Saturday, May 14, 2011

Watercolour - Who's your favourite painter?

Watercolour - Tate Britain Calendar 2012
image courtesy of Tate Britain

On Thursday last week I went to see the Watercolour exhibition at Tate Britain.  I'd already been once before but didn't have the time to spend a long time in the galleries.  On this second visit it was several hours and three sketches later before I left.  It's a fascinating exhibition and I'm going to be writing in more detail about it next week.

One of the things that the exhibition does is well and truly establish just how many different ways you can paint using watercolour - and how well suited it is to a number of different genres of painting.

The reason for this post is that the Tate publicity people approached me to ask if I'd like to run a competition for one of the calendars for 2012 based on images in the exhibition.

I'm very happy to try and help publicise the exhibition.  So far as I'm concerned it's a "must see".  However if you live too far away to see it for yourself you can always live with some of the images all next year.

So I sat and thought for a bit - and came up with a spiffing competition if I say so myself!  Here's the question
Who is your absolute favourite painter who uses watercolour paints (now or in the past) - and why?
The answer can be any artist who painted in watercolours past or present.  Post your answer as a comment to this post.  The deadline for an answer is 28th May.   The best answer will be selected by me to receive a free Tate Watercolour 2012 calendar.

This calendar is so new it's not even on Amazon as yet!  The front cover is Turner's painting The Blue Rigi which was recently "saved for the nation" - and was one of my sketches.

The 2012 calendar features beautiful large images from the exhibition and is produced exclusively for Tate by

I'm really looking forward to hearing your views - don't be shy - leave a comment! 


  1. You can name the same painter more than once - just make sure your reasons why are better than the other nominations!
  2. "Watercolour paints" means paints dispersible using water alone - which means tube and pan watercolours, gouache, casein, ink, tempera and (if you must) acrylic.  I admit to a very strong preference for traditional watercolour paints which have been used over the centuries.  That's a clue!


Casey Klahn said...

Andrew Wyeth

I take it that Tempera is accepted, but he used watercolor, too, at any rate. Thanks for the contest, Katherine.

Are you curious about me? said...

Emil Nolde is my favorite, his use of colour is juat wonderful. One of the first expressionists, member of Die Brücke.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Casey - any paint dispersible in water is allowed and Andrew Wyeth is indeed a painter in watercolours.

Those who know me well know that I have a strong preference for traditional watercolour paints! ;)

marancat said...

Charles Reid - I love the way he plays with paint and his use of colour. He manages to paint so loosely and yet convey so much with each stroke of his brush.

Oona Leganovic said...

I love the dialectics of precise drawing and free flowing semi-abstract washes in James Hart Dyke's watercolors.

Michael Bailey said...

It would have to be Trevor Chamberlain. He says so much with the apparent minimum of effort. Truly amazing.

Vinayak said...

Wow What a difficult question. Its very difficult to pick out one person above all others. I believe Mr. Trevor Chamberlain is perhaps my favourite watercolourist. Especially so because he painted exclusively in oils till the age of 40 and then out of pure inspiration taught himself to paint in watercolours and mastered the medium in a span of one year and surpassed most of his contemporaries. His use of colour and washes is most awesome. Besides him I have always admired Mr. Milind Mulick's watercolours.He has so successfully adopted this traditionally western medium to suit Indian themes and subject matter.
However, there is a long list of other watercolour artist like John Yardley, Charles Reid, Edward Wesson, Tony Couch, Deanne Limley, Joseph Zbukvic, Edgar Whitney, Ron Ranson, George S. Labadie, Vasudeo Kamat, Prafulla Sawant, Sachin Naik and many others that come to my mind at this moment and its really impossible to choose one best.
However, if it has to be just one artist, it has to be Mr. Trevor Chamberlain.

Cyth said...

Winslow Homer. Words can not even explain the beauty and fluency of his work

John Farnsworth said...

You're kidding, right? One favorite watercolorist? One? OK, I'll try.

John Singer Sargent-pure poetry
Winslow Homer-powerful
Edward Hopper-direct, simple, pure
Mariano Fortuny-rare, but masterful
early Andrew Wyeth-to the point
Charles Burchfield-Music in paint
George Post-no nonsense calligraphy
George Gibson-Pure California
Dong Kingman-Exhuberant
Hardie Gramatky-Great story teller
Emil Kosa-rich, dynamic, knowing
David Levine-great with people
Rollin Pickford, Jr.-design sense
Donald Teague-the world in 6" x 9"
Milford Zornes-poet of places
Burt Silverman-unique, very human
Julio Quesada-economy of means
Eugene Delacroix-Fearless
Howard Morgan-Design, color, drawing
Anna Pallant-personal observation
Roy M. Mason-decorative, atmospheric
Georgia O'Keeffe-personal-immediate
Sir William Russel Flint-Opulence
Joseph A. Crawhall-master of gouache
Craig Mullins-master watercolorist
Thomas Aquinas Daly-inspirational
Sir Frank Brangwyn-masterful, influential
Don Perceval-powerful understatement
Julio Larraz-when he paints in watercolor

OK, I give up. I could go on all night. I should have stopped at Sargent. Unbeatable.

Sharon Wright said...

Trevor Chamberlain, no question. I could watch him paint all day, but sadly I have moved away from Hertford and no longer have the opportunity. He paints en plein air, all weathers, which is impressive enough, but his paintings always capture the essence of the moment, the scane, the light and with the minimum of fuss. Pure magic and definitely a master.

Marion said...

Samuel Palmer is my favourite. His use of watercolour was so different and personal and has a mystical quality so far removed from many of his contemporaries or indeed those who preceded or followed him.

Ingrid Christensen said...

Trevor Chamberlain for the careful observance of warm/cool in his subjects and the pitch perfect atmosphere.
Joseph Zbukvic for his flair and joyful energy. Too bad he is so much copied now.

Prairie painter said...

Not an easy question for sure. For current painters, I have recently discovered Alvaro Castagnet and have been attracted to the vivid colours and energy in his paintings. They are so immediate and engaging. As luck would have it, I am going to be able to take a workshop with him this fall - really looking forward to that.

Kiff Holland - seeing his watercolours in a show back in 1992 is what triggered my interest in giving painting a try. His work with glass is amazing. I have been fortunate to have taken workshops from him as well.

Keiko Tanabe - I have seen her works in magazines and on line and love her approach, colour and atmosphere.

Then just add a whole bunch from John Farnsworth's list!

A great question - thanks for making me think about this.

llr003 said...

There can be only ONE: Botticelli!
His purity, attention to detail, magnificent delicacy and extreme beauty simply cannot be compared. Tt's why, I'm sure, that the Vatican features so much of it! His work is inspired and incomparable!
Linda Roberson

Sadami said...

Dear Kath,
David Curtis is my favourite and admiring watercolourist. His handling light or skilful value study and sophisticated colour-use takes viewers into paintings at once. Furthermore, eye catchy subjects are pleasure to follow. As if his work were a lovely visual poem with orchestra.
Kind regards, Sadami

Ron jr. said...

My favorite watercolor artist is my Dad.

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