Jump to content

Hector Janse van Rensburg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shitty Watercolour
Hector Richard Janse van Rensburg

(1993-10-27) 27 October 1993 (age 30) [1]
Cambridge, England
EducationUniversity of York
Known forWatercolour, illustration

Hector Richard Janse van Rensburg (born 27 October 1993),[2][3] better known by his pseudonym Shitty Watercolour, is a British painter and cartoonist who started posting watercolour paintings on the social media website Reddit in February 2012, and later expanded to publishing his work on his own website, on Tumblr and on Twitter.[4][5] He graduated from the University of York with a degree in philosophy, politics and economics.[6][7]


Janse van Rensburg is from Cambridge and attended Hills Road Sixth Form College. His mother is Scottish and his father is South African.[8] In 2011, he won a Wilkinson Quincentenary Prize, awarded by St. John's College, Cambridge, to the best entries in an essay competition for high-school students.[9]

Boredom and depression led Janse van Rensburg to revisit an old watercolour set and seek subjects to paint. Already a Reddit user, he realised that submissions, comments, and usernames on the website provided him with ample illustration opportunities.[2][10] At first the quality of his paintings was, in his own opinion, accurately described by his Reddit username Shitty_Watercolour. Encouraged by the response from Reddit users however, among whom he gathered a devoted following, his painting skills improved greatly.[11]


Many people have mistaken the artist for Sir Quentin Blake, best known for illustrating children's books written by Roald Dahl. The painter considers this a compliment, and while denying that he is Quentin Blake, acknowledges that he is greatly inspired by him.[10]


Shitty_Watercolour became popular on reddit by posting his interpretations of pictures posted by "Redditors" (Reddit users), illustrating various comments on the subreddit /r/AskReddit, and illustrating usernames of redditors.[4] He often welcomes celebrities during their reddit AMAs ("Ask Me Anything") by posting a painting of them.[12] He has painted his own interpretations of classic artworks by painters such as Edward Hopper and Leonardo da Vinci.[6][13] Since early 2013, he has been going through a "sloth period", during which he has been painting sloths based on famous pieces of art.[14]

Janse van Rensburg worked for the BBC for a few months,[11][15] and has done paintings on commission for Intel, Lionsgate, ASUS, CNN, USA Network, BuzzFeed, and Prizeo.[16]

Janse van Rensburg provided the illustrations for Daniel Howell's coming out video in June 2019.[17]

Janse van Rensburg created the artwork for the software package management system Yarn.[18]


In October 2012, he streamed live a 12-hour painting session on YouTube to raise money for charity: water, a non-profit organisation which aims to provide drinking water in developing countries. Redditors donated a minimum of $10 to have a photo of their choice painted in a 5 cm by 5 cm square.[19][20]

In July 2012, he painted a watercolour painting to help a redditor propose to his girlfriend, and more paintings to celebrate their engagement.[21]

Media coverage[edit]

Shitty_Watercolour is consistently listed as one of the most popular and influential Redditors.[19][22] The painter's portrait of President Barack Obama during his August 2012 Reddit AMA was published on the President's official Tumblr and on various news websites, including CNN.[12][23] This portrait of Obama was hung in the campaign headquarters.[11] His impressions of classic artworks and his paintings of sloths have also received considerable attention in the media.[6][13][14][24]


  1. ^ "Shitty Watercolour on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b Knoblauch, Max (12 March 2014). "A Reddit Mystery Solved: The Identity of 'Shitty_Watercolour'". Mashable. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  3. ^ "Meet the man behind Reddit's favorite watercolor paintings". Fox News. 16 June 2014. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  4. ^ a b Watercutter, Angela (12 June 2012). "Reddit's (Best) Worst Painter Turns Comment Threads Into Art". Wired. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  5. ^ Alfonso III, Fernando (21 February 2012). "He turns posts into paintings on Reddit". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
    - "40 Really Bad Watercolor Interpretations Of Photos On Reddit". BuzzFeed. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  6. ^ a b c Watercutter, Angela (10 December 2012). "The Best Worst Artist on Reddit Recreates Classic Paintings in Watercolor". Wired. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Shitty_Watercolour's Reddit AMA". Reddit. 19 February 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  8. ^ SWatercolour (20 February 2017). "my mum is Scottish and my dad South African lol". Twitter. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  9. ^ "Wilkinson Quincentenary Prize Winners". St. John's College, Cambridge. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  10. ^ a b "'Shitty Watercolour' Paints Reddit Users Photos With Ease". The Huffington Post. 4 June 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  11. ^ a b c Zhu, Olivia (31 December 2013). "Art on Demand". Harvard Political Review. Boston, MA: Institute of Politics, Harvard University. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  12. ^ a b Mendoza, Dorrine (31 August 2012). "President Barack Obama gets upvoted". CNN. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  13. ^ a b Broderick, Ryan (7 December 2012). "10 Adorably Shitty Versions Of Classic Paintings". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
    - Alfonso III, Fernando (7 December 2012). "Famous works of art reimagined by Reddit's shitty_watercolour". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
    - Rueda, Drew (12 December 2012). "Legendary Redditor Artist Re-Imagines The Classics in Shitty Watercolor". New Media Rockstars. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  14. ^ a b Marshall, Chelsea (14 May 2012). "Artist Goes Through His "Sloth Period"". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
    - Davies, Melanie (14 May 2013). "These Sloth Watercolors Are the Cutest Watercolors Ever". Jezebel. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
    - "Artist Goes Through His "Sloth Period"". Zimbio. 14 May 2013. Archived from the original on 24 June 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  15. ^ "r/AskReddit - What's the best response to "why are you so quiet'?". Reddit. 21 October 2018. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  16. ^ "Works done on commission". shittywatercolour.com. Archived from the original on 9 July 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  17. ^ Weiss, Geoff (14 June 2019). "Dan Howell Comes Out As "Basically" Gay, Answers Speculation About Relationship With Phil Lester". Tubefilter. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  18. ^ "Yarn". Yarn. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  19. ^ a b Hickey, Walter; Lubin, Gus (13 March 2012). "Meet The Redditors Who Rule The Internet". Business Insider. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  20. ^ Alfonso III, Fernando (4 October 2012). "Reddit's shitty_watercolour launches charity paint-a-thon". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  21. ^ Alfonso III, Fernando (10 July 2012). "Reddit's shitty_watercolour helps couple get engaged". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  22. ^ Collier, Kevin (19 July 2012). "The 6 best novelty accounts that turn Reddit into art". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
    - Morris, Kevin (14 December 2012). "The 10 most influential people on Reddit in 2012". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
    - Hoffa, Felipe (1 August 2017). "The most famous reddit accounts". Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  23. ^ "In case you missed it, President Obama met Reddit yesterday (and answered a bunch of questions)". Tumblr. August 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
    - Testa, Jessica (29 August 2012). "The Best Of President Obama's Reddit AMA". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
    - Holt, Kris (29 August 2012). "Presidential memes: Obama believes in Internet freedom, kills Reddit". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  24. ^ "15 Celebrities As Sloths". BuzzFeed. 28 August 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2014.

External links[edit]