Friday, 24 October 2014

New Frisk 'Pink' Masking Fluid from the SAA - Reviewed!

In October 2014 I was sent a bottle of Frisk 'Pink' Masking fluid to try in advance of it's release. Having just recently recovered from the disease myself I was keen to review the product!

When I tell complete beginners to watercolour what masking fluid does, their eyes instantly light up. Having soon come across the problems of reserving light areas, masking fluid seems the answer to all their problems. I soon have to disillusion them! Masking fluid is a fantastic tool and really useful, but it is not without its problems and is certainly not suitable for all situations where you need to reserve white. 

When the SAA sent me a bottle of Frisk ‘pink’ masking fluid I was very excited to try it out. Not least because a percentage of the profits go to breast cancer charities, a disease I am recently recovered from myself. I wanted to put it though its paces, not just for reserving whites but also for a technique that people use less often, reserving previously painted (dry) areas of light paint. As I parked my car at the local supermarket, I looked down at the ground and saw the autumn leaves – perfect! Not only did some of them have little holes, others had light veins surrounded by darks. 

I selected a few and drew the shape of one of the Maple leaves onto my paper. First I masked out the small holes and let the masking fluid dry. (My tool of preference for this is a ruling pen, but some of my students do prefer ‘colour shaper’ tools.) Next I put an all over wash of Yellow Ochre on the leaf. It was tricky enough to get a flat wash on with the complex edge shapes; I would not have had time to paint around the little holes too, so the masking fluid did its job here.

At its best masking fluid can help you reserve crisp whites, lighter areas of paint and if ‘splattered’ on in layers can help build fantastic complex textures. At its worse it can ruin brushes, leave harsh unnatural edges and even tear paper. So I always stress to my students the need to understand how to use it properly and for the correct situations.

Next was the fun bit. A big brush and wet into wet all over the leaf, mixing a bright green from Prussian Blue, Cadmium Yellow, and adding bright splashes of Light Red and Red Oxide. Finally I used a little watercolour pencil to add contrast to the stem. Without reserving the veins with the Frisk fluid it would have been impossible to be so free with the paint. Now came the wait, to see how well the masking fluid removed, and whether it lifted any of the colour underneath.

Once the painting was dry the masking fluid lifted well, despite being on for a few days. The white areas were crisp and there was minimal pigment loss on the reserved leaf veins (there is always a little I find). Finally, using some well sharpened watercolour pencils I defined some of the edges of the leaf and the holes, and the finished result was quite pleasing!

Materials used for this review:

Saunders Waterford ‘High White’ NOT paper 300gm, Talens ‘Rembrandt’ watercolours, Derwent watercolour Pencils, SAA ‘Silver’ brushes

Saturday, 4 October 2014

 Bath Time At Last!

Time for a catch up post on our attempts to drag our house kicking & screaming from the ‘70’s and into modern life. Last year we were on track to finish the upstairs bathroom by Xmas 2013. I am not someone who prefers to shower, although when I have been to a martial arts or yoga class in bare feet a bath is not a good idea! So after about 3 months without a bath and three of us trying to use a room as big as a phone box to wash in, I was looking forward to getting my bathroom back. And that is when I found the lump, and had the biopsy and got the breast cancer diagnosis (see previous posts!) Fast forward another 5 months and my treatment and surgery was finished (the radiotherapy burns would have prevented my soaking in a hot bath anyhow) and all I wanted was to get that bathroom finished.

Everyone likes a before and after picture and these ‘before’ snaps are something to behold; possibly the worst room in the house; where do I begin in describing its delights? 

Cracked tiles in two different (unrelated) styles, more disabled wall bars than a mobility showroom, mould growing under the sealant, dirty pink shag pile carpet so deep if you dropped an earring back you never saw it again…

Satisfaction was mine as the revolting carpet came up and the tiles got ripped off the wall. 

When the paneling was taken down where the soil pipe was the hole in the wall became a super-highway for spiders, and at least twice a day I rescued 8 legged monsters in a pint glass and put them carefully in the garden, where no doubt they started making their way back up the soil pipe… “I am sure I have seen you before…” I would say to them as I walked them down the stairs.

There had also been several decades of spider activity under the bath, and Gimlet who can never resist a bit of exploration did his bit by dusting under the old bath with his face.

Of course I couldn’t resist using the new bathroom as a basis for another mosaic. I cut some petal shapes from white tiles and filled in with dark green, and charcoal coloured grout to show the flowers off. 

Originally I wanted white walls, but it looked so stark that I settled on a soft yellow green with the back wall in a linen colour. It still needed softening so I spent a few hours with a craft knife and cut a daisy stencil, putting a row of big daisies across the back wall in gold acrylic paint. (You will see the daisy motif again because I have since used it as a design for a lino print –waste not, want not!)

The bathroom now looks stunning, the only slightly sad thing is that we had to put a smaller bath in (the old bath being too big and cutting into the wall) and even though I am quite small it still feels very cramped. 

Nevertheless it is still luxury to have a proper bathroom and to step on beautiful tiles instead of that pink horror. Plus since the other family members prefer showers it is really just my own personal bathroom. So… two bathrooms done, one kitchen to go (doing the hardest rooms first), more on that soon!