Friday, 6 June 2014

Preparing for the Next Adventure

“ Here’s to freedom, cheers to art. 
Here’s to having an excellent adventure and may the stopping never start.” 
 ~Jason Mraz

May really has been exhilarating and fun, but tiring too. 
The paintings have all been taken down- some heading to new homes, others heading to Claregalway Castle, and the ISBA’s Aibitir exhibition is heading to Derry and Belfast.
I’m also packing up and preparing to travel. 

I'm dreaming of warmer weather and painting outside
School has finally ended and for me that means only one thing … Egypt. This year I’m going back with added purpose, because I will finally start on my next project, my RHS paintings.

Last year I applied to the RHS and to my amazement, I received a letter saying that my work is suitable for an RHS exhibition! I now have five years to complete a set of paintings on a theme of my choice, and I know exactly what I would like to paint! It has to be the date palm, Phoenix dactylifera. Our garden in Egypt is full of them, and I just love painting them.

Sketchbook studies
Ripening dates

However I need to plan this out very carefully. I need a minimum of six paintings for the RHS and these paintings must work as a coherent exhibit. So my first consideration has been what paper to use, and what size the paintings should be.
I have been really fortunate to have met some amazing artists in recent months and have asked them all about their paper choices. Katherine Tyrrell was a great help- not only has she written a great series of articles on RHS winners, but she also took the time to go around the SBA exhibition with me and talk to me about size.
It appears that size DOES matter after all.

Struggling to make it fit on an A3 paper. 

Gael Sellwood was also a great source of information- she recently won a gold medal and also Best at Show at the RHS in Malvern. After our conversation, I decided that I would ditch the Fabriano Classico which I had been using since my SBA student days, and go for the better quality Fabriano Artistico.
My good friend Dianne Sutherland wrote an excellent blog post on all the papers. An RHS medallist herself, she too favours the Fabriano Artistico. Finally Sarah Morrish wrote a great piece comparing all the papers , and even gave me a few samples to try out at home.

So this week I took the plunge and  bought what seems an absolutely enormous roll of Fabriano Artistico 300gsm paper. By chance I found that the cheapest place to buy the paper was on my own doorstep at K&M Evans in Dublin. They were significantly cheaper in price than the UK companies.

My enormous roll of Fabriano Artistico dwarfs the A3 Fabriano Classico that I've been using. Below is the  tube which at 75cm wide. just fits into my suitcase.
Oh the thrill of all that paper! It’s a massive 140cm wide and 10 metres long, which, when you consider that I’ve been working on paper that’s 29.7x42cm (A3), seems quite daunting. I have been struggling with this restrictive size, so it will be a welcome relief to be able to work on a bigger area! The nice folks at K&M Evans also gave me a tube for travelling. I will have to cut some of the paper down to 75cm in order to fit, but at least the paper will be survive the numerous plane journeys ahead!

Completed study page 2013
I’ve also been making the slow switch-over to buying pans instead of tubes of watercolours. I had never really given the whole pans vs tubes debate much thought before, but read a fascinating post by Janene Walkky about the difference. What a revelation! 
Having pans of paint also meant that I am less likely to run into problems when travelling. I hate having to put my paints into my suitcase and into the hold of the plane. I can survive without clean clothes or even toiletries, but if my suitcase was lost with my paints inside, I would be a very grumpy artist indeed!

Date tree study, laden down with fruit 2013
It was also time to think about brushes. I really love my Winsor & Newton series 7 sable miniatures, but it seems that recently everyone has been raving about the Rosemary& Co brushes. I put in an order for some spotters and some ‘cat’s tongue’ filberts and was delighted to find that not only are they a better price, but they were delivered incredibly promptly too. 

New brushes!
So that’s it. I’m all set for the long journey ahead and hopefully a very pleasant summer of painting. I’ll need a week or so to get myself settled and the internet sorted, so there’ll be a short break in the blog posts until then.

I’m ready for a new adventure!

"There is joy in feeling the bristles of a quality brush, seeing the richness and lush color of truly good pigment flowing onto the paper or canvas. The cheap stuff just makes for harder work and lesser results."
 ~Gene Black


  1. it's me duck house (vi) i am getting used to the rosemary &co brushes and i also got kalish to compare
    and i use is the artistic hp #140 pound, or twinrocker hp 300# i love those papers
    and they work well for the way i paint...
    have a safe trip over to eygpt, and enjoy your summer painting dates (gees i love dates)

    1. Thanks Vi! It seems that everyone has been using that paper and those brushes... they must be good! :)

  2. Egypt! My lord!
    Another entertaining and informative post, Shevan. I'll have to check out those brushes, too.
    Happy trails . . .

    1. You can never have too many brushes, Candice! Thanks 😃

  3. Great post Shevaun - I'll be watching with interest. Don't forget to talk to Julia Trickey about the dimensions of the screens - she has it all worked out re. what you can fit on if you 'go big'!

    1. Thanks Katherine. I will get in contact with her, I promise! Dianne sent me some great information on the RHS which will help too. I'm glad we had that chat!

    2. I think I sent you the doc with the screen sizes on Shevaun. You can apply for different numbers of screens I just took a 2m run but you can have quite a few. Will look that out for you too - the invitation to exhibit doc. Anyway have a brilliant time - can't wait to see your results now you have some serious paper and brushes xx

  4. Happy hols my friend. Look forward to seeing the masterpieces! x

  5. I am excited to see the next phase of your adventure! You'll have all of that glorious light to paint by in Egypt, besides the beautiful palms. I love Fabriano artistico too--what an improvement over the paper from the course! Btw, thanks for the mention. :-)

  6. I totally agree about the Rosemary and Co brushes - they are really excellent. What I really like is the feeling that you are dealing with friends when you buy brushes from them. They really know the value of customer relations.

    1. Yes, the little thank you note is a nice little gesture! I'm finding the flat sables extremely useful too!


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