Homer, Sargent & Turner


This summer I went to Stephen Quiller’s studio in Colorado to take a week long course on plein air painting in watercolour. It was an amazing time in many ways. One of the many asides that caught my attention was Steve’s mentioning the importance of 3 watercolourists from the 18th and 19th century, namely, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent and J.M.W. Turner. I have just finished doing my own reading of each of them and I was completely inspired by them all. They each, in their own way, pushed the art of watercolour forward by the strength of their vision and the vast breadth of their efforts. One common characteristic is that each was passionate about travel and recording their impressions of everywhere they visited. They literally lived to paint and painted to live. They worked extensively and continually out doors and were consumed by capturing the feeling of everything they saw. No object or scene was too small or too grand to interest them. They also blazed new paths in terms of watercolour technique. Anything that would help them capture the subject was used. It’s also interesting that in each case, though their big oils were perhaps their most famous works it was in their watercolours that they displayed a certain spontaneity and intimacy that was perhaps closest to their true nature. The above image is my copy of one of Winslow Homer’s paintings from his visits to Quebec.

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