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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fabio Cembranelli - interview

Fabio, how you got your personal style of painting?

It’s hard to define your own style, but I’d say that it’s a loose style, with a figurative and representational approach, where my main concern is how to see beyond the obvious and take care of the main shapes, creating a sensation of illusion between the focal point and the background of the composition. It’s somewhat impressionistic, but still far from gestural abstraction.

Do you always paint live or you use your imagination, photo, something else?

Most of the time I use a photo of mine, just as a starting point, that’s my studio day by day practice. Painting an impression of what I see, that’s quite important in my work. I try to mix the background from one photograph with details from another to create new compositions or I just look at some photos to get the initial inspiration.

Sometimes I paint flowers to real life, although I don’t need to look at a bunch of roses to paint them. I just need to look at one single, that’s my starting point to understand its color and anatomy.
Every week I move outdoors to practice plein air painting, painting from life. That’s the best way to pay attention to light, color, composition, perspective, etc. Although painting a picture in the open air requires rapid composition and brushwork, sometimes I just make lots of pencil sketches outdoors and finished my paintings in the studio.

What is your favorite object for painting?

I like painting flowers (love to look at them in their amazing variety) and landscapes (love to capture a mood and light in different seasons, for example) in watercolor .I'm always enchanted by the attempt to capture the contrast between loose and definitive edges, as well as light and shadow effects in both subjects. I usually paint flowers with spontaneity, without any sketch, in a wet-in-wet technique."

Do you paint with other medium than watercolor? What influenced your choice of medium?

I’m most known as watercolorist, although I paint oil and acrylic. Painting watercolor was a challenge, I was used to hear that it’s the most difficult medium and despite dominating watercolor medium, each new painting is a challenge for me.

What is so special about watercolor for you?

The fluidity of the medium provides a unique sensation of unexpected color mixing, particularly when I define only the main masses and allow the unpredictable to happen on the rest of the paper, that’s what attracts me. Spontaneity is the key, in fact, it’s everything.
Painting watercolor in the wet-in-wet method allows colors to be laid into or over another while the paper is still wet or damp, creating a naturally diffused effect. That’s the way I feel most comfortable in portraying my own view of my subjects.

The first choice – teaching or painting?

Nearly two years after I became a professional artist I started teaching watercolor in my studio. Over the past 15 years I have had hundreds of students attending my courses in Brazil and abroad. We learn a lot when we teach and I’m sure there is an energy exchange between students and me and this drives not only the student's progress, but also my mine as a tutor.

Do you prefer painting at home or travelling gives your additional inspiration?

I would answer both. Studio practicing is important because I can concentrate on getting the maximum results but when we experience another culture, its colors and local atmosphere we get important sources of inspiration.

Do you have some particular painting theory or you paint and teach intuitively?

In my opinion practice is the key. No matter if you’re an art student or a professional, you should comprehend and analyze the painting subject: shape, light, shadow, color, drawing, dimensions, etc. Composition is important to me and I spend a lot of time getting it right before I start to paint.
If you don’t have a previous basic knowledge about painting, drawing techniques, you will be lost while mixing your colors over a wet paper. In other words, my personal formula is: basic technique knowledge + personal skills + intuition.

Is there some influence of other artists in your Art?

Lots of artists have influenced my work, I would nominate two: William Turner and Edward Seago.

What is the source of your inspiration?

It changes week by week, month by month: if I travel to another country, I want to portray its local colors, for example. Sometimes I start a specific flower series, or another subject like urban scenes. In fact, the colors and blends in nature give me new ideas day by day.

Do you prefer painting live or you are using photos and imagination? What is the percentage of imagination in your work?

I like to create a lot, so I’m used to painting a bit away from reality. That’s the point when I’m able to put my personal view on the paper, almost editing the subject under my personal approach, moving through the bridge that connects known and unknown shapes. I would answer 30% from photos, 70 % from imagination.

Your personal choice of artistic materials brands: paper, brushes, colors?

I paint only with professional artistic materials: pigments from W&N, Holbein, Maimeri Blu and Schminke. Watercolor papers (acid free, 300 gr or more): Arches, Fontenay, Hahnemülle
Brushes: most of them, Flat brushes (just a few round brushes), with synthetic bristles (never natural bristles, animal bristles).

Would you come to cold Russia if there was a group of students desiring to paint snowy winter in plain air?

Sure, I’d not think twice! This is in my plans, experience Russian culture and its landscapes are the dream of any painter. Next year I’ll be teaching in Italy and maybe in France, so, let’s see if I may visit Russia soon!

Thank you, Fabio for your interview!



  1. A delightful and informative interview of Fabio, always have enjoyed his work and now learning more about him. thank you for sharing. I look forward to hearing from more watercolor artists.

  2. Muy buena entrevista , se aprende mucho de artistas tan buenos . Un saludo .

  3. Wonderfully presented,beautiful,informative and brilliant!! :O)

  4. This was very interesting, thank you for the interview Fabio and Konstantin

  5. Great information! Thank-you for sharing!

  6. Beautiful, loved the paintings and inspired.

  7. Para mim Fábio cembramelli e o aguarelista de eleição,acompanho ha muito o seu trabalho pela prátic des arte