Rob Ellis

I’ve only recently started painting and I’ve had no formal training.  I use watercolour because it’s not smelly and stopping and starting is no problem and there’s no mess at all.  Mine are even less messy than most and could fairly be called “watercolour drawings” since they are based on drawings done from photographs and I often use pens dipped in watercolour for parts of the work.  I see the process as a technical challenge and don’t feel “passionate” about my subjects; I have recently painted quite a lot of portraits but am happy with landscapes, interiors, pets, buildings – see my Instagram posts @rob_in_cottenham – anything that I think might look good painted.  I’m not quite sure what “art” is.

My only artistic “passion” is perhaps for my medium; I paint using only transparent watercolour pigments – 8 of them with no white.  Call me old-fashioned but I don’t think “watercolour” should be an umbrella term which includes acrylic and gouache;   both of these can be used like oils to apply an opaque “correction” to an area that the artist is not happy with.  It seems to me that the beauty of watercolour lies in the fact that you start from white paper and make decisions about adding transparent colour – but there is no easy way back (though a bit of scrubbing will lighten some pigments quite effectively!)  Obviously, I don’t have a problem with oils or acrylics or gouache – just look at some of the great work on this very website – but please recognise that watercolour is something different.

In my working life I taught English around the world and then became a furniture restorer and French polisher about 25 years ago.   A workshop at the end of the garden allowed me to be at home when the children were young and growing and needed a parent on hand (while my wife brought in a salary).