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This website showcases original watercolour art by Ray McSharry, a watercolour artist from London, UK

Coastal Study 1 - watercolour art by London watercolour artist Ray McSharry
Coastal Study – A Watercolour Painting by Ray McSharry

Ray McSharry is a man  with many interests. This website is part of a project displaying him to the world as a vibrant, contemporary watercolour artist. Here you will find a selection of his watercolour paintings, a discussion of his watercolour painting techniques, and Ray’s views on some inspiring watercolour painters.

Latest News

DEC. 2020

I have just added a shop to the site and am in the process of selecting products.

Ive recently been perfecting my mount cutting technique in order to be able to offer mounted prints, so you just need to buy a standard frame to make it complete. I’ve prepared some 8×10, 10×12, 11×14, (in inches), but I will make available “A” sizes on request.

I hope to also be able to offer original pen and ink work and watercolours.

We now seem to have reached  a “stable” phase where no more radical changes are proposed and Ray can settle down doing the things he does best – producing wonderful, inspiring watercolours and also blogging about his experiences.

There will be occasional minor changes designed to enhance the usability of the website but these are incidental and you are not really supposed to notice them, except perhaps subliminally.

If you want additional content then please get in touch with Ray and politely request it – Ray being the sort of kind, considerate person he is will most likely oblige.

From 2018:

Thanks for saying hello!

At the same meeting, prior to the exhibition, Ray also mentioned that he had received some feedback from the website. OK, so it’s only a couple of emails so far (which at least shows the feedback feature actually works) and some comments, but we are nonetheless very grateful for them.

The concept is simple – it is in part your website; give us feedback and the website will get better. Tell us what you want on it and the chances are that we will put it on our bucket list.

Welcome new subscribers!

Just a quick thank you to those subscribing to the website (You can use the feedback form to subscribe). Thanks too to everyone who has commented on Ray’s blog posts. Please keep the comments coming.

Easy Watercolour Projects updated

A new Easy Watercolour Project for novice watercolour painters has been added. This is Easy Watercolour Flowers. Although it is the fourth in the series, flowers form possibly one of the easiest and most enjoyable subjects and hopefully Ray’s technique will help novices get off to a flying start.

The first in the series of Easy Watercolour Projects, Easy Watercolour Landscape, has also been updated. It has been given the full explanatory text  which was written at the time the tutorial was produced.

Some feedback would be nice!

There will probably be one more in the series of Easy Watercolour Projects this year with a few more in 2019.

Art for sale

We are pleased to announce that some of Ray’s watercolour art is for sale on this website. Limited edition prints to be precise. For further information see the pages on “Ray McSharry Limited Edition Prints For Sale” and “Buy Ray’s Watercolour Art“.

Watercolour projects

Further good news is that the Easy Watercolour Projects pages are well under way. These hopefully make this website more rewarding for aspiring watercolour painters (such as me – Admin!). Maybe not so good news (depending on how you look at it) is that Ray, during his last watercolour tutorial session,seems to have progressed on to a technique that is definitely not “Easy”. Not “wet-in-wet” like previous projects but separate glazes allowed to dry before progressing to the next. The results however are well worth the trickier technique. Should we progress from “Easy Watercolour Projects” to “Intermediate Watercolour Projects”?

New feedback form

People seem fairly reluctant to write emails to in free format. We have made it easier for you to give us feedback by simply filling in a form. You will find the feedback form at the end of the “About” section.

Subscribe!

You can also use the feedback form to become a subscriber to this website.

Subscribers will get a newsletter (every two or three months) with advance content of the site. We hope to make it interesting reading and not merely “spam”

Subscribers will also get an automatic discount of 5% on any of Ray’s Limited Edition Prints. So too will anyone who gives us feedback and consents for us to retain their details. If you subscribe and give us feedback at the same time you will qualify for a 10% discount.

Page Updates

We have now added a page for Chien Chung Wei to our Inspirational Artists section. (There are also a couple of additional clips lower down this page).

We intend including information on similar artists in the Newsletter to be sent to subscribers. Watching quality artists at work is the best way to progress with your own watercolour art.

Do Please Watch Us Develop

This website is aimed at both the lover of watercolour art and budding artists of any description. Although fairly large and wide-ranging, the website is still under development. For a summary of our current progress, see our web-page on Work-in-Progress.

The website may be complete towards the end of 2019. But then again if we have success with contacting artists further afield for more permanent arrangements, the project could be extended well into 2020

Ray McSharry – A Man With A Passion For Watercolour Art

Given that you are looking at a large website, you have a dilemma of picking out the sections which might interest you. Skimming over the following text on this page will direct you to some of the choicest pages on the website.

An obvious place to begin is with the man who stands behind it all, Ray McSharry.

Watercolour Art in Your Own Style

Over the course of his adult life Ray has developed his own painting style. The purpose of this website and in particular the sections of Better Watercolour Techniques is to help you develop your own particular style of watercolour painting. We do not want you to be an imitation Ray McSharry – (and a pretty poor one at that).

However, as James Fletcher-Watson points out, if you do not have sufficient technique – choosing the subject, framing the view, getting the perspective right, knowing how to use tone, and importantly not putting too much in the picture – then you are likely to produce a poor quality watercolour painting. We are here to help you develop you watercolour painting techniques.

You Can Be A Fan Without Being An Imitator

Ray, as he has repeatedly said, is a great fan of James Fletcher-Watson. If you have not already done so, we recommend you watch the YouTube video clip in our page about Fletcher-Watson. We also recommend the book as a great investment – it is particularly useful for its stage-by-stage illustrations of his painting.

Being a fan of James Fletcher-Watson doesn’t mean that Ray has tried to copy his style. Fletcher-Watson was a realist watercolour painter and painted from life, selecting the elements that would make a great watercolour painting. And usually succeeding admirably in the process.

How To Describe Ray’s Style?

Well, you can see some of Ray’s watercolour art dotted around this website. But he definitely is not a “realist”.

If you look at Ray’s watercolour picture “Coastal Study” (at the top of this page) it is very realistic. You may imagine (as I first did) Ray  sitting there, watercolour paints in front of him, diligently painting the scene.

You further imagine the boat moored in front of him. And perhaps he is like  Fletcher-Watson, noting down all the fine details. Noting the details that make a great picture  and leaving out the distracting bits.

Not a bit of it! Ray said that whilst out walking he noted the scene and did a quick sketch to remind him of the composition and the whole painting was recreated later indoors. “To investigate the effects of light on water.”

Inspirational Watercolour Tuition

As a member of Ray’s watercolour tuition group (and therefore not completely unbiased!), I would rate his tuition as truly inspirational. Ever-encouraging, he has spurred us on to have confidence in our abilities – and it’s not just baloney, even we can see the marked difference in our watercolour art under Ray’s careful guidance. But it’s not really in the style of James Fletcher-Watson. It’s more in the style of Chien Chung Wei.

So, Who Is Chien Chung Wei?

Chien Chung Wei is the inspirational watercolour artist in this video clip:

We think this is absolute magic. His name first came up in a watercolour tutorial session given by Ray earlier in 2018. Ray recommended Chien Chung Wei as someone we should observe and learn from. Ray adding also that there is plenty that he could also learn from him. Chien Chung Wei is one of today’s world masters in watercolour art, so in fact everyone can learn from him.

In Lieu Of Watching Ray At Work!

Of course, it would be much better if we could show you a video-clip of Ray at work. There is one in the pipeline, honest!

Meanwhile, there is much to learn from this amazing video-clip. And we will be putting up a new page for this amazing Taiwanese artist which will have quite a few other YouTube video-clips (he does speak some English in some  but his sublime artistic skills easily jump the language barrier).

If you practice watercolour painting go through the video-clip again and see how many key points you notice.

So, What Did You Notice?

If you are keen to improve your techniques you may have noticed the following.

General

1. The masterful way in which Chien mixes his watercolour paints.

2. The canvas initially is not spotless. It also has masking tape around it.

3. There is not an initial drawing to work to (in some other YouTube clips Chien creates a drawing first and then paints over it). It’s all in the artist’s mind.

4. When Chien wants a new colour he creates it from the last colour mix by adding more paint. This burns bridges meaning you cannot re-use the previous colour, but adds to the overall harmony of colour.

5. When an entirely new colour is needed, the palette is first wiped clean with a tissue. New colour is added and carefully mixed.

Painting Techniques

6. As Chien paints the foreground, darker colours and warmer tones are used. These give depth to the painting.

7. Dark paint is added to the mid-height of the painting. It’s contrast draws the eye to some of the foliage details.

Specific To This Watercolour Painting

8. By the time 3.30 in the video clip there is a definite and intriguing image beginning to emerge.

9. The stroke of the paintbrush at 4.25 on the video-clip is masterful. Chien carefully mixes paint of a certain colour and consistency. He then loads his paintbrush with as much as it will hold. The paint is applied to the canvas is one sweep leaving patches of white. (This is a hard technique to master – much practice is needed).

10. In the brush stroke at 4.48 the wet paint runs together. This is quite deliberate (and takes much skill, practice and experience). This is what is known as wet-in-wet.

11. By 6.40 on the video clip, more darker and warmer tones have been added in the foreground with a white patch left in the bottom right-hand corner.

12. There is an unintended splash of paint at 6.58. This is not a calamity but  rather a cause for humour and merriment. This shows the great confidence and experience of Chien as an artist.

13. At point 12.40 on the video clip Chien attends to the splash of paint. He makes it into foliage for a tree! Note how the trunk and branches of the tree are carefully painted with a thin brush. Also other foliage is added in a colour similar to the original splash.

14. At 14.02 the painting is nearly complete. Chien adds some detail by scratching away some of the paint with his thumbnail. This is a technique known, appropriately enough, as “scratching out”. We usually use wooden coffee-stirrers for this in our tutorial sessions.

Just some of the points we noticed. You may find other equally notable points.

Update

We have now added a page for Chien Chung Wei to our Inspirational Artists section.

Compare And Contrast With The Art Of James Fletcher Watson

We think that the watercolour art of Chien Chung Wei is wonderfully inspirational. He makes it all appear so (deceptively) simple. Everything seems under control. He makes you want to get your brushes, paints and paper and see if you can do as good as he can.

But Chien’s is only one style of watercolour  painting among many.

Contrast his style for example with that of James Fletcher-Watson. We suggest you go to the page we have devoted to James Fletcher-Watson and read what we wrote there and also watch the video clips.

A completely different style. But equally inspirational.

(If you are a returning visitor to this website, please note that the page for James Fletcher-Watson has been updated).

Yet Another Kind Of Magic

Having hopefully inspired you with glimpses of Chien Chung Wei and James Fletcher-Watson, we’ll now show you another. This time Joseph Zbukvic (who you can also find in our “Artists” section.

If James Fletcher-Watson and Chien Chung Wei are at opposite ends of a spectrum of watercolour artists then Zbukvic is in the middle.

This time two clips, the reason being that each clip has one or more important quotes.

Wonderful painting! But note that while the style is much more “modernist” than James Fletcher-Watson part of the overall message is the same. Zbukvic says at one point: “Obviously I have left out about two hundred boats…” The idea is that the watercolour painting is a simplification of the real scene. “Storytelling,” as he says later in the video-clip.

Another amazing clip of the same artist follows:

This time we pick out four relevant quotes:

Not painting technique, not anything except faith.” On balance we prefer to take this with a (rather large) pinch of salt! You can’t really produce these fantastic works of art on pure faith unless you also have the extraordinary talent of James Zbukvic.

“Every painting that’s ruined is preceded by the words “I’ll just do this..”” Probably true. That’s how we ruin most of ours!

“I’m painting with a great abandonment here. Sometimes these sketches have more spirit and more magic in them than any studied piece has.” Magic is probably the key word. Zbukvic takes watercolour painting to the level of a performance art.

“I’m never completely satisfied with anything I do.” Insightful. So there is hope for everyone!

We Are Not Only For Watercolour Art Beginners in London

This website is also a forum on which advertises and reports on Ray’s current watercolour tuition group in the London Borough of Redbridge, UK, which meets monthly.

Obviously this is going to be of most interest to those viewers of this website living in London in the UK. We are however always hopeful of the possibility of teaming up with other artists, both novice and experienced, and seeing what can be done with the idea of having internet based virtual sessions.

Virtual sessions would mean something like painting a watercolour picture, scanning it and sending it to us by email. If this works then we would happily display such watercolour art on our website. Likewise we will gladly  contribute to the website content of distant art groups that have their own art websites.

So the sky’s the limit! If such an idea were to work then we are not just limited to anywhere in the UK. We can go anywhere in the English-speaking world! Why not be one of the first to make contact with us.

Watercolourists – Get in touch!

Whether you are a single watercolour painter, experienced or novice; whether you belong to a group and paint watercolours regularly; or maybe you are a lapsed artist and keen to return to the fold, we would like to hear from you.

It’s not that we are trying to fit you in to a pre-conceived plan and want you to “do it our way”, there’s plenty of (web) space to conjure up new ideas, new paintings and possibly new forums. What exactly would you like as a web-based resource for watercolour painters? We cannot guarantee that we will deliver but we are certainly open-minded and see that by reaching out we can create a better resource for ourselves and others.

You can get in touch by email (use the link in the footer – other possibilities will be added later) and give us your feedback. It will be most welcome and kept anonymous if you so wish. You can also use the comments facility on the Blog posts to give us some of your feedback there too.

About the Watercolour Art on this Website

Since this is a website with many images and most of them are of watercolour paintings, it is as well to point out that this watercolour art falls naturally into three classes.

Firstly, at the lowest level, there are the watercolour paintings by Ray’s students who are uninhibited enough that with a little arm-twisting they can be persuaded to have their novice attempts put on the website for all the world to see.

Secondly there are the watercolour paintings done by Ray himself in the tutorial sessions. These, as Ray points out, are often little different from his more mature and serious compositions but they differ in one important respect – in teaching Ray often makes simplifications in order that his students will better understand (this is Admin speaking, who is also a keen member of his watercolour painting tuition group. and I can verify Ray sometimes saying “I thought I would also include X, but that might have made it more difficult to follow”).

Then finally, at the top end, there is the third class of watercolour paintings where Ray paints alone and can give full rein to his talents built up through many years of experience. To see some of his more mature art, just take a stroll through some of Ray’s Instagram collection.

Own A Ray McSharry Original or Print

Like Ray’s watercolour art? Good isn’t it? Well, if you like it, then for a very reasonable price, you could be the proud owner of a lovely Ray McSharry watercolour to hang in your home. Or even the owner of one of Ray’s original paintings.

Of course, Ray has sold his watercolour art for many years. Starting from the time he was just a talented amateur starting out on a new and fascinating hobby. And, with the rise of the internet, he has sold art using the Etsy Store.

We are hoping that Ray will select some of his best watercolour art and make it available here. Eventually (he has promised) there will be a full catalogue of his best watercolour paintings. Meanwhile you can still buy his lovely watercolour art direct from this website if you wish, simply go the art-for-sale page.

Sell Some Of Your Own Watercolour Art

Have some interesting watercolour art of your own that someone may like to buy? Get in touch!