Reasons to be cheerful – the joy of watercolour

Helen G. Blake - watercolour, 15 x10.5cm
Helen G. Blake – watercolour, 15 x 10.5cm

Yes, I had an interesting conversation with the artist Helen G. Blake at the weekend. (That’s one of her paintings above). We were taking part in the Art (Car Boot) Fair at Russborough House and we were talking about watercolour.

I really don’t know why some people think that watercolour paintings should be cheaper to buy than oil paintings. We both agreed that they shouldn’t!

And goodness knows why budding painters start off with watercolours – they are actually much more difficult to master than oil paints. With oils, if you make a mistake, you can just scrape it off and start again but with watercolours, it’s much more difficult to cover up any mistakes. And so many things can go wrong with watercolours…

With watercolours, you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen as the paint dries – but this is actually one of the most exciting things about it!

watercolour by Jim Doolan
Jim Doolan – The Lake at Warren County, Connecticut

But for me, the main advantage is the purity of the colours. Mixing and blending those colours is such an enchanting experience. Ah, the joy of colour! Just look at the beautiful colours in Jim Doolan’s painting (above).

But of course you must have the proper paints. It’s no good having the “Beginner” sets or even student colours – you need the expensive ones, and the good paper, and that makes all the difference.

By the way, the Water Colour Society of Ireland is having its annual exhibition this weekend at Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park. The society was founded in 1870 in Lismore, Co Waterford and has been organising members’ exhibitions every year since then. Always well worth a visit.

watercolour by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
…and here’s one I made earlier

And by the way, if you’re concerned about Climate change (and you should be), watercolour painting has much less of an impact on the environment than those sticky, messy, nasty oil paints!




  1. I agree with you Eoin, watercolours are one of the most difficult media. I also love the colours in Jim Doolan’s painting. And yours is exactly right, with the sky wash left alone and the powerful contrast of the foreground. You do have a feel for watercolour. I’m rediscovering it as well. There is something magical about coming back to it after years of oils and acrylics. As if the ways of working , though so different in approach, somehow complement each other. kind regards, Sarah


Leave a Reply, I'd like to hear your viewpoint.

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

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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