Sea Bird Watercolor Painting by Paul Blease

GUEST ARTIST: “How Do You Eat An Elephant?” by Paul Blease

Elephant Charcoal on paper by Paul Blease
Charcoal on paper, A4

How do you eat an elephant? The answer is, of course, a bit at a time. Hi, my name is Paul Blease and I am an artist and musician living in the beautiful county of Devon in the UK. I am 66 years old and started painting seriously when I was 60.

I’m not quite sure when I made the decision to become an artist, but I think it was around the time that I found out I had arthritis in my left hand. That made me realise that my days as a guitarist were numbered.

When I was a child growing up in the north west of England, you were told at school that if you wanted a steady and secure job when you left school you would have to go into engineering. Music and art, my two great loves, were not an option. I was told not to be so stupid as nobody can have a career in any of the arts.

factory sunset watercolor painting by paul blease
“Factory Sunset” watercolour on 100% cotton paper 1⁄2 imperial

At that point I lost all interest in school and focused all my attention on music. I was very lucky because my mother paid for me to have private music lessons despite the fact that she was a widow as my father died when I was eight.

Back Alley Pencil On Paper
“Back Alley” Pencil on paper A4

For the next 44 years I made a good living in the music industry, travelling all over the world and proving these narrow-minded teachers that they were wrong.

Then at the tender age of 60, I wanted at last to pursue my other dream of becoming an artist. At first I thought I wanted to be an oil painter.

boy soldier oil painting by paul blease
“Boy Soldier” oil on canvas 20×16″

I decided that if I was going to be an artist I should get an art degree and so started my six year journey of elephant eating. Before I could start I had to go back to school and get my English and Maths GCSE as no college or university would accept you without these qualifications. That took a year and I was now ready for my next step.

Watercolor Landscape painting by Paul Blease Have A Seat
“Have A Seat” watercolour on 100% cotton paper 20×16″

Step two was to find an adult access course that would get me the necessary qualifications to get into university. I found one at Exeter college, a one year course in art and design, so I signed up. This was a great course and covered many different disciplines, painting, drawing, pottery, photography and computer skills. The teachers were committed and really helped you achieve your goals. I was in a great place and I learnt a lot about many aspects of art. I worked hard and got the necessary UCAS points I needed to apply for a place at university. At this point I was flying.

Abstract Watercolor by Paul Blease 1
Watercolour on 100% cotton paper 20×16″

I now started looking at Universities, I had three options in my area, so I applied to all three. I had to put a portfolio together of my work and really think about what I wanted to do as an artist. My wife and family were really supportive and I don’t think I could have done it without them.

Abstract Watercolor by Paul Blease 2
“Family” watercolour on 100% cotton paper 20×16″

After attending three interviews I was offered a place at all three universities. I decided to accept the offer from Plymouth College of Art. This wasn’t the biggest university but I really liked the people there and it had a great atmosphere. The course was a three year BA Honors degree in Painting, Drawing and Printmaking.

Now after three years, I am about to finish and get my degree, the elephant is almost consumed, but my journey is just starting. I have discovered the wonder of watercolour painting and fell in love with it. I will now spend the rest of my life trying to master this wonderful, unpredictable and incredibly rewarding medium.

Here is a group of four paintings I did representing the beginning of life. From the moment of conception, through to the fully developed unborn child. They also represent my journey as an artist, I have just started and am still growing.

After trying all the watercolour papers on the market I have landed on Arches 140Ib Not. I find I still have to stretch the paper to avoid any buckling, but it is a joy to paint on, and the texture is great for all watercolour techniques. I have just bought a Ken Bromley perfect paper stretcher and it is perfect.

My choice of paint is Winsor & Newton professional quality tubes. I use synthetic brushes because I just haven’t got the money to try the more expensive ones, and I do like the Ron Ronson Hake. It’s really good for big washes and blending.

I hope you have enjoyed my little story and for those of you who are thinking about starting your journey don’t forget, it’s always the first step that’s the hardest. If you have enjoyed my work please visit me at the links below.

Paul Blease

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25 thoughts on “GUEST ARTIST: “How Do You Eat An Elephant?” by Paul Blease

  1. The title caught my eye. Keep painting. It is good for your eyes, and heart to have a hobby like this. Painting is hard work. It looks easy, but most of us have a gifting of loving to paint. Some talented people don’t pick up a brush, and others thrive on painting what they see. Imagination plays a wonderful part. Thanks for sharing your art with us.

      1. I agree. Many paint because they are depressed. I don’t think one can stay depressed if they observe nature, and see how intricate the details are on plants, and especially on flowers.

          1. I just found your reply. I have spent hours on a flower. I am sure God is detailed in all things. I paint flowers, because they are beautiful, and not easy to paint. It takes time to render a flower, but I have several hanging different places. I used to tear flowers apart when I was a kid. Now I paint them, when I have time. Otherwise I look at my painting, and see the details. My dad said to me, “Paint what you see.” I did.

  2. An inspiring and honest story Paul. I love your work and it’s been a pleasure to get to know you during a part of your journey. Enjoy graduating!

  3. Hello Mr. Blease,

    Thanks a ton for sharing your art journey here and for reaffirming what I’ve heard countless times – and doubted an equal number of times – that it’s never too late to fulfil a dream. Thank you for that. Your paintings are very inspiring specially the series about the beginning of life. Best wishes for many colourful and healthy years to come (and countless joys of painting).


  4. What a wonderful story, Paul. It’s encouraging to know you’ve pursued your life’s dream even with a bit of a late start. Your art is beautiful, profound, and deeply moving. You tackle subjects not often painted and do so with tenderness. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  5. Namaste from India.🙏
    You have a really inspiring and amazing art journey. Your work is wonderful.I too started late (in my fifties)in my career as an artist and did not get any professional training as yet. But your story inspires me. Great!

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments, I am a great believer in life long learning and always tell my children that you can do anything if you want to do it enough. Really pleased you like my work, it means a lot.

    1. I agree it’s never too late to start, and I wish you many years of happy drawing and painting. Thank you for your kind comments.

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