Today’s post has become multi-functional, it began simply as a quick update on the state (and I use the word advisedly!) of the large water can I’m painting for Eileen, and has turned into a Book Review of Tony Lewery’s invaluable reference ‘Flowers Afloat’.

Lewery, T. 1996 Flowers Afloat – Folk Artists of the Canals David & Charles ISBN 0 7153 0145 4

My paint-besmirched copy of this excellent book has provided me not only with a thoughtful account of the possible origins of the art form, linking it firmly to an emerging industrial age; but also confirms the art form’s abiding strength and fascination for many.

From Nursers of Braunston to Atkins of Polesworth, the story was often one of generations of a family employed in the trade, each artisan/artist developing his own distinct and distinctive variation of the basic ‘patterns’.

Lewery explores these traditions and developments over time, the men and women behind it, and the way of life which led to its development. It’s a fascinating visual record of a long-vanished lifestyle and the relationship of the boat people to the art form that surrounded them.

The eternal popularity of roses and castles is a testament to the chord they strike in many even into the 21st century, an achievement which lifts the artwork on water cans and back cabins, on cabin doors and dippers beyond the merely decorative to an art form worthy of its place in history.

Fascinating period photographs show artisan artists / amateur boatmen painters at work, both on the boats and on land, and remaining examples of their skill have been captured in beautiful colour photographs.

Tony Lewery’s vivid account of the painters’ lives and fortunes, together with a colourful explanation of the various designs and motifs which dominate the paintwork, complete this comprehensive and beautiful book.

Oh, and what, I hear you cry, of Man v. Can??? Well…


I’m getting there.

As you can see above, I’m adding detail to the flowers. Now that I’ve finally worked out what my flower should look like I’m finding the painting a satisfying and relaxing process – though very slow – I seem to take ages to paint each flower!

As this is my first attempt at a Can I suppose it’s understandable that the brush strokes are a little hesitant… when I try my hand at a dipper next I’d like to free things up a little more… though perhaps not quite as far as I previous did in a series of paintings on canvas…


Something between the two would be ideal!


One thought on “Man v Can 13 (& Book Review of Tony Lewery’s ‘Flowers Afloat’…)

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