Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Big December Post

Ok, this blog has been abandoned lately, and it's one of my New Year's resolutions to be consistent with postings. Also, I wish everyone a very happy Holiday Season and a peaceful and prosperous New Year! Here are some of my December paintings - they're all about winter and snow.

"Hey, guys, leave something for me!"

Slowly painting these mittens was some sort of meditation to me:)

This birdie is flying to the new home tomorrow!

Everything cozy: coffee, cookies and Teddy bears:)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Walk With A Friend

It used to be my childhood dream to walk through the autumn leaves with a four-footed friend by my side. It's yet to come true, but maybe some dreams are better to stay that way so they always live in our hearts... and in paintings, of course.

Speaking of this watercolor, I'd like to mention my new W&N bamboo brush (Size 12) that came in handy here. I was attracted by its unusual look and, honestly, very cheap price:) Originally designed for Asian ink and watercolor painting, this brush is very helpful in making effortlessly expressive strokes. You can see them especially well in the top right corner of the painting. The only downside for me is that the brush doesn't have spring to it, since the bristles are very soft (look at the photo below). It also sheds a little bit. All in all, I found this brush worth trying out.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Still Life With Grapes

One day I was staring at the white sheet of Hahnemuhle 280lb watercolor paper and had no idea of what to paint on it. So I opened the fridge and grabbed the first thing I saw, which happened to be a bunch of grapes. Then I added my favorite Marjolein Bastin mug and a lemon leftover, and - voila - I had a juicy still life.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Embracing the Fall Colors

My favorite season is here! Craving to walk on fallen leaves and listen to the rain, but it's sunny and not quite sweater weather yet. At least the pumpkins are already starting to roll in.

Also, meet Lola enjoying the fall and cozying up in maple leaves:) I painted her for Renee who won my recent giveaway of custom pet portrait. I'm happy that Renee loved the portrait and found it to capture Lola's personality so well!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

GIVEAWAY - A Custom Pet Portrait (Cat or Dog)!

I'm running a Giveaway on my Facebook Fan Page! Click here to see the rules and participate.
Wishing you a good luck! The winner will be announced on my fan page on Aug 18th 12pm EST.

And here's one of my new pieces, a tiny hummingbird. Approx. 8x8'' on Sennelier watercolor paper.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cherry Turnovers

I've been meaning to try Hahnemuhle Leonardo watercolor paper for ages, but kept putting it off, because it wasn't available at my favorite art supply stores. So finally I ordered it on Amazon, and the paper came to me all the way from Europe. It was my first time painting on such a heavyweight (280lb) paper, and I totally loved it!

Showing you only one turnover, since I couldn't help but bite the half of a second one before I started painting it:) Also, this yummy watercolor is available on my Etsy shop.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Wet-on-wet watercolor tutorial

Hi everyone! I finally made my first tutorial, which demonstrates my typical workflow for wet-on-wet painting. This tutorial promotes spontaneous and expressive watercolor painting technique, without preliminary contour drawing. Hope you will find it useful and enjoy the process as much as I did!

Materials I used for this tutorial:

1. A block of Arches cold press 140lb 9x12 inches
2. Squirrel blend flat wash brush 3/4'' and sable pointed round brush size 4
3. Watercolors: Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Gold, Light Red, Perylene Maroon, Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine.

Wish I had some rowan branches here on my table, but unfortunately I'm gonna have to work from just a photograph.

Speaking of which, I recommend that you do not copy reference photos, but rather, do your personal interpretation of reality and show how it makes you feel. The camera documents all the details, but it's up to you to decide which of them are worth including in your painting. I love the quote by Charles Reid, one of my favorite watercolorists, "Painting is about illusion. A painting can't copy nature. You can't paint what you see. The details you see in a light flower can destroy the essence of a light flower. Are the details in the flower more important than the essence of the flower?"

To get you started, here are the key points of this tutorial:
  1. Keep it simple and paint from big to small, focusing on shape and value.
  2. Try to work as quickly as possible, making free and easy brushstrokes.
  3. All work should be done on wet or damp paper. If some spots happened to dry out completely before you finished, you may damp them using a wide soft brush and clean water. Be careful with the damping process, do it with one light stroke, and make sure not to blur anything.
  4. Limit your palette to achieve unity and color harmony.
Note: In making this tutorial, I assume that you are familiar with basics, such as color theory, aerial perspective and composition, and know what negative painting is.

Step 1. I take the flat brush and start with a light wash of Yellow Ochre.

Step 2. I paint the background leaves, using mixes of Ultramarine and Light Red for gray shades, or Ochre and Cobalt Blue for green shades. At this stage, I also outline the composition.

Step 3. I shape the rowan clusters, using Quinacridone Gold for a smaller one, and the mix of Ochre and Light Red for a bigger one. Note that the lightest spot of a bigger cluster is left untouched.

Step 4. Using the same flat brush, I continue to define the clusters and leaves. I don't overwork the surface but let the colors flow and mix on the paper.

Step 5. I work on the clusters, placing darker values, and paint leaves on the foreground using the mix of Quinacridone Yellow and Ultramarine. Btw, as you probably know, squinting your eyes from time to time during the work helps to see better definition of shape and value.

Step 6. I take a round brush and paint some leaf stalks using Ultramarine and Light Red.  Remember that the paper should be damp at this stage, so the stalks could blend in. Painting darks on dried paper would make them foreign.

Step 7. I start working on the foreground, by adding a few brushstrokes on the focal point (a right cluster of rowan berries). Note that I apply aerial perspective to this painting, which means that distant parts appear cooler due to the atmosphere between them and the viewer. This method helps to emphasize the closer objects and bring them forward, thus creating illusion of dimension in the painting.

Step 8. I add a few more detail to foreground leaves. The idea is not to overwork them.

Step 9. With quick brushstrokes, I paint thin branches, using mixes of Perylene Maroon, Ultramarine and Light Red.

Step 10. At the last stage, I do some negative painting in order to add structure to the focal point.

A few more touch ups here and there, and the painting is done!

If you have any questions, I will be glad to answer them in the comments section.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bath Street, Santa Barbara

In Santa Barbara, whatever direction you look, you see postcard views. It's a true paradise for artists:) This watercolor is sized 10 by 14 inches and painted on Lanaquarelle paper, about which I have only good words to say, although it wasn't mentioned in my previous post.

PS Recently, I had my interview published on the website of Kalacheva School - an art school located in Moscow. If you can read Russian, or don't mind using google translate, you are welcome to check it out here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

My Favorite Art Materials: Watercolor Paper.

As I promised, my second post about art supplies is dedicated to watercolor paper that I like and use often. Actually, it is the most frequent question I get asked regarding my work, so here's my experience to add to yours. See also the first part, which was about watercolor brushes.

There are plenty of different brands and sorts of paper on the market, and it often gets confusing to figure out which one suits best for your needs. It takes practice and experience to know the behavior of a particular paper and predict the results you are going to get. So after some trial and error I found paper which I'm more than happy to paint on (it doesn't mean, however, that I stopped trying out new brands, since I always keep my mind open about art materials).

1. Arches cold press 140 lb is the paper I use probably 80 percent of the time. This paper suits my painting style perfectly, and I love the way it accepts lots of water and pigment, producing lovely results. As an illustration, here's my watercolor made in wet-on-wet technique, on a paper from 9''x12'' block. I prefer blocks over sheets btw, since they are so convenient to use - no need to cut and tape.

2. Sennelier grain torchon 140 lb is another sort of paper I've been using a lot lately for small illustrations like these butterflies. Personally, this paper is more accommodating for wet-on-dry rather than wet-on-wet watercolor technique. The surface has a very nice, "upscale" feel and texture to it, and the only downside of this paper is that it's pricey.

3. Saunders Waterford grain torchon 140 lb is also a great paper to work with. You can see its beautiful texture on my painting "Hand In Hand", which is sized 9''x12''. The paper has a pleasant, slightly creamy tone.

4. Fabriano Artistico cold press 140 lb is last, but not least. A not to miss paper, in my opinion, since it's versatile and receptive to all watercolor techniques. Therefore, I'm considering to use it more often. This is one of my latest works, painted on Fabriano paper. "Morning Coffee", 9''x12''.

Of course, the above is not a full list of papers I've had a chance to work with. It just would be impossible to tell about all of them in one post. I've painted on different media, from watercolor canvas to paper made of hemp and lokta, and I'm in a constant search for new textures to try. Apparently, it can be equally delightful to paint on either expensive, classic watercolor paper or some sorts that aren't even meant to be used with watercolor. There are no limits to creative ideas, after all.

In the comments section, I'd love to hear about your favorite paper. Have you ever tried anything unusual to paint on with watercolor?

PS Next time I will tell about my watercolor palette, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spring is time for birds

My favorite paper for painting birds so far is Sennelier Grain Torchon. I'm already finishing my 20 sheets block and going to restock on it. Very pleased with the surface and colors staying intense when dry. It also holds water very well. I personally wouldn't use this paper for big wet on wet paintings, but for small, illustration kind of work it's a keeper!

Btw, I've added three new bird prints in my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pink Rose

This new watercolor reminds me of shabby chic decor, which I've been inspired by lately.
It was painted in alla prima style on Arches cold press paper, and it's available for purchase on my Etsy shop.
Hope you are having a good week so far:)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Just thoughts

Two friends were once observing a beautiful watercolor painting at the art gallery. "Look," one said to the other. "It only took a few minutes for the artist to create this piece, so why does it cost so much?" "You are right," replied the second friend. "Only a few minutes... but the other thing is also true, that it took him his whole life to create this piece. The more effortless it looks, the more hard work is behind it."

That's not an apologue, but a true story from life:) Just was thinking about what I appreciate most in watercolor paintings. Personally, the subject doesn't really matter. What truly earns my respect is effortlessness. How would one see that in a painting? I believe the key is constantly training your eye. And the best way to accomplish that is by observing the work of masters, analyzing and comparing art pieces and styles. Not only does it develop your vision (and you'll be amazed how much it can evolve!), it also aids your mind in creating internal representation of your own future work.

I do this a lot and my personal favorite masters are:
  •  Liu Yi. Incredible, fantastic, out of this world technique!
  •  John Yardley. Love his atmospheric watercolors, full of light and life. I especially adore his ability to simplify complex scenes into shapes of color.
Feel free to continue this list and share your favorite watercolorists in the comment section.

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Valentines Cards

The upcoming Valentine's Day is a perfect time for painting dreamy desserts. These hand painted greeting cards would make a special gift for a special person in your life. Moreover, they can be framed to remind daily of wonderful moments spent together.

You can find these cards on my Etsy shop. I wish all of you to love and to be loved!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Winter dreams

Dear Universe,

Please get me to a cozy cabin in the snowy alpine forest. I will put on a fair isle sweater and arrange outdoor lanterns for a dreamy look. I will play with snow like a child, taking cute pictures for my Instagram at the same time, and maybe even make a snowman. After that I'll surely go for some skating (did I mention there have to be a beautifully illuminated skating rink next to the cabin?). And when the late evening comes, it will be nice to sit back by the fireplace with a sketchbook and a mug of steaming hot chocolate, watching snow fall (don't forget the snowfall, it's important) and painting some winter scenes.

Next morning I might want a good ride downhill. FYI, I've never tried snowboarding, only skiing. As you can imagine, it would be a great chance to finally fill in this gap and step on the board. So get me one, too.

Thank you in advance, Universe, I promise to be a good girl:)
Sincerely yours, me.