Robert Newcombe took up watercolour painting during a mid-life crisis when he discovered himself reading work related books and reports at the weekend and thought he should get a life.

As he is too uncoordinated to be any good at sport and hates gardening, memories of successful art projects at school 25 years earlier drove him to try painting. The first year or so painting in watercolour was a nightmare when this unpredictable medium resulted in numerous disasters but enough triumphs to keep him at it. As Charlie Chaplin said, ‘Nobody ever lives long enough to become an expert at anything’ but Robert gained a degree of mastery as a result of hours of practice. Painting has since taken over his life. He has virtually every book ever written on watercolour technique and the watercolour masters and, how sad is this, has read and digested most of them.

His ‘three minutes of fame’ came in 2000 when he was a regional finalist on Channel 4’s Watercolour Challenge; of the winning painting one London art critic wrote, “Robert Newcombe’s painting of Bath Abbey is a full-blooded watercolour………………”.  


Impressionistic Artist

Robert’s impressionistic watercolours rely on speed and economy of brush strokes. John Singer Sargent’s description of watercolour as ‘making the best of an emergency’ is never truer than when wet washes are flowing across the paper and brilliant but unintended effects appear as if by magic. On these occasions he feels he is simply a humble servant of the medium.

Even Robert’s more prescribed line and wash paintings rely for their distinctive look on a loose, impressionistic drawing, usually in waterproof ink and drawn with a sharpened matchstick rather than a pen.

People don’t buy pictures, they buy memories and moods and Robert’s best paintings convey the essence of a scene. One buyer bought a painting of sun soaked Sienna because he said the warmth of the painting would carry him through a long English winter until he could go to Italy again. What more can a painter ask?  

Art Magazine Contributor

He had articles on watercolor painting in Leisure Painter, the UK’s premier painting publication, in February and November 2005 and a two-part painting project in the January and February 2006 issue. A series of articles was published in the January to June 2007 issues of Leisure Painter covering Robert’s unique 5 C’s painting system which guarantees that anyone can learn to paint or enhance their existing painting skills (see 5 C’s and Coaching pages).  


The Day Job

The day job from which he sought escape 20 years ago was teaching management at University but a by-product of those years is a skill in presenting stimulating and interactive painting demonstrations and workshops where a painting is completed in about an hour. Robert’s paintings could be classified as quick impressions. He positively hates the common question ‘How long did it take?’ and often quotes Picasso who, when asked this question in his eightieth year, replied, ‘Eighty years and twenty minutes’.

I'm Cruising

Robert spends up to two months a year cruising with P & O to various parts of the world as resident art tutor. It’s tough but someone has to do it!  

The Family

He lives with his wife Julie and a fat black cat called Bernard in one of the very paintable stone villages of north Buckinghamshire.