Watercolour and I are now friends. It’s taken a while. we now understand each of our own peculiarities. I’ve had to adapt my natural inclination of precision and control to embrace the fast flowing fluidity and unpredictable nature of this medium. Colours can merge together seamlessly, repel each other, creep slowly or flow in all directions dependent on the quantity of water added and the characteristics of individual pigments. This is challenging and exhilarating in equal measures.
We’ve now reached an uneasy peace. On occasions I will paint detailed nature-based studies that require a strong nerve and a rigidity in order to control the rampant colour. Other times it’s liberating to just ‘let go’ and allow the paint to go its own wilful way.
My paintings are not a result of a misspent youth but of one where I was allowed to roam free, to discover and delve into the countryside and see its wonder through a child’s eyes. Attending a village school we were always encouraged to keep ‘nature books’ a daily record of just one thing that we had noticed that day, be it a burgeoning bud, a small beetle or a conker still encased in its ‘don’t touch me’ prickly shell. These observations never leave you. I have been immersed in the countryside all my life, it is a part of who I am.
I love to emphasise and exploit the colours in our fields and hedgerows with the use of bold, rich, vibrant hues. Mixing my own colours is essential to make the image my own. Reserving white paper for the brightest highlight in the painting is a technique I employ in order to retain the freshness I crave.
Inspiration follows me around every corner, the evocative Somerset levels with their gnarled willows, who if trees could talk would have many a tale to tell. The majestic Glastonbury tor, strong safe surrounded not only by mists but in legends and mystical stories. A fallen apple of the verge of decay, a patch of young nettles – that’s all it takes.
I like to closely observe my subject, sense the atmosphere, feel a connection, only then can I begin to paint. I continue to be transfixed by the effect the merest quantity of paint and water can produce when laid to paper.
The love affair continues.