With a background as an architect, Mike Jeffries has always had an eye for drawing, and detailed observation.

But it wasn't until he gave up full time work that he was able to indulge in his real passion - watercolour painting. Mike now devotes much of his time to his art, and has paintings for sale in Gallery 41 at Corfe Castle, as well as a gallery in Winchester.

"I always drew and always wanted to paint," says Mike, who lives in Lilliput, Poole.

"But I never had time until I stopped full-time work. I chair different companies, so I haven't had time. My children bought me a painting holiday with a chap who I think is the greatest living watercolour painter in Britain, John Yardley.

"So in the last five or six years just started to paint. Now I just can't get enough."

Mike, 73, is influenced by Yardley's techniques, painting in an impressionist style while capturing sunlight and the motion of people. But his architectural background means he can also create accurate depictions of buildings and landscapes, inspired by his waterside home; local street scenes and his regular travels to London and internationally.

"I travel a lot, so I paint when I'm away," he explains. "I've had an apartment in London for 20-odd years. I paint anything that attracts me as a subject - every now and then you just see something. I will paint flowers and I love boats - I started off painting boats.

I would quite like to try portraits, but I'm a bit nervous about starting it. One thing about scenes is that it doesn't matter if it's right or wrong. But you have to capture the personality and character of the person so I think they're very difficult.

"I used to avoid details and people like the plague. But you can't have urban scenes without people in them."

Mike admits he is forever stopping while he is out and about, to snap pictures on his mobile phone of a subject or scene which has captured his inspiration.

"I always have my iPhone," he smiles. "If I'm out and about I see something, I will snap it. If I've got time I will do a quick sketch, where I'm not bothered about the technique, but it's more about the shapes and colours and the textures.

"Quite often you do a quick sketch then go back to the studio and quite often the quick sketch is better than the painting."

There is something easy and calm about Mike's paintings, but he stresses watercolour is one of the most difficult mediums to get right.

"You only get one shot at it," he explains. "With oils you can scrape it off or paint over the top. The secret is to get the colour right on the palette and get it on and don't mess about with it.

"Trying to get atmosphere to a watercolour is quite difficult, but I'm always experimenting."

Mike's pictures, which sell for between £350 and £450, generally take him around two to two-and-a-half hours to complete "after that I've usually ruined it", he smiles.

"You're always critical of your own work, you're never happy with it. I've sold hundreds of paintings over the years - there's a couple that I regret selling because I was really pleased with them. "It's the biggest ego trip on God's earth when someone wants to buy something that you've painted. The artist may not be 100 per cent pleased with it, but if it pleases someone else, that gives you pleasure.

"I'm not doing it for the money. I'm doing it just because I like painting. Most of the time I give them away."

Mike's charitable mindset recently led to a collaboration with Lighthouse, Poole, in aid of Dorset disability charity Diverse Abilities.

"I'm chairman of Lighthouse and this is their 40th anniversary year, so I said I would have an exhibition," he explains.

"Mark Powell, the chief executive of Diverse Abilities, is on the Lighthouse board. I said would he like to be a beneficiary and he jumped at it. I committed to 100 paintings a year ago - it took me a year to paint them as most of them were painted especially for the exhibition."

A number of the paintings sold while they were on display at Lighthouse, with the remainder being put into an online shop, and taken to various fundraising events to be auctioned off for the charity.

In the meantime, Mike continues to work on his painting technique.

"I'm still learning all the time," he says, "but that applies to life too."

W: mikejeffries.co.uk/site/

W: diverseabilities.org.uk

E: fundraising@diverseabilities.org.uk