (if they wish) and a link to their website will appear alongside their review.