Jacki Stokes

Sidmouth, United Kingdom

* I have been a regular exhibitor at the RHS Artists’ Garden Exhibition at Rosemoor in Devon, and I have also exhibited at the National...

Watercolours and galleries.

We actually saw the sun here in the UK on Sunday, so we thought we’d make the most of it and go down to the Marine House Gallery and the associated Steam Gallery at Beer (on the south Devon coast). These galleries are quite small, but therefore very friendly and intimate, but what really makes them stand out from the crowd is the fact that they are (and always have been for as long as I’ve known them) quite happy to hang watercolours! It seems to me that galleries have always been happy to hang oils and more recently acrylics, but once you say you paint in watercolours, they rapidly lose interest and don’t even want to view your work. I find this very irksome; it somehow insinuates that watercolours aren’t real paintings.

There have been many truly brilliant watercolour painters (Turner, for example), and yet still it is considered a lesser art form, commanding a fraction of the price that oils fetch, despite the fact that, properly hung, watercolours age as well as, or sometimes better than oils.

It seems to me that to make an impact in watercolour now, you have to shy away from traditional styles of painting and be “experimental” or “break the rules” or incorporate other media. Which is lucky for me because I find this type of experimental painting where you push the boundaries of watercolour very exciting indeed! I personally think you need to have mastered the (very difficult) techniques of watercolour first before you start to “experiment” with it, in much the same way that learning to draw is a good foundation for all artistic work whether you intend to incorporate drawing into your future work or not. (Or in the case of watercolour learn how to avoid “cauliflowers” before you deliberately incorporate them into your work.)

So my favourite “experimental painters” in watercolour are Ann Blockley, John Blockley and Shirley Trevena. I also highly praise Michael Morgan for his great achievement of painting lovely watercolours which connect with, and are therefore greatly sought after by, the art buying public. (His exhibitions are usually a sell out – that must give hope to many watercolourists). So our visit to the Marine Gallery in Beer was inevitable, because I knew that they had new work by none other than Ann Blockley, Shirley Trevena and Michael Morgan. I wasn’t disappointed: the work is beautiful. So inspiring. It’s well worth a visit, and it’s refreshing, and exciting, to see so many watercolour-based paintings in one small gallery.
www.marinehouseatbeer.co.uk

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