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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > January 19 > Instinctive responses

Instinctive responses

Caroline Saunders talks to David Remfry MBE RA, about his large-scale watercolours of dancers, his portraits and his links with the fashion industry

David Remfry has a long established reputation as a draughtsman and watercolourist. He trained as a painter/etcher and is unschooled in the traditional techniques of watercolour, having relied on, and enjoyed, the process of discovery and happy accidents, as well as being frustrated by the elusive nature of the medium. ‘I was somewhat dismissive of watercolour until I contracted sarcoidosis in 1969. As the disease affected my respiratory system and all joints, lifting a glass of water was a major effort so oil painting, even during recuperation, was out of the question. I started to make watercolours and quite quickly became hooked on the medium for its capriciousness and immediacy.’

David painted simple still lifes of china crockery, portraits, or young women sitting at tables. Although these paintings were very successful, by the late 1980s he had become tired of such straightforward subject matter and was looking for renewed inspiration. A breakthrough came in the form of three female stilt-walkers, dressed in black drapery, who were roaming around the Henley Festival. They agreed to model for him and he captured their performance in his sketchbook at Kensington Gardens. Since that series David has felt empowered to paint anything from figures dancing salsa to accordion players.

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About The Artist

Welcome to the first issue of 2019 to inspire and inform your artistic development, including all the information you will need to plan your entries to the best open competitions throughout the year in our extensive 5-page guide. We also see the start of two new series, by Ruth Buchanan on how to draw and paint animals with confidence, and Mark David Hatwood on all aspects of marketing and how to make money from your artwork. There are practical articles and demonstrations showing you how to adapt your painting techniques for coloured pencil work, with amazing results, how to paint a self-portrait as well as a stunning faded rose, both in watercolour, and how to make your watercolours more dynamic by using watercolour grounds. Our top artist contributors also share their expertise on best practice for working on the spot, how to plan a complex composition, paint your first realist still life in acrylic, use your sketchbooks to work out your ideas, how to paint successfully from your photos and which colours to mix in oils to achieve a sense of space in your landscapes. With all this and much more, there's plenty to keep you drawing and painting over the festive period. Enjoy!