top of page

12 Months of Gratitude 2022 - Number 6!


Preparation for the Oceanic Crab and Lobster paintings - getting the colours right!

My clients had very clear brief of what they wanted me to create in this commission. Often working with a team in interior designers, these types of clients are not afraid to express their ideas in a very specific way because they know exactly what will work best to complement the existing schemes. The prospect of working with Jo and Jon excited me a great deal because I knew that I would come away from this project with new skills and ideas. Don't get me wrong, I was nervous about getting it wrong and letting them down, but without moving out of my 'comfort zone' I would never have achieved so much.

The brief was clear, they wanted four paintings for two different rooms, both were intended to hang on the walls of their beautiful Mallorca villa, two in their living room and two in their daughter's room. Naturally the overall theme was to be a crab and a lobster for their daughter's room and for the living room, one of jellyfish, the other of an octopus. The colours for each of these designs were very specific and the samples were sent to me, it was up to me to mix the paints so that they matched exactly. This is where professional paint comes into its own and is far superior to 'student quality' paints. Higher quality paints contain more pigment and less binders meaning that the colour will change very little when dry. In addition they are less likely to fade over time than the lower value products (providing of course that the papers are professional acid free too).

The colours for the crab and lobster were inspired by the natural pink and coral hues seen in the terracotta tiles seen on the roof and flooring throughout the villa, whereas the deep turquoise blues were typically seen in the nearby ocean.

The first pictures that I painted were the crab and lobster simply because they were much smaller than the other two paintings and it would, therefore, be easier for me to start from scratch if I needed too. Having not worked with watercolours before on a scale this size, I needed to practice, and practice until I felt confident enough to begin working on the actual project. It took me several weeks on and off to get the formula right. It looks so easy but in fact it's not, this is because in order for everything to work harmoniously, you firstly need to consider where the lightest parts of the picture will be in order to exclude them. Watercolour painting involves preserving the highlights before moving into darker shades. Also, it can be difficult to gage the correct consistency of the paint as that can vary enormously depending on the intended outcome. For example the initial layers are light and watery, gradually getting thicker and more opaque as the painting progresses.

In addition to these challenges it is important to not let the paper get too wet as it will result in a rippling effect (buckling) which is hard to flatten when the painting is completed. With this in mind, there are different schools of thought as to preventing this, one is to stretch the paper, the other is to place masking tape inside the outer boundaries of the main subject. I chose to stretch mine and the largest A1 sizes were so large that they needed to be stretched on my studio floor! This did go some way in preventing the ripples but not entirely, thankfully Jo and Jon liked the overall effect made by the watery paint as they felt that this was a key difference between an original painting and a perfectly smooth print! Its sometimes just down to personal preference and lucky for me, my clients really love the overall hand-painted effect!

The addition of gold leaf laid on top of the watercolour paintings and sealed with UV varnish

When thinking about the beautiful Mallorca colours, I was reminded of the golden sunshine sparkling on the deep blue colours of the sea and felt that the use of gold leaf would be a wonderful luxurious addition to both paintings, Jo and Jon agreed and gave me free-rein to do whatever felt right. They trusted my instincts and allowed me to create whatever vision I had in my head which was fantastic, I didn't hold back and all of us are so pleased with the final outcome.

It made me feel extra excited to learn that all of these original paintings were expertly framed in York by our trusted framer Mandy at Framable before being shipped over to Mallorca. Jo and Jon have very kindly sent me photos of the pictures now hanging up on the walls of their villa and both have said that they love to look at them every time they go back to their second home. It was an absolute honour to work with these two interior design professionals and as predicted, I learnt so much along the way. I will most certainly use my new found skills for future projects, especially the gold leaf and I am extremely thankful for this amazing opportunity to create something very different. Thank you so much for the commission Jo and Jon.

Client's photos of the original Oceanic collection hanging on the walls of their Mallorcan Villa (living room top, daughter's room below)


bottom of page