Frequently Asked Questions.

Painting of a building under construction near Battersea Power Station in London. Painted by Cathy Read

Are they prints?

No, I create original paintings in watercolour and acrylic ink and I essentially draw with masking fluid and paint on top of thet. Lots of people think they are prints but each painting is a one-of-a-kind piece of art.

Do you do prints?

I don’t create hand made prints like lino-cuts and etchings but limited edition digital prints are available.

What mediums do I use?

Watercolour and Acrylic inks. I start with a watercolour wash, which I cover with cling film. After a drying period I add layers of acrylic ink. I usually leave these to dry overnight and build up layers at subsequent sessions.

Artist at work, acrylics, inks, watercolour, ©2018 - Cathy Read Artist painting table
Cathy Read removing masking on The Toastrack painting ©2016-digital-image

How Do I get the White Lines?

I draw with masking fluid to preserve the white of the paper. Each painting starts as a photograph which is transferred onto the paper. I then go over all the pencil lines with  masking fluid. Once the masking is dry I paint over the masking and build up layers of colour. Once I am happy with the painting, the masking is removed and the final picture appears.

Do I scratch the white lines in afterwards?

The lines are created first by creating a barrier which stops the paint and ink sticking to the paper.

What is a ruling pen?

A ruling pen is a tool used in technical drawing, but has been replaced by CAD (Computer Aided design)

This is a set I inherited from my Father in Law, and includes my favourite ruling pen.

©2009 Cathy Read - Ruling pen - Digital image
Tools of the trade - Digital image - ©2015 - Cathy Read

How do you get the lines so straight?

I use a ruler. The character of the line is different  when drawn with a ruler so I will draw “Straight” lines freehand, if the building is weathered. It really all depends on what effect I’m trying to create.

What other tools do I use?

I use rulers, straws, brushes, cling film, salt and a spray bottle filled with distilled water.

How do I paint them?

I use brushes for the initial watercolour washes. After that I paint directly onto the paper using the eye droppers which come with the acrylic inks. The fine tendrils are created using a straw.

What is masking fluid?

Masking Fluid is a form of liquid latex that forms a barrier and prevents the paint or ink sticking to the paper. It allows free painting on top.

Doesn't it wreck the brushes?

Yes, masking fluid wrecks brushes. No matter how careful you are, if you spend time thinking about what you’re doing, chances are the masking fluid will dry on the brush. Which is why I use a ruling pen.

Ruling pen with masking fluid.
Finished Scotney Castle painting on Landscape-Artist-of-the-Year-Scotney-Castle-Painting- ©2016-Cathy Read-Watercolour-and-Acrylic

Do I work on location? / Do I work Plein Air?

Whilst I have created a few painting on location, generally speaking, I tend to work from photographs in the Studio. The painting process requires the work to remain flat and dry overnight. 

Do I work from Photographs?

Yes, I work from photographs which I’ve taken on location. Very rarely, I might work from an image from a customer when I work on a commission or if I want to include a building which has been demolished.

Do you spend a lot of time in London, Manchester, (Insert name of city here)?

I usually visit cities for a day and take as many photographs as I can. These are edited later in the studio when I make final decisions about which images to use.

I have more images than I can interpret as paintings and sometimes it can be years before I’ll use an image.

Painting of St Pancras and Kings Cross Stations
Painting of the Thames at night by Cathy Read, contemporary artist. Goodnight Thames - ©2014 - Cathy Read - Watercolour and Acrylic - 54x74 cm

Where do I find inspiration?

Inspiration comes in various ways. Sometimes I’ll go to a specific location and others I wander around and photograph what attracts my attention. I always have my phone with me, so it I’m out for the evening I might spot something special, like the reference image for Goodnight Thames here. It was based on a grainy photograph taken on the way home from a Private View at Bankside Gallery.

I’ll often feel jaded with the images I have. when I do, it’s time to take the camera to a city.

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