My Painting Life

I began drawing and painting warships during my early teens, when I considered the possibility of being a professional artist. I decided to join the Royal Navy to study ships and the sea, as there didn't seem to be any other job opportunities in the mid 1970s, for aspiring artists. When my ships were in harbour, I spent much of my limited spare time sketching - usually from the vantage point of the Captain's chair on the bridge. Despite some success selling these to commanding officers, winning a competition to design a First Day Cover envelope for the Silver Jubilee Review of the Fleet and having a painting selected for the 1977 Royal Navy Calendar - I realised I would not become a marine artist within the service, so I left to attended Art College. My knowledge of ships was soon put to use when at college, illustrating a large cutaway of HMS Belfast; for the World War II cruiser moored on the Thames. The finished picture was presented to the ship in 1985. This brought me to the attention of a leading maritime book publisher, who commissioned me to write and illustrate four books in a new series called 'The Anatomy of the Ship'.

Other illustration work has included book covers for fiction and non-fiction maritime titles, illustrating children's books and worldwide postage stamps, covering a vast array of subjects.

In 2006, I was finally offered the chance to provide ship cutaway artwork for the Royal Navy newspaper, I received a commission to paint a warship's portrait, and provide enough prints for the Ship's Company. This soon led to my receiving similar requests, particularly for ships decommissioning from the service or on deployment.

I usually work in either oils or acrylic on canvas and try to improve with every new painting.

If you're interested in commissioning a painting from Ross Watton, please contact him.