Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Shirley Trevena - Interview

Shirley Trevena has always tried to break the rules of conventional watercolour painting and over the years she has developed a wonderfully loose way of painting using a dynamic palette of colours. She has an international reputation and is regarded as one of Britain’s most innovative artists in the medium. She has been a member of the Royal institute of Painters in Watercolours since 1994 and is author of 3 best selling books: Taking Risks with watercolour, Vibrant Watercolours and Breaking the Rules of watercolour.
Shirley Trevena. 2-clocks-the-pea-pod-man.

How and when did you discover that you are an artist?
When I was very young all I wanted to do was draw, but somehow my parents did not agree with me going to art school to get a formal art education and so I ended up working in an office.

Was it a long way to watercolor medium or it was the love from the first sight?
In the 1980’s my husband brought me a small watercolour paint box and I took to it straight away.

Shirley Trevena. Blue China.

Is your painting process completely intuitive? 
Having had no formal art training, when I first started painting it definitely was all about intuition, but the more I have learnt about putting paint down the less intuitive the work becomes. I love to work hard at experimenting and moving on to save the work from becoming stale.

Shirley Trevena. Black-Gloves-Goldfish

Do you use certain rules or you only “break” them?
It’s hard not to hang on to your own rules, but I do like to work out of my comfort zone at times.

Shirley Trevena. Dilemma Of What To Paint

What is more important attitude for the artist: to know how to do or to feel that it won`t work this way?
You can learn so much from your mistakes. Even though you know something may not work, it’s good to try it.

Is your painting more interpretation than copying the model?
The model is just information for me to interpret into my own colour and form.

Shirley Trevena. Dark Vase Of Lilies

What is your alarm to stop working at the painting? 
When do you know it is ready? When my eyes can roam around the composition and feel each part is balanced. If my eye jumps to one small part I know something is wrong.

Shirley Trevena. Chateau De Castelnaud Dordogne

Does your inspiration comes from a model or you get into the right mood and arrange the model for your painting?
Inspiration can start anywhere. Just seeing a friend in a purple jacket sit next to a yellow cushion can make me want to use those colours in the next painting.

Is there a connection between your painting approach and music? 
Not generally. Sometimes i get too involved in both and find it hard to separate the emotions.

Shirley Trevena. Disguises In Small Houses

Is there a special significance of white space always left in your painting? 
I love the sparkle of small white spaces. It leaves the viewer with a feeling of the picture not quite finished, rather like a drawing, a direct link to the artist.

Shirley Trevena. Four Bunches Of Anemones

You don`t have much of figurative painting. Do you feel more comfortable in still life?
For the first 3 years of my painting life I did figure painting and then moved on to still life. I have just recently completed a few new figurative pieces.

Shirley Trevena. Still Llife On C Check Cloth

How do you work on composition? 
I do not draw out a composition on my paper before putting paint down. Sometimes I do a very small sketch. The composition just evolves.

Shirley Trevena in her studio.

What is more important for the artist while painting: concentration or relaxation? 
 For me there is no such thing as relaxation. When it comes to creating a painting the concentration is intense.

Shirley Trevena. Three Friends

Do you teach your students some concrete rules or your aim is to make them paint how they feel? 
I have recently given up teaching, but when I did teach I always wanted the students to express themselves and find their own mark.

You can read an article about Shirley Trevena as well as a big publication about Thomas W. Schaller inApril issue of Watercolor Artist magazine.

Roubloff Brushes

I`ve just got about 60 painting brushes from the Russian manufacture "Roubloff" to test them and to write an article. I know that the squirrel and sable ones are good, let`s see about the others...

Art brushes by Roubloff.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Art contest - your help?

I got picked for the 2nd round in the "you be the judge contest"!

Here are my instructions for my friends who like my work there and who wants to vote:
go to the link, chose # 15 and press VOTE:)

It will help to keep the watercolor in highlights - there are not so many watercolor works picked there. Here is the painting:

Konstantin Sterkhov. Aku. watercolor, 36x53 cm, 2006

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tony Smibert - Interview

Tony Smibert's art  includes watercolours inspired by ‘The Golden Age of English Watercolour' (c. 1750 - 1850) and others reflecting the minimalism of Japanese Zen. Smibert’s unusual approach to watercolour actually grew out of the study of Japanese martial art. From the study of Aikido he realised that the best way to learn a traditional art form is to apprentice yourself to the best teachers. In the case of watercolour, this meant the great masters and led to his focus on the 19th Century English school - particularly the water colours of JMW Turner (1775 - 1851).

Can you describe the advantages of watercolor medium for those who
appreciate oil painting?
Watercolour is a great medium for sketching, colour studies, experiments, developing ideas and fully resolving ideas. However, it’s not a medium I would compare with oil but, rather, an entirely different experience. Although I also paint in oils and acrylics, watercolour is still my primary mode of expression because I love the fact that each painting is an adventure into the unknown.  A journey towards the possible…  There are no ‘advantages’ or ‘disadvantages’, simply that watercolour offers a chance to let the medium itself play a role in the creation of your work. Many of the most beautiful qualities of watercolour only occur when you learn to work in harmony with it, rather than trying to ‘master it’ or push it around.

Tony Smibert

Do you need a model or life observation for painting?
I paint from imagination.  In watercolour I just start with an empty sheet of paper and start painting.

What is more exiting for you – a process or a finished work?
Absolutely, the process.  Painting in watercolour is like surfing.  You can’t wait to catch another wave and do it again! So I usually lay out another sheet of paper and start another painting.

Tony Smibert

Where do you find your inspiration?Watercolour itself is inspiring, along with Life, Nature and just about everything. I love mountain scenery, storms, sunrises, sunset, mists, waves and the way that eagles ride the thermals above our farm.  It’s all pretty inspiring.  Then, in the art world, when I see a great painting, or even something that was simply well painted, they can be inspiring.  But real inspiration is something that occurs while painting: that’s when you can almost feel it – in the same way that you can feel hunger and love or thrilling excitement – as a palpable flow of energy.  Having studied Aikido I would call this a form of ‘ki’ or spiritual energy.  When its there, I paint, but if I’m trying to paint but can’t feel it then I’ll stop and go do something else for a day or two.  Alhough creative energy is something you can cultivate, it not something that you can switch on and off at will.

Tony Smibert

Do you make some sketches or some research work when you paint on a large size?
When working on a commission for a client I always do sketches and smaller studies first.  The client needs to know what you have in mind and it’s an important part of the business side of art to ensure you get paid.  They need to see some sketches so they know what they are going to be paying for.  As far as my other work is concerned, small studies are a regular part of my regular process so I’m doing them all the time.  But when it comes to the larger paintings, I seldom refer to any studies.  The painting comes from the process.  I mind have some idea, or be working on a theme, but even so I can truly say that every painting is a surprise.  As for research, the answer is yes, absolutely, and lots of it: location sketches, colour studies, small paintings and so on.

Tony Smibert

Why minimalistic painting looks better in a large canvas and a smaller
painting sometimes requires more detailed approach?
Actually, although its an interesting observation, I can’t agree with this statement.  I’ll need to think about it…

Should a watercolour painting tell a story or it can be self-valued?
Paintings don’t have to tell a story.  They ARE a story.  The story IS the painting and each person will read it differently. I guess there are stories behind most paintings - the life of the artist, their dreams, processes, subject matter and so on – but there’s no need for a painting to be an illustration.  Paintings are about themselves.

Tony Smibert

Do you consider watercolour more graphical or painting medium? 
I consider watercolour to be a very liquid and inherently creative painting medium.

Do you consider black a colour?
It depends who’s writing the dictionary, I guess.  For myself, I’d say that black is not a colour, but rather the absence of light and, consequently, colour.

  Tony Smibert

What is a stronger expressive means – a stroke or a colour? 
Tough question, to which I don’t think there can be a firm answer.  I always loved the power of gesture as revealed in brush-strokes and didn’t think of myself as a colourist at all until I studied Turner.  Now, I’m starting to understand a little about colour and to love it almost as much as gesture.

Tony Smibert

Why JMW Turner is the greatest? 
Its often said that JMW Turner is the greatest watercolourist the west has yet produced.  Not simply because he was a wonderful painter – there have been many of them – but because he was a groundbreaker, so thoroughly immersed in his medium, art and life that we can confidently know that his work on any given day was at the forefront of watercolour being done anywhere in the world, on that day.  I think he was the greatest watercolour researcher of his time – setting a model for practise and progress that we can all follow.  Beyond that, I see Turner as a watercolourist in complete harmony with his medium.  And that’s the thing I most admire…

A Bridge to XIX Century Watercolor.

Reminds Zorn so much! Contemporary Swedish painter Stanislaz Zoladz.

Stanislav Zoladz

Stanislav Zoladz. Peters Boat. 75x105.

My Red Fish in Snow

Konstantin Sterkhov. Red Fish. Snow on the Water Surface. 56x76 cm. 2011

Daniel Gerhartz - Stunning!

This watercolor displays stunning technique!

Daniel Gerhartz

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Denis Ryan. Interview. Jan., 2012

British painter Denis Ryan was elected into the Royal Watercolour Society In 2008 and is now a full member. His career began in film animation and, later, illustration. Successfully combining both, he worked on award-winning films such as Watership Down and The Wall, as well as numerous TV and film commercials, and has had commissions for illustrations from most of the leading publishing houses. Having worked in commercial art since leaving art school he is now concentrating on pursuing his love of fine art, in particular painting with watercolour.

Denis Ryan

Denis, How did you come to watercolor medium? 
Whilst working in advertising and film, I used both watercoour and acrylic paint. Later, when I decided to paint for myself I was heavily influenced by the marvelous watercolours of the super-realists, Goings, Salt and McLean, they really opened my eyes as to what you could achieve with watercolour.

Denis Ryan. Bernini's Elephant, Piazza della Minerva, Rome, Italy

What inspire you as an artist? How you pick the objects for your painting?
The subject matter is dictated I guess by the kind of painting problems I'm interested in.  The neon signs offer me the chance to paint the hard, shiny or rusty surfaces, the glass neon tubes reflecting light on or off offer me the challenges I enjoy painting.  All I can do is try and put as much of myself into it as I can, give it the attention it deserves.

Denis Ryan. Egyptian Minx Neon, Lisbon, Portugal. 19x24 cm

You work merely with reference photographs. Is there any danger of losing a life impression of the object and getting an abstract image with no connection to reality?
It's true, I take my own photographs, which I consider to be an important part of the creative process, but it's not the whole process.  I shoot a lot of photographs for a single painting, some in different light, and different depths of field.  This gives me the chance to edit or add whatever elements I consider to improve the painting.  It would be totally impractical for me to set up an easel and paint from life, and anyway I don't consider that the finished paintings are a direct copy of the photograph.  They end up looking quite different.

Denis Ryan. Crossing the East River, New York. 46x68

What is the part of real impression and imaginary things in your works? What is your opinion – should the painting tell a story or it can be self-valued by its technical quality? 
I don't really consider that my paintings tell a story as such. Sure I feel the signs I'm excited by are too often taken for granted, and by painting them I can bring them to people's attention. Hopefully they will enjoy them for the beautifully crafted objects they are before they all disappear. If people enjoy my paintings for their technical qualities then that's a bonus.

Denis Ryan. Night and the City, New York, USA. 35x25cm

How do you work on your painting? Is it the same routine every time or you happen to change the approach or steps of the process?  If the painting takes a long time to finish it how do you manage to keep a fresh eye on it? 
It's pretty much the same process for every painting.  Once the 'watercolour paper', mounted on board, is taped down to another drawing board so it is perfectly flat and does not move or buckle, I then trace down my image, then carefully draw it, making any adjustments I feel are necessary.  I then begin to paint, masking out some areas and building up other areas with various washes of colour.  The time it takes is not a problem, it passes quickly in fact - it's what I love doing.  I may drawing up other paintings in between.  When the painting is virtually finished, I put it to one side while I start work on a new picture, then after a few days or weeks I'll go back to it, take a fresh look and make some adjustments maybe, then finish the work.

Denis Ryan. Swimwear, Le Touquet, France, 2007, 15x21 cm

Your colors are more saturated than usual palette of realists artists. Do you have any color preferences? 
I love colour - the work of abstract painters like John Hoyland and Peter Haley, the tension and energy in their work is something I really admire. I think that years of working in film animation and being surrounded by colour must have had a subconscious effect on me. I don't set out to make colourful paintings, it's just the way I see things.

I usually build up the image using very thin washes of transparent paint, I use this to get the greatest luminosity I can. I know there are no visible paint strokes as everything is blended in, but that's just the natural way I paint. I had developed over the years in commercial art the skill of airbrushing, so I don't have a problem with using it, but it's not a technique I over-indulge in, I only use it if I feel the painting would benefit from it. As far as colour preferences go, I seem to be drawn to 'Quinacridone Red' a lot, it's like a magnet or a drug! Mostly though I mix all colours, very rarely using something directly out of a tube.

Denis Ryan. All Day, Chinatown, London, UK.14x24cm

Do you consider acrylic a transparent watercolor medium?
Well, to take acrylic paint, an industrial synthetic polymer, developed in the 1950's, carried and bound by water and give it life, needs a fair bit of  technical skill/craft, so yes I do consider it a watercolour medium.

Denis Ryan. Ionian Islands, Greece. 26x35cm

What brushes do you use?
I use a mixture of 'Winsor & Newton' and 'Cornellison' brushes, finest sable hair, usually short hairs - I like the springy quality.  Various sizes from very small '0' to '8' and then some larger industrial type brushes for big washes or flat colour.

Denis Ryan. Emmanuel, Paris, France. 15x23cm

What is your favorite paints and paper brands?
 I use 'Winsor & Newton watercolour and 'Liquitex' acrylic - great paint. I work on Daler-Rowney, Saunders-Waterford 'rough' watercolour board.

Denis Ryan. Crumbling Decadence, Venice, Italy. 28x40cm

Can you determine some special features of the British watercolor school? Do you feel yourselves as a part of it? 
There has been a long and illustrious history of watercolour painting in Britain, the public love it. And I'm proud to be an elected full member of the 'Royal Watercolour Society', my technique and approach to painting have improved immeasurably since I was elected. The feedback, ideas and encouragement from other members is terrific.

And last year (2011) I became a founder member of the 'ART OF THE REAL' collective, a group of four like-minded artists sharing the same philosophy, style, and approach to painting. This exchange of techniques and ideas has been fantastic and this year 'AOR' look forward to mixed shows in the UK, USA and China.

Random Painting

Andrew Wyeth

Bengt Jaconsson

Per Vican

Hilde Eilertsen Svetvold

Stanislav Zoladz

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wendy Artin. Interview. Feb.,1, 2012

Born in Boston, Wendy Artin currently lives and paints in Rome. She has been invited to be Artistic Advisor to the American Academy in Rome for 2011-2012.

All of your works some or other way connected with antique aesthetics. When you got this interest to ancient art and it`s values?
As a child I used to wander through museums and draw, to keep myself entertained. It was a wonderful way to spend a long time looking at one piece. My interest in ancient art, and sculpture in particular, was that I found it stimulating and challenging to draw.

Wendy Artin. Scketches.

There is a big difference in approach when you paint live model and the ancient sculptures. Does it help to see movement behind static figures of frieze? 
I have always imagined the live model who posed for the sculpture, the sculpture animated and breathing. I like that imagined animation combined with the silent stillness of the stone. As for my approach, it is quite the same regardless of whether I am painting statues or figures: I look for the shadows and try to capture them with the most simple precision I can muster.

Wendy Artin. Belowing Bull. 103x132. 2011

What light do you use for your painting: for models, for work? 
I use daylight coming in through the window until it is too dark, and then I use bright lights, both for illuminating the models and for illuminating my paintings.

Wendy Artin. Antinous. 76x56. 2010

When you work with live models, do you make a drawing or you keep the whole thing in mind? 
I paint directly from the models as they pose. The poses vary from 30 seconds to a half hour. The large charcoal figure drawings I made using photos that I took after meticulously combing through my paintings, selecting poses, and carefully recreating the poses with the same light, same model and the same angle. So I worked from the original watercolors and used the photos for additional information. I find that real life contains far more information than my visual memory.

Wendy Artin. Aura Arms Locked. 30x20.2004

Your models seam to dance. Do you really paint them in movement? 
My models are quite extraordinary, but no, I am not capable of painting them if they are moving. They take the poses, and sometimes need to get out of the poses and then get back in. At that point there is always some difference in the pose, but I find that if I start and work very quickly on the part of the body that is most likely to move, I have finished it by the time it does move. However, the fact is that quite often it doesn't work out, and then I just don't show that painting!

Wendy Artin. Tamara Touching Her Toes. 20x30. 2002

Do you always work with the same models? 
I often work with the same models, of whom I never tire, but I am always happy to try out a new model.

Wendy Artin. Zucca. 20x20. 2000

You have a lot of monochrome paintings but in different colors. How do you decide which color is suitable for a certain object? 
I never actually decided to paint the different subjects in different colors. Originally I painted landscapes using black, but that was too dark and cold for the Roman light, even when I added plenty of water. Sepia seemed to give the right luminosity. I then tried sepia for the models, and it was too somber and cold, so I added the red madder. When painting the Parthenon Friezes I had discovered a very nice reddish black to use, that makes very warm grays: it did not even occur to me to use sepia, or red. However in the past I often used sepia for outdoor statue watercolors in Rome.

Wendy Artin. Church at Circo Massimo. 35x50. 1999

Do you wet the paper from the back side or you only paint some areas in wet when you work on a big size painting? 
I have never wet the paper from the back side, may give that a try soon. With a large painting I work on one area at a time, spreading outwards from the painted area.

Wendy Artin. Columns. 48x76. 2006

Could you tell about your paper choice? 
I love the handmade cotton Khadi paper, despite its various difficulties. It breathes organically, it absorbs unevenly, has a beautiful tooth so that when the brush slides over the surface it makes a wonderful brushy stroke, and then in dark areas the watercolor becomes velvety. For small works I find the Khadi paper too complicated and uneven, and I love Arches watercolor paper. Fabriano is also excellent paper. For quick life drawings I use either Fabriano Ingres, which I like because I like the lines of the laid paper, or if I cannot find it, Canson mi-teintes which have many lovely colors, although a harder pebbly surface which I like less than the laid surface of the Fabriano. For longer nudes I use Rives BFK paper, which gives a softer look. These are the papers that I use here and now, since they are available to me here and now. I am sure that in other places there are fantastic papers that I have never tried: the important thing is to learn to work with the paper you have available to you. I find that once I am used to a certain paper, it is quite time-consuming to change and learn how to use a different paper.

 Wendy Artin with Khadi paper

Can you work continuously on a painting or you try to finish it in one go? 
I usually work on a painting until it is finished.

Wendy Artin. Lemon. 20x25. 2008

Does it make difference where to paint? For example, is it easier to paint ancient frieze in Italy than in US? 
I do not think it makes a difference where you paint, but the lighting conditions and size of your surroundings certainly make a difference!

Wendy Artin. Panorama. 30x76.part. 2008

Do you consider yourselves a spontaneous or a person who acts according to exact plan? 
A curious question. I think that we all hope that we are spontaneous, and that however to do things well probably we are all repeating an exact plan within the new circumstances.

Do you teach your methods? 
I do not presently teach, since I have two relatively small children and always want more time to paint. But when I did teach, I loved it, and I love to watch other people paint and draw.