GUEST ARTIST: Brushes with Watercolour

Doodlewash by John Haywood - landscape with trees and road watercolor painting

Hi there fellow doodlewashers. My name’s John Haywood and I live in the fair city of Brighton on the south coast of England (follow me on my blogInstagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!). I went to art college over thirty years ago and where I did a practical 3D design/crafts course. The lasting upshot of this is that I’m quite handy round the house with a screwdriver, drill and hammer. After graduating however, my work – and life in general – totally took me away from being a creative practitioner.

Doodlewash by John Haywood - landscape with tree in snow watercolor paintingFast forward about twenty-five years and a friend introduced me the work of Edward Seago. This was the eureka moment that rekindled my desire to pick up a paintbrush again. I immediately connected with simplicity and immediacy of Seago’s watercolours and began to seek out other artists working in a similar way. When I eventually plucked up the courage to put brush to paper, I found my early efforts more stressful than enjoyable.

Doodlewash by John Haywood - landscape with tree and house watercolor paintingWith a bit of perseverance however, I picked up a bit of momentum and decided that a blog may help my discipline and motivation, as well as enabling me to record my progress. Brushes with Watercolour seemed a suitable enough play on words to capture my situation – a passionate watercolour painter that doesn’t get to paint as much as I’d like.

Since starting the blog, I’ve done all the usual things… move house, change jobs, have a baby – so my brushes with watercolour really have been pretty infrequent to date. As things are becoming increasingly settled however, I’m finding it possible to make painting a more regular part of my life – and I’m loving it. Another a big incentive is that I’m going on my first painting course in July. I’ll be spending a week painting with Steve Hall, a great watercolour artist and Edward Wesson expert so I really want to be able to make the most if it.

Doodlewash by John Haywood - sailing boats on water in watercolor landscape paintingThe work here is all based, albeit quite loosely in some cases, on works by Edward Seago and Edward Wesson. At first I started to try to emulate work by these artists in a very direct and literal way. I see this activity as an essential part of developing my abilities, like serving my watercolour apprenticeship.

More recently however, as my confidence has grown, they’ve become more of a starting point and I’ve felt much more relaxed about the direction they go in. I think one of the best lessons I’ve learnt is not to compare my work with the source material – whether that’s directly from nature or from one of my artistic heroes, as I’ll only ever be disappointed. Far better to view one’s work on its own, away from the source, and to allow it to stand on its own. But now for some nitty-gritty practicalities: 

In my hand: is usually an Escoda brush. I’m embarrassed to admit to quite how many brushes I’ve acquired but as time’s gone on, Escoda has become my preferred manufacturer. In the past month or so I’ve been making good friends with a relatively small number of brushes – an Aquario squirrel mop (No14), a number of Reserva Kolinsky-tajmyr sable rounds (No.s 14, 10, 8) and a Kolinsky sable round with a central pointed tip (No. 12) which I use like a rigger brush. Following the advice that I’ve read, in an effort to help keep my paintings feeling free and unfussy, I always try to use a bigger brush than I think I should be using! 

In my other hand: is a Barry Herniman Cloverleaf palette. As with my brushes, I’ve tried lots of different a palettes but this one is serving me really well with plenty of space for pigment and lots of generous wells and surface area for all manner of colour mixing. Like so many of us I imagine, I fantasise about one day owning a House of Hoffman or Craig Young palette – but for now – this one does just fine. 

Doodlewash by John Haywood - landscape with tree watercolor painting

In my palette: is a relatively modest collection of Winsor & Newton professional artist tube colours, largely based on those that I understand the likes of Seago and Wesson used: Winsor Yellow; Raw Sienna; Burnt Sienna; Burnt Umber; Alizarin Crimson; Cobalt Blue; Ultramarine Blue; to which I’ve also added Lamp Black (you can blame this on Roland Hilder); Payne’s Grey and Light Red.

This selection seems to enable me to get most of the colour combinations that I need to represent the English landscape and, having a fixed limited palette means that I’m gradually getting to really ‘know’ and understand my palette.

On my board: is usually some form of Bockingford. I confess that I haven’t experimented with lots of different papers to date but I’ve always found Bockingford to be a cheap’n’cheerful make that I never feel so precious about that it hampers me. I prefer a heavy paper and have recently been using a ‘400gsm extra rough’. I’ve also been using a lot of tinted papers which I’ve found really helpful in creating a unifying mood really early on in a painting. Most of the time, I’m painting on 1/4 imperial as this seems pretty convenient – big enough to loosen up on, but not so big that I feel intimidated by the paper.

Doodlewash by John Haywood - landscape with windmill watercolor paintingAs this year progresses, and the weather hopefully improves, my aim is to do more painting on location and to allow my own watercolour expression to develop. I’m also finding it really enjoyable and inspiring to find out about so many other people’s styles and approaches. It’d be nice to think that there are some other doodlewashers out there that also like this style of painting and might like to keep in touch with my brushes with watercolour.

John Haywood
Brushes with Watercolour

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. Jodi 7 years ago

    oOOOOOOHHHhhh i LOOOVVVVEEE these! Can’t wait to follow you John! thanks for sharing Charlie O!

    • Author

      Yay! So happy you saw these, Jodi! 😃… I thought of you when I posted them! hehe

    • John 7 years ago

      Hi Jodi and thanks so much for such an enthusiastic response – much more that I ever hoped for and it really means a lot to me! Look forward to sharing more of our watercolour adventures.

  2. Arts & Rhymes 7 years ago


    • gaelle1947 7 years ago

      Such an interesting story of your art journey – makes me want to go out right now and paint (except it’s snowing right now in Canada). I was delighted to learn about Steve Hall and Edward Wesson — my curiosity sent me searching the internet for further information. I also love the works of Edward Seago. Such great watercolorists have come from your country – and it looks like you’re well on your way to joining their ranks.

      • Author

        Thrilled you liked John’s feature! Thanks so much for your wonderful comment! 😃

      • John 7 years ago

        Thanks so much for your kind and generous words – they’re much appreciated. If you like the works of Seago and Wesson, you might also like to check out an artist by the name of Jem Bowden – he works very much in the Wesson tradition, lovely loose and fluid application of paint with a really rich and juicy palette – I think they’re wonderful! Thanks again

    • Author

      So glad you liked John’s work! 😃

    • John 7 years ago

      So pleased that you like them!

  3. memadtwo 7 years ago

    These are really great. Simple and poetic works every time. Thanks for the inspiration. N.

    • Author

      So happy you liked John’s feature Nina! Thanks!😃

    • John 7 years ago

      Thanks so much and I agree, simplicity every time – I try to have in mind a phrase I heard from the painter Joseph Zbukvic along the lines of ‘don’t state, indicate’ – but I’ve still got a long way to go before I master this!

  4. Carmel Campbell 7 years ago

    Beautiful work…thank you for sharing.

  5. Sharon Mann 7 years ago

    Wonderful John, so much light and interesting locations. Thanks for sharing your beautiful watercolor paintings. Thank you Charlie.

    • Author

      Thanks Sharon! So happy you liked this feature! 😃

    • John 7 years ago

      Thanks Sharon, really appreciate your comment – feel thrilled at the response and can’t wait to pick up my brush again!

  6. Catherine Johnson 7 years ago

    I love your style. So glad you can paint more now. Brighton is a fun place to live. I used to live in Chichester down the road.

    • Author

      So happy you liked John’s feature, Catherine! Thanks for commenting! 😃

    • John 7 years ago

      Hi Catherine – I know Chichester well and later on this year I’ll be doing a watercolour course in the area so will hopefully get to paint some views of Chichester, maybe Bosham harbour and, I’m hoping, around the Arundel Castle area – I’ll say hello for you!

      • Catherine Johnson 7 years ago

        Oh yes Arundel is beautiful. We used to get nice ice cream from Bosham. Enjoy!

  7. artandmoondreams 7 years ago

    Brilliant feature post, absolutely love the art and hearing about their journey. Adore the ‘moody’ landscapes with loose layering and wet-into-wet. Wonderful perspectives and inspiration. Thank you for sharing.

    • Author

      Glad you liked John’s feature, Haunani!! Thanks!! 😃

    • John 7 years ago

      Thanks so much and am glad you enjoyed the post and the paintings – receiving responses like yours has given me such a boost and has made me even more enthusiastic about painting!

  8. Cathe 7 years ago

    Such a beautiful style. Simplistic and rich at the same time!

  9. Susan Feniak 7 years ago

    Wonderful work John, I very much enjoyed seeing you featured. Thank you for sharing Charlie.

    • Author

      Thank you commenting Susan!! 😃 So happy you liked John’s feature!

    • John 7 years ago

      Many thanks Susan, am so pleased that Charlie featured me and that there’s been such a positive response – am feeling quite overwhelmed by it to be honest!

  10. Damita M-S 7 years ago

    The paintings are very peaceful. That is what came to mind as I scrolled through the paintings. Thanks for sharing.

    • Author

      Awww that’s a wonderful description, Damita! So happy you liked John’s work! 😃

    • John 7 years ago

      Wow, that’s wonderful to hear Damita (esp as I often feel a long way off being peaceful when I’m struggling to paint them!) Thanks so much

  11. memadtwo 7 years ago

    The use of white space is breathtaking! Wonderful. (K)

    • John 7 years ago

      Thanks so much for your comment – it means such a lot to me (and is a good and salient reminder that less is often more!) Thanks again

    • Author

      So happy you liked these Kerfe! Thanks for your comment! 😃

  12. YesterdayAfter 7 years ago

    This is so beautiful thank you John for your great work! Beautiful palette, beautiful strokes I love loose watercolors work which is what I try to do too 😉 one of my inspiration during the years has been Ron Ranson and I like Saego very much too. I visited your beautiful Blog and Follow looking forward to your future work! Thank you Charlie like always for your great guests 😉

    • Author

      So pleased you liked this feature, Carolina!! 😃 John is a wonderful artist!

    • John 7 years ago

      Thanks so much for this Carolina – it means so much to me. I also know Ron Ranson’s work well and through his books, particularly one I think entitled watercolour impressionists – I was introduced to many other great painters that have been an inspiration to me. I did try for a while to paint a little more like Ron Ranson using his favoured ‘hake’ brushes but I never managed to come close to mastering them!

      • YesterdayAfter 7 years ago

        You’re welcome and it means a lot to me too. I was inspired by Ron Ranson and I have several of his books and also like you the “hake” I love that brush and Ron’s technique but is not easy to archive his way so I used his input. I use the hake but I figured and here I tell you that each artist is different and unique so instead to imitate I use the hake my own way!

  13. Rob 7 years ago

    I enjoy your style, loose and toward the impressionistic side. Lots of white space that gives an open free sense.

    • Author

      Glad you liked John’s feature, Rob! 😃

    • John 7 years ago

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Rob – being featured on Doodlewashed and the positive comments I’ve received have done so much to re-affirm that I’m on the right track with the loose more impressionistic approach (that not only do I like it, but others do too!) – thanks so much

  14. wildsherkin 7 years ago

    I love John’s work – amazing talent! I’m off to visit the blog now to see more of his beautiful work.

    • Author

      Yay! So happy to hear that! Enjoy! So glad you liked John’s work! 😃

    • John 7 years ago

      Thanks so much for you kind and generous comments! And for signing up to follow my adventures in watercolour – all much appreciated (and am particularly excited to have just returned from my first plein air effort of the year which I’ll no doubt be writing about soon!)

  15. Vidya Krull 7 years ago

    Hi John. I enjoy Charlie’s posts and really enjoyed yours as well. I’m a self-taught artist. What I most identified with was your statement, “Since starting the blog, I’ve done all the usual things… move house, change jobs, have a baby – so my brushes with watercolour really have been pretty infrequent to date. As things are becoming increasingly settled however, I’m finding it possible to make painting a more regular part of my life – and I’m loving it”. I’m in that boat as well. Somehow my day job as a scientist keeps me pretty busy. However I’m hopeful that someday I will get to devote more time to my work. If you get a chance, stop by my blog. I’m always looking for ways to improve my work, so comments are welcome.

    • Author

      Thanks so much for commenting Vidya! I’m so thrilled you enjoyed John’s post. It’s so hard to balance art and work, but so worth trying!! (though it can seem like a constant battle!😉)

    • John 7 years ago

      Hi Vidya and thanks for your comments – I love the fact you’re a art loving scientist too! I’m still a long way from where I want to be but I’m gradually beginning to weave my painting into the fabric of my life – rather than it being an occasional add on – really hope that you’re also able to do the same soon too! I’ll also be sure to check out your site – thanks again

Leave Me A Comment!

©2015-2018 Doodlewash®  Privacy Policy | Terms Of Use | Disclosure  Powered By


Want to say hi and connect? Do you make lovely things with watercolor and want to be featured in the next Guest Artist post?! Great! Not sure, just feel the need to say something? Awesome! Just fill out the form below!


Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?


Create Account

%d bloggers like this: