Colin Ashby is a wildlife and portrait artist who contacted us recently because he was looking to buy a narrowboat. We were interested to find that he is currently diversifying in to personalised sketches of narrowboats, and so we asked if we could share some of his work here on the blog.

Colin, when did you first begin painting professionally?

I started doing commissions for people wishing to have portraits done of their pets, horses and family in about 2002. I have also been asked to do commissions of various other subjects, such as buildings.

Did you begin with pets or have you had other specialisms previously?

I have specialised mainly in pets because that is what people have wanted. Pets, like narrowboats are very dear to their owners.

Before coming to the U.K. in 2000, I was mainly thought of as a wildlife artist.

Did you go to Art College or have any formal training?

I have never been to art school but have loved art since I was a kid and my techniques have become my own over the many years that I have been painting and drawing. I really get a kick out of putting something on a blank piece of paper and it turning out to look something like it is supposed to.

Can you tell us a bit about your interest in boats?

Coming from Zimbabwe, where I worked mainly on farms and in the open spaces, I have learned to love and appreciate nature and the beauty of it. I find parts of the U.K. absolutely stunning and I am fortunate enough that both my wife, Penny and myself have come to enjoy the peace and tranquillity that the rivers and canals offer. There is something really attractive about living a life on the canal, and this is why we have just sold our house and have put in an offer for a lovely 60 ft narrowboat on which we intend to spend the rest of our available days. We have booked a mooring in a lovely new marina near Earls Barton in Northamptonshire called White Mills Marina.

What gave you the idea to begin doing personalised sketches of narrowboats?

Being an artist, I am always asking myself what is important to people and what would they want from an artist. That is why I thought of pets and horses. It is something that many British people cherish and I have been fairly successful in providing this service to them. Over the years as we have been chatting to friendly narrowboat owners along the canals and watched them lovingly washing and cleaning their boats, I have come to the conclusion that these people love their boats as much as they love their pets.

I thought that I would do a few sketches and try it on a few Facebook narrowboat sites and see what the response would be, and it has actually been quite positive. It is also something that I have not seen any other artists offering and I think that it is something that many people having to sell their boats would like as a memory.

What area do you cover and how far could you travel to undertake a narrowboat commission?

If anyone wanted a commission done of their narrowboat or pet, all they have to do is email a photograph to me. I can therefore do commissions from anywhere in the U.K.

What are you looking forward to the most about becoming a boat owner?

We are really looking forward to spending a life mixing with friendly people on the canals and living close to nature instead of in a terraced house in a concrete jungle.

To see more of Colin’s artwork and find out more about commissions visit his website

If you’re interested in narrowboats and canal boats check out our river and inland boats for sale.