GUEST ARTIST: Watercolours by Ian Probert

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolour by Ian Probert - portrait - #doodlewash

My name is Ian Probert, and I was born in Burnley, raised in Bristol, and now living in London since 1987. I first began seriously painting in watercolour when I was about 16. It was a little bit of an obsession for me. These, however, are my first watercolours in a very, very long time.

I only resumed painting again early in 2017 after a 25-year gap. I’d given up on watercolour at the tail end of the ’80s, when I pursued a career in journalism. Since that time, I have written for numerous magazines and newspapers on a variety of subjects (not art). At one stage I was the editor of a boxing magazine, which I still find a bit unbelievable. I’m also the author of eight books: including teenage fiction, children’s fiction, adult fiction, autobiographical works, sport and photography. One of my books was even made into a low-budget TV movie.

I’ve always had a great love of watercolours: I enjoy the technical aspects of the medium, the fact that a considerable amount of pre-planning goes into a painting and that patience is required. When you choose watercolour as your medium there is an awful lot of waiting around drumming your fingers watching paint dry. I admire a wide range of painters: from highly technical watercolorists such as John Sell Cotman and Turner, to more figurative painters such as Peter Blake and Ali Cavanagh.

Conversely, I also like the immediacy of watercolour; I try to avoid hiding the fact that I’m using paint; by this I mean that I try to stay true to medium. In my opinion, the imperfections inherent to watercolour are also its greatest strength. Stains and watermarks and cauliflowers can be very exciting. Some of the most satisfying things can come from total accidents.

In my opinion, to achieve the best results you need the best equipment. For this reason, I use Saunders Waterford paper, a combination of Winsor & Newton and Daniel Smith artist’s watercolours, and Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky brushes, which are eye-wateringly expensive. 

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolour by Ian Probert - pineapples - #doodlewashI usually begin with the faintest of sketches and generally lay down about a dozen or so washes, although the temptation is always to over-paint, which tends to destroy a watercolour. If additional highlights are needed I will use Chinese White or gouache; occasionally, I will use a scalpel blade to scrape away the pigment.

With watercolour, I believe you are always learning. You can paint the same subject three times but the result is always different.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolour by Ian Probert - portrait - #doodlewashYears ago, I went to art college in Exeter but abandoned painting in favour of photography and film. My return to watercolour came about after somebody bought me some artist materials for Christmas. I’d quite forgotten how much I enjoy the discipline. 

In January, I began posting some of my work on to social media. I was surprised and delighted at the reaction: already I’ve received two portrait commissions and been asked to paint a national magazine cover. I suppose it shows that it’s never too late to pick the brush back up.

Ian Probert
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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!
6 Comments
  1. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 2 weeks ago

    Ian, you are a person of many experiences and achievements and extraordinary talent. I like your philosophy about using watercolor as a medium. You capture the essence of the people you paint and you embrace unusual poses, resulting in portraits that evoke broad emotions. Very engaging work.

    • truth42 2 weeks ago

      Thanks Sharon. That’s very kind of you xxx

  2. Teresa Robeson 2 weeks ago

    You’ve captured your subject’s personalities beautifully…and you’re a very funny writer, too! I’m glad you’ve returned to your favorite medium. The world is a richer place for it!

    • truth42 2 weeks ago

      That’s very nice of you Teresa. I’m not worthy!

  3. Laura (PA Pict) 2 weeks ago

    I love your attitude towards the medium, finding that balance between planning and control and the imperfections and unexpected. I love the range of flesh tones you achieve in your portraits and I especially love the compositions. Thank you for sharing.

  4. truth42 2 weeks ago

    Thanks Laura. I really appreciate your kind comments. X

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