Mrs Mounter

Mrs Mounter study_lowres

This is my watercolour interpretation of an oil painting by Harold Gilman called Mrs Mounter at the Breakfast Table. This was set as a Thursday portrait challenge by @StudioTeaBreak on Twitter. I saw that the highlights of her hair were a very bright green/yellow which matches the Glow Worm colour for this week’s colour collective challenge so I thought let combine them!

I don’t normally copy other artists work and it felt a bit wrong somehow to be doing this to start with but after the first few layers of paint I was sucked in to the details and all the colours and really enjoyed the process. I found myself working with thick paint and mixing the transparent colours with white gouache to give them more body. Something I never normally do but I loved the results and really wanted to try get the same feeling of seeing each brushstroke on her face.

This took me about three hours with a break for dinner in the middle and is approx A5 size.

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Merton college

merton final low res


I was asked to paint an image of Merton college, Oxford as a commission for a friend. This alley view is looking down a route from the quad to the lodge. This view appealed to me because it is semi-private but still recognisable to someone who has spent time there. A passing place rather than a destination with a unique juxtaposition of chapel roof, turret, bridge and the meeting or crossing point of many buildings. Artistically, I like this scene for its layering, perspective and shadows. Hopefully the composition draws the viewer in to wonder what is just around the corner.

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crystal decanter

decanter watercolour_lowres

glass is a fascinating thing to paint. It really forces you to ignore the object and concentrate only on the abstract shapes and colours. If you try to paint what you think you see then it all goes horribly wrong. Zooming in and putting a blog of yellow here, then a blue line there creates the exact glass structure you wanted when you step back. The same could be said of painting any subject I suppose but I notice it most on ‘difficult’ scenes. As I become more familiar with a subject (folded fabric for example) it becomes more natural to see and paint the blobs of colour but for unfamiliar things like glass I have to work hard to see those blobs. Painting like this reminds me of termites and how no single termite knows how to build a mound. Each insect just does their tiny piece, zoomed in, and the grand intricate structure emerges.


For some reason I got it into my head that I wanted to attempt a watercolour painting where you could see the individual brushstrokes in layers, on top of each other. Maybe it was the influence of the nice effects from the overlapping linocut patterns that have been going round in the back of my mind.

I chose a semi random photo of a robin to try this out since it’s a wintry, Christmas theme and I also thought this could work well for painting feathers. This is the result and I’m fairly happy; it does represent feathers very well. The paper I used is not great for painting which made the background a struggle but I’m trying to use up an almost full sketchbook so I’ll persevere with it a little longer. I’m not sure how well this style would work for something that doesn’t naturally form into strokes (i.e. not feathers). I’m tempted to try a building or urban scene next.


down by the river 2

I was determined to paint water again today. the hunt for a suitable spot was extensive – I needed a view of something interesting, with somewhere to sit out of the way and in the shade. That turned out to be a tall order but I found somewhere eventually. Sadly I had to pass on painting some canal boats because I’d have been in full sun and utterly fried by the time I finished :/

Can I also mention how awesome Pokemon Go is; not only is it a fun and addictive game to play that gets you out of the house and doing physical exercise but people are so engrossed in it that they walk straight past me painting staring at their phones. Sure, there were still some people who stared at me (directly into my eyes if I looked up!) like it was a freak but not nearly as much as normal. There was also a nice little girl who actually came up and talked to me (this I don’t mind – it’s the silent staring that freaks me out). She said she thought my painting was very good. Her mum then caught up to her and told her off for speaking to strangers though :/ understandable I suppose.

river (1)river (2)

down by the river 2

Portmeirion panorama

portmeirion panorama

A long landscape-sized plein air of Portmeirion gardens. I’m particularly pleased with the shadows on the buildings in the top left – the sun came out for about 20 seconds and I quickly slapped some paint on! It was very cold and rainy as I painted this and that led to it taking a loooong time to dry so there was more time sitting around shivering than actually painting but still an enjoyable experience.




portmeirion panorama

portmeirion panorama detail

Today is day 15 of 31 of world watercolour month – half way through!

blue grosbeak

blue grosbeak

Another blue bird today since I enjoyed yesterday’s budgies so much. This is a blue grosbeak and I chose to paint it because I think this is the bird I saw all over the outskirts of Mexico City when I was there last year. It seemed common in the area but was such a beautiful blue that I was jealous we don’t have them here in the UK. Yesterday Laura (createarteveryday) commented that she has hummingbirds in her garden and that is just amazing to me as I’ve never even seen one in life. I wonder if anyone on the other side of the world would think of pigeons and magpies as exotic?

This is day 9/31 of world watercolour month. Today I drew the image first with watered down sepia acrylic ink and a dip pen. It proved to be very waterproof :)

blue budgies

watercolour budgies

Two birds with one brush today, both figuratively and literally. Here are two blue budgies for both day 8/31 of world watercolour month and July 2016 draw a bird day.

This was my first time in a while painting from a photo rather than life and wow! it was very different. A completely different experience and skill set. In some ways painting from a photo is much easier – the subjects don’t move and are already on a 2D plane making the drawing much easier. When drawing from life every slight move of your head changes all the angles and shapes and that’s before anything in the scene has moved of its own accord! but then again drawing from life has a certain urgency and personal viewpoint that is lost when painting from a photo – a photo is already someone else’s interpretation of the subject/scene and my version feels kind of second-hand, kind of redundant. An advantage of painting from a photo is the luxury of time – you can ponder, let it dry thoroughly, try different techniques (rice for the background texture here). I can see why ‘proper’ artists draw and paint sketches on location as well as taking their own photos and making lots of notes to produce a finished painting in the studio. I’ve never done that but perhaps will try it someday.

government house

government house roof tops

Today’s watercolour is brought to you from the mossy rooftops of Portmeirion in Wales. This is Government house, where we stayed for the week. There were seven of us staying here and from the outside it looked like several houses stuck together with a clock tower on the end. I painted this from sitting as far up the external steps of the tower as I could get. There were two doors going in but sadly they were locked and our keys didn’t work. Some naughty tourists and a wedding photographer ignored the signs and went bounding about up here too through the week, even though this was supposed to be our private balcony and looked directly into our bedroom – good job I had PJs on!

This is day 6/31 of world watercolour month

St Laurence’s fountain

Day four of world watercolour month brings this painting of a stone fountain that caught my eye on the wall of St Laurence’s church in Reading town centre. I drew the sketch on location on Saturday but became frustrated that it wasn’t going as I liked so I gave up pretty quickly. I did take a quick snap of the fountain in the sun though and came back to the sketch today. The resolution to paint every day this month is definitely the only reason I picked up a brush today and I’m glad I did. I really like this and the tight crop removes the worst of the sketching oddities.

Carved stone doorway

Carved stone doorway watercolour step by step

carved stone doorway watercolour (3)

carved stone doorway watercolour (4)

carved stone doorway watercolour (5)


When I did this painting I didn’t have any white ink as I do now and so the highlights were achieved by cutting out the top layer of paper with a scalpel. I should remember this technique because you can achieve very clean highlights with crisp, precise edges.

To see more of my paintings check out my watercolour gallery page.