Clock Tower Sketch

got the shape of the top wrong on the large one, so had to try again (the small one).


These golden tops were tricky, because painting them I needed to shadow yellow. Yellow is a difficult color to darken. I did have my valiant Payne’s gray with me, but just for the sake of art I painted the tops with three primaries (in this case, transparent lemon yellow, quinacridone rose and indanthrone blue). Basically, I used violet to neutralize yellow.


One Evening…

One evening I saw a particularly beautiful sunset, which I to no avail tried to capture on my phone camera. After the third photofail I just grabbed my paints, and finally got a satisfying picture. Usually skies and clouds are my nemesis (and you can see how I ruined this one with inappropriately watery glaze). I like this one, however.

Pigments used: indanthrone blue + cerulean PB35 for the sky, quin lilac PV19 with a touch of quin magenta PR122 for the clouds. I could have probably just used PR122 and some warm blue mixed in different proportions, but I wanted to keep the colors as saturated as possible, so opted for four different pigments instead.


After scanning this, I found out the remedy for the watery glazes. You see that thin annoying deposit of pigment that marks the edges of the puddle that had been there? You can just lift these things with an almost dry brush after the painting is completely dry. I tried this method with this very sketch, and it works. Be careful to not overwet your brush!!

Lightfastness Tests: Nevskaya Palitra White Nights

Here is the second report from my lightfastness tests conducted during the summer of 2015 in Ukraine. This time we will look at White Nights, artist’s grade watercolor from Saint-Petersburg manufacturer Nevskaya Palitra.

The tests were run in precisely the same manner as described here in this post. Nevskaya Palitra makes 57 colors, of which I own 46 and a half. 🙂 A “half” is one color which was recently reformulated: in ye olde times, Ivory Black used to be made with a genuine ivory black pigment PBk9, and that is the one that I own and tested here. Now their Ivory Black is a cheaper hue composed of a red earth pigment PR102 mixed with lamp black PBk7 (lamp black is basically burnt wood, while ivory black is burnt bones, so they differ in price, color and texture). I never tried the new version, but theoretically I don’t see why it should present any problems as far as lightfastness goes.


The rest of Nevskaya Palitra’s repertoire are either mixtures of the pigments tested here, or are so glaringly fugitive that require no tests or, indeed, purchasing (such as PY1 or PB1).

As a general comment before I start: in 9 cases out of 47, the manufacturer’s ratings turned to be inaccurate. These paints are very worth using, but if you do use them, make sure you run your own tests. (It’s a good practice with any brand, in fact.)

OK, so let’s look how really lightfast is this cheap watercolor! Continue reading “Lightfastness Tests: Nevskaya Palitra White Nights”

Lightfastness Tests: Royal Talens Van Gogh

Hi everybody who’s reading this! This is another one of my comebacks (settling in another country takes quite a lot of time and attention), this time with some lightfastness tests results.

My tests were rather simple. On a piece of watercolor paper, I drew some samples of all the paints that have (I tried to get both tints and mass tones in there) as uniformly as I could. Then I cut the paper in three pieces, and stuck one to my southern window (tests were conducted in the north-east of Ukraine, during the sunniest period of the Ukrainian year, from mid-May to mid-September), and another one to my northern window (no direct sun light). The third one (a reference) went into my notebook, and the notebook went into my desk drawer. Nothing fancy, as you see.


In this post, I will show you the results of my very own test of the Van Gogh paints. I own a set of 10 tubes; here are the colors and pigments in the order they appear on my test swatches (from top to bottom):

108 Chinese White, PW4
708 Payne’s Gray, PBk6+PV19
411 Burnt Sienna, PR101+PBk11
616 Viridian, PG7
535 Cerulean Blue (Phtalo), PB15+PW6
506 Ultramarine Deep, PB29
331 Madder Lake Deep, PR264
370 Permanent Red Light, PR254
269 Azo Yellow Medium, PY154+PO62
254 Permanent Lemon Yellow, PY184

All the colors are marked with “+++” (which means “excellent lightfastness”) by the manufacturer. If memory serves correctly, all the individual pigments indeed have an excellent rating by ASTM. The white paint is virtually absent from my swatches, as I rarely use it. This particular test started on 21 May, and ended on 15 September, both 2015.

So, without a further ado, TA-DA:


The left strip had hung on my southern window; I placed the reference in the center for your convenience; and on the right, you will note the northern window strip.

As you can see, all the paints are indeed quite lightfast, with the only striking exception of “cerulean”, which is phtalo blue for the reasons unknown mixed with titanium white. I’m not sure how on good Earth they managed to create such a fugitive paint out of two such lightfast pigments, but the fact remains: notable discoloration appeared within less than a month through the test in both the samples.

Considering the presence of a white pigment (which technically makes it a gouache, and it does look and behave like a gouache paint) and the money you pay for it, I’d say this one is not truly good for anything. Royal Talens offers another flavor of the same dish: it supposed to imitate another expensive pigment, cobalt blue. I never tried that one, but after this test, I wouldn’t even bother to. One of these imitations is usually present in all the Van Gogh sets (both pans and tubes), so beware.

My New Home

It’s been a while since my last post. Something exciting has been happening in my life — I moved to Canada! I am now a Canadian permanent resident, and I am looking forward to making Greater Vancouver area my permanent new home!

Totem posts at Stanley park, Vancouver

Sketching Under Rain

Umbrella in one hand, album in the other, watercolor set in the… well, the other, too, I guess… – what can be more convenient?

Mirror Stream - fountain in Kharkiv, Ukraine

This is one of my most favorite places in Kharkiv, Ukraine. This fountain was built soon after the World War II, it’s called “The Mirror Stream”. It’s very beautiful when it’s working, but on the day I sketched this, some reconstruction was going on, so the water had been shut down. Thankfully, I never felt any lack for water on that day, it rained cats and dogs!

[White Nights watercolors, Faber-Castell liner.]