Burton’s Wood

Burton's wood (watercolour 18 x 22cm) Artist: Vandy Massey
Burton’s wood (watercolour 18 x 22cm)

Another painting that started life as one of the Hundred Washes. Most of the energy happened in the first wash.  The next steps were to put in the rich deep darks and add detail to the tree tops.

I’m working on putting together a series of paintings called Secret Places. This is definitely one of my secret places: there’s a real sense of mystery in these trees.

Prints of this picture can now be ordered here


Stopping in interesting places

watercolour. art. water

Paul Gardener said: “A painting is never finished. It simply stops in interesting places.”

watercolour. art. water
Downstream. Work in Progress. Watercolour

That quote just jumped off the page at me when I first read it, because it so aptly describes the way I work. Perhaps its a result of doing the marvellous 100 Wash Challenge, but I think it’s as much an intrinsic part of my mental make up. More often than not, a painting will reach a point where I don’t want to do any more to it for the moment. I’ll then keep it visible while I work on other things and ponder it for a while. Sometimes a very long while. As a result, I frequently have many paintings on the go, at various stages of completeness.

The joy of this method is that when I’m stuck for inspiration, I usually have a couple of dozen part-painted pictures to choose to work on.  The down side is that it’s a tad short on planning. It’s almost completely intuitive, and often produces fantastic surprises.

This work in progress is currently on my easel. It was one of the 100 washes, and has been sitting quietly waiting since last October for it’s next steps. I’ve picked it up countless times, but the inspiration didn’t strike. Then I saw dappled sunlight on water and reed banks in it. So it’s currently moving on to it’s next staging point, where it will no doubt, stop in an interesting place.


Fall Water – an experiment in mixed media

A cold, crisp autumn day. The first watercolour wash had too little contrast. But, despite what they say about watercolours being unfixable when they go wrong, the addition of juicy dark tones in the second wash in the background started to wake this painting up.

I’ve been wanting to start combining media in paintings and this one seemed the perfect opportunity. Vibrant autumn trees in oil pastel on watercolour background. If you want to see a bigger image, it’s over in the Flow gallery


Autumn in France

Autumn feels like a time for endings – end of the summer, end of the day, end of the warm weather. And it’s a time of stunningly vibrant hues; as if the world is reminding us with one last blast of colour, that the growing season will come again, and we will have hot sunny days again next time around the season cycle.

watercolour painting - molten gold 1watercolour painting - molten gold 2We quite often spend a week in France at the end of summer. This year we had perfect weather with Chris as Lucy at Les Terraces. A fabulous way to end the warm part of the year in a place that has glorious light and colours, a laid back atmosphere, not to mention fantastic food and great company.


This pair of paintings started as a single picture. When I painted it I had in my mind an image of a bridge across the river in St Pierre de Maillé. The colours and the reflection in the water make me think of the relaxing end of a day when really good things have happened.

When it went to be framed, Denise suggested turning it into a pair by cropping out the (slightly dull) middle. Now they’re a pair, they have far more impact. And because they remind me of all I love about autumn in France, they had to go to Chris and Lucy.

Watercolour Reflections: Translucence and Flow

Bushveld watercolour reflections
Bushveld Reflections

Bushveld: watercolour reflections in three colours is one of my recent paintings.

When I first tried my hand at painting, my tutor, Mark said he thought my forté would be big bright abstracts in oils. I’ve not tried oils yet – that’s on my list for some time in the future.  I spent a lot of time trying to paint precise representations of what I saw in front of me. I didn’t really have a particular style – still don’t really.

But something is beginning to emerge and its proving Mark’s point to some degree – they are bright and they are verging on the abstract – the difference is that they’re just modest in size and they’re watercolours. I’m finding that the more I do these, the more I like them. I love the atmosphere they create for me – this first one makes me think of Africa.

Then there’s a touch of Scotland in the next one:

Morning Stillness

And I see a summer sunset in France in the last one:

Molten Gold

Extreme landscapes are clearly my thing at the moment.

Update on Watercolour Reflections (May 2014)

I’m revisiting my old blog posts to update them. It’s interesting to see how my work has changed over the years.  All of these paintings are now in new homes. Bushveld reflections and Morning Stillness were sold as you see them in this blog. Molten Gold was cropped and became two paintings which went together as a pair to their new owners.

Watercolour is a wonderful medium for painting landscapes – and particularly for ones that feature water.  As they do in two of the paintings in this post, watercolour reflections benefit from the translucence and flow of the medium.

One thing has remained constant in the past few years:  my love of big, bright landscapes.


A matter of style

I used to worry about the fact that I don’t have a particular style when I paint. But I’ve had enormous fun trying a host of different techniques and subject, and perhaps that’s the key. It’s been suggested that variety may in fact be my style of painting. So now I’ve relaxed about it and I’m actively playing with painting the same subject in different ways. Here are two early ones:
Poppies-3 2010.11
Poppy shouts

Poppies-4 2010.11
Poppy whispers

Both have elements that appeal to me.