Roo Waterhouse


In my paintings I celebrate our connection with treasured books and the way our bookshelves reflect the stories of our lives.

My work brings together my love of oil painting, books and typography and a fascination with how our bookshelves can hold on to our stories and reflect our lives. I specialise in carefully rendered, reverential Shelf Portrait oil paintings: collections of treasured books gathered together, resonating with the relationships they hold.

Local inspiration has come from Shibden Hall in my ‘Gentleman Jack’ Shelf Portrait, commissioned for Helena Whitbread, author and decoder of Anne Lister’s Secret Diaries. Also from the library shelves of Howarth Parsonage, with ‘Novels of the Sisters Bronte’ depicting editions from their collection.

I always have an eye out for pleasing groups of books wherever I am: browsing second-hand bookshops or inviting myself into the homes of strangers who sound like they have an intriguing collection on their shelves! Painting themes include Penguin paperbacks, classic literature, Wainwright, bird watching, cookery, natural history…

I produce a wide range of Bookshelf themed Limited Edition prints, notebooks, cards and mugs from my paintings. Visit my studio to have a browse, or find them in my website shop.

I especially enjoy working on bespoke commissions, where clients choose their most treasured books to be painted together. I love visiting people’s homes and chatting about their book choices, hearing the stories of their lives unfold before me on the shelf. As the painting comes together it builds up a portrait reflecting the client’s own tales and passions.

It’s a bit like Desert Island Discs!

Which books would you choose?…

Visit Roo’s page for contact details and links.

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Photos of Roo by Lucy Cartwright

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