I have been interested in watercolour painting for a very long time but have never had any formal training as such. In 1997 I started taking casual classes at various watercolour societies in Sydney and I found these classes very stimulating and encouraging especially when I found Shirley Church’s class at Willandra in Sydney. Willandra is a beautiful heritage listed building in Ryde – just the sort of place to bring out painterly instincts.
The classes were rich in exuberance and enthusiasm and aspiring painters with a huge amount of joie de vivre and camaraderie who came together with the sole aim of creating something beautiful. Shirley would bring produce from her own garden in Ryde and we would paint glorious cottage garden flowers, roses, lilies and irises, together with bowls and platters of fruit, grapes, pomegranates, plums and pears, plus carafes of wine, jugs of milk, teapots and cups and saucers on lovely draped backgrounds of striped and checked table cloths.
Eventually, I moved on to lessons with Judy Pennefather, President of the Royal Art of Society of New South Wales. Under Judy’s careful guidance my tuition continued with a similar group of enthusiasts, painting similarly beautifully composed still lifes of gorgeous arrangements of flowers and fruit until Judy recommended that I submit my work to the Council of the Society to see if I was sufficiently proficient to become an Exhibiting Member of the Royal Art Society. That was in 2003 and I was accepted and have been fortunate to be able to exhibit at the gallery every since, approximately six times a year.
I also exhibit each year at the Boorowa Art Show, the Harden Art Show and at various school and charity exhibitions in Sydney. In 2005 I had a solo exhibition at the Annabel Wallace Gallery in Young. I continue to enjoy attending various workshops the most recent of which was a two day workshop with Andrew Antoniou, and I have completed a pen and wash workshop and a country landscapes workshop with Helen Goldsmith in April and July of this year. In January 2007 I attended a five day workshop at the Wagga Wagga Campus, Charles Sturt University, with Linda Champian.
I have always loved the clear, vibrant transparency of watercolour – the fact that you are never quite in control of the medium. If you are lucky, exciting things happen when you mix water and pigment on paper – sometimes beautiful things which are wonderful and sometimes things which may not be what you were hoping for. And that’s the magic of it – in fact, watercolour is the closest thing to magic you can get.
You may have started out with a very good drawing and a clear idea of how you want the finished work to look like but, to a certain extent, the meduim controls you as much as you control it. And that is the joy of it, and the challenge involved, and the sense of discovery each new painting takes you on. It’s a buzz. Colour, value, tones, light and dark, shadows become your constant companions, although in watercolour less is often more. Just giving the suggestion of something to the viewer is often all that is required and the eye of the viewer does the rest.
The only thing I want to convey through my painting is beauty, glowing colour and transparent light. I want the viewer to instantly know what I have painted, to enjoy and be uplifted.
– Raylee Williams