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John Blockley 1921–2002

Ann Blockley provides an insight into the ground-breaking working practices of her late father, the painter John Blockley RI PPPS RWA NEAC, and their relevance for today’s artists
Pennines, c2001, mixed media, 18½×21in (47×53cm)

Accents of pastel added on top of the acrylic make these colours really sing

John Blockley was a progressive and visionary painter known for his books and ground-breaking approach to watercolour. He was twice president of the Pastel Society in the 1980s and played a huge role in helping to revive both the society and the medium. He was a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and the Royal Watercolour Society at different times, the New English Art Club and the Royal West of England Academy.

A way of looking

G John Blockley was born on the border of Wales in 1921. His paintings of the Welsh landscape were later to become iconic representations of this land although he had received no formal art training. This fact initially embarrassed him but later he realised that teaching himself to paint had contributed to the development of his unique voice – one that was free to question the traditions and conventions of his time and lead to his innovative search for a personal, painterly vision. John only began to paint full time when he was 52. He said that his life began at that point. He was a trained draughtsman and this skill was closely linked with the painting. His style developed and changed, as did his choice of medium and subject over several decades. However, his daily practice of drawing and sketching was the crucial backbone to all his varied artwork, from the early representational watercolours to his later more abstract mixed-media paintings

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About The Artist

Welcome to our summer issue in which our team of top professional artists and tutors offer a sparkling range of inspirational features to help you create your best work over the summer months. Capture the sparkle of silver light on water with Chris Rose, enliven your watercolours with moving figures with Jake Winkle, use contre-jour for dramatic effect with Jo Quigley, paint spring and summer trees in watercolour with Ian Sidaway, or a coastal scene in acrylics with Paul Talbot-Greaves. Julie Collins goes back to basics with a look at colour theory and pigments, Ann Witheridge suggests using an extended palette for portraits, Amanda Hyatt offers a variety of tricks to help you produce better watercolours and there is a host of exercises to try throughout the issue. All this and much more, plus don't forget to enter this month's summer sketching challenge set by Adebanji Alade on page 46, for a chance to win a £50 voucher to spend on art materials with GreatArt!