Elizabeth Becker Watercolour Artist

You make the interesting comment, “The watercolours have a life of their own, as they bleed together and slowly bloom, it is liberating to me – it is an act of letting go.”  Discuss this comment.

                    How the watercolours bleed?

                    How do you find this liberating?

                    Why the unpredictability, does not frustrate you?

“Hellebore” no. 34

I fell in love with watercolour because of its ability to flow. I paint loosely and expressively with liberal water. I do not plan much, but instead work spontaneously and viscerally, letting feeling and intuition lead the way. I guide the paint, but I allow it to have a life of its own. This process is very meditative. It helps me to let go of control and embrace imperfections.

“Awareness” no. 2

When one color touches another, they bleed together and create a beautiful effect. To me, painting with watercolour is a metaphor for life. You put your intention onto the page, just like you put your intention out into the universe, but you cannot control the results. It is a collaboration. The unpredictability has never frustrated me. Each painting experience is an experiment, and I am often surprised by the results, which keeps me excited about the process. Even when I have completed a painting, I do not know how it will look until it is completely dry.

Comment how the fusion of both your degrees, Art and Design and Psychology can be found in your, work.

Painting became therapeutic to me at a young age, both as an escape and a way to process my emotions. I have always had a rich inner world which led to my interest in Art and Psychology. Emotion is the most important aspect of my artwork. When I paint portraits and figures, I aim to capture the subject’s inner life and emotional state rather than to achieve a physical likeness. I keep a sense of abstraction and anonymity in my artwork, essence is more important to me than physical form. I hope to inspire a quiet contemplation in my viewers and to encourage them to connect with their inner spirit. I think my work can be therapeutic for that reason.

“The Woods” no. 136

Many artists do not like to paint hands. Has your work in psychology drawn you interest to hands?

“Touch” no. 8

I think of hands as a type of portrait, and I like the challenge of painting them. As a sensitive person, I tend to pay attention to people’s body language.

“Touch” no. 5

Our hand gestures communicate just as much as our words and faces, and sometimes they can be more telling about how we truly feel.

 Explain about the construction of two of your works.

“Mend No. 9”

For this piece, I sketched the portrait in pencil first. Next, I squeezed water onto the page with a sponge, creating inconsistent puddles. Using my quill brush, I began to paint into the puddles of water, letting the colours bleed together. The first layer was very abstract. I added more details at various levels of drying, such as the eyebrows, nose, and lips, so that I could get some definition, but I still allowed the colours to bleed in some areas. Once the painting was completely dry, I added more details and edges that I wanted more control over, such as the eyes, ear, and outlines of the nose and mouth.

“Iris No. 67”

For this piece, I lightly sketched the shape of the flower. I mixed my colours on my palette. The top petals are Prussian Blue mixed with Alizarin Crimson and the bottom petals are Prussian Blue mixed with Payne’s Gray. The stem is Yellow Ochre mixed with Prussian Blue. I loaded my quill brush with water and only put water inside the flower. Then I started dropping paint into the water, allowing it to flow. As the paint was drying, I dropped clean water into it to create more blooming effects. At different stages of drying, I added more details, like lines in the petals and outer edges.

Does your location influence your work, especially your leaves.

“Wild Rose” no. 20

Yes, I live in the forest beside a state park and gather inspiration from the nature around me. I have a strong spiritual connection to nature that strongly influences my artwork. Sometimes I paint from life in the forest or in my backyard. As I am hiking, I also take photographs that I use as references.

How do you see your work in comparison to Botanical art?

I consider my paintings of flowers and plants to be Botanical Art. I am inspired by traditional botanical illustrations, but my work is a more loose and modern interpretation. I aim to capture the essence of plants and the emotions I feel when looking at them, rather than a scientific portrayal. I like to blend representation and abstraction in my work, because I believe the use of abstraction gets us closer to the way things truly are, not just how they appear.

“Rose Study” no. 53

 Can you expand on your bird paintings using several to illustrate this?

I have always felt a spiritual connection to birds, and I love what they represent. When I paint birds, I am trying to evoke a sense of freedom and hope. Flying swallows have always been special to me. I especially like to paint them in pairs, like,” to symbolize relationships.

“Swallows in Flight No. 43

Herons are another bird that I love to paint and see a lot of in my area. We have a heron that flies over our house every evening. To me, they symbolize elegance, wisdom, and solitude. I hoped to capture these qualities in my painting.

“Heron No. 10.” 

You also paint flowers that have reached their peak.  Discuss.

I paint flowers in various phases of their existence. I tend to keep flowers in my home well after they have peaked, and I have always been drawn to flowers that are wilting and dying. As an artist, I look for beauty in uncommon places and hope to inspire others to reflect on things that we tend to overlook. Plants that are past their peak are just as beautiful to me as flowers that are in full bloom— sometimes more so. Looking at them inspires an emotion in me.

“Autumn Bouquet” no. 2

A blooming flower can bring joy, but a flower that is withering can bring a sense of empathy to feelings of sadness and grief. They remind us that life is fleeting; everything changes, and everything passes. It is important to not only focus on happy emotions, but the full range of emotions that we experience as humans. Happiness is a only a small fraction of our feelings. That is why I like to celebrate the full range of a flower’s life and death, not only when it is at its peak.

 Meadow flowers are taking the headlines and are everywhere.  Are they easy to paint?

          Their fragility…

          Mass plantings…

“Meadow Study” no. 10

Meadow flowers are very delicate and intricate, so they take more time to paint, especially when I am painting a field of them. My painting process is different for these. Instead of painting loosely, I take time to capture minute details, which takes focus and patience. To me, meadow flowers, such as Queen Anne’s Lace, symbolize fragility and take me back to memories of childhood summers.

“Queen Anne’s Lace” no. 2

Your, In-Room gallery is exciting.  How did it come about?

I recently began using an app called Canvy that allows artists to create mock-up images of their artwork installed in rooms. It is exciting to visualize how an artwork can look when hanging in a room and to personally choose its environment.

Ink Florals

Does this presentation of your work, help to show the size and other possibilities?

Yes, it is helpful for collectors to see what the artwork looks like when fully framed and hanging in a room.

Iris no.1 & Orchid no. 6

It shows the size of the work in relation to the wall and other objects. It also inspires ideas of how they could display the piece in their own home.

What is the largest work you do?  What are the restrictions you face?

My largest watercolour painting was 36” x 76.” I can get watercolour sheets up to approximately 29.5” x 41.” If I want to paint larger than that, I need to buy a watercolour roll. The largest rolls are 51” x 10 yards, so one edge of the painting cannot be larger than 51.” If I need a larger surface, I can always use canvas. There is a watercolour ground that you can paint onto the canvas if you want to make it more absorbent like watercolour paper. However, the technique and effects are not the same and I prefer working on paper.

You also have some of your watercolours transfer onto canvas, discuss this.

I take high-resolution photos of my watercolour paintings. I send the photos to a third-party printing service who prints them onto canvas using the giclée process.


Discuss one commission that has had an influence on your work and why?

I had a large-scale commission that challenged me to paint larger than I have ever worked before. It gave me the skills and confidence to know that I can paint on a larger scale.


Elizabeth Becker



Deborah Blakeley, Melbourne, Australia

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, September 2023