Ploughman’s Lunch
30 x 22 in.
Transparent watercolor on paper
Available through the artist

For Ploughman’s Lunch, watercolor artist Matthew Bird drew on inspiration from 17th-century Dutch masters Jan Davidszoon de Heem and Pieter Claesz, employing dramatic lighting to reveal the beautiful textures and colors on display. Here, simple kitchen ingredients are transformed into exquisitely observed objects that demand contemplation.

“Most of my still life paintings feature a rich, black background,” says Bird, “but for this, I wanted to push the lighting further; have it come through a window, and fall across a wall with hanging utensils. I wanted to create a sense of place and atmosphere.”

Still life painting offers the opportunity to explore different textures and surfaces in great detail, and Bird does not disappoint. The “place” he’s created is rich with visual delights. Frothy bubbles slide down a pewter mug; spongey bread is hidden under a crispy crust; a pickle drips with flavor, all rendered beautifully. A feast for the eyes!

“A ‘ploughman’s lunch’ is a much-loved British meal which often includes bread, cheese, and some sort of pickled element alongside a mug of beer. What was once a laborer’s simple meal today looks like a grand cheese platter.”

One of three new paintings, Ploughman’s Lunch was painted for the International Watercolour Masters 2020 exhibition, May 5th – 15th, in Shropshire, England. Bird is one of 39 master watercolorists from 25 countries invited to participate. He is also presenting a lecture about his process on May 10th.

Founded by David Poxon, the exhibition will be a truly unique event for anyone with a passion for amazing art. With a packed program of demonstrations, workshops, and a masterful collection of paintings all in a beautiful and historic setting. Learn more at

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