Bacon Street Market by Liam O'Farrell - Doodlewash

GUEST ARTIST: “Painting England” by Liam O’Farrell

These masterful doodlewashes come to us from Liam O’Farrell in Portsmouth, England, UK (Follow him on Instagram, FacebookPinterest and Twitter!). Liam says, “I have been drawing and painting for as long as I remember. That said, the solid idea that I wanted to be an artist, regardless of the quality that I may achieve was fully formed by the age of about ten.”

Port Bricklane by Liam O'Farrell - DoodlewashWhen painting on the street, Liam uses a Moleskine sketchbook to get a basic idea of what he wants to do. “This can be a very loose idea,” he says, “though the final piece has to relate back to that initial key thought.” 

Once that is complete he pulls out a 61cm x 45cm Fabriano Hot Pressed 350gsm pad of paper. Liam uses a combination of 2B and HB pencils to do his drawings. He uses a palette of Winsor & Newton watercolor half pans and paints with a sable number 6 brush, and often a ‘Rigger’ too for finer details. 

“The view I use isn’t a fixed one,” Liam says. “I often move up and down the street to add parts that interest me, or indeed leave out parts that do not interest me. That said, the finished piece has to work as a single view.” You can see more of his wonderful watercolor works by clicking here. He also often uses oil paints when working in his studio and you can see those by clicking here! St Ives, Cornwall, England by Liam O'Farrell - DoodlewashThe trouble with the ordinary is that there is so much of it,” he says. “When looking at something every day there is a natural tendency not to see it anymore. From there it is a tiny step not to appreciate it. We do this with the place we live, our dearest loved ones and ourselves too.

Creaky Shed by Liam O'Farrell - Doodlewash

Most of us are not really that trendy, confident, super rich or deliciously attractive. Most of the world is also like that. Even in spectacular locations such as Venice, if you scratch the surface the same ordinary people are there too. They just happen to be on holiday. I like to look again at all the things we can so easily miss, and celebrate them. 

Battersea, England by Liam O'Farrell - Doodlewash“Of course I am not unique in this movement. Stanley Spencer, LS Lowry and Alfred Wallis were masters of it and this is just my small contribution. 
I don’t know why but almost all my influences are British. Stanley Spencer being a personal favourite although Walter Sickert and the narratives of William Hogarth are not far behind.

“Music is also an influence. Often in my market scenes I am looking for something of the flavour of The Beatles ‘Penny Lane: A song that on the surface is rather cheerful, though close beneath there is a definite melancholy.”

Charing Cross Road, London by Liam O'Farrell - DoodlewashIn regards to perspective, the early part of Liam’s career was drawing and airbrushing full 3D cutaways of fighters and ships for the MoD so he knows a fair bit about getting perspective right if he needs to. Accurate perspective however is all well and good,” he says, “although in creative terms it can only deliver so much. I tend to adjust and push things about until it feels right. If that means geometric perspective is abandoned then that’s fine. It’s all about the overall impression.”

Tube Illustration by Liam O'Farrell - DoodlewashLiam says he likes to get in front of his subjects “en plein air” if he can. “Even in my allotment pictures (which are partly from imagination) the core elements are taken from real allotments. Working on site you get so much more from what you are trying to capture, I also get to chat to passersby who feed into my work with their rich stories and conversation. For me working purely in the studio would be like painting through a letter box.”

Thank you so much for sharing your story and your fantastic art with us Liam (Be sure to follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter!) It’s an absolute pleasure to tour the world through your skillful and imaginative eyes and we can’t wait to see where you’ll take us next!

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38 thoughts on “GUEST ARTIST: “Painting England” by Liam O’Farrell

    1. Glad you liked these Lance! 😃 wait a minute, are you saying a ‘doodlewash’ can’t be masterful? Liam is a fantastically talented pro for sure! That’s the fun part…pros celebrating watercolor sketching right alongside people just starting out! That’s the whole point of Doodlewash really! 😉👍🏻

  1. These are wonderful, Charlie! The longer you look, the more you see and his people make me smile with their long necks and tiny heads! He manages to make the most ordinary (and sometime unsightly) things appear fascinating and appealing. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. A while ago I met Liam at FB. I found his style standing out and very noticeable, then was chatting with him a little and learned some details. But now, from this article, I learned even more! For me it’s important to know his process: i.e. sketching on location, then finalizing in studio, size and kind of paper, graphite usage… well, all these details matter. So thank you very much for this article! 🙂

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