Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Ann Blockley

Ann Blockley is a well-known and highly rated British artist, daughter of the late John Blockley who was one of the top watercolourists of his day. Like her father she painted initially in watercolour, but following in his footsteps has moved into experimentation with other media. She is known for her flower paintings but in this latest phase of her career is creating more abstract works, involving flowers and other subjects.

Currently she has two books in print, `Watercolour Textures' in the Collins artists's studio range (2007) and `Experimental Flowers in Watercolor' (Batsford 2011).

23x 26mm- 127 pages - UK £18.99 US $27.95 (Batsford 2011)

I currently have this book on loan from the library. It is profusely illustrated with her paintings, including many that are experimental. I quote one short section that illustrates the direction she is taking.

."I used PVA glue to stick on collage that included torn and cut pieces of watercolour paper, tissue, and brown sand covered and sealed with gesso. I rubbed oil pastel over the raised lines created by the crumpled tissue paper"...

We also have sand ,twigs, splodges, doodles, granulation material, bubble wrap, cling film you name it! The book is divided into five sections. An introduction that includes paint experiments, watercolour and mixed media and surface textures. We then have sections on Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter and finally Flowers in the landscape. There is a lot of interesting stuff for flower painters if you like a loose to very loose approach. I like some of the paintings but there are many, where she veers very much into abstraction, that I don't find particularly attractive. I'm certainly not against an abstract approach but one can see Ann is feeling her way with this new direction, albeit boldly. Would I personally buy it?  No, as  I already have the texture book, which came as a requested Xmas present and I feel is broader based.

23 x 26mm 127 pages UK £17.99  (Collins 2007)

I much prefer this book which has a wider remit covering  flowers, animals, still life, buildings and landscapes. As it was published four years earlier she doesn't quite go to the same lengths in terms of experimentation, but the use of mixed media and other materials  is well covered. There are also guest artists, including her late father to whom the book is dedicated. I don't think he was ever a conventional watercolourist, in the vein of Wesson for example, but changed and developed his work throughout his life until his late stuff appears totally changed, different mediums and a more abstract approach prevalent. He wrote a number of well-regarded books that are now difficult to find and command very high prices as collectors items. Like father like daughter it seems.  

Shirley Trevena  is another guest artist, much admired, who has pushed the boundaries even further than Ann is currently doing. She has a new book (her third) out soon called `Breaking the Rules of Watercolour'. You can pre-order it on Amazon. What rules I say?

Two of my fellow Avon Valley Artists are studying with Ann this Spring. One is on a painting trip to Morocco and the other a day workshop at her studio or village hall at Todenham near Moreton - in - Marsh in the Cotswolds.I may do a piece on their experiences (if they allow me to do so!).


Anonymous said...

Followed your link to Ann Blockley. Amazing work.

I have to say I love the work of her father. He's definitely in my top ten and will always be there. It's interesting but when I look at his books,particularly his " Country Landscapes..." I always got the feeling that he was pushing watercolor as much as he could and that, ultimately, he wouldn't be contained by it's so called "rules".

His later, abstract works in acrylic, from what I could find on the internet, are simply beautiful.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for commenting Oscar. Have a look at for more of Blockleys later work.

Judy said...

Thanks for the tip! I have the second book you mentioned, it's amazing what she does! I certainly will have a look at her experimental flower book.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for visiting and commenting Judy. If you are into flowers it's certainly worth a look.

nasher said...

G John Blockley was the magical trigger that sparkle my mind to be creative one!_ normally I used to have classical one since before reading the challenge of watercolor!
to his memory let us pray peace to be on him! to his fans long happy lives!

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for commenting Nasher.