British watercolour artist Matthew Phinn had to ­update his paint palette for Bermuda, as his colours were not vibrant enough to do justice to our vivid ­natural habitat.

The painter, who has been painting scenes of Bermuda since he came here three months ago as Masterworks' artist in residence, says he is more used to painting the "grey soup" - his description of the North Sea.

According to special projects coordinator at Masterworks' Kate Waters, gallery staff have been particularly impressed by his ability to capture the water accurately. Bermuda scenes ­featured in his upcoming exhibition starting on Friday include Tucker's Wharf, Fairyland's Creek, Smith's Sound, Hungry Bay, Somerset and St. George's.

Vivid colours

"The English sea, particularly the North Sea near where I'm from is more of a grey soup compared to Bermuda. Since I arrived here I'm always fascinated at how vivid the colours are and how subtly they change depending on the depth of the water; what's below and of course the weather above. I spent a while ­before I came here looking for the right kinds of blue and green for Bermuda, ­because my old palette was nowhere near bright enough!

"A very important ­element of watercolour technique is called negative space," Mr. Phinn said.

"Because pale colours cannot be layered on top of darker ones, spaces are left where we want these pale colours. It's a bit tricky to begin with, but I really ­enjoy it.

"First I lay down a base wash, merging different colours together, while the paper is wet. Then I begin layering on the darker ­areas. Of course it isn't ­possible to copy moving­ ­water exactly but capturing the impression is the real challenge."

Mr. Phinn studied Fine Art at Leeds University and as part of his training he spent a year at the University of California. After graduating he moved to Japan to work as an artist and teacher. There he picked up elements of Japanese sumie ink painting with traditional ­English watercolour techniques.

He will have around 20 watercolours on display at Masterworks and all the work will be on sale (there will be three sets of limited edition prints).

"Japanese paper (washi) is very different to watercolour paper and of course it was just ink, but some of the techniques can be used," Mr. Phinn explained

"The main difference to my work has been in the ­attention to detail and the use of Japanese brushes. The brushes hold more ­liquid, have a very fine point and also easy to ­control. 

"I taught at a high school there for two years, and learnt enough of the ­language to feel confident becoming an artist there. There are so many wonderful things about Japan I couldn't list them all here, but I recommend anyone interested go there for a holiday. It is such a beautiful and fascinating place."

He has exhibited in California, Tokyo, Yamaguchi, Hiroshima and Galway in Ireland. This is the first exhibition he has had in Bermuda though he has visited the island before as his brother lives here.

Local artists he says he admires include Otto Trott, Vernon Clarke and Jill Amos Raine.

He added: "After my exhibition ends at the end of September, I have only a few days before I head back to England.

"I will base my practice in London but hopefully get the chance to come back and do more paintings in Bermuda."
Want to see the show?

- What: Matthew Phinn's Bermuda-inspired watercolour exhibition

- Where: Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art

- When: September 18 to September 30

- Times: Opening nights is from 5:30pm to 7pm. Gallery is open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday