John Haywood

John Haywood, watercolour artist painting plein air
John Haywood (that's me!) painting in Palmeira Square, Hove

I’m a passionate watercolour painter of landscapes, cityscapes, and interiors.

I love the immediacy of watercolour and its infinite magical subtleties. There is no better medium for capturing the fleeting play of light across a scene.

An energetic, bold directness characterises my approach to painting. I don’t seek to create an exact representation but try to capture and evoke a distinctive sense of mood, drama, and atmosphere.

Most people who buy my work do so because it evokes a memory for them, often something specific like a favourite place or holiday, or sometimes that a painting conjures up a particular ‘sense of something’ treasured. Knowing that my work can transport someone somewhere else is a fantastic compliment.

While people who purchase my work do so because they love it or it has a powerful connection with them – it can still be a big decision, which is why it can also be nice to have some additional affirmation and reassurance. 

You can see brief reviews from people who have bought my work at the bottom of each page. In addition, here are a few other snippets that might be of interest. These are particularly important to me as they indicate how other professional artists and curators perceive my work:

  • I’m an elected member of the Sussex Watercolour Society
  • In 2023 my work has been selected for:  
    • The Royal Institute for Painters in Watercolour exhibition at The Mall Galleries.
    • The British Art Prize (one of only 50 paintings selected in all media) 
    • The Artist and Leisure Painter Open Exhibition in ‘The Artist’ Category at Patchings Arts Centre.
    • The Fabriano Acquarello Convention in Bologna, where I was one of the artists selected to represent England and Wales at the world’s largest watercolour convention. (Also in 2022.)
  • I was named a 2024 top 200 World Winner in the International Watercolour Masters contest and, in 2022, I received a World Top 200 Merit Award from the International Watercolour Masters for my ‘pursuit of excellence’.

My weekly blog, Brushes with Watercolour, shares my adventures with other enthusiasts about this brilliant (and sometimes infuriating) medium. I hope my paintings and blog give visitors a glimpse into why painting in watercolour is one of the most beautiful and satisfying pursuits. Brushes with watercolour is also my diary, where I record all my good and bad paintings and any associated news or activities.

I hope you’ll stay awhile and have a look around. Please let me know if you see anything you like; it’d be great to hear from you. You can leave public comments on any blog posts or contact me privately through my contact page. 

In the meantime, here are some pictures of me at work. Or is it play?

Even though the results don’t always work out as expected, being in such beautiful locations is always a joy!


25 thoughts on “About”

  1. Hi John! Your works are truly beautiful and atmospheric, and it is noticeable how it’s progressed over time — and that just adds to the poetic quality of this blog.

    I love how you’ve styled your pages as well, they’re simplistic and clear, setting the emphasis on the paintings rather than anything else. It is a great blog! šŸ˜‰

    1. Hi Chloe and thanks so much for your kind words about, well about just everything really!! So pleased that you like the blog and my paintings and really appreciate you taking the time to get in touch!

  2. Great Blog. Love the Seago influence. I have began to “attempt” to pattern after Seago and Wesson, Although, I am an absolute Ron Ranson devotee. I was saddened to hear of his recent passing. Just a few equipment questions.. Do you use lamppost black or any other black or do you mix and are you using round mops for your sky washes? thanks RT

    1. Hi Rick and many thanks for stopping by. I think Wesson and Seago are such brilliant influences to have (although I’m hugely biased!).
      I do have a touch of Lamp black in my palette but this is more of a not towards Rowland Hilder who used it quite a bit, especially in his sketches. I tend to mix my own darks now but find that the lamp black, mixed with any number of yellows, can lead to some wonderful greens. I try to avoid using it on any large dark areas as I find it can ‘kill’ the area off. I’ve had much more success with darks by combining ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson and burnt sienna or burnt umber.
      For my skies, I do usually use a squirrel hair mop brush – the ones that I’m mainly using at the moment are the Escoda ones that feel a little stiffer than some squirrel hair mop brushes I’ve used (like the Winsor and Newton, pro-arte or da Vinci brushes). Basically I’ve tried far more brushes than is necessary! I think I should just try to pick say 5 brushes and just use them solidly and see how I get on instead of my constant chopping and changing. Hope that this is of some help / use and thanks for getting in touch – good luck with your painting!

        1. My pleasure Rick and thanks for your kind comments about my work and the blog – much appreciated! I also meant to thank you for alerting me to the sad news of Ron Ranson’s passing. He was such a positive force in watercolour painting and an inspiration to so many.

  3. Mary Lou Hawkins

    Hi. I too have just started studying watercolor, at age 74. My sister was an artist, and I am currently taking lessons from my son, a muralist. Wow, never had any idea there was so much to learn! It is amazing. So far, my paintings look very amateurish, but it is much fun, I must say, especially plein air painting. Can’t wait to see what my paintings look like a year from now. I discovered on you Tube: Steven Cronin, David Usher, and Ron Ranson. Now I have discovered you, John, and your Brushes with Watercolour. What a beautiful style! I will be back to see your work again. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful work.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments Mary. So pleased that you found me and my blog, and even more pleased that you’ve discovered watercolour painting! I can already tell that with your attitude and outlook – that you’ll amaze yourself with the advances you’ll make if you’re able to keep it up. Hope you’ll be able to pop back and check on my progress too (please do feel free to sign up to receive my posts which would probably be the easiest way to keep up to date!) Thanks again Mary and good luck with the painting!

  4. Hello John,
    I started painting with watercolours around Xmas just gone after coming across some demonstrations on youtube by Steven Cronin and Dave Usher and pursuing my newly gained interest I was looking at Edward Seago;s images searched on Google that I came across a picture from your website which has brought me here.To find someone whose style and interest are similar to my own but far superior is most welcome. I am a late starter to painting and at the age of 72 have a lot of catching up to do although the main object has to be enjoyment and I certainly have the time. I have set up a blog and I would appreciate any comments . I have got you in my favorites and will be back regurlarly. Regards Bill

    1. Hi Bill, so glad you were able to find me and thanks for making contact. I’ve also enjoyed some of Steve Cronin’s demonstrations (Dave Usher I’m not familiar with but I’ll definitely check him out!) and it’s great to have access to such excellent resources to inform one’s own development. As you say, the most important element is your own enjoyment but it’s great that you have the time and the inclination to practice. It’s also great to know (and I say this from my own experience) that your efforts will be rapidly rewarded by studying the work by the likes of Seago and Wesson and following the guidance of Steve Cronin. I’ve had a look at your site and you can already see the progression in your work which is great. Really glad that you’ve chosen to follow my adventures and hope that they’re of some use/interest.

    1. Wow – thanks so much – what a wonderful reaction! I think one of reasons I started the blog was to help my chart and reflect on my own progress as a painter and I’m gradually accepting that there’s no shame in having more disasters than successes. Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment – I really appreciate it!

    1. Hi Debi and thanks for this. It’s one of those wonderful things in life when something occurs purely by chance and has such fabulous repercussions! Had a friend not shown me Seago’s paintings, I’d probably still be totally unaware, and probably never have put brush to paper again! Funny how things work out!

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