Angus McEwan was born in Scotland. He has obtained important prizes, being the most recent one the Bronze Award in Shenzhen International Watercolour Biennial, in 2013.
We strongly recommend to visit his website to explore the work.
In the following paragraphs, Mr. Angus McEwan tells us about his work
Shenzhen International watercolour Biennial 2013
Angus McEwan tells us about his work
I enjoy travelling and it’s been an important part of my work since I won the Alastair Salvesen Scholarship in 1996, (which gave me the opportunity to travel and paint in China for 3 months). It was through this that my first real forays into watercolour began, mainly due to the logistics of carrying all my materials with me. My first attempts were frustrating and angst ridden, but I quickly discovered how extremely versatile and forgiving they could be. Travel continues to be an inspiration to me, mainly because I enjoy seeing new subject matter and the quality of light, which is an important part of my work, is a lot stronger than I am use to.
I enjoy interpreting surfaces with watercolour. I love the character displayed by old and neglected subjects. It’s a challenge to recreate each facade as a unique item rather than using one style or technique to describe everything. It just so happens that the subjects I choose to paint are full of character. Which came first I’m not sure, subject then surface or surface then subject? The two are now inexorably linked.
Through time I’ve slowly but surely dedicated myself to watercolour. It wasn’t a conscious decision initially but I drifted towards using a quick, clean way of working which also allowed me to draw back over the top if I needed to.
Layers are exactly how I like to use watercolour. I call it optical mixing. Instead of producing black by mixing raw umber and Prussian blue together, I will apply a layer of Prussian blue, allow it to dry, and then apply a layer of Umber on top. It will produce a completely different result the latter having a lot more depth to it than the former.
Through the years I’ve experimented with a lot of different ways to apply paint. Especially when confronted by paper that has been over zealously sized. In those circumstances, I have found that touching the surface removes about as much as you put down. That was when I started to spray paint on to my paintings using worn one stroke brushes. I also “print” using bits of cardboard to get an arbitrary textured surface which can then be broken up by spraying clean water through a plant spray. I believe I am also fairly unique in that I paint my watercolours vertically. I can’t stand a puddle on my work, so I very rarely have my board flat like traditional watercolourists might.
I personally find watercolour a very forgiving medium. A lot of myths abound which help to persuade people that you can’t make mistakes, correct, or alter your watercolour paintings but that hasn’t been my experience.
At the outset I work from life. I work fast and hope to catch the essence of the subject before the sun moves. This often means I forsake accuracy in drawing to get an immediate impression of my subject. I may then work back in the studio or hotel room from memory, adding details and tidying up slack drawing. I will, while I’m working, take photographs at different times during the drawing, to give me an accurate description of the shadow movements through time. The painting is after all a summation of you experience through time. An interpretation of my subject is what I am after rather than a reproduction. I will often finish the pieces I started outside, back in the studio, using drawings and photographs as an aid memoir. I will bring in objects similar to the objects and surfaces I am working on to help me describe them more succinctly in the studio. The combination of all the elements working together help provide me with enough information to conclude the painting successfully. I try to avoid doing the same thing twice and will often change methods or ways of working to avoid becoming stale.
I value time and the way it affects everything. It reveals character within all that it touches. The worn beauty which is slowly coaxed out of peeling paint, rotten wood, rusted implements or wind torn rock appeals to me.
I am recording the past as it presents itself to me now. A moment before it is finally extinguished. I try to present a view of the neglected, a beauty that is inherently hidden by our attitude towards old, broken or discarded elements of the past. I want to give them value again.
I want to record them, but I also want to do so with emotion. I want to say something about my subject matter and as such embellish, change, modify, emphasise and sublimate in order to get my message across.
Although a mirror is supposed to reflect truth, it also changes that which we look at. Similarly an artist who reflects on the world around him must also change and interpret his version of truth. It is the role of the artist to be more than a mere recorder of facts but to be an editor and conductor of many facets that produce an interesting image.
It is my interpretation of the subject and therefore like the mirror I may reflect upon that subject but at the same time I’m compelled to change it.
I seek knowledge and I use my travels to inform my work. It is a pleasure to work in watercolour and I find it extremely biddable. It will do the most unexpected things and it is that, which keeps me interested. I revel in the serendipity that emerges from exploration of subject and medium. I love its calligraphic quality.
I enjoy describing everything with the utmost care and attention. I take as long as it needs for the image to reach a level that satisfies on many levels, but most importantly for me; does it entice the viewer to take a closer look?
Angus McEwan RSW RWS