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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Janine Gallizia. Interview.

A well recognised watercolourist, Janine’s work has appeared in numerous magazines and books on watercolour in Europe, Australia, Canada and China. She herself has written three books on her technique “Light & Atmosphere in Watercolour” in 2003 and “Keep it simple!” in 2005, both editions were sell-outs, and the just released "Sponanteity & emotion... a constructed liberty" in 2008. Janine is also a highly regarded teacher. She travels extensively exhibiting her work, holding workshops and giving demonstrations to private groups and Art Societies. Janine is the Art Director of the magazines The Art of Watercolour and L'Art de l'Aquarelle.

How did happen the transformation of your focus of interests from design to watercolors? 
I worked approximately 10 years in the design industry; in Melbourne, Sydney, London and Brussels. It is a passionate and inspiring field that taught me many things that are of great importance and use to me today. As a very keen drawer, (I grew up with a pencil in hand and have never put it down) design work was a natural direction for me when I completed high school. I was already painting at this time, entering local art competitions though with little direction other than curiosity. It was partly through my design work that I began to acquire an interest in watercolour as opposed to black and white drawings. Simultaneously at a very young age I was lucky to be surrounded by a number of great watercolourists who were in the height of their careers: Robert Wade, Herman Pekel, Joseph Zbukvic, Alvaro Castagnet, all of whom are dear friends today.

Janine Gallizia. Davids Bike II. 56 x 65. 2004

Perhaps the most important thing that I gained from my time in the design field was an acute understanding of the client and market needs and the understanding of how to achieve these needs with a visual vocabulary; using shape, colour, value and technique. I have nurtured this analysis over the years, allowing me to see more clearly what and how I need to do things in order to create the paintings and the career that appeals to me. This is a tool I see many great painters lacking, sadly often their careers fail because of this, and so with each passing day I realize the importance of this aspect.

Janine Gallizia. Raphaels Roses.

Who has influenced you the most in watercolor media?
Influenced is a strong word, and for which I have only one answer; Rembrandt. I say this with no pretention. It was through simple observation of Rembrandt’s self-portraits in the National Gallery in London, whilst I lived in London, that I really did learn everything I know today about painting. When I find myself asking questions, it is always towards Rembrandt that I turn for the answer.

When it comes to artists, past or present, I have been inspired by many. Oil painters, pastellists and watercolourists alike, though for reasons that people wouldn’t imagine. I was only 15 years old when I began watching the careers of the Australian watercolour circle. I was already sure that I would be an artist and I was aware that the choices I would make would determine my success or lack of. So I watched how Bob Wade managed his international career, how Herman Pekel remained true to his painting, Joseph’s stubborn but precious attitude “just paint!” These painters and others all influenced me in one way or another, and still do in a way, but when it comes down to painting and technique I look only towards myself. I have always understood the importance of being honest in my painting, learning to see for myself rather than depending on the critic of another, understanding the importance of creating my own style, not being influenced by the art of other painters, even if many are inspirational. This helped me create my own visual language, my own style and develop my own unique career.

Janine Gallizia. Rezzanico Palace.

You have a very sophisticated palette which consists of natural colors as it seems to me. What are those selected colors and do you have some color theory?
My paint choice could appear “natural” in the sense that there is little vibrant colour in my paintings however my palette in composed souly of transparent, synthetic colours, mostly from the Phthalo and Quinacridone families. Understanding colour is an extremely important aspect in watercolour painting. Choosing an opaque colour when needed, understanding which colours mix well and which colours don’t all helps you choose the right colour for the job at hand. I studied several colour theories and brushed all but one aside as many just don’t work. The Munsell System is the only one that holds up on many points, though it too is limited. Compromises must be taken with an educated mind, as it too remains a colour theory as opposed to the reality of what our watercolour pigments allow us to achieve, this is a different question altogether but can not be over looked.

Janine Gallizia

Your painting works give an impression of someone`s dreams or memories. How do you get the idea that inspires you for painting?
I often hear comments along these lines and I guess there are several reasons for this. I do begin my paintings with a model although it is barely recognizable when the painting is finished, apart from my portraits obviously. I am not interested in reproducing a subject, I pay no attention to local colour or values, shape is altered to suit and finally the composition is balanced to make the painting “work”. I see the subject more as a starting point. The subject must have appealed to me on some level and it is this attraction that I try to paint rather than the subject.

My technique is 80% wet-in-wet and moist-on-wet. Edges and line are manipulated to attract and guide the eye, this is probably my greatest passion in painting and it is this aspect that really allows me to “loose” an element of a subject or create interest elsewhere. This element combined with tonal value, colour and technique choices create atmosphere if they are all used together in a way to enhance one single idea or emotion.

Janine Gallizia. La douche. 76 x 50cm

Do you prefer to work on location or in your studio?
Both are essential to me. Outdoor work creates the ability to see; to see shapes, values, space, understand lighting and relationships between all the elements, also learning how to break a subject down to its essentials and develop a swift concise gest. This is really what the guts of a painting is all about and this can’t be learnt inside a studio, not completely anyway. Working inside allows you to take your time, develop your technique, work bigger and simply give you greater comfort in which to work which allows you to see and think more clearly about your painting. I see these two different methods as essential parts of the painting process.

 Janine Gallizia

What are your painting materials preferences like paper, paints, brushes?
My material is very simple, nothing fancy at all.
My paper is mostly Arches 300gms, fine grain though I do have a cherished stock of Whatman paper that I bought when I learned they had stopped production. This is an incredible paper and a real loss to watercolour artists that it no longer exists.
My basic palette is made up of the following colours from the Winsor & Newton range:

Transparent Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Red, Permanent Rose, Winsor Blue (green shade), Ultramarine Blue (green shade), Winsor Green (blue shade) and Winsor Violet.

My brushes are mostly Raphaël series 803 mop brushes with a couple of Escoda brushes from my friend Nicholas Simmon’s signature collection, they are great for line work. Although good quality paints and brushes are important, the backbone of a watercolour is the paper, its influence on a paintings outcome is enormous.

Janine Gallizia. Santa-Maria.

Do you work on the painting until it complete or you put it aside for some?
I used to work in one sitting, but this is no longer possible even though it does have its advantages. In a single sitting it is easy to maintain your ideas, be consistent with your values and colour and mostly keep the same painting rhythm going. However as my understanding of painting increases so do my personal expectations. I have learned that planning a painting creates far better results. I also prefer to create 5-10 great paintings rather than 50 ok ones. Having two babies under two years of age also plays a role, as I can no longer do 12 hour sittings! However this is all part of life and the journey that moulds an artist’s work over the years. Life evolves and we adapt to suit. As the guitarist of the heavy metal band Megadeth, Dave Mustain, wisely said “A musician has to live in between records to have a story to tell for the next one, otherwise you are just churning out the same old stuff and people wake up to that pretty quickly” this is so true for painting too. Once I have a piece finished I will frame it temporarily and put it in my living room for the time it takes to see if there are any hic-ups that need to be adjusted.

Janine Gallizia. Blue Bowl. 40x60cm. 2011

Which qualities of watercolor painting do you value the most?
My favorite without a doubt is the large array of subtleties the watercolour technique can create. I love contradictions and going against the grain with the aim of doing better. Subtlety creates more strength than anything else I have seen in watercolour, in life in general too for that matter.

What gives you the teaching experience? Teaching is a very rich experience. I try to keep the number of workshops I give throughout the year to 4 or 5 maximum as teaching also has its downfalls for an artist. I guess the most obvious quality is the ability to experience exchanges with others whom also share my passion. It is a place to develop ideas, exchange views, learn and have fun!

Janine Gallizia

How do you manage to find the time and energy for the job of Art director in 2 magazines, the organizing the Art events, teaching and painting? You must know the secret how to extend the 24 hours making them double.
No, but if you do let me know!!! I am one very busy person that’s for sure. Often too busy. My problem is that I love painting and I am very passionate about what I do. Combine this with the fact that I have very high expectations for everything that I do. With my painting I have travelled extensively and have gained incredible experience and met many great artists. I was very frustrated seeing everything I saw knowing that most people never saw one tenth of this. This was and still is very frustrating to me. I come across so many people, amateurs and professionals, that just can’t see the one hurdle they have in front of them, through the magazine I can help artists cross linguistic and geographic borders, offer advice, raise issues, provide answers, stimulate and even boost events and artists and hopefully open people’s eyes to something new with each issue. Painting requires stimulation and if I can help people on an individual level with these points it will have a greater influence on the watercolour scene as a whole. So many people have a desire to see watercolour move to greater heights, the group exhibitions and the magazines that I am part of or organize are all part of this bigger idea. This said, it is important to understand that I, Janine Gallizia, have my own individual goals and ambitions though, like many of you, if I wish to see things grow and improve in the watercolour scene I know only too well that it is as a community that this must happen. Artists are stronger and will have more impact together than alone. Paintings “schools” have proven this time and time again.

Janine Gallizia

Do you believe that we can re-gain the status of watercolor medium as a major technique during our life-time?
The answer to this is simply and unequivocally; yes. It is already happening and as I said above it is the community that must work together for this to be achieved. With the internet and current and upcoming art shows the watercolour scene has opened up internationally. This is irreversible. We are now able to see, and even participate, in events in China, in Europe, in the US, in Australia, in Russia… once the barriers were abolished the door was opened and the status quo automatically upset within each country. This can only stimulate artists and that is precisely what we are seeing today. Artists are no longer competing with those in the next state or even in the country next door, but with all others internationally. This is certain to raise the level of the technique, which will in turn create a snowball effect where galleries, museums, art collectors, etc. all begin to take notice, again this is a certainty and it is the very stage we are at today. The only thing required to ensure things continue to develop well is an open platform and motivated people, and that is something the watercolour scene has to its advantage more than any other technique, no doubt due to the “under dog” reputation that many feel the technique carries alongside other techniques. In any case the movement has began, it’s time to hold on for the ride!!


  1. Unas acuarelas fascinantes. Muy bonitas.

  2. Really loved your artworks!from Jayson Yeoh

  3. Janine, what an inspirational person and a fantastic course. I learned so much, for which many thanks. Already planning my next painting.
    A bientot.

  4. I found a painting can you help me find out if it's worth anything it's autographed by JANINE