Featured Artist Matthew Nicholas

British artist Matthew Nicholas presents his stunning nature-themed portfolio. Enjoy his work and find out more by visiting his website.


Tool Shet with Pipistrelle Bar

“Tool Shed with Pipistrelle Bat” 1996 (cropped), Watercolour, 53 × 31.5 cm (20¾ × 8.9½ in)


When I first began to draw it felt wonderful to see something come to life on paper and my desire to capture detail hasn’t waned through the years. An illustration client of mine once commented that my work had ‘just enough’ detail and I couldn’t help but agree. I’m not aiming for photorealism, just a good likeness of the subject captured using the soft, unique qualities of watercolour.


Drying Off

“Drying Off” [European Otter] 2013, Watercolour with a little Coloured Pencil, 13.83 cm × 18.63 cm (5.44 in × 7.33 in)

When painting, the illustrator in me attempts to embellish elements in a way that emphasise a subject’s natural beauty and its easily overlooked detail; a darker shadow over here, a slightly broader line over there – simple adjustments, but they make a difference. A fleeting glance at the subject itself and it’s easy to miss tiny details. It’s no surprise then that many artists do rely on photography as their primary source of reference (myself included). I’ve heard it said before that artists utilise the tools of the time in which they live, and photography is one such incredibly useful tool.


Gray Squirrel

“Gray Squirrel” 2013, Watercolour & coloured pencil, 23 × 29 cm (9 × 11½ in)


I use Winsor and Newton watercolours on Arches Aquarelle hot press paper, building up an image using heavily diluted colour with a near-dry size 0 brush. Unlike myself, said brush has a very tiny belly(!) but holds just enough for me to work with. Working with such a small brush and using small amounts of paint at a time helps me to form details at a more considered pace but the one thing I find I always need more than anything else is patience. Thankfully I’m quite a patient sort of chap.


Macrodontia Cervicornis

“Macrodontia Cervicornis” 1994, Watercolour, 37.5 × 31 cm (14¾ × 12¼ in)


I’ve always been a stickler for tidiness in my surroundings and I guess this has worked its way into my art. I prefer to have intimate knowledge of every part of the paper and eschew large washes, badger brushes, and the like in favour of a slightly more time-consuming approach. This can have have its drawbacks but nothing is left to chance by working this way and that’s the way I like it. Each piece takes anywhere from 4-12 weeks to complete.



“Drifter” [Seahorse] 2014, Watercolour, 14.66 cm × 20.44 cm (5.77 in × 8.05 in)

Growing up, my paternal uncle was a big influence. He would occasionally mail to us prints of his incredibly detailed and beautiful scratchboard art. I was introduced to wildlife in these wonderful prints in a way that I’d not seen (or paid attention to) before. Something in me wanted to be a part of this world, of acknowledging nature and presenting it in a way that really celebrates it.


Tawny Owl

“Tawny Owl” Juvenile, 1993, Watercolour, 24.5 × 19.5 cm (9⅔ × 7⅔ in)


I worked for a time as a freelance illustrator before I contracted M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) in 2001, but having worked diligently to improve my health over the last twelve years, I’m tremendously excited about establishing myself now as a nature artist.


Woodland Floor with Mouse

“Woodland Floor with Mouse” 1995 (cropped), Watercolour, 47 × 29 cm (18½ × 11½ in)


I recently held my debut exhibition in the seaside resort of Bridlington, UK (at The Spa) and will shortly be showcasing my work to local shops and other outlets for the first time. I’m currently working on a painting of a song thrush, a commission for a friend.


Song Thrush

“Song Thrush” 2013, Watercolour, 14 × 22.6 cm (5.5 × 8.9 in)


Matthew Nicholas invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.


  1. These are wonderful, just wonderful. And even better that you are working through illness. Art is such a wonderful cure, and has been for me as well. Congratulations!

  2. Thank you Jessica – so nice of you to say. I’ve visited both your website and your Featured Artists page here on Artsy Shark and I love your art – it transports you to another world, and that takes great skill and imagination both. Such beautifully detailed work and my congratulations to you too!

  3. Beautiful work Matthew! You’re a very skillful watercolorist!

  4. Thank you Kathryn! I’ve seen your work too and it is beautiful, the detail is just flawless. I’ve recently returned to using coloured pencils so your work, and Jessica’s (above) is really inspirational to me. I may try some graphite pieces myself one day if I feel brave enough 😉

  5. Hi

    Just visited the Spa at Bridlington and saw your beautiful work on display. Really impressed by such fine detail. An inspiration to us amateur artists

    Best wishes

  6. Thank you Chris for taking a look at my work at the Spa! And for your kind comments too, it’s very much appreciated. Sorry for not responding to your comment sooner, I was updating my site today to test links and I noticed your comment at the bottom of this page (for some reason I wasn’t notified via email when you posted your comment).

    As it happens I worked on the seahorse painting for another 50+ hours or so after the exhibition ended, and that piece recently ended up winning an award for the SAA Artist of the Year Comp 2015 (best professional within the animal or wildlife category). Absolutely thrilled! – first award I’ve won a very long time. Do you work in a similar style? Do you have a website with your work? I’d love to see it!

    As a PS, despite having used another person’s photograph (with permission of course) the SAA judges didn’t seem to frown on that. That’s been such a bug bear for me, but perhaps it’s not such a huge deal after all. (I sourced the seahorse photo on Flickr.com, with a Creative Commons license attached to it). After all it’s nice to think we’re living in a co-operative world!

    Best wishes, Matt.

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