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No excuse for wishy washy watercolour

21 Sep 2006 / 0 Comments / in about art

In a rare quiet moment at work the other day I was talking to a friend about paintings. She said how much she liked the colours in my pictures, particularly the way they seem to jump off the paper. She said she didn’t like watercolours but preferred the brightness of work like mine. It suddenly occurred to me that she didn’t realise I painted almost exclusively in watercolour.

Lots of visitors to my exhibitions often ask ‘what medium are you working in?’ and when I reply ‘watercolour’ they are surprised and have to look closely to check out that I’m not fibbing. I strongly believe there is no excuse for wishy washy watercolour. In fact it’s very easy to allow the colour to sing and vibrate; the trick is to lay down strong colours in the first wash and then not to fiddle with it and not to overlay too many subsequent washes. The fewer the better.


Pictured above, a fjord by David Hockney, painted in yummy watercolour

David Hockney started using watercolours in 2002, after having spent many years not using it, thinking it to be a poor cousin to oils or acrylics. I remember reading an article in which he criticised watercolours as ‘a medium for amateurs’.

But now he -splendidly- appears to have changed his mind. This makes me happy, because there is nothing amateur about the way I use them. Hockney understands the speed and unforgiving nature of the medium and how direct and expressive you can be with it. Have a look here at how Hockney allows watercolours to sing.

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