Arthur Melville

TIP 3 Be Inspired! If I’m ever feeling dry, I will spend a couple of hours browsing through my reference books of paintings by some of the great exponents of watercolour. Some of my favourites are Winslow Homer, Sir William Russell Flint and Joseph Mallord William Turner. More recently I’ve been studying John Singer Sargent, Arthur Melville and Edward Seago.

Better still, visit an exhibition with your sketch book and do some simple studies of some of the works on display. I had the recent pleasure of seeing the exhibition titled “The Glasgow Boys” held at the Royal Academy of Arts. On show were 4 watercolours by Arthur Melville. One was the outstanding original featured on the cover of the book by Iain Gale seen above. There really is no substitute for seeing the original paintings rather than reproductions.

The Glasgow Boys
The Glasgow Boys


Over the years, I’ve often attended an exhibition or public art gallery with my sketchbook in hand. I’ll focus in on one of the paintings that I particularly admire and draw it. Drawing a great painting by one of the masters gives you a much deeper appreciation of their work. You find yourself noticing details, different aspects of their techniques and their draughtsmanship.

Arthur Melville
Sketchbook Studies of John Singer Sargent Portraits


I always come away feeling that I’ve added to my own knowledge and understanding of their work. A typical example would be the two portraits above drawn with a charcoal pencil in my Moleskine Sketchbook. They are studies of John Singer Sargent Portraits that were being exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in 2015. Each one would have taken me 10 -15 minutes. I remember spending several hours at the exhibition. I ended up drawing 8 of his portraits which was such a treat for me.

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