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Friday, February 4, 2011

Ulugbeck Mukhamedov - interview

Ulugbek, you are known to the watercolor lovers as a great master and a founder of a new method of watercolor medium, “the black tea technique”. Could you please tell us about the essence of the technique and how you have found it?

U.Mukhamedov. Going Home.

I live in Bukhara where there is a lot of ancient architecture. The town is more than 2 500 years old. In my watercolors I am trying to express the spirit of my native town and a spirit of ancient. I have painted a lot of works but yet I felt something was missing. I was anxious to find new possibilities. I was looking through the books of old masters, exhibition catalogues, examining the Russian school of watercolor painting.
U.Mukhamedov. Street in Samarcand.
The discovering of  “the tea watercolor” doesn`t belong to me for it was used for the tonning the paper yet in the Ancient China. I would rather say that I found the value of it for myself. It happened coincidentally. I had an idea to make an effect of old paper as if the work had been painted 200 years ago.
I decided to tone the paper with tea and so I found my method. Tea makes paper look yellowish as it was old. First I was trying to dry up the tea layer but it didn`t work. So I realized that first layer of painting should be done in wet tea wash. At this stage one should paint the Sky, the Earth, the space and to create atmospheric effect. The tea brand is not important, but it must be black tea.

How do you paint – on location or in studio?
Merely in studio. I observe the live in the street, examine old photographs and create the atmosphere of Medieval East. I never make sketches in advance. 90 % of the result appear spontaneously while painting.
U. Mukhamedov. Dusty Day in Bukhara.

It happens unexpectedly – I instantly put the images on the paper. It requires a particular state of soul that comes not every day. Sometimes I don`t want touch a brush at all! It is not possible to paint with watercolors without inspiration! I need a certain environment, inner peace, good music and… smell of a good coffee.
While painting I am trying to get into the inner space of the painting, to feel its nature, state – that’s why the watercolor comes out full of air. I know that many spectators admire the epic images embodied in such a small size.
U.Mukhamedov. Shepherds.

I live in Bukhara in a traditional house with a piece of earth. I have built a studio separately from a house. An artist should be along during the process, nothing should pull his attention away from work. He has to think, to meditate, to create new images. I am working and sleeping in my studio. The computer is permanently switched on, I am listening to music, reading books. There are 2-3 desks and art materials. That is all the aquarellist need.

Your watercolors are very meditative. Can you say where the process of creativity starts – in mind, in the heart or in the soul?
Images appears spontaneously. I see them in my mind and in my soul. I didn`t live during the Medieval Time, I only go to mosque, listen to preaching and imagine how it was in former times.
For instance the pilgrims going for religious knowledge to Bukhara, or refugees who left from there after communist coming. I am painting as if I was with these people.

U.Mukhamedov. After Rain.

Your painting for me is like a “door opened to the East”.  But what do you fell when you travell away from Uzbekistan?
I fell myself not in my element. It is nice to visit other places but there is no place like home.

How often do you paint?
I paint every day. I am trying to improve my technique, experimenting – various paints, inks, basic tone, materials.

U.Mukhamedov. Path in Kishlak Losha.

Do you teach art?
My friend bring their kids to me, so I teach them. I have a big house, all conditions but seriously no.

Is there some artists who would be a source of inspiration for you? Did someone influence your technique and your understanding of art?
There are many great artists. It is difficult to tell the names – they are so many. In my character is not to follow anyone. I have my own path, style and technique. It is very difficult though. That why I an working it out every day of my life and I can`t judge my achievements – it is a subject for others to judge.
U.Mukhamedov. Path in Samarkand.

Can you tell about your materials?
As all aquarelists -  Arches, Canson, Fabriano, Buckinford, but for the “tea technique” mainly Canson. All tea works have been painted on Canson.



  1. This was very interesting to me. Both the artist's style and techniques, and his subjects.

  2. This blog is a nice opportunity to share what is going on in ex-Russian and Russian-speacking world in watercolor. Otherwise this information can be cut out of the rest of the world.