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  • Writer's pictureLeo Davey

Immersed in a Landscape. Capturing an Essence.

I remember as a child watching my father painting a watercolour of the headland off Wild Pear Beach near Combe Martin in Devon. Observing his surroundings, recording a moment through time and creating something that would remind him (and us) of "that" special time.

He gave this painting to his Mother, my Grandmother or Diddy as she was known. On her death I inherited this painting which makes it special to me in so many ways.

Every holiday from that day on I have always taken a sketch book with me and landscape has featured heavily throughout the pages of each one.

A six year old me on my hols

I have always had a connection with the outdoors. As a regular runner and a lover of nature (particularly birds) I am drawn to the moors, the forests, the rivers and the beaches of the West Country and I feel I know the landscape well. My paintings are an absolute celebration of the wildlife, topology and seasonal change in our wonderful wild habitats.

In my paintings, not only do I want people to recognise the landscape, but also to feel it.

I am not just recording a location, I’m capturing its essence. Well, that's the intention.

As a child I had many influences. My standout heroes were van Gogh with his high horizons, Rousseau’s “Tiger in a tropical Storm” and of course my Dad and his “View from Wild Pear Beach”.

Van Gogh


Dad - (Andy Davey)


People often talk about dos and don’ts in watercolour painting. "Don't work from photos", “Work from light to dark”, “Never use black”, “Don’t use a ruler”………. Well, I say nonsense to that! If it works it works.

Over the years I have devised a way of working. That’s not to say that I don’t ever break away from it but I do have a kind of order in which I lay things down.

First I map out the composition lightly in pencil. I then put all the dark tones on in black Indian ink in various dilutions. The Indian ink that I use, once it is dry, holds fast. I do lots of the tonal work with the ink, then apply washes of watercolour on top. The blacks and greys of the ink always show through the watercolour washes.

When there is sky, I put it in before the Indian ink. This is because I often use white acylic mixed with various relevant hues for clouds etc. The white acrylic does cover the black ink so it needs to go behind the black (or more like the black needs to go in front of the white) as nothing ever goes behind sky. Make sense? Sounds profound but it’s true. Wait a minute – is a mountain piercing a cloud an exception? Not sure. Feel free to discuss.

Anyway, once the sky, the black Indian ink and the watercolour washes are down, there are 2 other possible stages. I will often mix in watercolour with the white acrylic if I want to make a mark that might cover any black. And finally, a variety of superbly vibrant coloured pencil marks are considered and then occasionally applied.

This is a very basic description of how I paint, but that’s pretty much it.

Lone Hawthorn - Rugged Coast Path - Exmoor - Original Painting - LD

Choosing a subject

As a self-employed artist I am not restricted in what I can paint.

Spanish Olive Grove and 2 Cypress Trees - Original Watercolour - LD

The Barle at Landacre Bridge - Exmoor - Original Watercolour - LD

Choice of subject more often than not is incidental. I do occasionally venture out with some specific location in mind or a particular view I’d like to depict but usually, it’s that the light was right at the time and I just happened to be there to capture it.

Some Things Will Not Change - Dunster Beach - Somerset - Original Watercolour - LD

I have a huge bank of reference photos that I whittle down, down and down to a few. Early morning and late evening have become much frequent subjects in my works in recent times. The shadows are always longer and the light more varied.

Sunrise - A39 - Somerset - Original Mixed Media painting - LD

It seems obvious now really.

You live and you learn!!

Chetsford Water - Exmoor - Original Watercolour - LD

All works are available in their Original form (unless already SOLD) and as high quality prints on German Etching paper in various sizes. Some works are also available as cards. For details check out my website or email, phone or visitor visit me at Leo Davey Studio/Gallery in Minehead.

Order soon to receive before Christmas!

Thanks for reading. X

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