Eleanor Watson is a contemporary British painter. She exhibited at the Mall Galleries in 2013 and was a featured artist in our Penguins Commission for the Pension Insurance Corporation. She creates extraordinary images of interiors, devoid of figures, yet peopled with intense colours.

On Style 

I build pictures out of colour. I see my works as forming shapes of colour, or a series of patterns, rather than modelling an interior. I enjoy the trickery of the illusion of depth on a flat surface. Colour is the most important aspect for me, but my works are also quite linear - they have a very strong graphic feel to them. 

Eleanor Watson, Formerly 

On Interiors

I’m generally interested in enclosed spaces but I look at a lot of different work for inspiration, not just interior paintings. I’ve always been interested in interiors ever since I played with dollhouses as a child! Interiors are a complex thing, primarily they house you but obviously we have more rooms than we need and the decoration, furniture, objects are all a projection onto space of your personality, your choices, your social standing - all of those things. And they can shelter you and keep you from the outside world. I think the reason they appeal so much to me is the hope of creating a psychological, contemplative space, a place that you kind of explore in your mind without literally entering into - it’s an illusion, an imaginative space.

I’d love to work alongside interior designers - interior design fascinates me because it’s almost the opposite of what I do. To be able to design something for a space that works from different viewpoints and with different lighting, different textures, is really amazing. 

On Commissions

I’ve really enjoyed my experiences of commissions so far. I’m always conscious of audience. It’s impossible to completely block those thoughts from your mind, not to think of the reception the painting will get, and I think this becomes more pronounced when you’re working on a commission - you’re always considering someone else’s point of view so you have a slightly different relationship with the work. I think it’s important to be clear about what the commissioner wants and how willing I am to paint in that way. My past commissioners have always been very favourable to the way I paint and have chosen absorbing subjects so its worked really well. As long as I’m interested in the subject matter then I’m happy to paint!

Commission Case Study: ‘Fragment’ and ‘Unlocating’

Eleanor Watson, Fragment

These works were a commission for someone I knew. They had the most amazing house in Soho which they were sadly leaving and they wanted pictures of their house, in my style, to commemorate it. We had a conversation about particular aspects, or particular viewpoints that they responded to in the house and then they left me to my own devices. It was a really interesting project and they were very relaxed about how I approached it - they just wanted my work of their house. It worked really well and they seemed to really like them - they’re still up on their walls so that’s a good sign! I felt honoured because it was such a special space for them, their home. 

Eleanor Watson, Unlocating


Interviewed by Sasha Stamp

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