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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Painted 1 months ago

My Indian impressions from 2 years ago. Next week going there again. 

Konstantin Sterkhov. Shepherd. 65x53cm. 2012

New Painting

Finished 2 days ago.

Konstantin Sterkhov. Brick Cave. 39,5x55cm. 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

2 Stages of 1 Work

K.Sterkhov. "Evening Light" in progress.

K.Sterkhov. Evening Light. 51x71 cm. 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Marja Koskiniemi. Interview

Marja, did you look for the watercolour medium or did this medium find you?
It was watercolour that found me after many years of oil painting. A Spanish teacher at the international art school in Stockholm said that my oil paintings look like watercolours. He suggested that I choose between these two media. My choice was watercolour.

Marja Koskiniemi. Adagio. 56x76

Have you instantly found your personal style? If not, what stages did you pass through?
I wanted to paint strong watercolours from the very beginning, but you have to master different watercolour techniques first. I started by painting thin colours layer by layer with distinct lines. When I gradually increased the amount of water, my paintings became more diffuse. I found my personal style when I changed watercolour cakes into tubes and started working in a large scale.

Marja Koskiniemi. Before The Storm. 56x76 cm

You spend a lot of time in Sweden. Which country, Finland or Sweden, provides you with more inspiration? 
I live and work in Sweden since 1989, but I will always be a Finnish artist. The sea, one of my great inspirations, is the same in Finland and Sweden. Another source of inspiration are the large fields in the beautiful Ostrobothnian landscape in Finland. The fields give the same sense of freedom as the open sea.

Marja Koskiniemi. Song Of Waves. 56x76 cm

Are there some fellow artists or artists from the past who have inspired you? 
When I started painting watecolours I was inspired by the strong paintings of the German expressionist Emil Nolde. I also admire the freely painted, large-scale aquarelles of the Hungarian artist Nandor Mikola who lived and worked in Finland.

Marja Koskiniemi. Break Of Dawn. 56x76 cm

You express your emotions with colours. Is the process fully spontaneous or do you have some plan or fixed idea of the result when you begin to paint?
I have an idea of what I want to achieve. Watercolour painting is, however, an interesting process during which new ideas are born. I lead the colours to a desired result, but often the colours start leading me instead. Accidentally running colour can inspire into something new and unexpected. A perfectly controlled painting is never the most interesting work of art.

If you fail with a painting do you consider it wasted?
 I have learned that you should never discard a painting straight away. Sometimes my artist friends rescue my failed watercolours and make me see the beauty of them. Failed paintings are good material for collage as well. 

Marja Koskiniemi. Twilight Time. 56x76 cm

Most of your works are quite large. Do you paint also in small size?
When travelling it is easier to carry a small block, but I prefer large-scale paintings. Right now monumental watercolours is my big challenge.

How is your textile experience reflected in your watercolour painting? 
My textiles and watercolours influence each other. I painted a silk organza skirt with a big brush in different blue shades of textile colours many years ago. It resembles my three-dimensional watercolour, a blue paper skirt on a mannequin doll in the exhibition "Watercolour in a different way" a couple of years ago in Finland.

Marja Koskiniemi. Tranquility. 56x76 cm

You are also working with glass. Do you find any similarity in approach when you are painting with watercolours and when you are working with glass?
What is most fascinating and at the same time most difficult in watercolour painting and glass fusing is that in both techniques the material lives its own life. You can never fully control the process. Another similarity of these two media is the transparency and the significance of light.

Marja Koskiniemi. Playful Nature. 56x76 cm

You are an accomplished artist who got international awards for your painting. Most of your works are abstract. Is there any need of studying drawing to become an artist? 
Drawing is the basis of all visual art and an important part of the education. My favourite technique is charcoal drawing, which I have been practicing for many years.

Marja Koskiniemi

Can you find some typical features of Finnish art and particularly watercolour?
We can compare two beloved artists, Swedish Carl Larsson and Finnish Hugo Simberg. The motif in Larssonґs watercolours are happy, idyllic family scenes whereas the atmosphere is more gloomy in Simbergґs symbolistic paintings with angels and devils. There is both melancholy and humour in his works. During the past few years Finland has been trying to break away from the traditional watercolour painting. Artists have been encouraged to experiment and paint more freely. This tendency has been visible in several watercolour exhibitions as simplified, free, sometimes three-dimensional aquarelles.

Chinese Watercolors

Liu Xinsheng

Chang Chang How

Chan Yuk Lin

Liu Yi

Random But Outstanding

Jola Tondis

Kanta Harusaki

Dominique Gioan

Harumi Kawabe

Tony Xu

 Tony Xu

Tony Xu

Aud Rye

Aud Rye

Aud Rye

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolour Biennial 2012

2012 entry is now open!

Judging Committee 2010

The Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolour Biennial Exhibition is organized by Shanghai Qingpu District People's Government and China Artists Association, co-organized by Shanghai Zhujiajiao Town People's Government and Watercolour Art Committee of China Artists Association, in association with Quanhua Watercolour Art Gallery.

This is the first international exhibition that is dedicated to the watercolour medium held in China. Its purpose and focus is to ‘Introduce the Chinese watercolour to the world, introduce the world’s watercolour to China, and let the world understand China’s watercolour’.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Barbara Nechis. Interview

Barbara Nechis is an artist who has developed a style known for its masterful balance of spontaneity and control of the watercolor brush.

The heroes of your paintings are shapes. Do they come to life out of your imagination or they base on life impressions when you create them? They come from inventing shapes, many that reflect those I find in nature. I use the fundamentally abstract patterns of nature both as a source of inspiration and as a compositional element sometimes in disorienting juxtapositions. The resulting paintings allude to the physical landscape without imitating it. My intention is to form an illusion of landscape even though the shapes themselves may or may not be found in nature.

Barbara Nechis. Flower Illusion_38x56 cm

Your watercolors look very much like painting on silk. Did you have that experience?
I have never painted on silk but have been told so often that my work would look good on silk that a company is now using my work to inspire a line of hand painted silk scarves.

Do you have the whole picture in your mind when you start painting?
I never have a picture in mind but usually after a few strokes my subject begins to emerge. Often I recognize a feeling of a place I have been and will develop it but I am always surprised by the result.
Barbara Nechis. Fascinating Rhythm_38x56 cm

Do you finish the painting work in one session? 

Hardly ever. Some paintings have taken me years to complete. When I get stuck I put them aside, but not for long. I constantly pull them out, looking again and making changes incrementally. I usually have many paintings going at the same time and if I get stuck on one or it needs to dry between layers, I work on another. When my motor coordination feels to be at its peak I work on those that need fine detail; when I feel analytical, I try to solve problems, and when I’m feeling exceptionally creative or totally stuck I begin a new one. By tuning into my own moods and performing the most suitable tasks I eventually finish almost all of them.
Barbara Nechis. IllusionCrevass_38x56 cm

Can you consider your painting style experimental?
Definitely, but I also call it abstract realism. In my mind I am painting real objects, rocks, water, etc. but I have no formulas and try to find new ways to portray my subjects so that my work does not become predictable or stylized. I can’t fail because I have no expectations and no preconceived plan. It would be difficult for me to be this flexible if I expected a certain outcome.

Barbara Nechis. Norway Remembered

Is your work more emotional or planned?

Probably only the beginning strokes are emotional and as a piece begins to take shape the intellectual takes over. Since paint and water behave unpredictably it helps to take a flexible, risk-taking approach. I rarely plan but I think about each stroke as I make it and try to blend intuition with control and structure.

What can you say about your idea of composition? 

All of the parts of a painting must work harmoniously together. Many of the other rules I have been taught seem to be extraneous. The working out of a painting involves infinite choices, some easier to make than others. Every stroke can be a struggle because each change can change everything, unlike in a planned painting where there is often little improvisation.

Barbara Nechis. Yosemite River. 56x76 cm

Do you prefer large size to work on?
I have no preference but when I work very large I may work on various areas of the painting intensely as if I were working on a small painting.

What is your paper choice?
I mostly use Arches 140lb cold press but I occasionally work on other surfaces. The 140lb is practical because I ship lots of unframed work and can roll this weight and ship it in a mailing tube.

Barbara Nechis. Majeska Falls. 56x76 cm

What is your criteria about your work to consider whether it is complete and satisfactory?
I make sure that every edge and shape is the best I can make it to support the whole. Every part of the painting must make sense and I try to edit what is extraneous to what I want to say? When there is nothing in the painting that bothers me that I can possibly improve, it is finished. I attempt to create something that pleases me and the colors, methods and forms are suggested by what the painting seems to need or wants to be. Sometimes the technical competence that comes with experience can fool us and we fail to examine each piece for its own intrinsic value. In my work I consider the failures to be those in which I have previously painted something similar but better, and the lack of a spark that differentiates the piece to make it memorable apart from my other work. I don’t ever want to be so complacent as to believe that if I did it, it must be art. I destroy pieces that fall below these standards. I find this cathartic and an immense space saver. I also finish almost every piece I begin even if I expect to discard it. As soon as I deem it a failure I no longer have an investment in it and can attack it with vigor. Some of these end up to be quite respectable.

Barbara Nechis

Do you consider it is important to get a basic drawing knowledge?
Absolutely. Without learning to draw there is no understanding of how things are made. Proportion, perspective and depth would be impossible to achieve without drawing skills. Drawing helps you to see.

Barbara Nechis. Tapestry. 56x76cm

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My 1st Book in Process

Working on the cover and translation (will be in both Russian and English)

New version of the cover

I Love This Work!

Carol Carter

English Watercolour

I have a strong feeling that these two paintings are made at the same session by two great masters of English watercolour.

John Yardley

Arnold Lowrey

Andrey Zadorin

Andrey Zadorin

Andrey Zadorin

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lars Lerin. Interview

Great and mysterious artist from Sweden Lars Lerin. He has published many books but is not very much represented in internet. Enjoy this rare opportunity!

Was it a “love from a first sight” when you discovered watercolor medium?

No, i started with oil and graphic tecniques, like wood cut and etchings. It grew from there, it was like an attraction or love that get stronger. I noticed slowly it was my medium.

You are often using textures and writing in your watercolors. Do you consider watercolor a painting or graphic medium?

Both, the writing is just to give an other dimension, association to diary, letters- and for me also a way of making the picture richer, more alive.

Lars Lerin. Cityscape. 100x150 cm. 2011

Can you describe a working process on a painting?

it various from straight impressions to more complexe rooms, where i stop and return, let it be and then start again after some time for a more fresh view ...

Lars Lerin. Winter landscape. 100x150 cm.

Do you have some theory about colors?

i got some knowledges from school that still bother me sometimes. all rulse are made to break. But i am thankful for the good teachers i met.

Lars Lerin. Cathedral. 100x150 cm. 2010

What is the part of imagination in your work?

that is for the viewer to decide, I just follow my intuition and try to paint what i see or what i have seen or felt ...

Lars Lerin. Library. 150x300 cm. 2011

Do you more appeal to your memories, fresh live impressions or reference photos?

its a mix of everything, depends on what i do at the moment

What are your preference in colors (brands), brushes (size, shape, material), paper (quality, brand)?

nothing spectacular, just the usual material that you can read about in most litterature

Lars Lerin. Night. 100x150 cm

Did you have some artists who would influence you when you started painting with watercolor?

Many , many- maybe not specific watercolur painters - but classic and contemperary artits that i like. From Munch to Sidney Nolan ...

Do you have some followers, or school of painting maintaining your watercolor approach?

i have noticed that i ve got followers, but all of them just focus on teqnics and motives. that is a dead end. 

Lars Lerin. At Home. 100x150cm 2011

most inspiration:
i dont need any special inputs apart from nature itself. Painting and working with pictures (and words) is my way of dealing with life, a daily kind of meditation, routine. To be happy i need to work, its a gift... i am my own student

most important:
tecnic is a provided, basis- like a piano playser that needs tp practise, but it ´s means nothing without soul, emotion, love, impression, expression.Luckily i dont need to wait for ideas to come

Lars Lerin. Part of Light in the East. 206x461cm 2010

imagination ...
i dont know, i just do what i do, trust, faith, intuition

change in water colour:
i dont see water colour painting as different from any other way of contemperary arts. if it has any importans it must come from your heart, to be "open" ...

Lars Lerin

Do you have a message to a new generation?

not really, just follow your heart and keep an open mind

Lars Lerin. Birds.

Does the audience opinion mean a lot for you?

not any more. I just do it to be happy and hopefully surprise myself in the studio

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Guan Weixing. Interview.

My recent interview with a great Chinese artist Guan Weixing.
Dear Mr. Weixing,
first I would like to express my deep admiration of your Art. I have been enchanted by your perfectness in watercolor since quite some time. Now I have a chance to share this treasure with my readers in Russia and abroad. I am so grateful that you agreed to answer my questions.

Guan Weixing

Mr. Weixing, would you consider your art approach more western or traditional Chinese painting? Can you explain  your vision of the transition of the western and traditional watercolor painting?

I think my art approach goes to the west, because the language of watercolor art is originated from the west. Only the pure western language can be easily understood and accepted by the western audience. Just as the title of an American report says,”Chinese artist Guan doesn’t speak English, but his works does.” However, as an artist bleeding the blood of the Chinese nation, it is natural for me to merge the Chinese traditional painting idea into the watercolor art. In a word, the approach is western while the emotion is Chinese. The works has a strong flavor of rural life, and has become a unique art different from others in the world.
    To be honest, the outcome is the natural result of a powerful synthesis of cross reference, but not the simple mixing or splicing. In that case, that will lead to neither fish nor fowl.

Guan Weixing

You are director of China Fine Arts Association, vice president of Chinese Watercolor Association, juror of National Watercolor Exhibition. It should take a lot of time and responsibility. You still keep on painting a lot. How you can find time to be so productive?

As a popular artist, we have to take a lot of responsibility, and of course it will take a lot of time. However, time is mere elastic and it can be squeezed. If you neglect it, it will fly away from you; if you catch it, it will help you succeed. For example, there are 52 weeks a year and you will have two days to rest, you will lose around 100 days. If you make good use of them, you can enjoy another season of time. For almost 30 year I have never rested. Then I have got those works today. By the way, we can have rest and exercise to change during the creation work. Sometimes I can play some easy computer games.

Guan Weixing

Most of your models are sim ple Chinese people. There is a big variety types. Where do you find them? Do you paint them in your studio or while you are travelling?

Yes, they are just common people, therefore I have to go to their life to look for them, understand them, find their inner world of feelings and inner beauty. To be honest, nowadays, the life pace is fast and doing drawing is impossible on the spot. Therefore, taking a quick picture becomes the main means of gathering figure materials. When I get back to my studio, I will look through them one by one. Then through their features and characteristics, we can express our feelings inside.
Take “Widower” for example. The person is an ordinary farmer. I know nothing about his story. He may not be a widower. But his particular glaring reminds me of the familiar middle-aged men, married or unmarried in the village where I spent my childhood. In their eyes always flashed some peculiar looks, showing an unnamed desire. So, I used the look in the quick picture to express this kind of people well known by me for a long time. I joined them together and created the” Widower” in my heart.
    All in all, only when I am excited about subject do I begin to put efforts into it. I won’t start without my excitement.

Guan Weixing

What generally inspire you as an artist?

Love of nature, love of us human beings and love of life.

Guan Weixing

Do you have a daily routine or every of your day is different? Can you
describe one of the most typical of your days?

Generally speaking,I have two routines: in the studio and outside. To work in the studio takes the largest part.
In the studio(kind of fixed):
Get up, exercise and breakfast
8:00 start to work in the studio, make good use of the natural light to paint.
12:00 lunch, then nooning (essential)
14:00 go on with the creating
17:30 come to an end
In the evening I no longer painting, but prepare the material, watch TV, surf the internet, and sometimes answer people’s questions online.

Guan Weixing

First you were studying the oil painting. How did it happen that you changed it to watercolor media?

I started oil painting but watercolor is my first love. It is the quality of the watercolor medium that makes me realize that it can offer more than just a tool for field sketches. Just like other media, it can produce great works, especially watercolor figures, sometimes so ravishing and fascinating of peculiar impression that no other media can show. Take “Village woman” by a Romanian artist. The way is skillful and baptized, without any letup. The colors are of incredible richness and luminosity, just like a brilliant glittering precious stone. “ Portrait de Sofia Loukomskaya”, by Russian artist Valentin Serov, used various ways such as wet-in-wet, wet-on-dry, lifting out, scumbling and so on. And it has a variety of color layers with rich connotations and lasting appeal, charming and beautiful, just like a defectless gem. “Our Daily Bread” by Swedish artist Anders Zorn is of precise and stable construction and with lots of exquisite colors, so perfect, just like an impregnable fortress ( as the peak of perfection).  The Bathing Woman on the Beachby English artist William Russell Flint is so skillful with water that the sea looks so vast, so soft and so refreshing. “The Drifter”, by American artist Andrew Wyeth, forms stable shape and fashion, just like a sculpture with melancholy from innermost. Anybody cannot help feeling moved about it. These works with universal praise display quality of watercolor, no others. The feelings, the elegancy and the charm are peculiar to watercolor. And the florid colors, radiant and enchanting light, the impressive flavor, the degage brushstrokes, and the water free from inhibition, like moving poems, surge the viewers’ hearts.
     Besides, the field belongs to the brave, because of the extreme and mysterious hardship and the lower rates of success. I enjoy the challenge. It is appealing. I want to prove to the world it is not fair to regard watercolor as a pleasant pastime on a level with flower arranging. I want to see what watercolor can do in inventive and creative ways. If the special expressive force can be fully mastered, it will certainly add to the art garden, and add an unusual beauty to man, and the painter will enjoy a lot from the work.

Guan Weixing

Can you tell the main rules of watercolor painting?

Generally speaking, only the capable oil artists can be competent for watercolor. It means it is also essential to have the qualifications of an oil artist. It shows in many aspects watercolor is more difficult than oil. The key is that water, the soul of watercolor, likes to do its own, and flow freely without being compelled. No exaggeration, nobody can control it completely to paint his intention. Besides, the plastic manner of watercolor is different from other paintings’. It uses transparent colors, shaping by successive layers of colors, and upper layers without blotting out the lower ones. Therefore there are two difficulties: the first one is that if you want to use a lot of water, you will not get the precise form and structure, whereas if you use less water, the work is easy to result in dead and dull though with precise form and structure. In one word, being too precise may lead to dead and dull while being too free may lead to empty. The second one is that it cannot be corrected or changed. For example, red cannot be changed into green. In this aspect, it is easy for other media to make use of overlaying. In one word, texture of skin and clothing or vegetation is harder to achieve in watercolor than oil.
Transparency and difficulty are the main rules.

Guan Weixing

You prefer natural color pigments, sometimes almost monochrome. Is there some special color theory that you have ?

I have no special color theory. Following are my principles.
All the secret of color lies in “contrast harmony”. Specifically, that is “to get color harmony by means of contrast of warm and cold colors”
    Warm and cold is the life of color. Colors can sing and come to life through the rich and delicate contrast of warm and cold ones. Otherwise, the work will certainly become warm or cold color and lose its life. Just like the single note in music, it’s dull and lifeless.
    Harmony is the sublimation of color. Without harmony, even the richest warm and cold contrast will become a messy massive of different pigments. Just like some high and low notes without a rhythm, it is worthless.

Guan Weixing

What is more important for you - color or tonal value?

Natural and messy colors are so easy to tell, but the more important is the tone (tonal value) which can express harmony, excellence and emotions, which only the artists can work out.

You are equally perfect in every subject of painting whether it is a portrait, a landscape or a multifigural composition. Do you have a favorite subject?

Peasants. Because I was born into a peasant family. I love their simple looking, goodness, wisdom, and refined way of speaking. From the bottom of my heart I am eager to express them.

Guan Weixing

Your works look so perfect in technique and emotion. Do you have a definite plan in your mind when you start painting?

Before you pick up your brush, it is very important to think it over. We should learn to house our inspiration and passion in our careful thinking. We should do it in a calm and orderly way, and let your passion run out step by step. We mustn’t take for granted that we can lay about in a disorderly way. In this, watercolor painting is quite different from oil painting. All in all, we must be bold and careful and try to control the painting in any case.
There is so much to think about, and each work is different, but the following are in common.
What is the theme and intention of the work? What moves you most? That is what you will finally reach.
Decide the tone, warm or cold, vigorous or tranquil.
Composition of cold and warm blocks.
Distribution of dry or wet areas.
Which parts should be done only once? Which parts need to be overlaid times? And which parts should remain the most fragile details?
When you know fairly well about it, you can go ahead with the step-by-step procedure.

Guan Weixing

You use some masking fluid in very tiny objects. Does it mean that before you start painting you have the whole plan of work in your mind?

Excellent details are precious. They will bring profound connotation and graceful artistic quality. Therefore before we pick up the brushes, we have to take them seriously and have the whole picture in our mind with every detail.

Do you wet the whole paper or only the parts you are working on?

Besides wetting the whole paper while framing, I am used to wetting the part I’m working on.

Guan Weixing

Do you prefer to make a painting in one go or you can make a few approaches to finish a work?

I cannot complete a great painting in one go. I have to work it out using different approaches layer on layer. Only in this way can I make the work expressive, of great artistic value and full of abundant connotation. But the artistic feeling of painting in one go is valuable. If you can express the fluency in one go with the technique of layer on layer, that will be terrific! 

If the work goes wrong (does it happen sometimes?) would you leave it for later to see if there is something still to be done?

It is frequent to go wrong, and it is not avoidable. I am often in a terrible fix. To stay calm is what we most need at that moment. I will leave it aside, examine it now and then, think about the way to improve it. Once I get the idea, I will go on with it. In my opinion, during the course of painting, even the work I think ideal can be left aside for some time. Perhaps I can benefit a lot more from it.

Guan Weixing

Do you believe that watercolor can be corrected?

Absolutely! To be frank, in some way, good paintings are all “corrected”. Each progress, big or small, is made after “correcting on the former stage”. I am really desirous to finish one without any “correct”, but I can’t. It is too difficult. This is watercolor.

Guan Weixing

What is in your opinion the direction of development of Chinese Art? Is there any danger that it might loose original routs?

These years, Chinese watercolor has been developing very rapidly, and I think it will go along with the world’s trends. It is certain to have adverse impact on the Chinese traditional painting, but we’ll not lose it, because what is accumulated of the national culture in the long history is  bred-in-the-bone.

Do you have any message for your Russian fans?

Making friends by paintings. So many fans make friends with me by understanding my works. Many of them are moved to tears. As an artist, nothing can be happier. However, there is a special meaning to communicate with the Russian fans. In the early years at college, I studied Russian painting. Maybe you can still find some influence in my works. Nowadays, some Russian fans promote my works in their websites, e.g.  Here I’d like to express my gratitude. Today, through this interview, I can answer some of your questions. These are all very good ways to communicate. The friendship by the way of art will be treasured in our heart. May we work together to make the watercolor world more beautiful and brilliant.