The Lighthouse at The Cape

These days with the internet and youtube etc, art and the teaching of it, have never been so easy, free and accessible.

I am still an avid reader of instructional books, and consider that I am still on my own personal art journey, and maybe I always will be. My early mornings are usually spent watching youtube instructional videos, and it’s very addictive. I do this for three reasons, for inspiration, to keep up to speed with new trends and materials and also to compare how my own tutorials compare. Some youtube stuff worth checking out are Tim Wilmot, and also the Colour in Your Life series. If you have never seen the three amigos painting together it’s awe inspiring, check it out here

I have been asked recently who were (and still are) influencing my work. The list is very long and very distinguished, so I’ll list them below in no particular order, and try and explain what I like about their work.

Lets start with a Country that seem to be producing lots of my current favourites, Australia.

  1. Amanda Hyatt. Her work is so expressive and simple,she has also appeared on Colour in Your Life.
  2. Joseph Zbukvik. His whole approach to watercolour painting is awe inspiring. www.josephzbukvic.com
  3. John Lovett. He is a mixed media artist who believes (as I do) that in art there should be no restrictions. There never were for the Great Masters, so why should there be now. I currently own two of his ‘Splashing Paint’ books and his dvd and always go back to them if I get a block.                                               
  4. Alvaro Castagnet. I also love the expressive exuberance of Alvaro, his fun teaching style is truly inspirational, and he was also on the Colour in Your life series.



When I first started painting I had a very busy life, demanding job, family etc. and found very little free time to paint, (a bit like playing golf), so had to use my painting time as best I could.

Part of this for me was to study from my art books, and from other artists work. Now whilst some of the books I owned were none instructional, many were. I frequented my local library coming back with arms full of books at a time.


One of my first influences was Ron Ranson and his hake brushes

At that time my influences were many Ron Ranson,  the late Rowland Hilder, the late John Blockley and Ashley Jackson, all who’s instructional books were teaching me the techniques of watercolour painting. In the early days, I once had the pleasure of Exhibiting in the same room as a full sheet Rowland Hilder it was magnificent.

Once you learn those basics, what then……….

Well here’s what worked for me. Obviously in those days (before the internet) you had to visit galleries or read books to see art. I once received a present from a friend who bought me a book of Turner’s paintings. When I read it I used to look at the lavish photographs of his paintings and think ‘I wonder how Turner got that effect’ ? So what I started to do was to copy his paintings, with the limited practical knowledge I had at the time. Now some were disasters and others were not, surprisingly.

I found that by putting myself in Turners shoes, as it were, meant that I was trying to achieve the same results as he did all those years ago. It was a very liberating moment for me.


My penwork and freedom to use anything I wanted was due to this book by John Blockley

I used to do exactly the same with all the paintings in my other books, until eventually you get to a stage where pulling the techniques you learn, and finding style and subject matter you like, eventually ends up being your own unique style (not that I think I have one yet by the way).

These days my influences change, and with the advent of the internet, it’s never been easier to access art online. I still enjoy looking at other artist work, and in fact have a file on my computer called ‘Other Artists Work. And I still wonder ‘mmmm how did they do that’?  Classics like Andrew Wyeth and John, Singer Sargent always amaze me.

Would I recommend you copy someone else’s paintings ? ABSOLUTELY, not for sale, but as a learning tool. In later years all that skim reading, and soaking things up, like a hungry school kid lead me to writing my own e-book ‘Watercolours for Beginners’, having spent years teaching and studying art.

I had no formal art training, so consider myself self-taught. I am now semi-retired so have the time to paint most days. I also have the luxury of being able to paint what I want, sometimes just for my own amusement. Don’t get me wrong my teaching and painting holidays keep the wolf from the door, but I don’t exhibit anymore, instead relying on direct sales. I also have a few Galleries and outlets for my work.

For an artist compliments are nice but when someone is willing to pay for your work that’s the ultimate compliment. I am very humble about my work, and to me it’s worth will always be the cost of the paper. It’s the buyer that adds the value to it.



Incidentally if you would like to copy my paintings please do, I aren’t precious about them at all, and don’t forget I am still alive so you can ask me questions, unlike Turner and other of my watercolour heroes.

I also have photographs of all my work so if you would like any e-mailing I can do that too.




Martin Stephenson (aka Stevo)

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