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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Master Z in St. Petersburg

Was great to meet master Z in our city this summer. Master made a beautiful and exclusive sketch in my Album Of Masters (I promis to tell more about it later when the collection is richer). It was fascinating to see how the master whose paintings of other parts of the world are so famouse is depicting my own city`s sights! Sharing for you here...

 Joseph Z at the river Neva.

 Joseph has just painted Kazanskiy Cathedral in St. Petersburg

Z with my book featuring him (out of stock now)

Visit Joseph Zbukvic web site

Lian Gang Interview

Some extracts from interview of Lian Gang (China) for my new book "Masters Of Watercolor. From East To West"

Do you consider your painting style western or traditional Chinese?
First, watercolor derived from England. Watercolor paintings tools, materials, and its aesthetic value are quite different from traditional Chinese painting media.
My watercolor paintings are Western style with its Oriental art flavor. Since I grow up with Chinese cultural influence, my paintings contain a lots of elements reflect Chinese aesthetic value. This cultural background affects my watercolor.
I also emphasize Contemporary looks in my watercolor paintings. I try to find harmony between my paintings and modern space and environment. This is quite consistent with Western aesthetic trend. That is why my watercolor is Western style with Chinese elements.

Lian Gang

What is the difference between traditional Gohua and Western watercolor?
This second question is a very interesting question. Traditional Chinese ink painting(Guohua) and Western watercolor are all belong to water medium art. Other than all water based, these two painting methods are very different.
First of all, materials are completely different. Chinese painting employs very permeable rice paper while Western watercolor paper is non permeable. Brushes are different, too. Moreover, Chinese ink is obviously different from watercolor paints.
Second, Chinese ink painting emphasize on various drawing lines and ink infiltrating looks on rice paper. However, there is little concern in theories on perspective, color, or light and shade in Chinese ink painting. In watercolor, there are lots of rules and theory in terms of realistically depicting objects and color. Artists need to find consistency between painting and objects.

Lian Gang

Is it possible to be a full time artist in China?
Do you ask whether a Chinese painter can be a full-time artist? I do not know about Russian artists. I know in general, an influential artist naturally sells well and lives a comfortable life. However, most Chinese artists teach at schools or universities. Teaching jobs are their stable income source. Schools also provide them with art supply. They have some advantage. Other average artists in China paint full-time is not easy.

Lian Gang

Is there a strong competition between artists in China? Does it help to improve to every artist?
Competition exists naturally everywhere. Artistic innovation and development of the world all derive from great effort and competition. Any positive competition within artists is beneficial to the diversity of the art world. There is a tremendous painting community in China. There are hundreds of art exhibitions on various types. Government sponsored art awards also stimulate artists to create their works of art. Thus, competition is inevitable.

Full version of the interview will be available in my upcoming book (this year)... 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Step-By-Step. Coincidental IV. Shades of Blue.

Painting a series for China called Coincidental. Her is another one in that series. This one I am sharing in steps... Enjoy!

K. Sterkhov. Coincidental IV. Shades Of Blue. 54x59 cm

Step 1. After applying masking fluid at the high lights I am wetting the sheet from both sides and painting mid tones on wet. Then I am letting it dry and removing the masking.

Step 2. I am choosing a focal point in my painting and starting defining details in full strength of color and tone.

Step 3. I am moving from a focal point to a side working continously without gaps. If my eye goes from the main figure to the far left corner I am going with my defining brush the same way.

Step 4. I am coming back to the main figure.

Step 5. I am strengthen the tone of the foreground.

Step 6. I am defining some constractional details and assessories.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Yesterday Workshop Seascapes

Yesterday workshop in studio Mad Hare (St.Petersburg) was very fruitful. We painted 5 half-sheet works with participants. The topic was Seascapes. We took such subjects as yachts, piers, seagulls, sunsets, water reflections... Here are 3 of my demo works...

You can purchase my DVD with seascape demonstrations here:

1 DVD includes 5 subjects demos about 2 hours.

 Konstantin Sterkhov. Seagulls In Twilight. 36x54 cm

 Konstantin Sterkhov. Chasing The Wind. 36x54 cm

Konstantin Sterkhov. Low Sun. 36x54 cm

Hope For Tomorrow - Demo Step By Step

Hello guys, havn`t been here for ages! Here I am sharing my latest painting step-by-step. I was attracted by magic light effect that picked a young girl from the darkness of a room. The paper was Saunders Waterford, 425 rough hight white, paints by Daniel Smith as followers:
Raw Sienna, 
Quinacridone Gold,
Pyrrol Scarlet,
Pyrrol Orange,
Yellow Ochre,
Sedona Genuine,
Burnt Umber,
Tiger`s Eye Gen.,
French Ultramarine,
Verditer Blue,
Rose Of Ultramarine,

 1. Masking Fluid and light underpainting.

2. Adding darker ton to have full range of tonal values.

 3. Removing masking fluid after drying. Working on focus area.

4. Defining darker darks and details.

There is another step-by-step demo posted on the site of Daniel Smith:

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cheng Khee Chee In Tweed Museum

Tweed Museum of Art
1201 Ordean Court
Duluth, MN 55812
Events & Exhibition Contact: Christine Strom
Tweed Museum of Art 218-726-7823

The Way of Cheng-Khee Chee: Paintings 1974-2014 

Where: Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota Duluth
When:  May 12 - September 20, 2015

(Duluth, MN - March 16, 2015) The Tweed Museum of Art (TMA) at the University of Minnesota Duluth will feature the art of internationally celebrated watercolorist Cheng-Khee Chee from May 12 through September 20, 2015. The solo exhibition brings together 40 watercolor paintings created over the past 40 years (1974 - 2014), including Duluth Depotof 1974, the first painting Chee exhibited with the American Watercolor Society, as well as the monumental 100 Koi that the artist completed in late 2014.
Experiences and influences of both Eastern and Western art and culture have shaped the six decade artistic career of Cheng-Khee Chee. Born in 1934 in Fengting, southeastern China, the artist emigrated to British colonized Malaysia at age 14. As a self-taught artist, with both Eastern and Western mentors, Cheng-Khee Chee has developed a combined vision that incorporates the processes of Chinese brushwork with Western painting styles. Over the years, Chee has developed and adapted a repertoire of techniques from both East and West that clearly identify his work and have influenced countless students. For the philosophical underpinnings of his creative practice, the artist cites Confucianism and Buddhism as powerful influences. 

Cheng-Khee Chee, (American, born China 1934), Koi 1990 No. 2. Watercolor on D'arches Paper, 25 x 40". Collection of Cheng-Khee and Sing-Bee Chee

"After many years of practice, I have concluded that the watercolor medium is closer to Tao than any other medium. The very flowing movement of washes has a strong evocative power. The interpenetration of colors creates mysterious precipitations and nuance. In watercolor, the artist can let the medium obey its own laws and create wonders in the same way that nature creates her own works."
- Cheng-Khee Chee, Interview with Betsy Dillard-Stroud
In addition to the artist's aesthetic concerns, Cheng-Khee Chee has demonstrated a passionate commitment to the medium of watercolor by working tirelessly to engage new audiences through teaching workshops, leading cultural tours and organizing international exhibitions.
"In Chee's art the interplay between Taoist philosophy, Chinese brush painting and Western art forms - from realism to complete abstraction - offers us an expanded way to look at watercolor painting. He offers viewers multiple ways to approach his art. Each path yields an enriching opportunity to perceive the world through his eyes. A focus on technique is one path; attention to spiritual influences is another. This exhibition gives everyone - local fans, watercolor aficionados and students alike - several means to appreciate his work," states Peter Spooner, the exhibition's guest curator.

The Way of Cheng-Khee Chee: Paintings 1974-2014 is the first exhibition by the artist at the Tweed Museum of Art since 1992, and will be accompanied by a publication with essays by artist and writer Ann Klefstad and guest curator Peter Spooner. A variety of public programs are planned, including receptions, gallery talks, and a rare three-day workshop for practitioners and novices alike, led by Cheng-Khee Chee himself.

Watercolor Workshop led by Cheng-Khee Chee       June 12-14, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm 
with lunch break from 12:00 - 1:00 pm

Workshop half day audit option (lecture)                   June 12-14, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Registration and fee information, visit:

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Art Of Watercolour`s article

Proud to share my articles in the last issue of the magazine The Art Of Watercolor.

The very first event of 2015 took place in cold St.Petersburg, the cultural capital of Russia. It has showcased 92 International artists from 26 countries who exhibited about 400 works.
Exactly 1 year ago four leading watercolor artists from St.Petersburg gathered together, united by the idea of putting watercolor in Russia in spotlight. The coordinated role in organizing the event took young couple that run a studio “Prostranstvo Perspektiva” and had already an experience of arranging workshops with invited artists.

The venue of the Artists` Assosiation

The concept of the show was to make it truly International. We decided to name it TOP 200, means to invite 200 top watercolor artists from  the world for participation. After a few brainstorms we found out that the time was too short for fund rising. It was quite risky to start the project if we wanted it happen in 2014/2015. Also there were difficulties like Russian customs regulations. So we decided to make a smaller exhibition in the beginning of 2015 and The TOP 200 - in 2017.

Alvaro Castagnet. La Havana, Cuba, 35x55 cm. 2014

We found an Organizing Committee (E. Bazanova, K. Sterkhov, K. Kuzema, S. Temerev and studio Perspektiva) that also was selecting the artists from Russia, Ukrain, Belorussia and Moldova. I was in charge of International selection. Although I had a short list of artists I had a serious problem to get paintings through the customs. Also the time was very short. I took a decision to invite art connoseurs to share their collections with a wider audience. That was the major part of the International section. Some artists, mainly from US agreed to participate with giclees to introduce themselves to Russian art lovers. I thought that I also had to introduce the today Asian watercolor that was absolutely unknown in Russia. I contacted some watercolorists from China, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and India.

The Organizing Committee

The venue was chosen from the very beginning. We considered that the Grand Exhibition Hall of the Artists` Union would be the most spectacular. It is situated in the very heart of the city in a beautiful historical building that would make the whole show so special! The Russian participants shared the rent of the venue. The organizers invested into the catalogue, frames and other costs. It was a risky but very inspiring experience to make a big show without a sponsor.

Samir Mondal. Banalata. 75x55 cm. 2014

Another idea realized in our project was a contest for young artists studying or graduated from Art schools. It was in 3 categories – for children, for art students and for young artists before 35 years old. Also we announced a contest for art critic on watercolor theme. The exhibition of the finalists of the young artists contest was expressing. Such an inspiring push for their creative life!

Round table discussions on art materials.

Almost every day of the show we had master classes and round table discussions on Art materials, teaching watercolor and art market problems. We had many guest from all over Russia and neibough countries. The exhibition visitors could see the impressing demonstration by Eugen Kisnisean (Moldova), Igor Sava (Italy), Ilya Ibryaev, Sergey Kurbatov and organizers Elena Bazanova, Konstantin Sterkhov, Konstantin Kuzema and Sergey Temerev, who besides their single demos made a joint demo of 2 meter painting with a St. Petersburg scenery.
Even for that respected exhibition hall the show was a success. We were told that almost 8000 people visited the exhibition within the first 9 days. We were asked to prolong for another 2 weeks free of charge for the venue (that never happened before). I believe it was a new breakthrough for watercolor in Russia that shows a growing interest for our beloved medium.

 Big Picture for 4 artists - 2m70 cm

List of participated artists:
Russian part: Oktai Alirzayev, Tatiana Anisimova, Evgeny Antonenkov, Elena Bazanova, Alexander Vyazmenskiy, Igor Glazov, Galina Gomzina, Dmitriy Dergounov, Eugeny Doubitskiy, Nina Diakova, Anatoliy Zasidkevitch, Ekaterina Ziuzina, Ilya Ibryaev, Anna Ivanova, Lattif Kazbekov, Alexander Karpan, Anna Kozhina, Konstantin Kuzema, Ekaterina Kuznetsova, Maria Kourbatova, Sergey Kourbatov, Alina Lesova, Anna Mikhailova, Igor Mosiychuck, Nadezhda Nickolayeva, Viktor Novotny, Sabit Nourimov, Oleg Pomerantsev, Vladimir Proshkin, Konstantin Sterkhov,  Vladimir Roumyantsev, Neena Ryzhykova, Alexander Saikov, Andrey Sklyarenko, Aleksey Talashiuk, Sergey Temerev, Anna Tereshenkova, Olga Shakleina, Olga Shayunova, Oleg Shirinkin, Alexander Votsmoush, Oleg Yakhnin

 Joseph Zbukvic. Coffee Time. 35x55 cm 2013

 International part: Linda Baker, Janine Gallizia, Ginzburg Maria, Eugen Gorean, Jayson Yeoh, Joe Dowden F., Zhou Tianya, Jozeph Zbukvic, Stanislaw Zoladz, Liu Yi, Amit Kapoor, Alvaro Castagnet, LOK Kerk Hwang, Direk Kingnok, Eugen Chisnicean, Kathleen Conover, Marja Koskiniemi, La Fe, Piet Lap, EGLE LIPEIKAITE, Laurin McCracken, Angus McEvan, Milind Mulick, Atanas Matsoureff, Samir Mondal, Yuko Nagayama, Barbara Nechis, Ted Nuttal, Valentina Nasi, Tansu Ozmen, Ong Kim Seng, David Poxon, George Politis, Victoria Prischedko, Prafull Sawant, Igor Sava, John Salminen, Xavier Swolfs, Nicholas Simmons, Tan Suz Chiang, Keiko Tanabe, Alexander Talalim, David Taylor, Robert Wade, Maikki Haappala, Chien Chung-Wei, Thomas Schaller, John Yardley


I am honored to send 3 of my paintings to Invitational exhibition Re-Interpretation 2015 in China where I will again share the walls with great contemporary artists from around the world.

 Just opened...

 Liu Yi, Xidan Chen, Direk Kingnok, Prafull Sawant, David Poxon,
Atanas Matsoureff, Atanour Dougan, George Politis, Fabio Cembranelli,
Keiko Tanabe, Victoria Pricshedko, Stanislaw Zoladz, Samir Mondal,
Pablo Ruben, Chin Li, Mika Toronen, Michal Jascevic, and many more...

 Konstantin Sterkhov. Off The Office, Dubai. 55x75 cm. 2013

  Konstantin Sterkhov. The Time Is Now, London. 55x75 cm. 2015

 Konstantin Sterkhov. Let the World Wait... and I Will Keep Reading. 55x75 cm. 2014

Friday, March 13, 2015

My New Demo Works

Salutating to Spring... All paintings half-Imperial size 35x55 cm. All demos have been painted in 2015

K. Sterkhov. White On White, 55x35 cm

 K. Sterkhov. White Rose, 35x55 cm

 K. Sterkhov. Summer Window, 35x55 cm

 K. Sterkhov. In The Wind, 35x55 cm

K. Sterkhov. Touch Of Pink, 35x55 cm

Friday, February 27, 2015

Competition Nature In The City - Hahnemuhle

Looking for green oasis – painting competition on “Nature in the City” starts

An urban park with skyline, lined up flower pots on the balcony or a vegetable garden on the high-rise rooftop – show us your green oasis in an urban environment or your dream of it. Hahnemühle’s new painting competition is now open. Nature in the City” is the trendy theme for our art calendar 2016. We look forward to many internationalsubmissions and want to reach the record participation from last year againThe bar is set high: 1,200 images from 500 artists from 46 countries were submitted for the 2015calendarSo join in and tell others about the competition!
Kalenderwettbewerb2016_EN_Seite_1Our annual competition is open to allartists who like to paint, draw, illustrate,collage or print with traditional techniquesWe call for entries ofprofessionals and hobbyistsEachindividual is eligible. The only condition:your artwork must be created on a paper by Hahnemühle or LanaEach motif must be suitable for printing on the calendar in at least 40 x 30 cm inlandscape formatTo begin with, please submit digital files of your artwork. The uploadportal on our website will be open end of FebruaryDeadline is the 30.06.2015A jury is going to select 36 images for the shortlist and will pick 12 winning designs for the artscalendar 2016 this autumn. Participation in this international competition promisesworld-wide reputation to artistsHahnemühle´s art calendar is released in a limitededition only and is not for sale. Hahnemühle business partners all over the world get it every year as an exclusive collectible’ and display the pictures all over the worldThe winners will be awarded with ten calendars and a creative package with fine art papers by Hahnemühle.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

John Salminen. Interview

John Salminen doesn`t need to be introduced. Here I am sharing my interview with this artists that will be released in my new book Masters Of Watercolor Vol III in June 2015. You are the first readers:)

What was your artistic background?
I have made art since I was a little boy. My mom kept me supplied with art materials and my dad, an engineer, taught me perspective at a very early age. I was intrigued by magazine illustration and my initial goal was to become an illustrator. My formal commitment to art began with my university training where abstract expressionism was in vogue. I became an abstract painter and I think the use of abstracted shapes and love of the process of moving paint from brush to paper continue to play a large role in my current paintings.

John Salminen. Jade.

What influenced you to become a watercolor artist?
My introduction to watercolor occurred in the classroom of University of Minnesota Professor Cheng Khee Chee. He was teaching a series of watercolor classes through night school and I enrolled for six consecutive courses. I found his approach to painting and his handling of the brush exciting and challenging and I have been a watercolorist ever since.

John Salminen. Kansas City Produce

What was the process of developing your own well recognized style?
My style developed slowly over an extended time as I was exposed to new approaches and incorporated them into my paintings. Each influence slightly changed my style as I learned new techniques and sensitivities. At first I was strongly influenced by the work and teaching of Cheng Khee Chee and painted in his design-based style. I was then influenced by the work of Robert Wood and the West Coast School of watercolorists. I studied with Frank Webb and this added new insight. At the same time I was very aware of the work of John Sloan and the Ashcan School. Every time I attended an exhibition, I saw something in a painting that impressed me - something that made me want to go to my studio to try out a new technique or work with atmosphere in a new way. My own style began to develop through the combination of all of these influences. When I first visited New York City, I discovered that the complexity of the city gave me an opportunity to apply my understanding of the elements of design, use techniques I had learned and focus on recreating the atmosphere I experienced as I wandered around the city. It was at that time that my style began to be recognizable. My work continues to change and evolve but now most of those changes come through challenges I set for myself rather than from outside influences.

John Salminen. Battery Park II

How do you work on composition?
My sense of composition is now intuitive rather than analytical but I only arrived at this point after years of study and practice. My original approach to painting was entirely design with little or no consideration of content. I was a practitioner of the Frank Webb-Edgar Whitney-Robert E Wood school of thought. Frank Webb said “paint shapes, not things”. Now as I look through the viewfinder of my camera I ‘feel’ when a composition is right but these feelings are based on solid design concepts.

John Salminen. Iceland.

Is there always a story to be told in your work?
In most cases I pick a subject because of the strength of the design and composition possibilities it suggests rather than its content. My work, however, often speaks to the viewer because of its recognizable subject and the implied emotion or atmosphere of the moment. I prefer to suggest rather than tell a story, encouraging the viewers to create their own interpretations of a painting from their personal experiences.

How do you choose the size for your painting?
I paint in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, ranging from 22” x 30” (56 cm x 76 cm) to 40” x 40” (102 cm x 102 cm). I choose a square or rectangular format based on the compositional needs of the painting. I enjoy painting large pieces because of the freedom of the brush strokes but size is sometimes determined by need - larger formats work well for exhibitions while collectors sometimes prefer smaller works.

John Salminen. Madison Square Park

What is your specific choice of art materials?
I have a strong preference for D’Arches 140 lb cold pressed paper because it’s tough and stands up well to masking and lifting but still accepts paint beautifully. I have no strong preference for any one brand of pigments and brushes. I like the random assortment of brushes I’ve accumulated over the years because they have become seasoned. They have acquired a distinctive feel and predictable behaviors. Today’s professional grade pigments are generally high quality and I use specific colors from a variety of brands, including Winsor Newton, Stephen Quiller, M. Graham and the new line QoR brand of watercolors recently created by Golden.

John Salminen. Neon Reflection

Do you change something in works once they are considered to be finished?
After I sign my work, I still have the option of tweaking it but once I have a professional scan made, I’m committed.

Is there a place for spontaneity in your works or do you prefer total control over the process?
There is tremendous opportunity for spontaneity in my process. As I work on a painting, I put it under plexiglass and a mat and look at the partially completed work at frequent intervals. Often the painting suggests changes or new directions. As I alter values the mood begins to shift and if I like the new direction I can continue with it and see where the painting will lead me. Although I work from photos, I try not to be limited by the information the camera records. I look for composition and design through the camera lens but I provide the emotional content myself through the development of mood and atmosphere. The feeling of the resulting piece is often the result of the spontaneity of the process.

John Salminen. Evening Cable Car

Your plein air and studio paintings differ so much that I could say they belong to different artists’ hands. Which is reflecting you the most?
My studio paintings require 40 - 60 hours to complete due to the amount of detail I like to include. This approach is not practical on location so I tend to work in a style that is closer to my earlier works, resembling the California style.

Does your painting on location help you in studio painting?
Painting on location gives me an opportunity to respond more directly to the quality of light and this is very beneficial. It helps me create atmosphere in my studio paintings.

John Salminen. April In Central Park

You are using a lot of dark colors. Do you agree with the statement that watercolor is partly graphic media?
If by ‘graphic’ you mean a high contrast statement the term could apply as my work does fully utilize value. ‘Graphic’ can also mean flat and I don’t feel watercolors, or at least my watercolors, are flat.

What do you consider more important in your work, tonal values or color?
Value, value, value! I like the statement “Value does the work, but color takes the credit”. I believe we perceive our world as shadow and light and this translates into relationships of value.

John Salminen. Rainy Day Times Square

What is watercolor media for you?
I use watercolor as a transparent medium in my representational work. I don’t use opaque pigments or white. However, when I create an abstract mixed medium work, I use collage, acrylics, markers... anything that creates the look I want to achieve.

How do you see watercolor in relation to other media?
In the United States, watercolor is the most widely practiced medium. This is partly due to the number of established watercolorists who are willing to teach. It’s also because of the extensive structure of competitive exhibitions that enables artists to share their work and to gain feedback from their peers. As a result of these things, artists are encouraged to learn and participate. This great popularity both helps ad hurts the reputation of watercolor when it comes to the way it is perceived by the art world. As is the case in many other countries, oil painting is sometimes viewed as a more serious medium and unfortunately in the United States this prejudice sometimes affects the monetary value of watercolor paintings as well as the respect watercolors are shown by museums and galleries.