I have a confession to make and I’m holding my hands up. Those of you that have come across my work before will know I’m an absolute ‘anything goes’ type creative. You might have read my books on the subject and noticed how in my work I use literally anything to create the finished artwork. Mixed media, collage, found materials, all manner of mark making implements, this, that and the other.
However, when it comes to pigment materials, the stuff that gives me the colour; well, I’m a little more traditional and I always insist on using the best. So with this in mind I’m never that concerned with the latest fad or painting material. I distrust gimmicks as just that, a gimmick. I was put off new fangled inventions when as a child. I’m still waiting. So, way back in the mid nineties when Winsor & Newton announced their new Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour, I didn’t take much notice. Nor did many of my artist friends. To be honest we were all too busy making our artwork and making a living to be side tracked by another material.
But, wow, how I wish I had paid more attention to the new paint on the block.
To give you a little background, I was born and brought up in a fishing village called Newlyn in the far west of Cornwall. Newlyn was famous for the Victorian school of artists that settled in the village painting en plein air canvasses of the local fishermen, their wives and their hard working lives. As a child I seemed to be surrounded by these amazing paintings from an early age, in galleries, neighbours homes and in the harbour streets and alleyways that I played in as a child. All of this stimulus helped me on my way to becoming an artist myself and I chose as my preferred medium traditional oil paint as used by the Newlyn School masters such as Frank Bramley and Stanhope Forbes. Roll forward a few years and a little later I discovered gouache then acrylic paint and this became the main medium used in my later work. In fact I even wrote some books about painting with acrylic.
But as much as I have had a long-standing affair with acrylic paint, in my heart I have always loved the feel of oils. That sensation of painting with butter, or slippery mud, or in my case Cornish clotted cream. Velvety, luscious, sublime. And this is where Winsor & Newton Artisan entered my life. A traditional oil paint that like acrylic, I could use with water. It blew my mind.
For a start, the whole process went against every thing that I had been taught in school; oil and water don’t mix right? Well, not anymore, oil and water now mix beautifully to the point that I could paint with oils using water colour techniques. Plus I could wash my brushes and clean up using water. No need for bottles of solvents anymore; environmental and respiratory issues sorted.