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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Maria Ginzburg. Interview.

Maria Ginsburg’s watercolour paintings are well known and appreciated in Sweden. She is a writer to 7 books about watercolour painting in Swedish language and a member of Swedish StateWriting Society (Svenska Författarförbundet). She and her husband Felix have grounded “Akvarellcenter” in Stockholm, which presents the watercolour art of the famous international painters to Swedish public. The Work Shops of these painters take place in a department of Akvarellcenter in Dalarna (200 km from Stockholm) on summer time.

Maria, you are well-known in Sweden as an artist as well as an art teacher. Is there a recipe of popularity in your opinion?
The recipe of popularity for any painter is first of all good paintings, which can only appear if you, when you paint, do no think about popularity, as well as about money. One reason why my name became known to the wide public, interested in art, was my books. I am an author to 7 books about watercolour painting which were sold in more then 200 000 exemplar in Sweden. Two of them were even translated from Swedish to Finish language. The last book came out 2011 and was issued by the one of the biggest and most famous publishing houses in Sweden “Natur och Kultur”.

Maria Ginzburg, Sweden.

Was watercolor medium your first choice from the beginning when you started painting?
I always wanted to paint only in watercolour, but I tried many other techniques when I studied. I always admired the watercolours of Anders Zorn. I watched and studied his art in books, in museums and on exhibitions. His works are well represented in Sweden.

Maria Ginzburg, Sweden. 

Who were your teachers of watercolor (living persons or artists of the past)?
When I studied art in Russia my teacher was a wonderful painter Leonid Krivitsky. He painted by oil and wanted me do the same. But I preferred watercolour. My degree work (diploma) was five watercolours with views of S:t Petersburg, a town where I was born. Each watercolour represented the town in a stile of one of Russian famous writers : Petersburg of Block, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Bergolz and Ahmatova.

Maria Ginzburg, Sweden. 

Which school of watercolor do you feel close to?
English watercolour traditions with Turner in a head had also a big influence on my art. I have many books, written by contemporary British artists. One of the first books which I bought in London long time ago and which has been my favourite under a long time was “Watercolour impressionists” by Ron Ranson, 1989. (Ron Ransons own paintings are not especially interesting.)

Maria Ginzburg, Sweden.

What does inspire you for painting?
 I get my inspiration mostly from nature, colours of all seasons of the year, northern light and shadows. Most of all I love to see and paint how water reflections change reality.

Maria Ginzburg, Sweden.

You belong to the realist school of painting. Do you appreciate also other styles?
 I can not tell that my art belong to a pure realistic school, but may be to impressionistic school in watercolour, because of my way to simplify the subject and to use many colours and colour harmonies.
I like different styles of painting. An abstract painting can be also good, but I prefer when the artist let me guess, what his painting is about.

Maria Ginzburg, Sweden.

You are using a rich choice of colors for your painting. Do you have a system of harmonizing the colors?
 I do not have a special system in what colours I choose, I use my intuition. But the knowledge about colour weal, contrast colours and colour harmonies is very useful of course. Before to stat painting I usually do some quick sketches for to see colour combinations on the paper.

Maria Ginzburg, Sweden.

Do you always paint in plain air?
When I was a student I painted a lot on the open air. Even if result is not good sometime when you paint outside, your memory keep the image, you create a “Bank of the images” in your mind.

You have a lot of winter landscapes. What is your approach to paint landscapes in winter?
I loved to paint in March when the snow was smelting. I do it even now, but not so often. Now I have much better memory for images thanks to my long painting experience. Some advice: When you paint on winter, put a drop of sprite into the water for it does not freeze at 0 degrees.

Maria Ginzburg, Sweden.

Do you always finish a painting in one go or sometimes leave it for later on?
I choose the best of my outdoor paintings and paint big watercolours with help of them at home in my atelier. On the open air I paint what I see. In atelier I paint what I want to see. People ask me sometimes: How much time does it take for to paint a big watercolour? Should we count in also a time which goes for travelling, looking for new exiting subjects and inspiration? A work with many sketches? Unlucky paintings? Thought and discussions? I can only answer that painting take the whole artist’s life. Sometimes the work with one big watercolour can take a month.

What is your opinion: is it possible to correct watercolor painting if it went wrong?
It is possible to correct the painting. The easiest is to do it while the painting is still wet. The possibility to change the painting depends partly on paper. I usually use “Arches” 300 gr and 640 gr and Fabriano 300 gr and 600 gr, both rough and fin grain. The last thing which you can do if something went wrong is to throw the painting to the open fire and to take another sheet of paper.

Maria Ginzburg, Sweden.

How you consider that the painting is ready?

The painting is ready if you answer “No” to the questions:” Do I need to add something? Can I take something away?”

You have organized a center for watercolor painting in Sweden. What was the idea to start this project?
The idea to open “Akvarellcenter” with courses and exhibitions comes to me and my husband Felix Ginzburg of a selfish reason - it was a great opportunity to create an art world, where everything is according to your will - exhibitions, choice of painters, the choice of theirs wonderful watercolours, which we can enjoy, while they are at our place. This idea was also appreciated by Swedish art lovers.

Maria Ginzburg, Sweden.

You are the only one in Sweden who provides top watercolor artists to teach in your country. Is this idea appreciated? How do you make a decision who would teach courses during the season in your center?
  “Akvarellcenter” is only one place in Sweden where you can see watercolours of many top watercolour artists from different European countries, USA, Australian, and India and also learn a peace of their professional skill.

Maria Ginzburg, Sweden.

Are students coming back if they once attended the course in Akvarelcenter?
  Our “Akvarellcenter” became also a place where people with the same interest can meet each other, can discuss the art and sometimes can even find friends for life. We have always a lot of visitors and students. People are coming back to “Akvarellcenter” again and again!

Maria Ginzburg, Sweden.

Can you determine the main rule or rules of watercolor painting for your students?
The keywords to a lucky painting are “Contrasts” and “Variations”, first of all in shapes and colours. Concerning especially watercolour technique the important rule is “Think first, paint after” – the artist should carefully plan, in what turn he will paint different elements of his picture, for to do it in a right moment, when the paper is wet just as much as it should be.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New DVD+Book Available

1st DVD+Book from series is out now. There are 7 lessons in the book with stages and comments and 5 full video demos in DVD. It is printed and recorded both in Russian and English.

I have limited number of copies. I am not sure about Mac acceptance but it should work on any regular DVD-player and PC. The price is 30 euro including shipping. To purchase write to me to
I am available till the end of this week, then 1 week in Swedish forest without internet access - a workshop in Akvarellcenter, Dalarna. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Smth Might Come Out of It

A sketch based on my Chinese impressions from long ago fixed by reference photos. Maybe something will come out of it.

K. Sterkhov. Sunny Courtyard. 1/4 imperial

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Robert Wade`s Brushes

One more painting done with Robert Wade`s brushes. It is quite new thing for me to make the whole painting with synthetic brushes. But theses ones are really good.

K. Sterkhov. Mirror. 1/8 imperial size. 

These brushed were used...

Robert Wade Round Taklon brushes

Mark Mehaffey. Interview

Nationally recognized artist Mark E. Mehaffey is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society, the American Watercolor Society; DF, Transparent Watercolor Society of America; Signature Life member-Master Status, Watercolor West and the Rocky Mountain Watermedia Society, and Louisiana Watercolor Society Signature Life Member.

Fist question is about your relationship with the watercolor medium. How important is it for you?
My first love was watercolor and even though I now work in mixed water media and acrylic I continue to do most work in transparent watercolor. I started painting when I was a child of 10 and have never stopped. I will die with a brush in my hand.

Mark Mehaffey. Taos Shadows II, 21x29"

What is your source of inspiration?
One painting precipitates another. The act of painting, the process always leads to another idea and that leads to another. I could live three life times and never get all the painting I have in my head done.

Mark Mehaffey. Contemplation. 21x25"

Do you make a sketch before you start painting?
If I am doing representational work then I always arrange shapes, assign value based on a center of interest as a small compositional study done in graphite in my sketchbook. I then paint from my sketch.

Mark Mehaffey. Museum Morning. 30x22"

Do you have a complete plan of all the stages of your work in advance?
When working in a realist fashion I do have a vision of the completed painting in my head before begin. I follow my plan but do not feel so locked into my plan that I cant go where the painting needs to go.

Mark Mehaffey. Construction on 48th

Do you work with reference photos or more based on life impressions?
Both...if I have time I draw on site or work from a model. If I dont have time, like a lot of Artists I work from reference photos. I take thousands and have become a decent photographer....but a photograph lacks life and it is the Artists job to bring that reference to life so that there is a connection with the viewer.

Mark Mehaffey. Sky Jack. 21x29"

Your paintings are quite saturated. Do you use some media or you have the whole process in your mind?
Saturated color is played off neutralized color and neutrals. If I need an area to be dark or very intense I am not afraid to use very saturated color.

Mark Mehaffey. Waiting. 21x29"

The details of your painting are quite selective. According to which criteria do you drop details in your painting?
How much can you leave out and still tell the visual story? Lots...and I always think less is more. Give the viewer something to do...dont give them all the information.

Mark Mehaffey. Taos Shadows I. 21x21"

Do you use some color theory?
I use a split primary palette, a warm and a cool of each a few favorites. With these few colors I can make all the specific hues I might need.

Mark Mehaffey

What is more important for you: the contrast in values or the contrast in colors?
When I work in a realist mode then value is of most important...when I am working in a non objective/abstract fashion then I use color contrast more often.

Mark Mehaffey. Shanghai Allee.

Which attitude is closer to you – reflection or interpretation?
Id like to say reflection...but it really is interpretation. I see, assess, internalize then the best of my ability.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Which Is Better?

I am completing my second instructional book. I need your opinion to make a decision which cover would be more attractive. Please let me know which book would pool your attention on a shelf in a book store?

K. Sterkhov. Book cover versions. What is your choice?

New Try With New Brushes

Yesterday I got yew brushes as a present. They are fully synthetic. Normally I don`t trust to synthetic brushes or use them carefully but these ones surprised me so much! They have all qualities of Kolinski!

My new brushes.

I couldn`t help trying to paint something with new tools. This is what came out in 30 minutes)

K. Sterkhov. Young Bikers. (New brushes try)

Monday, June 4, 2012

John Yardley. Interview.

John Yardley does not need an introduction for watercolor lovers. An interview that I got 2 days ago.

Did you come to watercolor or watercolor came to you?
Watercolour came to me - I saw a friend painting and was attracted.

John Yardley

What is your relationship with the watercolor media – love, hate, struggle, romance, co-operation, synergy, ect….? 
Great affection for the medium - it has its own particular attraction.

John Yardley. Moored Boats Waterfront Le Coitart. 14x20"

Your style is very recognizable of many watercolor artists. How did you come to it? 
Style gradually developed - no conscious effort to adopt a style.

John Yardley. Paddington Station. 14x20"

Who of the masters of the past and present had the most influence on watercolor media? 
Edward Seago & Edward wesson first inspirations.

John Yardley. My New Shoes. 15x11"

Do you plan when you paint?
I paint something most days.

How often are you satisfied with your painting? 
Satisfied to a certain extent quite frequently!

John Yardley. The Waterfront Manzaelokk. Malta. 14x20"

Do you look for the inspiring objects or it just happens that you find something to paint?
Best when the subject just appears.

What size of paper is the most comfortable for you? 
Most comfortable with half imperial (half sheet)

John Yardley

What are your “must” colours those you run out the first?
Must colours I suppose - French ult. Burnt umber, raw sienna.

What brushes variety do you use?
Best quality pure sable brushes.

John Yardley

Do you have your favorite paper? 
Arches 300 gramme rough.

John Yardley. Flowers in a Glass Vase. Light & Dark. 14x20"

What are the main “don`t” in watercolor?
Don't keep fiddling - leave painting alone when you think it is finished.

John Yardley

What do you think of usage opaque white in watercolor? 
Should watercolor be strictly transparent? I use a little gouache when convenient.

John Yardley

What is of more importance for you – the process or the result?
When painting for a living the result has to be important.

Tony Bel

I got a letter from an artist who suggested that his painting might be on my blog. OK, I like them. Most of his painting have romantic spirit, some remind Thomas Schaller though.

 Tony Bel. Northbridge.

 Tony Bel. Raven.

Tony Bel. Somewhere in Sicily.