I recently was given some very old brushes. I thought it would be no problem looking up the manufacturer’s series number since they were still clearly visible on the handles. However, I quickly found that a Google search yielded very little information
My husband pointed out that these brushes were probably made and discontinued before the internet even existed. This is the case for the Murillo company where I found business records from New York indicating closure in 1982.
I was especially curious about a brush marked 1” M. Grumbacher N.Y. Meissonier ® U.S.A. After some research I determined that this is a “Camel Hair Mop”. But even more interesting, even though you can find many “Camel Hair” brushes for sale today, very few vendors indicate the real hair used for this brush.
Finally, I found a good description for all brush hairs at www.dickblick.com/info/brushhair/
It turns out, Camel Hair is certainly not from a camel. As they describe:
Camel Hair does not come from camels at all. It is found in watercolor and lettering brushes and usually is made of squirrel, goat, ox, pony or a blend of several hairs, depending on the desired softness and intended cost of the brush.
Grumbacher appears to be owned by Chartpack now. (grumbacher.chartpak.com/categories/brushes/#) The closes brush I could find on their website is the Academy Natural. The info box says their natural hair is a combination of goat and pony hair. It does look like it would carry a lot of water and color, so I will try it in my watercolor work.
Last month I participated in the Calistoga Paint Out held by the Calistoga Art Center. As a watercolor painter, I faced some interesting challenges that artists in other mediums may not encounter.
The essential elements of a plein air festival include a check in period, a painting period and then a public show of the resulting paintings. During check-in, the artwork supports, typically canvas, panels or paper are stamped on the back with an identifying mark and date. This step ensures that the painting actually takes place during the painting period.
What I did not anticipate was that the stamp needs to be visible when the final artworks are displayed. This is usually not an issue for canvas or a panel, but display of a watercolor sandwiched between a mat and backing board then inserted in a frame is a problem. The stamp would be covered up.
Fortunately, a more experienced artist suggested I solve this problem by cutting a hole in the backing board. This required that I get my paper re-stamped near the center so that the stamp would not be covered by the frame moulding. Then I had to measure the location of the stamp carefully to make sure I cut a hole in the same place on the backing board.
For future paint outs, it would be easier to have the watercolor paper permanently mounted on the backing board ahead of time so that I could simply have the backing board stamped. I haven’t yet found a pre-made watercolor board that I like, so I intend to glue my favorite watercolor paper to foam core board or a flat panel.
My paintings were not my best work, but I have to remind myself I did these in about an hour each battling wind and even rain showers. I plan to repaint them in my studio.
Narcissa ‘Ice Follies’ in foreground, Napa, California
Rainfall has been plentiful in the Napa Valley this year and my daffodils have been very happy. Even the most recently planted group is starting to bloom.
My late fall plantings are normally the last to bloom because I have to wait until the weather is cool enough to plant. Every year since the late 1980’s I have planted daffodils. I used to plant 500, then 350 a year. This year I only managed 150 partly because all the easy spots are taken and partly because the heavy clay soil is too tough for me now.
I carefully select my Narcissi from all the major types including Trumpet, Large Cupped, Trianadrus, Poeticus, Small Cupped, Tazetta, Jonquilla, Double, Split Cupped and Cyclaminineus. The latter are my favorite due to their swept back petals. The blooming season ranges from January to April.
Recently, I’ve decided I should focus on smaller cups and earlier bloom. The large cups can become too heavy with rain and tend to end up face-down in the grass. The late-blooming varieties often include beautiful salmon and pink colors, but they can get overwhelmed by the fast growing weeds.
Art Gallery Napa Valley Reception
- March 21, 6 to 8pm
- 1307 First Street, Downtown Napa
Our artists in the gallery have stepped up their marketing game. They did some research into our Mustard theme and came up with some interesting info.
Mustard is known as a spice, a condiment (What’s a hotdog without mustard?) and was even used as a “plaster” to promote healing. Historically, French monks who mixed the ground seeds with “must” or unfermented wine, inspired the word “mustard,” which stems from the Latin Museum ardens -roughly meaning “burning wine.”
In Napa Valley during February and March, the mustard you see is a breathtaking display of masses of delicate flowers used as a cover crop between the rows of pruned vines.
For my part, mustard brings to mind culinary pursuits. The the famous Mustards restaurant in Yountville is one of my favorites. At the same time, this is Year of the Pig, so I couldn’t resist this whimsical addition to my display in the gallery.
It’s time to mix up more of that “Birgit Grey”!
#Birgit O’Connor Watercolor is starting another session of Atmospheric Landscapes online starting December 15th. I highly recommend this class!
(at the Napa Town & Country Fair)
This leads me to believe that maybe the pre-filled pans are the way to go after all. They are certainly the least messy alternative for painting on a boat. My third palette is the new QOR set of pans, and I think you can agree that it’s a very good range of colors. I look forward to trying it during our current cruise through the Canadian Northwest.
The New QOR Watercolor Pan Set