Wednesday, April 25, 2012

MGM's plein air kit

Here is the travel watercolor kit that belonged to my grandmother, Margaret Gardner Mitchell. It looks to be something she picked up on a trip to the UK, probably in the late 1970s or early 1980s. George Rowney and Company, of Bracknell, Berskshire is the manufacturer, and is/was one of the more famous of the UK watercolor outfitters. It was a family owned business from 1783 until 1983 - Turner was apparently a family friend. When the heirs ran dry, they were acquired by Daler, makers of artist's canvas boards and the company is now called Daler-Rowney.

Anyway, this one is tiny, with a built-in water flask and detachable lid that doubles as a water well. I'm pretty sure most of the paint wells are filled with the original paint (or what's left of it). The brush has a detachable handle so it will fit inside, there's a thumb-ring on the bottom to hold it in place and the mixing surface as nice deep wells for a thing this size. Gaba very sensibly added a 1/4 pan of violet in a plastic well that she had tucked inside (not shown in these photos) - this is a great innovation for mixing darks and painting shadows. She always wanted things "just so".

I've not used it much, but tried the colors out to see how they looked (perfectly usable, but a bit weak). The whole could be refurbished with fresh colors easily...but it's also tempting to leave it just as she left it.

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