Green & Stone, 259 Kings Road ChelseaLast week I visited Green & Stone in Chelsea and this is the second of my reviews of art shops in London. They were kind enough to let me photograph inside the shop so this is something of a photo-essay as well!
Green & Stone, supplier of specialist Art Materials and Picture Framing, was first established in Chelsea in 1927, and is one of the longest running shops on the popular Kings Road.Green & Stone is a very impressive fine art suppliers. It's very much the way art shops used to be in the past and stocks a huge range of good quality art supplies. This is, thankfully, one shop which has not decided to target the art student or graphic design market - it's very much catering for those who want fine art supplies and good quality.
Shelves of Inks
You can read about the history of the shop and who owns it now and the current philosophy and business approach to fine art supplies and framing service on the History page of the website
Although based in London, this is not a local shop for me but I'd been promising myself a visit for some time. I lingered long and will definitely be returning. What marks them out as special?
Inks: Well the range of inks that they stock is phenomenal. I saw the Haxink - which was very tempting..........
Haxink - Permanent ink made from natural ingredients (iron gall) to an ancient recipe. Contained in a stone bottle with a wax sealed stopper.The Abraxas inks come in extremely attractive small bottles. This environmentally friendly ink is made in Switzerland and the Abraxas shop in Basel looks like it would also be worth a visit!
Paper: I saw papers there which I've never seen anywhere else - such as Turner Blue which is made by the Ruscombe Paper Mill which produces a comprehensive range of conservation and fine art papers made by hand. It is so rewarding to be able to go into an art shop and find papers which are made by the smaller suppliers. They may be more expensive - but they are unlike anything else which the larger suppliers manufacture. I've talked to a leading professional watercolour artist who is very enamoured with Turner Blue and the impact it has on his watercolours.
Drawing paper and sketchbooks: I noticed that the drawing paper and sketchbook section was equally impressive and carried a very fine range of papers by mainly European suppliers. It was the widest selection of papers I've seen in a long time in the UK - and carried a number which I've only previously seen in art shops in Europe.
AZUR DE TURNER - neutral sizedA replica of one of the blue papers produced by an English mill between 1810 and 1835 for J.M.W. Turner (1775 - 1851) the famous English watercolour artist. From 1820 Turner used many of these papers during his travels in Belgium, Italy, Germany and France. The shade of this paper aallos watercolour artists to be more adventurous than is possible with a plain white sheet.
Ruscombe Mill - watercolour papers
Watercolours: The watercolours that they stock are, of course, all high quality - and they have the largest range of Schminke fine artists watercolours and gouache that I've seen in quite some time. Schminke are renowned for their very high pigment concentration and intense colour - a little goes a very long way. I was however staggered to see that the large Schminke watercolour tin that I have filled with half pans - as mine is - now costs £75 (that's about US$146)
Oil paints: I'm no oil painter but I do know a little about the good makes - and again, the range of oil paints that they stock is impressive - and they are one of a few places which stock Michael Harding's handmade oil colours in London. The range and quality of materials to support the oil painter also looked impressive. I've never come across Charvin Arts of Cannes before and I was intrigued to find out that this French company based on the Riviera used to supply oil paints to both Cezanne and Bonnard!
Coloured pencils: On the coloured pencils front they stock a complete range of the Lyra Rembrandt coloured pencils (artists and watercolour) in open stock. This was the point at which having my CPSA Lightfastness Workbook (see CPSA Lightfastness Test Result Workbook - Version 5 published) comes in very handy as I photocopied my completed set of pages to date so that I could take a copy out with me to find the missing colours. A high proportion of the Lyra Rembrandts pass the lightfastness test which is great as they are one of my favourite pencils. They also have Faber Castell Albrecht Durer watercolour pencils in open stock - but not the polychromos which was a pity. They have sets of Caran d'Ache's new lightfast brand 'Luminance' in stock - but have none in open stock. I'm going to be sending them a link to this review. My recommendation would be to think seriously about expanding their range so that they make a feature out of having a good range of high quality and lightfast pencils in open stock - from different brands - which would make them the first art shop to do this!
Pastels: They have two main brands of pastels - Unison and Sennelier which are a good combination. I was surprised that they didn't stock Schminke - and then thought about how much space that would involve! They also have Sennelier oil pastels and neocolours.
Books: They have small but interesting selection - it struck me that these had been chosen as opposed to just taking whatever came up on the latest list from the publishers. Definitely worth a look if you visit. The books are located downstairs in the basement with the canvases and easels.
Archival and specialist: They also stock a fair range of archival materials such as conservation hinging tape and archival mending tape and other specialist materials - powders, waxes, glazes, laquers. If you want something unusual in fine art supplies, the chances are that they stock it!
boxed set of
boxed set of
Antique art materials: What I wasn't expecting was to find a selection of antique art materials.
You can see photos I took through glass cases of a couple of these.
tinting photographic prints
They also offer a framing service - which is a bit far for me to go - but looked interesting.
The benchmark test: The shop also stocks a huge range of other items - and I suggest you review the website to see how extensive their supplies are.
However, I have a number of items which I use as a benchmark test of how for a well stocked an art shop actually is - these are made up of items which I value and which are usually quite difficult to find. These include my Phillips chair (see In praise of my sketching chairs), Rotring Art Pen - Extra Fine (see The Rotring Art Pen), a Jakar Electric Pencil Sharpener (see Two new electric sharpeners) and Arches watercolour blocks in HP (all sizes) (I've now added a new item to my 'draft blog post list!). Green & Stone passed with flying colours on all counts. At least I'm virtually certain I saw a Phillips chair at the rear of some stock, I certainly saw other Phillips items and I also saw some very handsome alternatives plus I definitely spotted all the rest.
Green & Stone can be found towards the western end of the Kings Road. I'm guessing it's about a 10 minute walk from Sloane Square Underground Station. 'How to find us' on their website provides a good location map and directions on their website.
The shop does not have an online ordering facility - and a jolly good thing too if that means it stays exactly as it is. What they will do it take mail orders via e-mail (you can find their e-mail address on the 'how to find us' page).
Please browse through our online catalogues, then contact us, either by email, post or phone, with your requirements. We will check to see if the item(s) are in stock then contact you to arrange payment and delivery.Finally - a historical note. Interestingly the current address of the shop - 259 Kings Road - was previously run as a shop for the Womens Suffragette Movement!
Green & Stone Art Materials - ordering by mail
Overall: I'd definitely recommend this as a fine art materials shop you must visit if you come to London. It has the same approach and quality as Cornellisen but this shop is much bigger and has more stock. It might be a little out of the way but the range and quality of the stock is extremely good - just beware of the other temptations caused by walking down the Kings Road and keep your wallet firmly in your pocket until you've visited Green & Stone first!
If anybody else has used Green & Stone please do add your own comments to mine.
I've added this review to my information site Art Supplies in the UK - Resources for Artists - which contains a poll about London Art Shops!