British artist Matthew Nicholas presents his stunning nature-themed portfolio. Enjoy his work and find out more by visiting his website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Matthew Nicholas invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.