About Me - Ian Michael McManus - AIEA
(Institute of East Anglian Artists)

Picture of Ian McManus Picture of Ian McManus

Ian’s Artwork & Inspiration

Ian is a professional artist specialising in watercolour and full member of the IEA.

His atmospheric paintings capture a moment in time from everyday life.

Well known for painting street scenes bustling with figures and the hubbub of everyday life but equally for exploring many genres such as coastal, pastoral, figures in landscape or interior settings and more. He strives to catch the energy and essence of a location through lively application of paint using direct brushwork, without overlays of washes normally associated with watercolour painting; he believes this gives each finished painting transparency and freedom of expression.

Painting Plein Air where possible, he constantly seeks locations and subjects with an interesting narrative and focal point, chasing the effects of natural light and shade, very much as the impressionist painters who are a great inspiration to him.

He works continuously to develop and improve his artworks and enjoys sharing this with others through demos for art societies, tutoring and workshops both nationally and internationally. Gaining great satisfaction from helping students elevate their skills and create more satisfying pictures themselves; additionally inspiring others through his instructional DVDs published by Townhouse Publications. He believes that anyone who is passionate enough about painting and commits sufficient time to honing the craft with some guidance from a good tutor can learn to paint. It’s a continual learning experience, and very rewarding when it all comes together and you finish up with a painting you’re happy with.

Ian’s Creative Journey & Achievements

Ian was born just outside Cambridge, and the neighbouring village had an excellent college where he spent four years of his secondary education waiting impatiently for the weekly art lesson, taught by a very inspirational teacher. On leaving college with only an ‘O’ level (in art), Ian worked for the next twenty-five years doing jobs that did not fulfil the creative side of his nature. In his early forties, he finally decided to explore painting, beginning with oils, and acrylics but was never happy with the results and enrolled on a local watercolour class, from there on he was hooked. He then studied with a variety of renowned professional artists, read books and watched DVDs to learn more about the technicalities of painting.

Over a matter of years and a huge amount of commitment and practice his own personal painting style developed along with a degree of confidence in the work he was producing, enough to present some paintings to Adrian Hill at The Gallery Holt (Norfolk). The experienced gallery proprietor had immediate conviction in Ian’s distinct style and ability to create a body of quality contemporary artworks that would appeal to many clients. He keenly offered him the opportunity of a solo exhibition; the 1st took place in 2011 with more than 50 original art works on display. Following the resounding initial success, the gallery has continued to host his one-man exhibitions almost annually, supporting him as he goes from strength to strength in a successful series entitled ‘A Watercolour Diary’.

Ian is a full member of the IEA and exhibits at some of their major exhibitions. He was delighted when one of his paintings won the Ruth Hill Memorial Award for the finest painting at the first IEA open exhibition in March 2013. He has had paintings pre-selected for the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour (RI).

In 2018 Ian was invited to exhibit and teach at the ‘Youyu International Watercolour Event’ in China. Relishing the opportunity to share his artwork further afield and gain inspiration first hand for future artworks from another culture whereas previously his research had been UK and Europe based.

Ian has been demonstrating painting at art societies for over a decade, well known for creating a dynamic atmospheric watercolour completed in 1 - 2 hours.

Town House Publications recognised his ability to guide others through achieving unfussy yet successful artworks and offered him opportunity to create an instructional DVD entitled “1 Hour Watercolours” in 2017 with a follow up DVD planned for release in 2023.

Ian hosts a monthly watercolour workshop in Newmarket and guest tuition for art groups and societies around the UK. He enjoys annual opportunities tutoring residential courses alongside other international professional artists at well-established art schools in fantastically inspiring locations for plein air artists including Big Sky Arts (Norfolk), Dedham Hall (Suffolk) and Alpha Holidays (various UK and international destinations). Join him, you never know where your brush will take you!


Ian believes a good painting starts with strong drawing and observation skills. Accuracy with perspective and proportion is vital to convey reality which then allows artistic experimentation with composition. An unusual viewpoint that draws the viewer into the narrative of the painting and holds their interest at a strong focal point. Ian uses tone to convey depth and atmosphere and a limited but instinctive use of colour to bring verve and excitement to the artwork.