Why watercolour?

I love watercolour because of the delightful and intriguing effects that it can produce. I’ve spent many an hour just playing with watercolour, sometimes getting stunningly beautiful marks and wishing they had occurred in a painting rather than just on the bit of scrap paper I was playing about on. It can be hugely frustrating. In one session I think I have “perfected” a particular technique, the next day it eludes me again. I can’t claim to be a watercolour purist – I will use other media alongside watercolour when it suits my purpose.

Some people look down on watercolour, regarding it as inferior to oil painting. It is difficult to see why. Most artists who use both mediums will agree that watercolour is the more difficult medium to master. Traditionally watercolour has not always been regarded as painting at all, but been lumped in with drawing. Perhaps this is because the materials can be very compact and convenient for adding colour to a drawing made on location.

Paper vs canvas

I have seen artist’s websites where “paintings” are listed separately from “works on paper” – as if it is not possible to paint on paper. Of course you can paint watercolour on other surfaces. A friend of mine paints watercolour on canvas. I’d hate that, I prefer the more robust surface my heavyweight cotton watercolour paper gives me. I’d probably make a hole in canvas.

My work is primarily textural, so I am always looking for new ways of generating texture. Paper surface can have a marked effect on texture when you are using watercolour. For this reason I often like to use a variety of paper surfaces in a single painting – achieved through the use of collage. Also I can produce interesting effects using acrylic with watercolour. So I describe my works as “mixed media” or “mixed watermedia” indicating a mixture of techniques. I am no traditional watercolourist.