Marine Art
Artists & Illustrators|October 2019
Marine Art
We asked two members of the Royal Society of Marine Artists – watercolourist DEBORAH WALKER and president BEN MOWLL – about the best ways to depict boats and water

What is the key to a successful marine painting?

Ben Mowll: For me, success involves some planning. You have to plan your painting. Have a reasonably clear idea about what it is that you want to say before you start. That, in turn, will help you to know when to stop, before you kill your work by over-doing it… And we have all done that!

Ben, you paint in both watercolour and oils. Does one or other medium lend itself better to marine painting?

BM: Different subjects suggest a different medium or treatment. They are, essentially, two totally different musical instruments. You have to choose which medium best suits the subject at hand. You may even want to try painting the same subject in both. That can be very instructive.

Should I use a coloured ground when painting a marine scene?

Deborah Walker: This is not really applicable to me. The first job of a watercolourist is to work out areas where you want to reserve the whites of the paper. If you’re trying to create the effect of sparkling light on water, for example, you might use masking medium to conserve the white paper.

Blue dominates a marine palette. Which blue pigments do you use?

BM: Typically, if you look at our members’ work, I think you will find French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue and maybe Manganese Blue, Indigo, Indanthrene Blue or even an emerald green such as Viridian plus maybe a violet or mauve which can also be found in water. The best thing to do is come along to our show, look at the work and ask the artists.

Do you have any tips on modulating colours and creating interest in larger expanses of blue water and sky?

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October 2019