Claire Waltier MacGillivray is bringing her signature calm and warmth back to our Arty Afternoons series this week with a lovely video focussing on using watercolours to capture the elegant beauty of Magnolia. 

To watch and be inspired, please click on the ‘Play’ button below 

Coincidentally, this week Claire will be beginning her artist’s residency in Horatio’s Garden Midlands, working with patients to gently encourage them to paint their own watercolour works and to pursue any and all avenues of creativity. As many of you will know, the garden features a stunning magnolia tree planted by Dame Agnes Hunt, who is widely regarded as the first orthopaedic nurse and a pioneer who passionately promoted the benefits of nature to people’s wellbeing and recovery. That being said, Claire’s video feels like a work of fate and one which both she and we very much hope you enjoy watching! 

Magnolia Tree

Claire begins any work by creating a colour chart, ensuring that the hues she goes on to use are carefully built from direct observation of her subject. Whilst this takes time, Claire believes that curating a considered palette is crucial. Her practice petal at the bottom of the chart attests to such an investment being worthwhile, with the colours perfectly replicating those of the flower. 

She then proceeds to create a worksheet, where she essentially tests out her ideas for larger pieces, one of which you’ll be lucky enough to see at the end of her video. 

Watching her paint is both therapeutic and inspiriting, with the watercolours flooding together to form a stunning likeness despite only being borne of light, delicate touches. Claire shares that it’s essentially like drawing with a paintbrush and that should the colours be too wet, there’s no need to worry as you can simply dab the damp away with kitchen roll. 

Letting the colours lead you is vital. It’s a wonderful way to begin any watercolour and is an approach that characterises Claire’s work. As an artist, designer and illustrator based in Cheshire, she often uses vivid shades to bring her works to life and with a background in fine art, art education and textile design, her preference for being boldly understated is uniquely uplifting and encouraging. 

Following the theme of helping everyone to enjoy a spot of artistry, Claire suggests that it’s always a good idea to keep a sketchbook, even if it functions as more of a scrapbook. Simply including cutouts from magazines, or rough sketches of anything that enlivens you, is the first step on any expressive journey. It’s a step Claire continues to take to this day, so if you do try a touch of watercolour painting, she’ll be right there beside you. 

We are so grateful to Claire for contributing once again to our series and are very much looking forward to seeing her working in Horatio’s Garden Midlands for the foreseeable future.