First up this week is a tribute to one of my all-time watercolour heroes: Edward Seago (31 March 1910 – 19 January 1974).

It was seeing the work of Edward Seago that inspired me to pick up my brushes again. It was Seago’s watercolours that, to me, exemplified the brilliance of watercolour, its immediacy, subtlety and power. As I started paint again, it was also Seago’s paintings that made me appreciate the complexity of watercolour that extends far beyond the properties of the medium. The need to be able to simplify a scene, how to say more by doing less. Even now as my own approach continues to evolve, Seago is rarely far from my thoughts.

It was great then to read the wonderful Debi Riley’s recent blog post on Seago. If you’re not familiar with Debi’s blog and website, I urge you to take a look – it’s a fabulous resource for anyone interested in watercolours and creativity more broadly. Debi is tremendously talented, has a wealth of experience and a passion for sharing her knowledge to encourage and enable others.

Debi’s post coincided completely with the painting I did last week to commemorate the death of Edward Seago on January 19th 1974. There are a small number of watercolour anniversaries that I tend to pay attention too, and revisiting and the works of Edward Seago is rarely anything other than a joy. Even though his work is so familiar to me now, I still find it astonishingly brilliant. I also really enjoy that spending time with his work, whether it’s just looking at it, or trying to pay homage to it, is like spending quality time with a dear friend.

Here then is my most recent humble watercolour tribute to the genius of Edward Seago and his wonderful watercolor painting ‘Thames Barge, Butterman’s Way’.

A watercolour tribute to Edward Seago and his painting ‘Thames Barge, Butterman’s Way' by John Haywood
My humble watercolour tribute to Edward Seago and his painting ‘Thames Barge, Butterman’s Way’

It’s the first time in a long while that I’ve worked from a Seago painting. I really enjoyed being able to apply the knowledge and understanding that I’ve gradually accumulated to date, to try to unravel Seago’s secrets: what was his thinking? what order did he do things in? what decisions were made to keep things in or leave things out? where to position elements to achieve the best composition?  Really fascinating and, I think, a really valuable exercise.

In recent years I’ve had the good fortune to enjoy a few decent trips abroad that, aside from being immensely pleasurable, usually provide me with lots of visual stimuli and reference material. This year, however, we don’t currently have any fixed plans and I’m already beginning to feel nervous about my reference library drying up. To reconcile myself with this lack travel and inspiration, I’m gradually turning my eye to more local scenes.

Although I love where I live, I find that I’m rarely able to view Brighton and Hove through the wide-eyed excitement of a first time visitor. I have done the odd view of my hometown but I’m wary of trying to capture some of the city’s more iconic views. That leaves me with quite an interesting challenge: to seek out some hidden, unusual or low key views from my hometown that interest me enough to paint them.

Here’s just such an attempt. An early morning looking east from Palmeira Square in Hove towards Brighton along Western Road.

A watercolour painting view from Palmeira Square, Hove, looking East along Western Road towards Brighton by John Haywood
Palmeira Square, Hove, looking East along Western Road towards Brighton

I did this pretty quickly on a  quarter sheet, mainly to test the view out to see if it had the potential to go larger. While I don’t think I’ll be tackling this view again, I do quite like the overall feel, the quality of light and the spontaneity of this painting. Palmeira Square is just around the corner from home and has a quite a few attractive aspects so be warned, this may be the first of a new series. Perhaps ‘paintings from my doorstep’?

9 thoughts on “A watercolour tribute to Edward Seago, and something close to home…

  1. I like your use of darks and lights in this painting. Have you considered adding figures to give movement and extra interest. I was thinking of the sort of thing seen in a lot of John Yardley pictures. It might fit with your style as I believe John sees his work as being in the Seago/Wesson watercolour tradition.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much for this kind comment Michael! As you can probably tell I’m a huge admirer of John Yardley (and even had the pleasure of being able to pass on my admiration to him personally a few years ago!). You’re quite right that this image would probably benefit from some figures. It’s one of those instances where I stayed true to the source photo, rather than using any artistic licence. I won’t add in any figures that this stage as I feel I’ve finished with this one, but if I were to repeat it again I’ll definitely look to add some human interest to the scene! Thanks again Michael, really appreciate you taking the time to get in touch.


  2. Palmeira Square…. oh so wonderful, you have conveyed brilliantly that stillness, and sense of peace, the very early morning has. So Lovely! I might say – well worth more from other angles too. 🙂
    And your painting after Seago, is another yes! Loved yours, with the unsullied, no fiddling about freshness. A wonderful post, thank you for sharing. And, Thank You …. for the shout out. That was so very kind of you. Cheers, Debi

    Liked by 1 person

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