Watching Paint Dry

I have been researching Celia Paul and her work  in watercolour and oils.  Catherine Lampert wrote a booklet called Identity, which I haven’t been able to locate, so whilst in London I decided to call in to the publisher, Marlborough Gallery in Mayfair.  Apprehensive and certainly testing my boundaries, I was delighted to find the staff couldn’t have been more helpful, particularly as they no longer represent Paul, photocopying the text from one of their few remaining copies.  The director, Frankie Rossi, was also happy to talk about the price differential between watercolour and oils, which is about 50%, which she was at a loss to explain, just confirming that it had always been so.

Reflecting on the context and nature of my work, I feel I need to get back to the unique mark making possible in watercolour, to harness its strengths and see where this type of enquiry might lead.  I revisited the work of watercolourist Barbara Nicholls and found her illuminating video on YouTube (Nicholls, 2014).  Nicholls employs ‘accidental’ mark making to produce organic forms

Magnetic Inclination 2014 Watercolour 220 cm x 152 cm

‘They are in part investigations into the scientific properties of watercolour whilst also being instinctive reactions to the process of using watercolour. The paintings are poured, cajoled, blown and left alone to become records of colourful events reflecting the relationship between myself and the materials. Through the long process of evaporation, sometimes with the assistance of a breeze from an electric fan, this systematised use of colour mixed with a chance element merges colours to create a soft blending of geographies.’

This way of working has been intrinsic to my own practice, but combined with conventional painting, and without the specific intention of harnessing the accidental marks.  By defining my starting point and deliberately working to create the accidental marks, I want to explore semi abstract images.

Test pieces 20 x 20 cms and 42 x 52 cms, drying naturally.

Nicholls, B. (2014, 01 19). youtube. Retrieved 02 13, 2016, from

Author: susanmilleruk

Watercolour painter living, working and loving Hastings and St Leonards on Sea. MA in Fine Art.

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