GUEST ARTIST: “For The Love Of Art & Nature” by Tracey Hollis Rowe

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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Tracey Hollis Rowe - Doodlewash

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

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Tracey Hollis Rowe - DoodlewashAs 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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Tracey Hollis Rowe - Doodlewash

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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Tracey Hollis Rowe - Doodlewash

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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Tracey Hollis Rowe - Doodlewash

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)

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Tracey Hollis Rowe - Doodlewash

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

The Process

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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Tracey Hollis Rowe - Doodlewash

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!

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Tracey Hollis Rowe - Doodlewash

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!

Tracey Hollis Rowe_croppedTracey Hollis Rowe
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Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

29 Comments
  1. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 8 months ago

    Tracey, what an art journey you’d already had, and I imagine you’ve only started. Your teacher did you a great service by encouraging your early art and providing subjects to observe. The paintings impart an emotional connection with each creature because they’re sensitively portrayed. I like the way you let certain areas remain a loose wash and concentrate on others to add detail. Altogether, your body of work is beautiful and enchanting. The best to you as you continue on this creative journey.

  2. mylifeofwife 8 months ago

    wow so lifelike, fantastic pictures would love to see more

  3. Rebecca 8 months ago

    This artist was a huge treat! Thanks so much for sharing her work and story 🙂

  4. Kiones Sousa 8 months ago

    Amei, muito bom! Parabéns!! 😙

  5. Rod Fletcher 8 months ago

    Excellent work Tracey. An inspiration to us all. Nice to see someone from near me on these pages and one doing so well. Thank you

  6. Ann 8 months ago

    I really like the way you give your birds a personality. They are engaging.
    Thank you for the article.

  7. Laura (PA Pict) 8 months ago

    Beautiful paintings. I am especially drawn to the cow. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story of perseverance and determination leading to success.

  8. Tore fattahi 8 months ago

    Well done

  9. Pamela Smith 8 months ago

    Beautiful work….I thank you for sharing your story and explaining steps,

  10. Sharon Nolfi 8 months ago

    All you work is lovely, but I especially love the bird paintings.

  11. Harrison Monahan 8 months ago

    Great work!

  12. SnehLata Maheshwari 8 months ago

    Your work is excellent the special beauty of the birds thats inspired me.glad to see your wonderful work in doodle wash
    Charlie s doing a good work in this field so to meet amazing 🌼 artist of the world
    Thanks to being with us.

  13. SeemaMisra 8 months ago

    Lovely watercolors of the birds, I liked the ones of the pigeons a lot. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into the process 🙂

  14. Beverly Dyer 8 months ago

    Delicate works! I really enjoyed seeing them!

  15. SnehLata Maheshwari 8 months ago

    Ah Iam speach less to see you r art journey tracey how much grace in u r art.

  16. M. L. Kappa 8 months ago

    Lovely work, Tracy! I’ve followed you on etsy and Twitter 🌺

  17. M. L. Kappa 8 months ago

    Sorry, Tracey…

  18. Jill Gustavis 8 months ago

    Such beautiful work! I especially love the sandpiper (I think?) at the bottom of the page! I think you’ve successfully captured that dual effect you were after, his head is so crisp and alert, and the body looks so soft and fluffy with the decreased detail. 🙂

  19. Janneke Booister 8 months ago

    What can I add to all those comments? Everything has already been said… Still I have to tell you I really like the way you paint wildlife! 🙂

  20. ann christina 8 months ago

    Gorgeous!!! 😍

  21. anna warren portfolio 8 months ago

    These are so lovely – what a light, sure touch!

  22. Teri Casper 8 months ago

    Absolutely gorgeous paintings! They just resonate with me. Thank you for sharing them and your story. Following on Instagram now.

  23. Beverly Wong-Kleinjan 8 months ago

    I love how you leave a lot of light area for the eye to fill in the rest of detail. Beautiful loose style! Enjoyed your feature. 🙂

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