A McMaster stroke

Alex McMaster from Kent is a highly talented and creative artist. She'll paint your horse, dog, children, your room, or your furniture! - By Hilary Everitt in TODAY.

Artist Alex McMaster works only in pencil or watercolour, but her watercolour paintings aren't in the traditional style.

"You could say my style is like the Victorian watercolours. I use the paint in a thicker way, some times I almost put it on in lumps," Alex explains very patiently when asked what paints she uses, as from the untrained eye it's not totally clear. I feel exonerated, for a moment, for not realising the beautiful pictures she shows me are watercolours, but if you study some of her backgrounds, its obvious she uses a traditional watercolour wash.

Alex has always been interested in art. She took her 'O' levels in this country but didn't progress to 'A' level because she didn't particularly like school in the U.K.

"I was brought up abroad and was always to-ing and fro-ing from Africa, so when I came back to this country I went to Croydon College of Art for four years studying Fine Arts", Alex says looking a little apologetic about her
lack of enthusiasm for our school education system.

During her course she took a year's study in photography. She loves this aspect of her work and takes pictures of all her paintings and drawings. But as you can see she doesn't just create paintings and drawings on canvas. Much of her bread and butter comes from painting people's walls, ceilings, door frames, cupboards etc. with whatever they want.

"One of my most surprising jobs was painting a mural for a seven-year-old boy's bedroom last year. He wanted a World War II scene with tanks and German planes. That took a fair bit of research as I had to make sure I got the Swastikas in the right place - he certainly knew his stuff!" she laughs.

One of her most impressive commissions was for the heir apparent of Qatar, Shaykh Hamad ibn Khalifa Al Thani, son of the present amir. Alex got the commission through an exhibition she was persuaded to put on at the Qatar Sheriton Hotel by a friend who lived out there. She exhibited paintings and drawings of birds and camels. These were admired by the upper echelons of Qatar society and the heir apparent asked her to paint one of his 94 horses.

This saw Alex in her element as she loves the equine subject. She paints a lot of them - inspired by John Skeeping; "the brilliant horse artist" - and has two of her own. Dogs also appear frequently in her portfolio, but more exotic animals are also a McMaster stroke.

Her most impressive mural, as illustrated in her personal photo collection, is the wildlife scene she painted in a house in Los angels. The mural covered an entire wall, including the door and window, featuring elephants, lions, a cheetah, a monkey and zebras.

The same house was also treated to her smaller scale paintings of fruit and foliage around door frames. This has proved popular with pubs in this country.

The White Hart Pub in Claygate has one of the most decorative 'Fire Exit' doors in the country. Adorning it is a typical Kent scene of oast house and sheep with some hops around the door frame. Nearby, The Halfway House has also been re-Mastered in watercolours.

It is also worth recording that she has worked for Arab property developers in their big homes in London and has painted cherubs on a massive domed ceiling for a rich Indian in a house in Bombay.

But despite all her colourful travels around the world, Alex's real passion lies in her work. She doesn't actually say this, but her eyes light up when she talks about it. 

"I love the animal work and love the imagination of a mural," she says wistfully, "even though it has to be technically correct!"

Murals | Animals | About Alex | Contact | Home