Friday, August 26, 2011

My Paris - Eiffel Tower


It’s not a secret that Eiffel Tower is one of the most wanted and visited places in Paris and I am more than sure lots of Artists painted her in the last 122 years.
This painting is the beginning of the series “My Paris”. I’ve visited Paris twice and took tons of pictures just to realize recently that I’ve lost most of them. Not a problem: this will give me a great excuse to go to Paris one more time, won’t it! Just need to dream hard enough J
It is just a beginning! And like all beginnings evolve this image also will transform so many times. The image is of Evening Paris with dramatic skies. And this time I’ve placed a young lady in the left bottom corner as the symbol of Romantic Paris Spirit and the Tower. The red scarf drives the attention from monochromatic painting; yet the center composition still belongs to the Eiffel Lady herself.
9”x12” Watercolor Painting on 140lb Cold Pressed Paper
Here are some interesting facts about Eiffel Tower (courtesy of http://www.rphs.devisland.net/zach/funfacts.htm)
  • · Completed in 1889 for the Paris world exhibition, it was built in two years by 132 workers and 50 engineers.
  • · The Eiffel Tower was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1889 (that was the case until 1930).
  • · It took a team of 25 painters to paint the Eiffel Tower.
  • · Protecting the Eiffel Tower from rust requires the application of 50 tons of paint every seven years.
  • · The Eiffel Tower shrinks 6 inches in winter
  • · Solar heating can causes the Eiffel Tower to expand up to 3.25 in.
  • · Strong winds can sway Eiffel Tower slightly. During the storm of 1999, it moved approximately 13 centimeters from its initial position
  • · In 1925, a con artist sold the Eiffel Tower for scrap - twice! But, this never happened.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Art Show - Feedback and Highlights

The day of the Art Show was fabulous: great weather, lots of music, tons of smiles and wonderful feeling of friendliness and happiness. Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of work to put in to have this happen: cutting, printing, painting.. And it paid off. I love the day even I was extremely tired after the show.
I've prepared a lot of handmade watercolor cards for the show. They are inexpensive and people could take home a small piece of affordable art if they did not want to spend money on the originals.
I've also made a few 8"x10" matted prints of my art work. And in addition I've brought the jewelry that I've made long time ago (this jewelry is from my Etsy Online Shop )
There were so many people at the show that I've barely had time to chat with my fellow artists. Everyone was very friendly and we shared the great deal of personal experience.
My walk-in clients loved buying prints and card. Yet I've noticed that original art was not in such demand. Even miniature ACEOs were not what the public wanted that day. And it was not only my experience; some artists also noticed that.
But what I really liked that people loved to come to my stand and hearing my accent, asking where I came from; they started telling the stories of their lives ( their ethnical background, immigration stories about their relatives, their experiences in different countries of the World. It was like opening the new book every time interested customer stopped by. My fellow Artist Nancy ( Accessory Extraordinaire) had a blast selling her new cute creations.
I've noticed that people loved my Iris paintings a lot; some bought cards and others purchased prints.
And also Art Show can become a very educational process not only for me (on what people like and what they dont' notice for example); but as well for people. Two cute girls came with their mom and I gave them a test on the names of the flowers that I've painted. They were just started painting with watercolors. And they were very happy to get my Iris watercolor cards and hear the story about how it was created. And the educational process can surely go from 8 to 92. I've met one nice not so old ( maybe late 80s) lady who started painting with watercolors 2 years ago. She was very interested in duplicating one of my images. I took her daughters e-mail address and later on sent them an image and a photo reference with the recommendations on how to start the painting.
This Art Show was priceless experience for me. There were a lot of lessons that I've learned personally and I am glad I've had a very productive time.
(Photos provided by The Best Photographer in The World, by Masha Batkova (my sister)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Artist's Market and LIVE Music

Looking for something to do this Saturday (the 20th)?

Come spend a FUN, leisurely day in a small town.

Where?

Lafayette, CA (On Lafayette Circle)

First, start your day around 10:30 or 11:00 with your favorite beverage at Starbucks (on the corner of Lafayette Cir. & Mt. Diablo).

Second, meander up the “Circle” to the parking lot of the Lafayette Gallery ( look for the canopies) where you’ll see artists displaying their wares. This is the outdoor Artist’s Market, the last one this season! You’ll find two ceramics artists, fine art (including gorgeous water color from Irina Sztukowski www.IrinaSztukowski.com ), beautiful and different crocheted scarves, print photography as well as photography on metal, a chocolatier and, finally, an innovative and versatile new fashion accessory from Nancy www.AccessoryExtraordinaire.com ). You can also go into the Lafayette Gallery to find more art and around to the back courtyard where there’s whimsical garden art.

Third, enjoy lunch at Petar’s, or Chows (NOT a Chinese restaurant) or any of the other great restaurants within walking distance of the “Circle.” When you’re finished enjoying a leisurely lunch, wander back to the Artist’s Market to listen to some great LIVE music and enjoy a little dessert from the chocolatier!

If you need an address to find it, please use 50 Lafayette Cir., Lafayette, CA

Spread the news if you can't come :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Water Lilies Watercolor

Like MonetImpressionImpressionism in Watercolors I was exploring a new surface for my watercolors: Watercolor Canvas. Before, I tried watercolor board and thought to try a canvas this time. The board surprised me with the fact that it was practically impossible to place the layers. When I tried to place second layer on it, my first layer would mix with wet surface and simply disappear. From my experience, watercolor canvas has better fluidity than a board; you can make a good wash if working fast and knowing what colors will go in what place (does not allow reapplying though); and, the canvas allows to place a second layer yet it should be darker than the previous one.
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And I was surprised how my hands were adjusting to the quality of the surface this time. Feeling that the colors will not flow like on 100% Cotton Watercolor Paper, my hands started applying paint in kind of pointing style (e.g. instead of sweeping my brush across I was "pocking" dots all over the surface with different colors or just making very short strokes). Quite interesting experience! My style changed completely in just a few minutes since I started painting. The surface dictated the technique. At some point I thought about Monet and his Water Lilies; how did he paint them? What did he feel? Although, yes he used oil paint; I guess I got the oil paint thinking then :)
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The advantage of the watercolor on canvas is that if you want you can place it on a wall without framing (though you will need to use fixative of course). Yet, lately I am experimenting with watercolor board (with stretched Cotton Paper) that also will not need frame except a cradle board. I've noticed that some of my clients would like to have watercolor paintings without frames in there collections. I was researching how to do that too. And I'll share this experience with you in the future.
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9"x12" Fredrix Watercolor Canvas, Winsor & Newton Watercolor, Aqarell-Fixativ by Schmincke & Co

For more Watercolor Canvases, Acrylic and Metal Prints with my art - click HERE
watercolors art

fine art Irina

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Polka Dots

This smart little girl came to my life unexpectedly. My online friend June posted a picture of her granddaughter and I was fascinated by this baby picture. Something was just telling me I need to paint this portrait. Her eyes, her face, her cute outfit! I could just imagine how the girl was just playing a few minutes ago and was asked by parents to sit and concentrate on something; and, yes she definitely did try doing that; but, look at her eyes: she is still thinking about the game. Her imagination is still working its way out. I think that kids' eyes are telling us a lot; it is like a Whole Universe is there; we just need to look into them and open a new beautiful World for ourselves.
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When I started painting this portrait I was very concerned about how I will paint her eyes (as it it a center point of the composition). The Polka Dots helped me tremendously! I started the painting them; got lost in the texture and relaxed a little. Later, when I moved to the face I still didn't paint eyes, I worked on the skin tones and made quite a few good washes (layer by layer) in order to achieve the baby skin feeling. I had so much fun! Yet the real fun came when I started mixing colors for the eyes. The tone of the eyes was different from the blue of the sweater. I intentionally made a sweater lighter than on the picture to contrast with Emerald Blueish Green of the eyes. The highlights on the eye lids and in the corner of the eyes help to make them very 3-dementional and be a real centerpiece of whole composition.
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I am so glad I had an opportunity to work on one more baby portrait. Each time I paint babies or kids I am realizing it is much different from the adults portraits; and, baby portraits definitely have their charm and cuteness :)
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8"x10" Watercolor on Arches 140 Cold Pressed Paper

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Interview

I thought I will share the interview answers that I've recently gave to Art at Groby Community College. I love to read interviews with other artists and thought it might be interesting to share a little information. You are next ! :)

( Original questions are prepared by Carys Sheen from Art at Groby Community College, England)

- What’s your background?

My background is quite diverse, both with studying and jobs I have had. Besides working as an artist, I used to work for a travel company an insurance company, and have held jobs as a marketing manager, accountant, and pricing analyst. But if to focus on my art endeavors, I can say that I’ve received a great education in several art schools in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and I had an opportunity to work as a licensed artist and sell my art through the galleries of this one of the most beautiful cities of the world.

- What started you off in your career?

Quite frankly, I don’t remember when I’ve decided to be an artist; I always knew I would be one. A lot of people can say it was a childhood dream. I definitely can relate to that. But I also would add that as a kid I always knew I would be the artist, the knowledge was inside me. Throughout life, my path turned so many times, and I am happy that now I am getting back to my dreams. With the support of my friends and family, and the inspiration I have, I am continuing studying the arts (which I consider a great luxury of my mid life and a necessity for any artist).

- What’s your current status? Freelance? Company? Or is art a hobby?

Currently I am self-employed and sell my art through mostly on-line stores and art fairs.

- Who are your influences? Who have you been inspired by?

I’ve been inspired by old masters as well as contemporary artists. Just to name a few: Winslow Homer , Feodor Tolstoy , Beatrix Potter , John Stuart Ingle , Paul Jackson , Jan Kunz , Jacqueline Gnott , and many many more. I meet incredible contemporary artists through my blog. They are all amazing people and wonderful professionals.

- Is there a particular subject matter you prefer?

I love painting flowers lit by a sun, still life with old antiques or any other secular objects; however I am exploring a lot of portraiture and landscapes that are also becoming my favorite subjects matter lately.

- What are your working methods? Any particular techniques/methods you prefer?

I love to start my paintings wet on wet and later add dry brush technique.

- Do you work from primary or secondary source?

Long time ago when I was learning Academic Art in school I did work with primary sources only. The subjects and characteristics of my “models” that I am interested in now are changing rapidly. If I paint a flower, the sun is moving and the cast shadows are changing, the fruits in the still life might spoil, the facial expression for the future portrait can disappear in a second; therefore, I prefer using a photo reference as a source for my paintings.

- Have you ever exhibited your work?

Yes. Besides on-line galleries, I have exhibited my art work in the local areas: libraries, art galleries, restaurants, and cafes.

- Are you commissioned to do other things? Future directions for work?

I am mostly commissioned to paint in watercolors; however the craft business is also taking a good part of my time. Occasionally, I receive requests to make a certain type of jewelry, handmade signature cards; and, I also knit or crochet. I love the diversity; it helps me to stay sane and enjoy my life as an Artist.

Recent Bestsellers - Art For Home Decor and On Merchandise

The last few weeks were very busy at my Online Gallery . Many art pieces from abstract to hyper realism were sold for a home interior ...