RWS Update

The following explains my decision to step down from the Royal Watercolour Society

The RWS (London) is the oldest and most prominent watercolour society in the world. As that beacon, one would want for the society to embrace all the exciting possibilities the medium holds. We have an abundance of artists at all levels exploring the medium in the UK: producing a wealth of innovative work by painting in watercolour on a wide array of non-traditional surfaces, as I myself do. For its shows and competitions, the society will accept only watercolours painted on paper. Upon election as a RWS associate, one of my key aims was to advocate for a broadening of the acceptance criteria. My non-traditional approach and use of watercolour upon found-objects was, after all, one reason I was invited by the society for interview in the first instance.

Two proposals to the council over the last two years – that the RWS should consider expanding the range of accepted production materials – have been denied and finally rejected outright. Although I understand the desire to honour long-standing traditions within such an established society, I personally do not feel that this ethos is compatible with my own ever-evolving and experimental practice. I firmly believe that creativity and innovations should not be bound and restricted by tradition, but should be a founding basis for a sustainable and supportive culture and development of that same tradition. For this reason, and with regret, I have decided to leave.

Many positions come and go during an artist’s working life. Sometimes one must try something out in order to determine if there is space for it to sit in harmony with one’s methods of creation. As an artist and a collaborator I have always endeavoured to avoid situations where restriction exists. In my career thus far I have spent time exploring a variety of ventures in order to help extend my practice, find balance and learn new skills that feed into my principal output.

It is an honour to be recognised by such a prominent institution. Yet – as in many aspects of life – if a scenario is incompatible it shouldn’t be pursued against one’s principles simply because it is associated with a level of prestige. Leaving is a step forward.

Above image: paintings in (mostly) watercolour & gouache upon a variety of found surfaces: wood, antique canvas, stone, card & metal.

Winsor & Newton: Water Paper Paint

Earlier this month I gave a live painting demonstration for Winsor & Newton, during the exhibition Water Paper Paint. The show's been a great success so far and finishes this coming Saturday (22nd April).

Four of my Florence in Flood watercolours are on display, plus one gouache seascape. All works are framed.

Live-painitng was a new experience for me, Winsor & Newton will release footage of the event soon. Thanks to all those who came along!

David Cass Royal Watercolour Society

Profili Sommersi (Faces of the Florence Flood of 1966)

As a whole, my artworks tend to avoid straight-forward depiction of the human form. Traces are often evident in my landscape work: evidence that man indeed exists in the environments I paint. However for this project (Florence and the flood of November 1966) I feel that I can't escape the great human tragedy that the city (and its surrounding area) endured. Partly inspired by iconic renaissance portraits (mostly from the Uffizi gallery, whose collection bore the brunt of the 1966 floodwaters), I've started work on a series of paintings of semi-submerged Florentines.


Sketch Based On: Portrait Of A Girl With Book, Agnolo Bronzino (1545) • Pencil + Gouache On Antique Paper (January 2016)

Above Sketch Based On: Portrait Of An Old Man, Filippino Lippi (1457 - 1504) • Pencil + Gouache On Watercolour Paper (January 2016)

Profile Sommersi (Working Title) • Watercolour, Acrylic & Gouache on Antique Postcard (2016)