In my watercolour set there is a tube of bluish dark grey called ‘Payne’s Grey’. I couldn’t help but wonder: who was ‘Payne’ and why did he have a grey named after him?
Mr William Payne, it turns out, was a distinguished English 18th century watercolourist. He had an innovative style and developed techniques which were much copied by his fellow artists at the time. He came up with the idea of ‘splitting the brush’ to better create forms of foliage, trailing tints to give texture to his foregrounds and abandoned the use of outline with a pen.
|The man himself - Mr William Payne.|
To Mr Payne’s advantage, his techniques were also not difficult to master, increasing his popularity as a teacher of art students and amateurs. He became the most sought after Drawing-Master in London.
Unfortunately, as is often the case his once fashionable style became no longer fashionable and he was surpassed by the young and the new. However, his grey lives on, bearing his name long after those who bested him in life have been forgotten.
|Welsh River Scene by William Payne.|
Payne’s Grey was originally a mixture of lake, raw sienna and indigo with depth far beyond the conventional mixture of black and white tones – hence its great use and continued popularity today.