‘Cecily’, against Vobster Green

Cecily & gold leaf
Cecily & gold leaf

I have been painting… with real paint! This is the first swimmer painting that hasn’t been digital, but it’s been something I’ve been pondering for a while, whether to plunge into watercolour with the swimmers. So this isn’t a commission, just an experiment of my own. Actually it’s mostly gouache (watercolour with ‘body’, which makes it more opaque, in theory, though the actual pigments I am using here are mostly very translucent), and embellished with gold leaf.

The idea of using gold leaf where the water sparkled was irresistible, but I think it did a little over-embellishing at the start – most of the gold leaf was added first, and became a bit over-powering. I painted on top of some, so it simply gleamed through, and then added fragments of leaf, so floaty and fine they can only be picked up by the tip of a paintbrush, and stuck down with gum Arabic.

The basis for this was a photograph I took, of Cecily, at Vobster. This is where I swim, and this (apart from the gold leaf) is what it’s like under the water. And should you ever need to know, ‘Vobster Green’ can be made by mixing Prussian blue gouache and Indian yellow watercolour, which produces a transparent lovely green, and a colour far closer in temperature to Prussia than to India.

'Cecily' against Vobster Green
‘Cecily’ against Vobster Green
detail of gold leaf fragments
detail of gold leaf fragments


  1. Jill Wells

    Beautiful. I can feel the water.

    1. Thank you! It was warm(ish) back then… 11 degrees at least 😀

  2. Fantastic. Lovely gradual deepening of the water (and colour) too.

    1. Thank you 🙂

  3. Lisa McAdams

    Nancy!I’m so non digital!I think you and gouache are a match made in heaven!!!!!!!!!Love it when you go back to gouache,that’s coz I’m a mad mushroom 🍄 painting hippy!
    By the way it always amazes me how much work you produce in such a short period of time and such quality!! Well done you 😊

    1. Thank you! And that also encourages me, I often feel that other people are getting on with work quicker than I am 🙂

      1. …standard artist’s paranoia…. 😀

  4. Lisa McAdams

    That was not a thumbs down as shown!!!!!!it’s a mega thumbs UP!!!I’m new to modern technology 😆 Love all your artworks!!!!!!!!!!!💕 💕 🌈

    1. LOL! I heard a story where the meanings have been reversed since Roman times anyway 😀

  5. Absolutely beautiful. Your handling of the watercolour and gold leaf is masterful

    1. Thank you Rosie! 🙂

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