I’m relatively new to watercolour painting. I’ve been teaching myself to draw and to paint since last September, and as it’s completely new to me and I knew nothing about art supplies to begin with, it’s been a steep learning curve. I have been vegan since October 2005 and my veganism influences not just what I eat, but what I wear, the cosmetics and household products I buy and use, and any products I use for work and my hobbies. Whilst the environmental benefits of being vegan are important to me I am vegan for animal welfare reasons first and foremost.
I thought at first that it wouldn’t be too complicated to find vegan watercolour supplies. I assumed I’d have to be wary over certain red pigments (because of cochineal) and black pigments (because of bone char) but what I didn’t realise was that many of the artist grade paints contain a substance called ox gall which (correct me if I’m wrong) influences viscosity and the way paint holds together in suspension as well as on paper.
Recently I’ve been trying to teach myself how to draw and paint. I’ve always thought that it’s something I can’t do, but I’m trying to break down some of my long-held beliefs and prove myself wrong. I have so many ideas in my head that I wish I could put to paper, and I finally got fed up with not knowing how.
My problem in the past has always been that I’ve tried to draw by eye, and my proportions always come out wrong. I remember an art class when I was about nine or ten, and being tasked with copying a photo of a blue tit perched on a beer can. I was so frustrated, because I didn’t know where to start or how to do it.
Rather than approach drawing as I’ve always approached drawing, I’ve started following the circles and lines method of drawing animals, and it seems to be helping. Here are a couple of my early sketches.
The paint set I have is made by Winsor and Newton in their Cotman range. It’s their pocketbox, and all the paint colours are vegan. The Cotman range of watercolour paints (with the exception of three colours which aren’t in the pocket box set) doesn’t include ingredients or pigments derived from animals. The brush I’m using is from the Pro Arte prolene range. It’s synthetic, and a size 6, which seems to be a good all rounder for me as a beginner. Together with the tiny retractable brush that came with my paint set, I think I should be good to go for quite some time.