Sunday, January 30, 2011

Drenched in a hyacinth perfume

Arches 25 x 35 cm (n/a)
The hyacinths opened up and their aroma now fills the whole house.
Above is my second attempt, a bit overworked, but I had much fun painting it.
And below is a small one, the size of a greeting card.
Greeting card (n/a)

Friday, January 28, 2011


Two days ago I received a flower pot of hyacinths that were just buds, with hardly recognizable color. But today they already started to open up. I want to paint them at different stages.
I used to think that hyacinths are very hard to paint, and they probably would be if you try to paint every little flower. But I got inspired by the paintings of two artists who showed me that the flower is even prettier when done with less detail. Judy's hyacinths here are done in a very beautiful free style, and Jane Minter's here are a gorgeous example of wet-on-wet.
There may be more hyacinths here in the next days, as my flowers bloom.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pont du Gard

Arches 43 x 33 cm (n/a)
Yes, this is the place of the "Riverbank" from the previous posting. Pont du Gard  in Provence,  is the largest preserved ancient roman bridge. It was part of a 50 km long aqueduct, which used to carry water to the city of Nimes. Right above the lowest level of arches is the bridge for crossing. The water was flowing in a closed channel above the top (third) row of arches. Luckily, only a small part of it was destroyed in the middle ages, when most ancient buildings were used as sources of building materials.

Monday, January 24, 2011


This was a quick study of a part of a bigger picture. I like the way it turned out. As usual, the best hits are those painted quickly on a scrap piece of paper.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


In the last weeks, in between the other things, I've been experimenting with painting flowers - as studies and just for fun. As sources of reference I use pictures from last summer and a whole yearly issue of "Canadian Gardening" magazine. I have also been trying some ideas I learned from the blog of the artist Jean Haines, which I started visiting recently. She paints without pencil sketching, masking and other helpers, and her style is very lively and spontaneous. Her book is on my shopping list, though I first have to go through the two other books on watercolor painting I just bought...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lyon before the rain

Last year after a trip through southern France we spent an afternoon in Lyon. After following a series of watercolors by Yves Pothier from that city the previous winter, I wanted to see the narrow streets with stairs in the old town. Unfortunately, the weather was not very favorable. It was overcast and threatening to rain. Eventually it did. But I cannot complain - this was the only rainy day in a ten-day vacation.
This painting didn't turn out the way I wanted. I overworked the sky, which is the most prominent part if this view, and it all went from there...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Grenadier Pond

With the last two winter landscapes, I reckon I've paid my dues to the winter. This is by a photo from last April in High Park. Most trees were still bare, but the willows were yellow-green and the forsythia shrubs and fruit trees were in bloom.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Another winter scene

This is again from the nearby park - a path that leads to the bridge on the previous picture.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I surrender to winter

I have to finally accept that it is winter. I may keep painting flowers and sunny provencal landscapes, but the fact is, that everything outside is covered with snow. It may be wise to realize that winter is also beautiful. Otherwise, I risk missing it, and maybe, painting winter scenes next summer.This view is from a little park nearby...

Weeping all the way...

Willow Lane in spring

Willow Lane - tonal sketch
Every day I pass trough this lane, lined with a row of mature weeping willows. Beautiful trees! Especially when the wind makes all the twigs fly in one direction, as if the whole tree is dancing. These are the first trees to change color in late winter - the bare twigs turn yellowy-green. That's when you know that the spring is not very far away and soon the leaves will dress the trees in a beautiful chartreuse. In the autumn, when the leaves fall, the tassels of twigs retain an orange color that contrasts with the almost black trunk and branches.

I did this picture last night, but wasn't sure I liked enough the result. I didn't think I did the trees justice. Yet, today I decided that it doesn't look that bad. I'm sure I'll try this subject again, maybe in different seasons.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Last summer there were many sunflowers in the yard, which planted themselves from the bird seeds. Eventually the squirrels took care of the sunflowers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Green Haze

Experimenting with washes

Sunday, January 9, 2011


on Curry's 200 lb 100% cotton paper

on Arches 140 lb CP paper
For the first time I tried Arches paper - one of the best watercolor papers, and the one that most artists use. Decided to try two similar pictures to compare the papers. Arches felt very fine and smooth. It seems easier to control the water, and pigments mix beautifully on it. I was surprised though how easy it is to get a back-run. Apparently it will take time to get used to its properties.

I have to thank the artist Ruth S. Harris and her blog "A passion for Watercolour!" for the inspiration to paint flowers and for some specific techniques I learned from there.

I have a studio!

I'm so happy, that I finally have a place to work whenever I feel like it. So far I was using the kitchen counter top, and had to put my stuff away when I'm done. No need to pack and unpack all the time anymore. I setup this makeshift studio in the basement between the elliptical trainer and an almost-never-used ping-pong table.Now I can leave my work there and use any little chunk of time I have to go downstairs and paint.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Acqua Alta

High Waters in Venice
I haven't been in Venice during the high waters, but someone I know did, and I used their photos as a reference.
I was a bit hesitant to start this due to the complexity of the buildings. I had to simplify them and to force myself not to fiddle. Easy to say!. Also when I do larger paintings (this is 13" x 17" or 33 x 43 cm) like every rookie I tend to stiffen. To make things simpler, I used only three colors for most of the painting - ultramarine, raw sienna and burnt sienna, then added some alizarin crimson for the red details in the foreground.Well, I think it turned out OK.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Today I just played with washes and techniques. A couple of the studies turned out quite decent.
Rainy Sunset
Pink Sunset
Only two colors are used for each: ultramarine blue and burnt sienna in the first one and prussian blue and  quinacridone red in the second.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Light and shadow

Curry's artist 200 lb paper (n/a)
Just a small study on shadows...I came across a photograph, where the facade of a building was slightly overexposed and its yellow-orange color came out only in the shadows. I found this intriguing so I did a fragment of it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Spring in Provence

The ruins of a local chateau are perched on a hill in the center of the village of Eygalieres. From there one has a beautiful view of the valley and the distant mountains.