Anyone entering the OSO this week will immediately know that something feels different. There is a lightness about the place, a tranquility and an airiness that’s hard to define. That’s thanks to local artist Clare Weatherill, whose new exhibition, ‘Here and There’, we are hosting until the 25th February. The exhibition consists of a comprehensive series of watercolours, including several delightful pictures of various locations around Barnes, as well as scenes from further afield, including rural scenes from around the British countryside, and even a series of exotic watercolours painted in India. There is extraordinary diversity in Weatherill’s work. Although she is mostly inspired by landscapes and structures, pay closer attention to her paintings and you’ll notice her eye for detail. Ships and ducks bob in the water, somehow moving despite their static medium. Trees and clouds seem to sway in the wind. The collection demonstrates a masterful use of watercolour.

Clare started using watercolours at just 7 years old, and has spent much of her adult life perfecting the form. When she finally retired from her job as a PE teacher, she decided to turn to painting full time. She now paints every day, and is enormously prolific- she has completed over 200 works in the last year alone. Most of these works are started in pleine aire, allowing Clare to pay minute detail to the light and colour in the scenes. She then takes her work back to her studio, to add the finishing touches.

As Clare points out, watercolour is a unique form of painting, involving an entirely different technique from, say, acrylic or oils. You can never fully control a watercolour- the colours mix in unforseen ways, spreading over the canvas as if they had a life of their own. But this unpredictability inspires Clare- to her, the organic nature of watercolour is perfect for capturing natural scenes, where water, light and movement don’t follow man-made paths. To paint a watercolour requires an understanding of the various natural elements at play- the ratio of water to pigment, for example, or the grain of the paper.

In addition to exhibiting her work at the OSO, Clare will also be hosting a Watercolour Workshop on the 18th February, from 10.30am to 4pm, where she’ll be teaching her craft. The workshop is perfect for people of all abilities, even absolute beginners- she will start off with the most basic techniques, and work up to the point where each guest goes away with three or four pieces that they can be proud of. All that is needed is a willingness to experiment.

Don’t miss out on Clare’s wonderful watercolours- pop into the OSO before the 25th to explore the collection. Also do consider signing up for the workshop- tickets are only £20 for the day, inclusive of all materials, but the class is limited to 12 students, so book ASAP to avoid disappointment.

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