START: Watercolours with Nicholas Phillips

by Cass Art

Nicholas Phillips has juggled many creative practises in his career making polished plaster and friezes for Anouska Hempel to the Queen of Jordan. His watercolours use a use a technique of building up the colour slowly in wash and dry-brush the soft gradations to give a sense of depth of field akin to that which the camera lens can capture and the eye itself cannot. Working exclusively in Winsor and Newton watercolours he uses the quality of the colour to produce stunning life like paintings.

We caught him for a quick interview about his work and about his advice for those starting in watercolours.

1. How were you first introduced to the art of watercolours? What was it that kept you keen?

Even as a teenager it was easier to work in one's bedroom with watercolour.

2. What are the essential materials for watercolour painting? What couldn't you live without? 

I am always, and exclusively, using Winsor & Newton's watercolours that I get at my local Cass store in Colebrooke Row.

Paper: I find Arches hot pressed the best.

Water: from the tap.

3. Where do you go to seek inspiration? What is your working process like?

I am, typically, spending 8 or 9 months on a painting – which is essentially a technical exercise and a bit of a slog to keep the concentration: building up the detail, the blur, the tonal values. Creatively this process has zero demands – and it's when I begin to think of the next painting perhaps. 

4. Could you share your expert tips on how to achieve an amazing technique for watercolour?

Patience, a cautious approach, more patience – build the image, the sense of LIGHT, slowly.

5. What would you advise a budding artist interested in this practice?

Have a good and flexible part-time job.

Nicholas’s most recent exhibition 'Works on Paper' at Go Figurative gallery was displayed near our Hampstead shop. You can find out more about Nicholas's work on his website and more about his upcoming exhibitions.

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Image Credits

7 O'Clock News.  Watercolour. 600 x 400mm.

Giant.  Watercolour 570 x 380mm.

Penang Turf Club.  Watercolour  700 x 450mm.

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