Thanks for all your kind words; although I was pleased with exercise, your encouragement makes me doubly so. It was difficult at first, being a dab and blend type of guy, but after I got into it and could see the initial results, I became quite relaxed about not blending...... I'd really recommend that you try it out. Mine was only small at 10x8 on a cheap board, so I had nothing to lose.
@Grandma The tankard is indeed pewter but was empty and, just between you and I, the wine wasn't real, it was Ribena (a brand of blackcurrant cordial here in the UK) :-$
@AZPainter I agree entirely. The finest and most expensive brush in the hands of a novice won't instantly turn him/her into a fine artist, but a broken twig or bent nail in the hands of Rembrandt demonstrates that a fine artist doesn't necessarily need the best brushes.
However, using the best brushes, and perhaps sticking with a range which one feels comfortable with should, over time, produce the better result. I have yet to find that range but do like the Escoda imitation mongoose and Jackson's own brand black hog.... both of which I think are supplied by or similar to some in the Rosemary catalogue (eclipse and ebony).
I'm also a keen golfer and when looking for new equipment, in order to justify the purchase, I always try to ask myself the question "will buying this make me a better golfer?" You and I know what the answer is .... but I still have several sets of golf clubs and more putters than I care to count.