Category Archives: Matisse Derivan

Look what I’ve got!

derivan_wcSent to me last week for my pleasure and experimentation, a new range of Australian made watercolours by Derivan.  They  are professional artists  quality.  I don’t have to test them. They are already tested and will be in the shops next month probably. (Matisse and Derivan are the same company – just different ranges. Their products are sold in the USA by Jerry’s Artarama).

This is not the full colour range. I have a PDF of the colour chart if anyone wants it. As you see I have plenty of colours to mix any colour I want. I am longing to use them, but all my small  palettes are fully loaded with other watercolours for my upcoming trip.

But I need to give them a workout, because I have to come up with some ideas for demos and workshops when I get back. There is supposed to be a storm coming and rain for some days. Maybe I will get the opportunity later.

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Filed under Matisse Derivan, watercolour

Playing with Gel…testing, testing, testing.

self_levellingI have been playing around testing a new product for the manufacturer. Lots of fun, though time-consuming. It was weighing on my mind, and first I had to come up with a PLAN.   I got an idea about transparent plastic sheets from a video from Jane Davies, then I put my own take on it. I love the vivid colours of the Matisse Inks so I wanted to see how the  gel would dry with the ink mixed in. I wanted to find a use for the gel for fine art purposes, rather than craft, but not to just pour it straight onto canvas.

I knew this needed a safe place to dry over a number of days without a cat walking on it. So first I did all my washing, so that the top of the washing machine would be available. The gel was to dry on plastic sheet protectors – the ones you use in display books. So I started with a sheet of perspex under the sheet protectors, so that I could move it to the top of the washing machine when I was ready.

I mixed up four little potions of ink with the self-levelling gel, each colour in its own little plastic shot glass. Each shot glass was about 2/3 full of medium, and I added ten drops of ink. The colours I used  were yellow, red, turquoise and green. (I wouldn’t use the green another time, because the colours mixed sufficiently that the  yellow and turquoise made green). I dribbled each colour on and they merged and blended as I poured more on.

When I was finished I moved them to the top of the washing machine to dry. I didn’t take into account that this is an old terrace house and the floors are not totally level. Nor the fact that the perspex bent a little to follow the contours of the top of the washing machine. Soon I was having to wipe up small spills and to  wedge articles under parts of the perspex sheet to ensure it was level. It caused the colours to move about and blend and marble some more. This is the part that gave me some lovely feathery edges as the medium retracted when the perspex was level. It was touch dry by the end of the day, and after a day or two I could pull it off the plastic sheets. I have left it three weeks to cure. Acrylic often appears dry long before it is cured. Now it is not sticky on either side.

I have cut this piece off with a craft knife and stuck it in my sketch book with PVA glue.  This is a test also. I will leave some waxed paper in there for a while to stop it sticking to the facing page, but eventually I will remove it to see what happens.  Then we will know if it can be used inside a book. It is a couple of millimitres thick, and quite flexible.  Possible uses: 1) an art piece made by cut-out pieces glued to a perspex sheet with the light behind it. (2) an installation of pieces with the top rolled around a small dowel and hung with the light behind them. I’m sure there are many more uses.

I think it is quite possible to control this product and make many kinds of flexible transparent sheets. It is possible to peel it off a large perspex sheet as long as you coat it with Vaseline first. I would use scissors to cut it in future, as the craft knife drags it a little.  I also think it would be possible to peel off a sheet that had a lot of holes in it as long as you were careful.  But the gel also does have a mind of its own. Control is not absolute, and you might get some happy surprises.

I was hoping to add some more close-up photos to show you the lovely feathery edges, but the days are so dark that the flash keeps going off. Maybe later.


Filed under acrylics, inks, Matisse Derivan

Monoprint landscape from The Art Scene demo.

the_soundsThis ink mono print/painting was done at the demo at The Art Scene also. It is the same technique as the ‘Fantasy Fish‘. I did the step of dropping the inks and rolling at home, so that I could demonstrate turning the mono print into a landscape painting with a pen and ink, and a wash or two. I used blues and greens and a few drops of some other colours also, just to add interest.

Of course, I did do the ink mono printing step in the demonstration also, but not this one. I needed to work on a dry one. The first one I did was called ‘Guilin Landscape‘ because it reminded me of the scenery when I travelled down the Pearl River in China many years ago. This new one is called ‘The Sounds’. I wanted to sketch a small boat on the water. I have photographs of Milford Sound in New Zealand where the boat is dwarfed by the mountains like that.

So, how did I turn it into a painting? I washed a few very watery white ink in drifts over the bottom half. Then I drew the waterfalls with white ink and my post office pen. I outlined most of the mountains in white and added some blue ink where I thought it was necessary. With watery blue ink and a brush I put shadows at the bottom of some of the hills that were behind others. I also drew the lines on the water with my post office pen, and then the small boat, and its reflection. I did a tiny blue shadow under the boat also. Not a lot of drawing at all really. Spent more time thinking than drawing.


Filed under inks, Matisse Derivan

Mono printing with acrylic inks (from the demo @ The Art Scene)

Photo 27-07-13 11 17 10 AMLast week I did a demo of Matisse Inks at The Art Scene. They have two hour lunch time demonstrations throughout the winter months and I sometimes do one of them for Matisse Derivan.

The Matisse inks are in new bottles with a heavy stable bottom and a dropper attached to the lid. In view of this I was asked to use the inks in my demo, and shortly before I went to Bali, I spent a week or so experimenting with various techniques.

I found this technique in Maxine Masterfield’s book, In Harmony with Nature: Painting Techniques for the New Age and adapted it a little bit to my own ways. It is really easy. Anyone can do it. I also used another technique of hers, which is working on top of darks with white ink. You can see some wonderful examples of this technique in Painting the Spirit of Nature. I  use a ‘post office pen’. They are a bit scratchy, and give a bit of a shaky line. I like that, because it shows the hand of the artist much more truly than a gel pen, for example.

I posted the ‘Guilin Landscape’ a little while ago, and this one is the same technique. If I want a landscape I use blues and greens, then perhaps a little bit of the complement, maybe orange or burnt sienna to give some nice greys. Other colours can give you anything your imagination can create from an ink blot. As you see this one is “Fantasy Fish”.  I have one that is like a totem of animals, dogs and bears. Another is like a crazy bird with ruffled pantaloons, and yet another can easily turn into a Balinese mask. These have yet to have the pen work done. I even have one that doesn’t need anything done. It is called ‘Lotus Lake’.

This is the process. I am working on watercolour paper, about A3 size. I fold it down the middle lengthwise and press the fold with a bone folder. Then I drop a few drops of various colours of ink along the fold. I don’t necessarily do a lot at first, because I can always have a look and add more. Then I close the fold, and roll over it with a soft brayer, rolling away from the fold. If I am doing a landscape I work at right angles to the fold, but if not, I can roll at an angle or in a curve. Then I see what I’ve got and add more ink as necessary.

At this point, before the ink is dry, I can also use some of the other techniques I demonstrated. The fish has only a little spray of water as it as starting to dry, and that gives a bit of texture. But you can also use vinegar, dishwashing liquid, salt, urea, gladwrap, waxed paper. More sample pieces from the demo coming soon.


Filed under drawing, inks, Matisse Derivan

Matisse Inks demonstration at The Art Scene

guilinEvery winter The Art Scene has a series of lunchtime demonstrations on a Thursday. You can download a PDF of all the upcoming demonstrations from their website. I usually do a demonstration for Matisse Derivan. This year I am using the Matisse Inks. They are absolutely loaded with pigment so they are a pleasure to use, and they have new bottles that have a dropper and are bottom-heavy, so they are better than ever.

So I had to come up with something new. Eliza, who works at Derivan now, showed me some good tricks, and I went through my trusty art books to find a few more things. As far as inks and mixed media are concerned, I think Maxine Masterfield is the go-to person. I found something in her book In Harmony with Nature: Painting Techniques for the New Ageand something else in her other book Painting the Spirit of Nature combined the two, and this is the result. Well, one of the results. This technique is fun and easy and something even children could do. If you can doodle, you can do it. This is ‘Guilin Landscape’. It reminds me of the scenery when I sailed down the river in China.

As well as that I will be demonstrating another fun way of making a painting with inks. Lots to cram in, in just two hours. It’s on 18th July, starting midday. Come along!


Filed under inks, Matisse Derivan, painting

My friend Derivan Dave

Here’s another video for you to watch. I may have mentioned David from Matisse Derivan. He now calls himself Derivan Dave. I thought you might like to see his video too. He’s not normally so serious.


Filed under acrylics, Matisse Derivan

May the fourth be with you – EDiM4

I’d planned to sketch this necklace anyway. While I was setting up, I heard them say on the radio that it was Star Wars Day. It’s a sort of star on the necklace – well, I’ve never considered it a flower – so I thought it was even more appropriate. I received it a few years ago from my friend Viv in England and I do love it. Every time I wear it someone comments on how nice it is.

I am still trying to do this ‘materiality’ thing. This was a new  approach, that I think has worked really well and I will use again. I quickly roughed the necklace in with a yellow ochre watercolour pencil. The sun was moving fast (I was multi-tasking with household chores) so I moved it along to follow the sun & roughed in the shadows. Then I got a post office pen (a dip pen) and sepia ink & drew the necklace. Finally I took my brush to the watercolour pencil and then added a little more dark to the beads. I must say that I like the line that the dip pen gives. It’s much more hesitant and wavery – and more scratchy too, but somehow it seems more me. I have the full range of Matisse Inks so I plan to try them all with this process..

The other night while I was lying on the floor doing exercises, I pulled this book out of the bottom shelf of the book case to revisit it. It is The Artist’s Drawing Book by Moira Huntly. It’s an old book and you can get a second hand copy very cheaply.  Reading it again during the last couple of days, I realised that it is like a bible to materiality. Moira Huntly shares her processes with drawings in a huge range of different materials.  There’s inspiration in there to keep me going way past Every Day in May – perhaps past the end of the year. I’d say – buy it!

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Filed under books, drawing, EDiM, Matisse Derivan, sketchbook, sketching, watercolour pencils