Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolours, First Look, Review

I am a full time illustrator and I love to experiment with different mediums, you will find all sorts from digital to needle felted illustrations in my books but if I had to choose one art supply for the rest of my life (please don’t ever make me do that!) then it would be watercolours and Mr Webb definitely is not as impressed as I am with my ever increasing collection of palettes.

However I have never used Japanese brand watercolours so when I was commissioned to work with The Nurture Programme on a big project I decided to treat myself to some new paints (even though the commission is actually digital, any excuse for new paints!)

I have been looking at these paints for a long time and when they arrived I was so excited to use them. They come in a very beautiful green package that makes them feel very fancy a like a real treat. All of my other paints are in metal tins.

Beautiful green box.

This comes in a few different sizes but I chose the 48 colour set because I knew that if I got a smaller set and liked them then I would want the bigger set. This is why I waited until I had a reason to celebrate, it was a big treat. But opening the box felt like Christmas! It is so beautiful inside, I was a little intimidated to even swatch them.

Swatch card in the lid.

The pans are slightly larger than full watercolour pans and there is a swatch sheet inside the lid. All of the colours look stunning straight away! I really liked that each pan is marked on the bottom with the name and number. The bottom of the box has each colour and information on too, just incase you mix them up which I really appreciate because it means that you can take out a few colours to use on your desk at a time because this beast really does take up a lot of space.

I don’t know if it is just a me thing or if it is an artist thing but there is nothing that makes me quite as happy as swatching new paints, it is like new PJs or fresh crisp bedding. One of the most amazing pleasures in this world. I always swatch on the card that comes in the box as well as on a sheet of cold press watercolour which is what I paint on most often. These paints were incredibly satisfying to paint with. They do not need a lot of water for the colour payout, they activate very easily, even the metallic which fall short in some sets.

Swatch on the paper you are likely to use.

The colours are so vibrant and so clean that the swatch card is just so beautiful to look at. I absolutely love the selection of colours. My favourites are the Rose Madder and the Imperial Violet but the whole selection is just very pleasing to look at. I did try it out though too, firstly I had a good play to see how the colours lay down and how they layer because I know that I use layers a lot in my watercolours.

Experimantations.

My experiments were fun and unplanned but was good to see how the colours blend into one another. The colours are a lot less translucent than the watercolours that I am used to. You can layer them if you use the top layer slightly thicker and more of an ink consistency but I found that if you use a lot of water then it was reactivating the colour below even once it was fully dry. This will be an interesting effect to play with in the future that is definitely different to my other paints. I also found that they don’t bleed into one another excessively and I had to use a considerable amount of water to get them to bleed into each other which is something to consider if you use a lot of wet on wet techniques in your painting.

I wanted to try them with an actual illustration since that is what I will be using the paints for, mainly for children’s picture books but also possibly for some products in the future too.

On A Tiny Journey by Samantha Webb

I did not get on well with this illustration. I had a lot of trouble because I am not use to using such vibrant colours without having to layer and layer them. I was also very spoilt for choice with the colours, this is my biggest set of colours and I just kept selecting colours that did not go together and so the finished illustration is not what I imagined to begin with. Faced with such an amazing array of colours my mind totally forgot all that I have been learning about colour theory! Some days just go like that, they can’t all be perfect and I think I definitely learnt from the experience, I need to remember to select my colours wisely before I start painting.

I also did something very random, I totally forgot about mixing my colours. I am not sure if it is because I am so used to having a mixing palette built in that I use all of the time (the box is made of card and does not have mixing wells) or if it is because the pans were so big that it didn’t seem necessary but because of this I was using the paints from pan straight to paper which is again not something that I usually do. Hopefully with these things in mind my future endeavours with these paints will be more successful than these two little bugs in an umbrella boat. I did really enjoy using the paints though, I was able to add layers even though they were more opaque than I would of liked.

If you like really thick and creamy, opaque paints that have a flat finish then I think you would really like these too. I will need to practice more to get the most out of them but I do feel like they will be very versatile and will allow me to make some more vivid illustrations. I have since read that you can also use them on black paper too so I will have to try that out.

I am very happy to have them amongst my paint collection, I have yet to find somewhere to store this massive box though so maybe having it on my desk will make me use it more.

Thank you so much for reading my rambling. If you would like to see some more of my collection of paints just let me know, I could talk about watercolours for days!

Samantha x

On A Tiny Journey by Samantha Webb

Glub, Now Under New Management!

I am so delighted to be writing this blog post. Glub, my curious purple creation has had a rough start of it and has been on a real adventure but I feel like he has finally found his true home.

Glub

I wrote the story of Glub around 12 years ago, after a trip to Paignton where we always go in to the arcades and have some wholesome family fun. My husband was adamant that he wanted to win a particularly unflattering teddy of Micheal Jackson because in his words “it is so bad, it is brilliant?’. Our then one year old daughter Lilly was horrified and was grabbing for the cute teddies and really no one would blame her. Sadly that day we walked away without any prizes but an idea was beginning to form in my mind.

Concept art by Jamie Webb.

On reading the first draft my husband drew many pictures of Glub, I absolutely loved his concept art and you can find one of those images today as the end papers in the finished book. The book then sat dormant for a while, I was getting the Cornlings all finished and ready to publish and I wasn’t sure if Glub would be watercolour or felt. He really had to be fluffy didn’t he!

Many, many months went into felting the illustrations, wet felt and needle felt followed by embroidery and some bead work. Jamie photographed it beautifully so that every image still looked fluffy. But I still didn’t do anything for a while.

Glub waits for a new home.

So Glub waited and waited, he was patient. I was really nervous to show him to people because by this point I was really quite attached and if he was rejected I would be heartbroken. However, with a little encouragement in 2018 I entered him into a contest to win publication and cried with happiness when he won. Glub was going to be published! Happy ending, right?

Definitely not, I told you it has been a journey! When the publishers (who I won’t name and are no longer in business) were preparing Glub everything felt amazing. Publication day came and I hadn’t received copies, however the presages had gone out and my goddaughters had received theirs. We raced over to see it and honestly I cried and I cried, no longer happy tears. My book that I had poured years of love into had been released in a format that was cheap, nasty and really overpriced. I called the publisher who had a truck load of excuses but refused to make changes. I was truly upset to have my name on work that was so poorly created. I went through the next few months of stress trying to claw back ownership of my own work and I got it! Glub was all mine again, sadly Amazon refuses to take my name off of the awful listing so please if you want Glub, Amazon is not the place to buy him.

I left him for another year and decided that he was to good to just be left. I decided to self publish Glub to a high standard like I had previously with my Cornlings books. I put him on Amazon but sadly he does not show in the search listings because Amazon algorithms prefer price to quality. (Again do not buy Glub on Amazon). I thought this would be the end of Glub’s story, forced into obscurity because I had made some bad decisions with an unscrupulous publisher.

Despite this Glub has always been a favourite on school visits, children really do love him and at the end of the day that is all it is really about.

Glub gets a makeover on a school visit!

Don’t worry, I am slowly getting to Glub’s happy ending.

Whilst working with Stour Valley Publishing on The Soggy Little Bee by Simon Henderson, they purchased a copy of Glub from me, my self-published version. I was delighted with the sale and did the obligatory happy dance as all authors do when you purchase their books. Then I received a message to say that they would like to take on Glub as one of their titles. I immediately explained all that happened above and assumed it would be a deal breaker.

But on March 1st 2021 Glub was published, bigger and better and in more detail than ever before. The print quality is far superior and Glub looks like he always should of done. I can’t thank Carl and the Stour Valley Publishing team enough. The entire experience could not of been more different to my first publishing encounter.

Glub is a story about not giving up on finding a home and a family and I can honestly say that I am glad that I didn’t give up on Glub!

We celebrated the signing of the contracts!

You can purchase him now and make me do a happy dance, from independent and amazing bookshop, Shookbop!

The Whole Family celebrated on release day!