Amsterdam canal

This site is my showcase for my art work.  I am largely a landscape artist working in watercolour, but other media and portraiture are growing interests.  My work reflects my love of  Scottish landscapes, but is a also a record of other places I have been.  If you're interested in buying any of my work I'm happy to talk about original works and prints, and to consider commissions.

My painting

I have always loved watercolour, and admired the great watercolourists of the past. Of course, this made me want to have a go at the medium myself.  There were many false starts, as I was pursuing another career at the time, and there wasn't much time for painting, but over the last 10 to 15 years it has taken off, and since I retired in 2016 I have been able to devote the time it deserves to my painting.  My work has grown in scope and confidence, and I now feel ready to show it to a wider public.

There are an awful lot of very competent artists out there, so I'm glad I don't have to rely on painting for my day job.  If you like my style and approach, though, it's worth considering a bespoke painting from a less well known artist like me to commemorate a landscape that is special to you.  I've done a few successful commissions now and the recipients have been pleased with the results.

Why I paint

Why would you paint a landscape, when if you want an accurate rendition of what you are looking at you can just take a photograph?   If you paint representational stuff (as opposed to abstract) you have to ask yourself this question quite a lot.  I think my answer is something like this… there’s a transformation that goes on when you create a painting which means that your eye edits what you are looking at in a way the camera doesn’t, by selecting what is important, moving things around till they feel right, emphasising contrasts of tone or colour, so you end up with something which is recognisably the scene you wanted to show but is different from the exact copy of the photograph.  Put another way, if I want to show you what was there, I’ll take a photograph.  If I want to show you how I felt about it, I’ll paint a picture.  So, although my style is very much at the representative end of the spectrum, (ie I like stuff to look like stuff), it’s the abstract elements that actually keep it interesting.  The times I’ve painted en plein air and taken a photograph at the same time, I’ve noticed how the eye sees and emphasises things quite differently from the camera.

 

Why watercolour

Everyone knows two things about watercolour.  First, it’s very difficult.  Second, it’s unforgiving: you have to get it right first time, there are no second chances.  Add to that the fact that the materials to get started are cheap and portable so you can give them to children, and you have a recipe for putting off entire generations of kids from ever attempting painting again once they leave art class at primary school. Cheap paper, cheap brushes and poor pigments make for unsatisfactory results so not surprisingly most people give up before they’ve even started.

Actually, neither of those two things about watercolour is strictly true.  At its simplest, it’s staining paper to enhance a drawing, so in principle it’s no more difficult than other kinds of drawing.  And with decent materials (a good heavy paper which will take a bit of punishment, good brushes and paints) you can do a far bit of correcting.  You can layer pigments, add another wash to darken an area, or lift out pigment even after the paint is dry to lighten an area.  Once you know you can make corrections the medium loses a bit of its terror.  Sure, don’t fiddle with a sky, but pretty much everything else is fair game!

But, why watercolour, not another paint medium like oil or acrylic?  Well, sure there are differences, but the different media are less far apart than you might think.  They all need to establish patterns of light and dark and colour to make their point, which is a picture.  Personally, I love the directness of watercolour, and the way that the ground (paper, usually) becomes part of the colour scheme of the finished article.  The fact that you are using translucent pigments placed onto a white ground gives a fantastic luminosity to a good watercolour, and the use of water as the vehicle for your pigments means that you can get your colours to flow into each other in interesting and exciting ways that are different from any other medium.  And that is the thrill and the elusive nature of the great watercolour: the tension between looseness and control.  Fail to control your colours and you have a mess, control them too closely and you have something stiff and dull.  If I thought I’d mastered it I’d be giving up, and I guess the reason I keep going is because I always feel that the next one may be the masterpiece!

If you want to know more..

Have a browse through the gallery.  This represents most of the paintings  I remembered to take a decent quality photograph of before I let them go!  And if you want to make contact please follow the link for my email address.