Guest blog: Harriet de Winton, watercolour artist and designer

A little bit about me…

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Harriet, a self taught, self employed watercolour artist and wedding stationer. I have said yes to many creative opportunities - whilst frantically working out how to do them afterwards - on a wiggly career path from an English Literature Degree to hand painted watercolour wedding stationery. There have been a few light bulb moments along the way, starting with a very enjoyable three years at uni convinced I was doing the wrong subject.

My eyes were opened to Set & Costume design and I dived head first into a wonderful world of theatre; using creative problem solving at each turn (it turns out almost everything can be solved with gaffa tape). It was 2010 and the credit crunch had produced an appetite for make do and mend. Another chance encounter resulted with me being asked to create and edit a fashion forward sewing magazine. This introduced me to the world of creative workshops and upcycling - I was obsessed with ‘Kirsty’s Homemade Home’ and subsequent crafting programmes, little did I know I’d be up on stage, microphone in hand, extolling the virtues of art and craft only a few years later. A creative freelance existence is like going on the dodgems. You bump into one creative person who sets you on a path, only to meet someone else who suggests yet another project, and soon you have the most wonderful bumpy collaborative existence. I have loved working in teams on plays, TV, photoshoots and magazines but the novelty of sitting down quietly at a desk and illustrating something in my sketchbook was the greatest thrill of all.

Watercolours and wedding stationary

After illustrating a number of craft project books I was asked to create my sister’s wedding stationery.

Another lightbulb switched on in my head and off I went off in pursuit of this beautiful world of the Wedding industry. The funny thing about the watercolours is I didn’t really enjoy using them at school. They seemed tame, pale and wholly uninteresting. It took another decade after finishing school before I was compelled to dust off the paint palette. A few years later and there is nothing like the feeling of a brush on paper. We spend so much time on a slick touch screen, it is not lost on me that the vocation I have chosen has so many positive attributes for my health and wellbeing: as much as I admire all the graphic designers out there, I can feel the energy draining away after a few hours staring at a screen. Painting in watercolour means my 9-5 in the office is full of tactile creativity.

Teaching the trade

Being able to share my knowledge and teach workshops has doubled the joy. I love finding a quirky new space to teach in, be it a bakery or plant shop, a workshop needs to be a sanctuary for my pupils, an escape from the daily grind and a few hours of play. We have been brought up in a society, striving to succeed; to get it right first time. I think by adulthood, many of us are unsure of how to really play. This is the beauty with watercolour: it is accessible, affordable and easy to create something to be proud of just by swooshing a brush loaded with water and colour across the page and just letting it do its thing.

Come along to my workshops at The Handmade Fair!

I cant wait to get into the skills workshop and see what we can all come up with. I decided to divulge some tricks of the trade this time round and we are going to be creating some messy Cocktail illustrations. My cocktail and gin bottle illustrations have become some of my most popular work so I thought it was time to give back a little and really turn your expectation of watercolour on its head: this workshop is perfect for anyone who struggles to colour inside of the lines!