David Brayne RWS was born in Lincolnshire in 1954 and studied at the Gloucestershire College of Art and Exeter University. He was elected to the Royal Watercolour Society in 2001.
David Brayne’s artistic voice is one of quiet and subtle tenderness, which bears an affinity with that English tradition of humanistic landscape to be found in recent years in such artists as Richard Eurich and Sonia Lawson. It also embodies more purely formal, even abstract elements, which place the work within a very contemporary idiom.
David Brayne has exhibited widely and been awarded a number of prizes including, the Discerning Eye Benton Prize 2011, the Chairman’s prize 2013 and the Chichester National Art Competition (1st prize in 2004 and 2nd prize 1997). David has been an exhibitor at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition for the past twenty years.
In 2010 David Brayne devised and curated an exhibition, The Poet and the Painter, a collaboration between the Royal Watercolour Society and the Poetry Society, at the Bankside Gallery, London.
At the opening of the 2015 Royal Watercolour Society Spring Exhibition, David Brayne RWS won the prestigious Turner Medal for Watercolour.
While textured surfaces and imagination may be at the heart of Brayne’s work, it doesn’t mean he isn’t influenced by his environment. At one time, he lived in Lincolnshire, a notoriously flat part of England that’s home to big skies and open fields. At that stage in his painting career, his work was very minimalistic—and all about expanse and emptiness.
His newer paintings are still about open spaces, but these days, his home is within 6 or 7 miles of the Somerset Levels, a coastal plains and wetland area where, over the centuries, the residents have learned to adapt to regular, sometimes severe, flooding. It’s hardly surprising, then, that water has become a regular theme in Brayne’s paintings, even if the depiction can be somewhat ambiguous. It’s not always clear whether one is looking at a river, a lake or the sea.
“For me, the beauty of water is that it creates an extra dimension in a painting,” Brayne says. “Elements of the picture can be above it, on it or within it. People can see these things in very different ways. Boats are perfect for containing the figures—they act like ‘space cages,’ holding the figures together; the fishing rods or nets link them both physically and metaphorically to each other and to the water.”
“I like the idea of placing an oar, fishing rod, or something similar in the hands of the figure, because this immediately creates a gesture in quite a lyrical way, which in turn will suggest movement and begin to form patterns and rhythms that will run throughout the work.
“Moreover, if I include two or three figures there is at once an inferred relationship or narrative, although I prefer to leave the exact nature of this to the viewer’s imagination.”
“In my studio I have a stock of about 100 pigments. Each has its own characteristics. Some, like the iron oxides are quite dull-looking, but when you apply them to the paper or canvas surface they can behave quite differently – if you work them in with a cloth or brush they turn very bright. I have my favourite pigments and I often start with those; other colours are used less frequently and perhaps more intuitively.
“Commercial pigments are much more finely ground. I have no objection as such to commercial colours: I sometimes use conventional watercolours if they offer the best solution for the effect I want. However, generally I can only achieve the particular luminosity, vibrancy and lyrical quality that I want by using pigments.” --David Brayne