Interviews with other artists.
“I am inspired by many artists. To name a few; Barbara Nechis, I love her vision of the landscape, although I am not a fan of landscape paintings. Ann Blockley, I love her bold approach and her use of texture in her work, also she is not a clone of anyone else. Shirley Travena, her use of colour is very exciting. I love to see strong design and bold values. My all time wish would have been to meet Edgar Whitney.”
Watercolour is said to be the hardest medium to work with. Why do you choose to paint with it?
“I used to paint in Oil and Acrylic for many years, but wanted the freedom to let the paint follow its own journey. When I found watercolour I was hooked. Watercolour needs to be allowed to be free, you have to respect this fact and not try to control your paint. Introduce the paints to the water, guide their journey and watch the magic. I used to try to paint what I saw, now I paint what I see but also what I feel.”
What are your essential materials for watercolour painting. Paper/brushes/paints etc?
“I use Arches NOT 140lb Watercolour Paper. It accepts the techniques I like to use - lots of wet-in-wet mainly.
I use Winsor and Newton, Daniel Smith , Schmincke and Holbein Artists Quality Watercolour Paints.
I use Isabey mop brushes for wetting my paper and moving water around during my painting process. When I want more control I use Raphael series 8404, a lovely brush. I have a few Winsor and Newton series 7, but these are very expensive. Wonderful brushes though. I use cheap brushes for mixing my paint, that way I don’t spoil the point of my best brushes by rubbing the pigment. I always spray my paints with clean water before I start to paint, that way my paints are nice and moist, easy to activate. I use two brushes or more at the same time, one for water and one for pigment. That way you are not continually washing paint off your brush.”
“I love unpainted areas in a painting. White areas are very powerful. I can wipe with a damp sponge back to the white of the paper. If I have tiny areas I want to save I could use masking fluid, but it does leave a harsh edge, or use white paint afterwards to get back the white area. I am of the opinion if it works for you, use it. I don’t follow rules; I paint for the joy of painting. Rules, as in life, we learn what works and what does not but just sometimes we can change the rules learnt to suit ourselves. Go for it, magic will only peep through if you dare to let it.”
You predominantly paint flowers. In your opinion is it a help or a hindrance to limit subject matter when you are a beginner?
“A long time ago an old gentleman, who was teaching me to mix flesh tones, asked me what sort of paintings I liked to look at. I said “flowers and animals mainly”. He said “that’s what you must learn to paint. Paint what you love, not everyone loves the same subject. If you try to master too many all at once you give yourself a high bar to reach. Tiny steps. As you paint your preferences will change.”
Oil paintings have always demanded a higher price than watercolour paintings and art galleries seem to favour oil paintings. What are your thoughts on this and do you feel this will change in the future?
“I think the answer to this one is definitely this; WHY do YOU paint? If it is to sell it makes sense to paint in the medium that sells. If you paint because you love to paint and you love watercolour, use watercolour. I don’t care how it changes. Unless my love for watercolour changes I will continue to use the medium I love.”
I feel beginners should limit their colours in order to learn colour mixing and the properties of the pigments before adding to their collection. I'd like to challenge you to pick just 6 colours. Which ones would you choose and why?
"Now, colour is my main love. I don’t do limited palette. I could if I wanted to but I have far too many colours. Yippee. But as you have asked me to choose six then here are my six and why.
Two blues. One cool - Winsor Blue (Green shade) and one warm - French Ultramarine.
Two reds. One cool - Permanent Alizarin Crimson, by Winsor and Newton, and one warm - a scarlet, say Winsor and Newton Scarlet Lake.
Two yellows. One cool, say Lemon Yellow by Winsor and Newton and one warm - Indian Yellow by Schmincke.
The choice of a warm and cool of each of the primaries allows for clean bright secondary colours.
A cold yellow and your cold blue will make a brighter green than your cold yellow and your warm blue. That will still make green, but not so bright.
Colour mixing is a joy and I could fill pages on just that.”
I find social media sites take up too my time when I could be painting. What benefits have you gained by using social media sites and have you experienced any drawbacks?
"I think the internet is a wonderful way of seeing other artists work and passing on ideas, I am on Facebook and have my own web site."
What is/are your goal(s) as an artist?
“My goal as an artist is to never stop looking for the magic, to always try the “what if I did that?”and “what would happen if I did this?” To continue to search for new techniques, new ways to paint the same thing, to never reach the end of my journey as an artist.
“Rules never bother me. Break any rule. Don’t be put in the “rule box”. Break free! No new path will be found if you follow already trodden paths.”
If you could only give one piece of advice for people new to watercolour what would it be?