My name is Tracey Hollis Rowe and I am from a small town called Leigh in Lancashire near Manchester UK. I am a wildlife/animal artist who dabbles occasionally with botanical subjects.
I love anything to do with natural history, especially from my own country. The British Isles has some wonderful flora and fauna to see.
The Ever Changing Journey
As a child, I had a great love of the outdoors and of exploring my surrounding environment. Growing up in an industrial town in the 70’s/80’s meant you came across nature in the most unexpected of places. One of my favourite places to explore was the brook and ponds near where I lived as there were all kinds of different birds to see and lots of tadpoles to watch develop into frogs and the local park where you saw newts, dragonflies and lots of other various British wildlife.
I had an amazing primary school teacher that used to bring in all manner of creatures from around the world from stick insects to giant moths and this is where my artistic side merged with my love of nature. I was given the task of drawing these weird and wonderful creatures and I think this is where my interest in detail was born. The pencil became an extension of me and what I couldn’t put into words about the beauty and character of the animals I encountered, I could show in my skills with a pencil.
Only when my children were older and a little less dependent on me was I able to devote more time to my art and it has been a sometimes emotional journey but certainly a rewarding one.
I have been a dry medium artist for such a long time and coloured pencil was my main medium of choice as it gave me the tools to produce quite detailed pieces of work.
I have spent the last few years learning the art of oil painting and all that beautiful medium had to offer, working on some quite large wildlife pieces.
The highlight during this part of my art journey was having one of my works accepted into the National exhibition of Wildlife art with a giraffe piece in oils that I had only just got to grips with and not my usual medium. Maybe the paintbrush wasn’t so scary after all! Maybe one day, I might also master the wonderful medium of watercolour.
Something happened during my brush with oil painting that then took me into the next stage of my arty journey and where I am at this present day. The need for detail in my work had started to, I felt, restrict my creativity and I wanted to work much looser and more creatively.
I enjoyed the process of starting a painting in the first blocking in stages but then felt increasing frustration when it came to completing the works because I was trying to add too much detail. The very thing I had always strived to perfect. This led to the biggest artist block I had ever been through and I lost my spark.
I needed to change what I was doing and I needed to rekindle my love of the creative process and enjoy my field of work again.
Mastering The Wonderful Medium Of Watercolour
What is not to love about watercolour! Its translucent vibrancy has you hooked from the start and from the minute you apply water to the paper and drop that pigment into the water and watch it do it’s magic you know you have to continue to see what further wonders it can do. My first attempts in watercolour were poor to say the least but I am a determined woman and I won’t let anything beat me (unless you count learning to drive, but that is a whole different story)
Watercolour enables me to produce the style of work I want to create. In my bird paintings I can add detail to show the character and personality of the bird then leave the body in a much looser style keeping the work fresh and not overworked and letting the viewers eye make up what isn’t shown.
I am exploring adding glazes with translucent colour as I did with oils and it adds a richness to my work that I think makes it glow. I love the fact that happy little accidents in watercolour can produce some great effects that can turn a piece into something special. It is a medium that puts the fun back into the creative process and inspires you to develop your skills more. It has given me back my spark and I am looking forward to seeing what more I can do with this magical medium.
Materials I Use
- Daler Rowney Langton Watercolour boards cold pressed
- St Cuthburt’s Mill Saunders Waterford cold pressed heavy weight watercolour paper 100% cotton
- Winsor & Newton Artists paints with the odd colour in my palette from Daler Rowney
- Derwent black inktense pencil for adding the pupil to the animal’s eye – I have a much steadier hand for drawing such small detail than I do painting it.
I begin with line drawings on layout paper until I have the proportions correct and the composition how I want it. Thumbnail sketches are a good part of the process sometimes too as is my sketchbook.
Once I am happy with the layout I transfer my drawing to the watercolour paper/board and remove any hard graphite lines with some Blu Tack.
I then have a simple line drawing to which I can start to add colour, keeping certain areas of the painting fresh with just one wash of watercolour and building up many layers of translucent colour in other areas that need more punch.
Watercolour makes you work fast and this is what I love about it – not so much the waiting for layers to dry part though!
You are all welcome to follow my journey further and see how I work at the links below. Thank you for reading about my arty journey so far and I hope you have much fun in your own creative journey.
Thanks to Charlie for inviting me to be featured on his inspiring blog for watercolour art!