Ian Ramsay pushes his architecture- and maritime-inspired watercolor landscapes beyond the facts of his reference photos to create mood and a feeling of being there. “Something manmade almost always appears in my work,” says the artist. “I like to paint a variety of subjects, but they’re all very concrete. Boats and buildings are what I seem to look for.”
For him, good watercolor landscapes must have a strong focus with many surrounding objects reinforcing the composition; focusing on one part of the scene and playing down the rest are key to making a potentially complicated painting work as a whole. “All that I choose to paint is important,” he says, “but the weight of each object must be studied so as to give the painting a main character and an interesting supporting cast.”
To aid in making such choices, Ramsay often relies on personal photographs he has taken of various places and scenes and makes no apologies for doing so. “The goal isn’t to re-create a photograph,” he says. “The artist’s imagination and soul must take part in the process.” For Ramsay, that means incorporating necessary elements, eliminating some and adding some from memory.