Interviews with other artists.
Ann, many thanks for being such a wonderful watercolour artist and so generously sharing your knowledge with us in your books and DVD's.
Ann, you inspired me to paint, who inspired you? What other artists do you admire?
"I suppose if I go back to school days and my A level art course, it was the French Impressionists who inspired me. But when it came to me trying out the medium of watercolour for myself, then watercolourists such as Ann Blockley and Nancy Titchborne were the artists who really made me want to paint. They still inspire me."
Watercolour is said to be the hardest medium to work with. Why do you choose to paint with it?
"I am still challenged by watercolour, which is why I want to paint with it...it’s dynamic, moves beautifully and I love its translucency."
What essential materials do you use for painting? Paper/brushes/paints etc?
"Paper...Arches or Saunders Waterford. Brushes...sable blend. Paint...Winsor and Newton tubes squeezed into a plastic palette with lots of mixing space."
What is your preferred method for reserving the white of the paper? Do you ever use white paint?
"I use masking fluid quite often. I never use white!"
You are an expert in negative painting. Would you say it is your preferred technique or do you not favour one technique in particular?
"I love negative painting because it gives me the depth and contrast that I love. All the techniques come together in a painting, but I can say that when I view a subject I always look for the possibilities for negative painting."
"My six “can’t do without” colours are aureolin, winsor blue, quinacridone gold, permanent rose, cobalt blue, burnt sienna. With these I can mix most of what I need."
Painting flowers seems to be where your heart lies. Would you recommend that beginners in watercolour concentrate their efforts in one subject matter? Do you think it helps to become known if you paint one subject matter.
"I suppose I started painting flowers because they are there in the garden and they are colourful and I love their forms. I love landscape too, but I find it less easy to find subjects. I really admire those intrepid plein air painters who go out and paint in all weathers. But it’s something that has not fitted into my life as well as painting flowers and nature, the things that surround me without having to venture too far!"
When did you become a professional painter?
"I became a professional painter around 2005."
You announced that you were giving up teaching at the end of 2013. Do you think you might return to it in the future or are you enjoying the opportunity it's given you to paint yourself? (Or are you spending your valuable time answering questions that someone has email you? :)
"I decided not to continue doing weekly lessons in my studio recently. I do enjoy teaching but it does seem to take over my life when I do it! It is difficult to combine painting my own stuff and teaching and I would get over involved in my students’ work and spend too much time preparing!
I plan to try and set up on line courses in the future, which might be a better way to combine my work with some tuition."
I found social media sites take up too much of my time. You, on the other hand, are very good at posting things. What benefits have you gained by using these sites and have you experienced any drawbacks?
"Social media sites are a huge displacement activity! Too easy to sit in front of the computer and look at images and read peoples’ stories! But I do enjoy the social friendship side of it and the sharing of art and painting tips, etc.
They have helped me get my message over and also are a great aid in marketing when I have something to advertise such as my DVD."
Watercolour painting is full of "rules". What rules, if any, do you break?
"What rules do I break in watercolour painting? Well that’s an interesting question!
I think rules, such as “Never add a watery wash to drying paint or you will get a cauliflower” are necessary when you are a beginner.
I think when you are new to painting in watercolour, you might as well follow the rules to make things work. But I have found that with experience of how the medium reacts in different situations, you can break the rules and you have the confidence to do your own thing a bit more. But it is so true that nothing takes the place of practice, practice and more practice!"
What advise would you give to people new to watercolour?
"Find an artist who inspires you and borrow their books from the library. Have a go, follow instructions carefully, listen to advice! But always bear in mind that you are you and your primary aim is gradually to develop your own unique style.
Buy good quality paper and one good brush right from the start. Buy a few tubes of artist’s quality paints, (don’t bother with a palette with loads of colours).
Mostly have fun and enjoy what this wonderful medium can do!"
Visit Ann's website for further examples of her work, or to order her books and DVD's.