David Thomas ARSMA RIBA
My introduction to watercolour was at age 16, when I began training as an architectural student (at Huddersfield School of Architecture). The students used watercolour washes to colour elevational drawings. As a result, incorporating it into my already developing hobby of sketching was a seamless process.
I have occasionally embarked on an attempt to become accomplished in oil painting, recognising there are subjects that are best captured in this medium. I have always lacked the persistence necessary to overcome my unfamiliarity with its techniques. However, I am an enthusiast for watercolour, and think it woefully underestimated by the art establishment. This is especially true of the attitude to watercolour portraits, since the medium seems to me to be so suited to capturing the subtleties of the human face.
Good watercolours look effortless. Of course they are not, but within them will be passages that were painted with fluency, a quality only achievable in this medium.
It is important to me to directly experience the subject I am going to paint. So I visit the landscape, or meet the sitter for a portrait. However, to provide material for a watercolour class I run weekly, I explore the internet and screen capture TV images.
Although enjoying plein air painting occasionally, most of my work is studio based, sitting astride my purpose designed seat easel and using an image on an iMac screen. I use a digital camera, and in portraiture particularly, exploit its capacity to take many photographs, selecting those that capture an informal moment.
Born in Devon, but moving when eleven to Yorkshire and remaining there for most of his life, David trained as an architect at Huddersfield School of Architecture. He showed an early drawing ability, and developed his hobby of watercolour painting in parallel with his career as an architect. His father, a BBC engineer, moved his family as he achieved successive promotions, but always created a workshop on arrival at each house, where he made items of furniture and radio cabinets. David has continued this pattern by designing and making furniture in his workshop, a converted garage. Since retirement in 1997 he has also made prototypes of an easel, a browser and a walking frame, which have in common unusual folding mechanisms.
In February 2015 Search Press published his book ‘Drawing and Painting Portraits in Watercolour’. He has had paintings hung in the Mall Galleries each year since 2015 for at least one of the open exhibitions of the RP, RI and RSMA. In 2017 he won the Neil Meacher Award from the RI for an outstanding watercolour. This exposure has resulted in three portrait commissions from the Royal Society of Portrait Painters since August 2016. In October 2021 he was elected an Associate Member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists.
He conducts workshops and demonstrations for local Art Societies, and runs a weekly watercolour class at the village hall in Little Weighton, East Yorkshire. He welcomes being approached to discuss portrait, house and landscape commissions.
2010 Patchings Festival (Daler Rowney Award)
2013 Patchings Festival (The Clairefontaine Award)
2015 Royal Birmingham Society of Arts (The Clairefontaine Award)
2015 Patchings Festival (Canson Award)
2016 Patchings Festival
2017 RI (The Neil Meacher Award)
2019 Patchings Festival
2019 Patchings Festival (Premium Art Brands Award)
2020 Patchings Festival