Matthew Cook (update 2018)

Matthew Cook, ink and watercolor

Matthew Cook, ink and watercolor
Matthew (Matt) Cook is a UK artist and illustrator who I have featured previously (and here), mostly in reference to his fascinating role as a reportage illustrator in the middle-east war zones.

In this post, I’d like to focus instead on his more recent travel sketches and paintings. Most of these are done in a watercolor style that is simultaneously free and strongly drawn, and would be of particular interest to those who enjoy “urban sketching”.

Cook’s wonderful handling of brick, stone and other textured architectural elements is a visual treat, as is his controlled used of high and low chroma colors.

Cook/s primary website is still largely focused on reportage. He has a secondary website that has more of his travel sketches, but they are reproduced at a frustratingly small size.

Much better for enjoyment of his recent work is is Twitter account, on which the images are linked to nicely large versions that allow you to see his deft, confident handling.

 
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Denise Ramsay

Denise Ramsay, watercolor botanical art
Denise Ramsay is a botanical artist originally from New Zealand, who now divides her time between Hong Kong and a cottage in the southwest region of France.

Ramsay paints keenly observed and intricately realized watercolors of flowers and other plants, sometimes at a fairly large scale, in watercolor.

Her paintings are bold and dynamic, apparently without compromising botanical accuracy. In one of her projects, she painted a poppy from bud (images above, third down) to full flower (top, with detail) to eventual faded bloom. There is an article on Bored Panda that follows the sequence.

In addition to the gallery of images on her website, you can find a selection of limited edition Giclee prints.

There is a video on YouTube of Ramsay being interviewed by Katherine Tyrrell.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Van Gogh pen & watercolor sketches

Van Gogh watercolors
Gate at the Paris Ramparts, Entrance to the Moulin de la Galette, Vincent van Gogh

Pencil, pen & ink, watercolor & gouache on paper, roughly 9 x 12″ (24 x 32 cm) and 12 x 9″ (31 x 24 cm), respectively.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts on “Not the usual Van Goghs“, in a dedicated art career that barely spanned ten years, Vincent van Gogh was prolific, leaving over 900 paintings and more than 1,000 drawings. Yet art book publishers and museum curators often feel obliged to show you the same few “greatest hits” over and over.

Not only are his wonderful drawings often passed over, Van Gogh also sketched in pen and watercolor. The two examples above are in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

They have a freshness, immediacy and feeling of location that would be the envy of many contemporary “urban sketchers”.

I think they also show the influence of the Impressionists he encountered in Paris, as well as the Japanese prints that were popular among French artists of the time, and which Van Gogh collected and sometimes emulated.

 
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Henry Ryland

Henry Ryland, Victorian watercolors
Henry Ryland was a British painter and illustrator active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who shows the influence of Victorian painters like Albert Moore and Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

Though he sometimes painted in oil, he was known for his elegant figurative watercolors. These were rendered — like many watercolors of the time — in a painstaking technique of stipple, with hundreds of tiny dots of color applied to create tones, a process that also imparts a wonderfully appealing surface texture.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Samuel Palmer ink and watercolor drawing

Oak Tree and Beech, Lullingstone Park, Samuel Palmer, pena nd brown ink drawing with watercolor and gouache
Oak Tree and Beech, Lullingstone Park, Samuel Palmer

Pen and brown ink, with gouache an watercolor on toned paper, roughly 12 x 18 inches (30 x 47 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum, NY. Use the “Zoom Image” or “Download Image” links on their page to view larger.

I love the way that Palmer has used a variety of seemingly casual but wonderfully effective marks — squiggles, dots, dashes, calligraphic strokes, blotches, hatching and stipple — to define his textures.

The Morgan’s website indicates that the handling of the background is also quite interesting. The light through the distant trees is indicated with yellow watercolor, painted over an area defined with white qouache and then coated with gum arabic, which would impart a sheen to that area. I assume that this effect would be more noticeable in person, and might resemble the effect of spot varnish as used in modern commercial printing.

 
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Liz Shippam

Liz Shippam, watercolor botanical art
To my eye, there appears to be a tendency in contemporary botanical art to be so respectful of scientific accuracy that contrasts of color and value are often sacrificed, leading to reserved, delicate watercolor renderings that are less impactful as artworks on their own.

The bold watercolors of English botanical artist Liz Shippam provide a refreshing counterpoint to that trend. Her refined and naturalistic paintings of flowering plants — and fruit, in particular — bring to mind 19th century watercolorists like Emilie Preyer and William Henry Hunt.

Like those artists, Shippam uses a dry brush technique, building up her textures in layers.

The gallery of work on Shippam’s website is not extensive, but you can find more of examples of her work on her Etsy shop and the Kevis House Gallery. I’ve also provided other links, below.

 
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