Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Glass objects

I've been planning to examine painting transparent objects - glasses, bottles, etc, and now seemed like the perfect time to capture the "spirit" of the season. I was also inspired by Olivia's recent series of beautiful paintings of bottles. My results are far not as free and exciting as hers, but I believe that I have to get familiar with an object before I can simplify it and paint it loosely. So, it is a first step.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Snapping out of the blues....

Blue is neutralized with orange...
I started this as an exercise on the back of a discarded painting, but I like how it turned out, so here it is...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

In expectation

This is by a photo I took a few years ago of a litter of stray puppies. They seemed quite in control and independent, lying around a pile of gravel near a building site in Sofia. Probably mom wasn't far too.

I wanted to use the opportunity to wish Merry Christmas and very happy holidays to everyone!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Still in Egypt...

Actually, it has been two years since that trip, but for some reason scenes from it keep popping in my mind...

Pharaoh head at Abu Simbel
This head is of one of the four gigantic sitting Pharaohs at the facade of the Abu Simbel temple The height of  this head is equivalent to about two human heights. It is actually a complex of two temples, which were carved directly into the rock of the river bank. To prevent loosing them forever under the waters of the Aswan dam, in 1968 the temples were cut into pieces, tens of tons each, and rebuilt on a higher ground. For me, this is a fascinating engineering achievement, almost as amazing as the archaeological monuments themselves.

The bank of the Nile
Another fascinating thing for me was to realize that the country is only a few meters wide, if you exclude the Nile delta of course. Yes, it is huge on the map, but in reality, the only inhabitable part is the fertile shores of the Nile, which vary in width from just a few meters to a few hundred meters. Beyond that is a desert without a single blade of grass.

Philae temple

Friday, December 9, 2011

Egyptian sunsets

Sun raises over Luxor

The other bank at sunset

Sunset on the Nile
I love painting sunsets, as they involve mostly wet-in-wet. This should help me get back on track with painting, after exhausting few weeks at work...

Saturday, December 3, 2011


It is cold outside. We had the first snowfall already. But my mind is at warm places...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Berber woman grinding flour

A Berber woman making flour
Arches  30 x 40 cm (n/a)
This is based on photo that I took a couple of years ago in the small village of Matmata in Tunisia. While this particular village has become quite popular and a sort of ethnographic show for tourists, the rest of the population in the area still has a very traditional way of life for real. Their houses are a kind of troglodyte dwellings with artificially made cave-like rooms dug around the perimeter of a large pit in the ground. Some part of Star Wars was shot in these dwellings.
I was surprised how much fun it was to paint the draped fabric of the clothing. Watercolor is perfect for that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A practical task...

December is approaching and soon we'll be sending Christmas cards. This time I decided to make my own cards, which proved quite a job. I'm almost done now, so should have time for less repetitive painting soon...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Learning from Cembranelli

I remember one blogger saying that painting roses is addictive. True! A few days ago I decided to try Fabio Cembranelli's way of painting roses. I cut a discarded painting into four pieces and started my tests on the backs. Then I cut another piece of paper. Then continued on a block. It was hard to stop.
What did I learn? That it is not as simple as Fabio's videos make it seem. I wanted to figure out how he manages to lift color, leaving practically white paper, and giving the flowers this cotton candy soft look. This proved quite difficult. The paint must be exactly the right consistency and wetness, the brush must be absolutely clean and you have to stop yourself from repeating the stroke before cleaning the brush. Yes, masters make the hardest things look easy!
There is also another reason for all these roses. Today is the one year anniversary of my blog. So I devote the roses to all of you, my visitors and blogging friends. Thank you, for your support, encouragement and advices! I feel that I have made much progress over the past year, and a good deal of my motivation comes from you. Thank you!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

End of the flower season

Arches, 38 x 28 cm
These were the last roses from my yard still spared from the frost, so I seized the chance to paint them from live. This week a few relatives and friends had birthdays. I didn't have the chance to congratulate them, so let this bouquet be for them. Happy birthday!

Честит Рожден Ден!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I cut these flowers from the garden, while still just buds, in order to save them from the morning frost. Now they are happily blooming in a vase.

I thought that the second one turned into a big mess, but hubby liked it, so I decided to post it regardless.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Autumn walks

The red tree (Arches 28 x 19 cm)

Autumn walk (Arches 28 x 19 cm)

The sunny meadow (Arches 28 x 19 cm)
These three small landscapes are based on photos from a walk in the near by conservation area a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

And two days later...

I wanted to paint but had no idea what. The autumn leaves from two days ago were still spread on the desk, but they had dried and curled up...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Maple leaves

Watercolor on Arches 28/38 cm
Yes, real colorful autumn leaves, which make you smile, not the Toronto hockey team with the same name, which can only make you cry...
The prime of the fall colors has passed and many trees have dropped their foliage. Yet, there are still some really beautiful individual trees. Some have all colors, smoothly transitioning, from bright red at the tips of the branches, through yellow and orange, to all green on the bottom branches. I gathered a large bunch of leaves during yesterday's walk, spread them on the desk and started painting. I did get into some serious fiddling, but at a second look today, decided that it's not too bad. So, here's my posting, as Canadian as it can get...

The pile of leaves on my desk

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lavender in October

That's right, lavender! I did pick a whole bunch of it from my yard today. Thanks to the efforts of horticulturalists, now days we can enjoy flowers with a really long and sometimes unusual blooming periods. For example, there is a white iris in my garden, which is about to flower. Yes, now, at the end of October... if the frost doesn't dampen its enthusiasm. ( For those who don't get it, all respectable irises flower only in the spring.) Well, I knew it was a re-blooming type and that's why I planted it, but it still amazed me when I saw its flower buds a week ago. So, here's the prospect - I'll either be painting a white iris in November, or - white snow. Whichever comes first ;-)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Let's play!

I like her playful and questioning expression, but it took quite a number of attempts to reproduce it. I decided to paint this in one color inspired by the magnificent mono-color portraits on David Lobenberg's blog. Of course, I have a long way to go, to get even close to his results. I am too scared to leave hard edges, and while trying to soften them, I manage to create too much mud. As he says, one needs to gain lots of experience...

Saturday, October 15, 2011


...and two interim steps below

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

A mountain view

Living in a "flat land" I envy people who have mountains at their doorstep. This view is based on a photo from a friend's hiking trip in the mountains near Vancouver. At least I could imagine I was there while painting it. I liked the fir tree edges outlined by back-light, and that's what I tried to focus on. Used a limited palette of indian yellow, cobalt blue and burnt sienna.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Autumn is here...

... and the colors outside are changing by the hour. In just days the fall colors will be in their peak. Too bad this won't last long.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A nubian man

Another watercolor version of a previous pencil sketch. This is based on a photo of a felucca sailor in Aswan. The boat trip took place at sunset and the light was spectacular.  I have been saving this picture in my pile of reference photos, in case I ever learn to do portraits. I never thought I would have so much fun painting it. I am happy that I managed to reproduce the dreamy expression on the man's face. I think I need to do some more work with my colors for a dark complexion, though. So, back to Charles Reid's books!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Two portraits

I did pencil drawings for these a couple of weeks ago. They are both based on black-and-white photographs, so I had to use imagination for the colors. On the top one I regret making the ribbon on the hat so dark, as it shifts the attention away from the face. Yet, I was proud when my mom said, that the lady does resemble her mother. Now, if she finds similarities of the bottom picture and her daughter, I'll be triumphant...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Trout River Pond

Trout River Pond, Gros Morne, NL

Monday, September 5, 2011

Trail to Tablelands

Tablelands are a mountainous formation in Gros Morne park in Newfoundland, made up of an entirely barren orange rock. It was formed several hundred million years ago during a plate collision, which forced up parts of the earth's mantle. These rocks have a very high metal content and lack the nutrients that plants need. It was interesting to see, where this barren orange mountain ends and suddenly the green hills begin.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

From the family photo archives

Still attempting to draw the human face. Achieving a real portrait likeness is beyond my skills, or goals, at this time. At least, I think I'm starting to get some understanding of the basic proportions and shapes.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Trying something new...

I wanted to try something different so I pulled out an old photograph. The result is not a real portrait, as there isn't true resemblance. Yet I'm glad that I managed to draw two smiling kids. In fact, initially the girl on the right looked more like an elderly woman, until I moved the eyes down, closer to the mouth. I guess I could have read these basic facts about the proportions of a child's face in any book on portraits, but it is more exciting to discover things on my own. Hopefully, reading the theory on drawing portraits will be much more informative, after I have tried my hand at it.

This drawing is by a photo I made on a trip to Egypt two years ago. The color picture has a beautiful late afternoon light and interesting colors and I am absolutely going to try it in watercolor at some point.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Out there....

Red chairs by the shore at Gros Morne

Monday, August 22, 2011

Green Garden trail

Another view from my hiking trip in Newfoundland.

Monday, August 15, 2011

West Brook Pond

West Brook Pond, Gros Morne Park, NL
West Brook Pond is a former fjord, which has been separated from the sea by a strip of land. Now it is a fresh water lake. The lake is practically at sea level and the steep mountains surrounding it reach up to 700 m. The only way to see it is a boat tour and on a clear sunny day the view is awesome. They say, if you have time to do only one thing in Gros Morne, take this boat tour.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sunset at Rocky Harbor

Sunset at Rocky Harbor

What intrigued me in this view was the bright, silvery reflection in the water. The photograph I had taken (below) did not capture the colors well, so I painted them partially by memory. I stayed with a limited palette, this time: ultramarine, yellow ochre and alizarin crimson.
Today I also sketched a couple of other landscapes from Newfoundland, so hopefully I have time to paint them in the next few days.