Watercolour painting of Picadilly Circus in London by artist John Haywood

Holiday blues

I’m sure many of you will identify with the title of this post!


Barcelona didn’t disappoint and although we only left recently, we’re already hankering for another visit! I won’t bore you with details of the trip as there were just too many highlights (even if most of them related to food rather than painting!)

Just to prove that I didn’t completely abandon my painting duties, here are some of the sketches I did whilst away:

I also have a lot of reference photos still to sort through so I’m hoping that I won’t be short of painting material for quite a while to come!

As I was visiting Barcelona, the home of Escoda, I’d rather set my heart on buying some new brushes as a little souvenir of the trip. I had a particular range in mind, the new Joseph Zbukvic Aquario Gold Series. I already have one of these, a size 10 which is the smallest of the range:

It’s a beautiful brush to paint with and I find myself turning to it more and more often, so was keen to treat myself to a larger version or two!

Sadly, despite much help from the customer team at Escoda who were super quick to respond to my help with advice for stockists in Barcelona, I couldn’t track this particular range down anywhere!

Instead, steadfastly determined to treat myself while on holiday, I picked up some other brushes instead. I’d not heard of this new range of Isabey 6234i brushes (although I do have a number of their squirrel hair mops) but they caught my eye gleaming behind a counter and I couldn’t resist! As the shop was offering a 20% discount, I also topped up with a few of my Escoda Perla brushes too:

I’m yet to try out any of these brushes but it’s comforting to know that they’re in the cupboard, and I’m nervously excited about trying out the Isabey brushes which exude a certain indulgent quality!


When I got back from Barcelona the mood was on me to tackle some views of London that I got during a recent trip when I had to get my daughter’s passport fast-tracked in time to go on holiday! The weather was a little iffy during the day but it brightened up as I was taking a long scenic view back to the train station. I hit the corner of Picadilly Circus at just the right time to get some nice contre-jour references.

Watercolour painting of Picadilly Circus in London by artist John Haywood
The bustle of Picadilly Circus, London

When I have more time, I must try to look back at my previous attempts in this part of London! I know that I’ve done a number of paintings in this area and looking up Regent Street, which is the street to the right of this painting where the bus is coming from.

I already have another similar view sketched out so may have something more to share next week. In the meantime, I was quite pleased with how this one turned out.

Royal Institute of Painters in watercolour exhibition

I was delighted to be able to pay a flying visit to the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London the other day. It’s my favourite of all the dedicated watercolour exhibitions and I always enjoy the range and quality of work on show.

Sadly I didn’t take many pictures of the work to share here but here’s a quick intro to the exhibition from the RI’s outgoing president, Rosa Sepple.

In a total coincidence, I saw Rosa at the gallery during my visit. I had met her once before, back in 2017 or 2018 I think and couldn’t help myself saying hello again on this occasion! We had a lovely conversation and I even got a few encouraging comments from Rosa about my work (though to be fair she was hardly ever likely to be damning of a complete stranger’s work when they’re stood right next to them!)

In another coincidence, I was there the day that Roger Dellar, one of the 12 or so artists whose work I admired the most in the exhibition, was doing a demonstration on painting interiors. Sadly I couldn’t stay for the entire demo as I had to dash for the train home but it was it treat to see him paint and to hear him speak.

For anyone that would like to see more from the exhibition, here’s a digital version of the catalogue which shows a selection of the works on display:

An there is an online exhibition too, though I’m not sure how long this will be live for.

It was great to see work up close and personal again after years of seeing so much work digitally! Also, I could enjoy the exhibition without any thoughts of ‘if only’ or ‘what if’ because I didn’t submit anything for this year’s exhibition! The deadline was in early January and as I’d sold a lot of work just before Christmas, I didn’t feel confident in what I had available so didn’t enter.

In previous years, I have left the exhibition feeling quite discouraged – sometimes by the gap in quality that I felt between my work and that of the exhibitors, and sometimes by the type of work exhibited in terms of subject matter or style.

On this occasion, I actually left feeling quite upbeat. Yes, there are undoubtedly many tremendously talented artists that have their work selected, but I didn’t feel that my paintings were as far away in ‘quality’ as I might have done in the past. Hopefully, between now and next January I might be able to paint something worthy of submitting for next year’s exhibition!

Thoughts on Holiday blues

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