Robert Ardill - a brief biography
I was born in 1948 at Vacoas, on the island of Mauritius. My father was Irish and my mother French-Mauritian. We lived, with my brother and three sisters, in a lovely colonial bungalow next door to my grandparents, who had the big house that they shared with my aunt's family. The two houses were on a large estate with a river, woods and sugar-cane fields. As children we were free to roam anywhere we wished on this lovely tropical island, with its vivid colors, beautiful beaches and clear blue sea. But the pictures that my father showed me of Ireland with its stone walls and donkeys and thatched cottages enchanted me totally, and I knew that I would live there someday.
And so it happened, as I came to Ireland to study, met the love of my life and have lived here more or less continuously ever since.
I've always loved watercolors, over and above every other medium, and, about 25 years ago, I took up watercolor painting more seriously ... and I have never looked back. I still have the box that my father made for me, back then, to hold my tubes of paint . In 2002 I retired from a company I had founded, and since then my life has been about my family; painting; and, with my wife Cathy, photography.
I am almost entirely self-taught - something that has both advantages and disadvantages, needless to say. Twenty five years ago the choice was to go to art school or to do it yourself ... and I'm definitely a DIY-sort-of-person! But it is wonderful that so much is now available online: it has opened the door to the many wonderful contemporary artists from all over the world ... and shown me some very exciting new techniques.
One of these discoveries, a few years ago, was the use of Photoshop for painting. This initially came about as a result of our photography, but I soon realised that Photoshop has a very powerful brush engine that is capable of far more than the sort of retouching that I had used it for up to then. Of course there was nothing new in this and, like others, I dabbled in acrylic-type painting, pastels etc. But what came as an absolute revelation was the discovery that the brushes can be used to produce very realistic watercolor paintings, given the right tools and techniques.
The sort of tools that are required were not available and so I started to develop them myself. My background (in imaging software, photography and painting) made this possible, but, even so, it has been, and continues to be, a major project.
The end result of this labour of love is the set of tools and techniques that I have made available on this site. I certainly would not give up traditional watercolor painting, but I am amazed at what can be achieved with Photoshop. As it is, I have still only scratched at the surface ... so it will be fun in the years to come to try out all of the formidable possibilities of digital, from the use of filters, to compositing, 3D etc. As I find out more about what can be done I will be sure to share it here.
Cathy and I live in the lovely village of Slane in the Boyne Valley in Ireland. We have two children and two grandchildren. We are very fortunate in that we can spend two or three months of every year travelling around Ireland and abroad, taking photographs, sketching and painting ... and the rest of the year doing much the same back home! You can see some of our photographs of Ireland here: IrelandUpClose Photography. I think you will see why it is that I love this country.