“I love experimenting — that’s where I get the most enjoyment from — so I don’t follow the ‘rules’ as they are applied to watercolor,” says Angus McEwan. “If it’s archivally sound, anything goes, and I will combine many things together to create my work. Enjoyment is paramount when producing artwork and that reigns supreme for me. Who cares if you use white? Some of the best watercolorists that ever used the medium did, and so do I.”

Simpler Times came from an old farm up the West coast of Scotland. There is an old writing desk sitting in front of a small dusty window, on the desk are initials and letters carved into its surface. Hanging above the window are harnesses which were obviously used on the farm amongst others farm paraphernalia attached to the wall. The challenge for me was to depict the lovely fall of light as it comes through the distorted surface of the window. It was difficult not to make the tonal range too extreme and therefore too stark. I wanted a gentler fall of light and a feeling of being in a place of its time, I therefore kept the coloring very muted and subdued. There is a hint of a brighter more colorful life outside the window but the surface holds back and softens the vibrancy. I wanted a feeling of nostalgia, somewhere lost in time, a point in history around the time after the second world war where times were less frenetic and simpler.”

“The Protector” (watercolor, 22 x 12 in.)

“The Protector is very much in the tradition of many of my pieces, and in fact I was startled to discover that I had painted something very similar after my first trip to China in 1996. I will quite often split my painting surface up into basically thirds although it is not always that simple. Most of the painted surface is taken up with an object, or door in this instance, and it allows me to experiment with surfaces and textures. The pieces of brightly colored cloth at the bottom of the painting ‘breeches’ the division running down the painting. In the darkness a hint of a window gives a slight sensation of distance and carries the eye into an area that is primarily absent of color or substance.”

For more inspiring stories like this one, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

Previous articleArtist Spotlight: Roland Lee
Next articleWork in a Series
Kelly Kane
PleinAir Magazine and American Watercolor Weekly Editor-in-Chief With more than 20 years experience in art publishing, Kelly Kane has served previously as Editor-in-Chief of Watercolor Artist magazine and Content Director for The Artist’s Magazine, Drawing, Acrylic Artist, and Pastel Journal. She has interviewed many of the preeminent artists of our time and written numerous articles about painting, drawing, art education and art history. She is now the Editor-in-Chief of PleinAir Magazine and the American Watercolor Weekly newsletter. Click here to send her an email.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here