For the past couple of years, I have used a fairly good set of Grumbacher “Deluxe” watercolors in a big plastic box. They have served me well all over the world,and I have grown quite used to their slightly chalky hues and know how to mix virtually any hue with the two dozen pans in the palette.
I would compare painting with these Grumbachers to a $10 bottle of Merlot. Certainly not bottom of the barrel, not embarrassing, but I know there’s something a lot tastier out there, probably at a much higher price point. Every time I browse an art supply store, I glance into the locked-up showcase at the gleaming sets of real professional artists paints. They tend to start at about $75 and crest a C-note pretty quickly. Dear, even for a New York gazillionaire like me, and I usually end up shrugging and scoring another familiar old set of Grumbachers for about twenty bucks.
FInally, I caved and bought myself a teeny lovely set of Winsor-Newtons in a leather case for about $75 (they’re cheaper, I now see, on the web). There are only a dozen colors but they are revolutionizing how I paint. I have been using them to paint my #600 series of portraits and they are bright and bold like nothing I’ve used before, pushing me to wilder and wilder color combinations. They are so intense and creamy.
Just a wee dab on the end of my sable is like handling a freshly honed scalpel. A teeny touch and everything changes. I am mixing more and more on the page and forsaking my palette; I find this makes my colors crisper and stronger than anything Grumbacher could conceive.
I am not urging anyone else to use these paints. I know that Roz loves a man named Daniel Smith and that for many beginners a box of Crayola poster paints will get them on the road. But for me, right now, these are the perfect companions. It’s a new chapter, a new virulent sunset to rid off into.
I am now also firmly committed to my .35 Rapidograph. It hasn’t balked or clogged on me much and I’ve only had one brief leaking issue. The line is clean, consistent and yet somehow more liquidy and velvety and creamy than anything a disposable pen can give me. So far, it’s just conked out on me once far from home; I pulled out my trusty green fountain pen with its cheap water-soluble refill and polished off the drawing.