Competition Time!

Welcome to my second painting competition, where you can win one of my original watercolours

Please read on for full information.

The reference image


This photo is of a scene at West Mersea, Essex, and is the reference image for this competition.
(The location is one we might visit during my course at Dedham Hall next April for plein air painting!)
In the opposite direction there is an estuary and lots of boating activity, but here we have a quieter stretch of beach.  I was struck by this view as it presented itself on a recent visit.
I took more photos from close to this spot, but I chose this one for the competition as I feel the composition is ‘pretty good’, containing various useful elements, but part of your challenge is to make any adjustments that can improve it for a painting (think about position of figures, church, grasses, clouds, maybe even the boat…)
I have made the image black and white, so that you are not influenced by the colours.
You can right-click on the image to get the option to save/download it to work from.


Competition Criteria – your challenge, should you wish to accept it

Based on the photo above, create a colour (not black and white!) painting that has good depth, distance, atmosphere and interest.
The painting should aim to have vigour, energy, vitality.
The painting should include the use of both soft and hard edges, and at least one bit of ‘negative painting’ somewhere.
Feel free to use artistic licence to make adjustments to composition and other things – potentially quite major ones if you like – but the result should still be recognisable as based on this scene.


The prize
One of my original watercolours.  The winner can choose one of my paintings from either the Plein Air or Studio galleries on this site (with a few exceptions that I want to hold onto).


Entries should be emailed to me at
Please take a focussed, well lit photo of your work. It does not need to be a huge file size.
The closing date is November 20th.
The competition is open to all NON-PROFESSIONAL painters.


A few thoughts to bear in mind
Perhaps make some preparatory tonal sketches to test any changes to composition.  This is something I often do (at just a few inches in size and very rough) when working from photographs.
You also might change the mood, weather or light effect. When I took the photo it was a dull day, but perhaps your painting will be of a sunny one?
Colour is yours to use as you wish, to help you meet the competition criteria.
I hope the challenge will be a fun and useful exercise, and I’ll look forward to seeing what you do.


If you have any questions about the challenge please write them as comments on this post and I will reply here also, so they are kept together.


That’s it – please have a go!
All entries will be displayed in my first blog post following the deadline date, where I’ll also explain how/why the winner was chosen.

Happy painting!

Comments On This Post

Nicola Dalbenzio 9 months ago. Reply

You’re dedication is an inspiration and encouragement. Looking forward to following your Blog

    Jem Bowden 9 months ago. Reply

    Thank you, Nicola!

Steven foster 1 year ago. Reply

Will be submitting soon

    Jem Bowden 1 year ago. Reply

    Hi Steven. Okay, great!

Mike Porter 1 year ago. Reply

Jem, I’m playing with the composition by changing the boat orientation (which way the bow is pointing) and even the boat shape and design somewhat. For instance, I may put a broken mast sticking up to break the strong horizon line and bring the boat even more forward. Will this be OK?

    Jem Bowden 1 year ago. Reply

    That sounds fine, Mike. I think so long as most of the rest of the scene isn’t changed drastically, so the whole thing still bears a good resemblance overall. Sounds interesting. I’ll look forward to seeing how that works.

Olga 1 year ago. Reply

Looks like fun – I’ll have a go too.

    Jem Bowden 1 year ago. Reply

    Great, go for it Olga!

Joe Griffin 1 year ago. Reply

Great idea and I will certainly be giving it a go. However on France at the moment so it’ll be a couple of weeks before I can do this.

    Jem Bowden 1 year ago. Reply

    Pleased to hear you’ll be having a go, Joe. Will look forward to seeing it, and no rush of course, you’ve got 2 months.
    Hope you’re having a good time in France.

Ashley Raddon 1 year ago. Reply

Ooh my, this looks very tempting and boy what a prize. I’m nervous now 🙂

    Jem Bowden 1 year ago. Reply

    Hahaha No need to be nervous Ash! Go for it. You’ve got plenty of time.
    You can enter up to 2 if you can’t decide on a ‘best’.

John Hofman 1 year ago. Reply

hi Jem
does it have to be a pure water colour or would you accept pen and ink with a watercolour wash as well?
thank you

    Jem Bowden 1 year ago. Reply

    Hi John,
    Another good question! I will accept ‘ink and wash’ in it’s various forms. But no more mixing of media than that.
    It’s principally a watercolour competition (and I don’t mean ‘water-based media’). I look forward to seeing what you do!

Caroline Borland 1 year ago. Reply

Hi Jem,
Can I ask if this is limited to one entry per person please?

    Jem Bowden 1 year ago. Reply

    Hi Caroline and great question. I think we’ll say up to 2 per person, in case you can’t decide on a ‘best’ one.
    Thanks very much and will look forward to seeing whatever you do!

Emma Montonen 1 year ago. Reply

Yay, great idea, will give it a bash! Your new website looks fantastic, congratulations Jem 😊

    Jem Bowden 1 year ago. Reply

    That’s great, Emma. Will look forward very much to seeing your entry! And thanks for your comment on the website, very pleased you like it.

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