Introducing… John Palmer RWA, a master of watercolour line and wash

I want to begin a series of blog posts, maybe one a month, where I introduce you to painters who have influenced me. Some of these are living and I have come across them on Instagram or magazine articles or in books. Others have passed on but have left a legacy that is inspirational. My hope is that I might introduce you to someone you’ve not come across before, or re-introduce you to an artist that you already know and love.

Each of these has inspired and taught me something new. Many I want to emulate, or at least learn something from – perhaps a new technique, a new style, or a way of developing my art in a completely new direction. I hope they have the same effect on you!

John Palmer (1939 – 2021)

John Palmer wrote these two books, one co-authored with Ron Ranson, still available as second hand copies on Amazon or eBay if you search for them.

What I love in his paintings is the freedom that he expresses both in his line work and in the application of his paint. At first glance his paintings look almost abstract, but they are beautiful and surprisingly accurate depictions of the world around us.

He worked in two ways, either drawing in pencil or pen and then adding watercolour washes over the top, or painting the washes first and then adding pencil or ink where necessary. In his hands, both approaches result in a free flowing dynamic and exciting painting, capturing the atmosphere and feel of a place.

He drew with a propelling pencil which hardly left the paper, but wandered in a controlled but free manner, occasionally broken by a few dots and then carrying on. He kept his eyes on the subject in front of him and only glanced down now and again at the paper. His resulting drawings are almost like scribbles, but full of life and energy. I love this way of drawing, not hiding the pencil marks in a watercolour, but rejoicing in them and making them so much a part of the finished picture!

His paint washes were applied loosely but carefully, and only where necessary. Often one stroke was enough, and he certainly wasn’t just colouring in between the lines!

Take a look at some of his paintings in the slideshow below. (Click on the arrows to go from one painting to the next.) I hope they inspire you as they do me.

Please like this post below (if you do!) and let me know who inspires you in your painting.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s