I think I was born with a pencil in my hand. Before I was old enough to go to school the little pieces of card wrapped around a new bar of soap served as my sketch book. My mother returned to work a couple of years later so school holidays were spent happily sitting alone painting my way through colouring books, while my older brothers were out getting up to no good with the local gang.
After leaving school, work in a drawing office satisfied my artistic need for a while. The ink flowing from my pen creating strong black lines, shapes and script on the blue drawing sheets gave me a good feeling, like all those little square cards of colour in the home decorating stores.
My eldest brother bought me a set of oil paints with his first pay packet. I eagerly tried them but became frustrated with all the mixing and the tedious brush strokes The results were lifeless and dull.
So when I discovered watercolours I was in a constant state of nervous tension. I’d splashed out and invested in some proper watercolour paper but so much could go wrong (and still frequently does). Was the paper too wet, too dry, the paint too thin and watery, too loaded with pigment? Would it all end up like mud?
I borrowed library books, pestered a workmate for tips he’d learnt at a painting evening class. I experimented at home and eventually some years later, attended a short course in watercolour. Our first task was to prepare a test sheet of how to achieve different effects. I still have those sheets.
Practice, practice has been my motto. When I stuff up and groan at wasting a precious new sheet of watercolour paper I remind myself that I have learnt something, how NOT to do it. And I love the freedom of swashing a paint filled brush over the paper, the effect of colours running together and even the nail biting wait for it all to dry and revealing the actual finished result.
A pleasing result lifts the spirits and someone liking it enough to buy it even more so. I have sold many paintings over the years plus quite a few commissions. I have also turned my hand to the occasional colour pencil or pastel painting.