Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

painting of Bay Area

Before the clock strikes 12, allow me to wish you a very Happy New Year; and may you get all possible success in all imaginable areas in the year 2015 and beyond.  I wish you to achieve all your goals. And, when the New Year arrives, my best wish is that it brings many new creative ideas to make our lives better. 

Happy New Year!

In this watercolor painting I've combined an abstract floral fireworks and the silhouette of the city over San Francisco Bay. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Good Old Sunset

Today, I would like to share oh-so-old and not so old sunset paintings.
The first two (above and below) were painted almost twenty years ago. Recently, my friend from Russia sent me the photos. These photographs reminded me the good old days when I painted miniatures and sold them in Saint Petersburg art galleries back in 90s:
impressionistic artwork

Next artwork is a Sunset In The Mountains. I painted it from memory from a trip to Tenerife Island in 1998:
watercolor painting

A few relatively recent paintings, a Golden Gate Bridge from 2010:
Bay Area Sunset

And a Sunset In Paris from the memories of my trip in 2007:
France cityscape

Good old sunsets from different beautiful places and from different years of my art journey; the art career, which is luckily yet is not at the “sunset”; and, as I truly believe, my best Sunset painting is still not painted :0)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

My Onion Soup Recipe

onion soup

My onion soup recipe is extremely easy:

Take different kinds of onions, including my latest one, a Red Onion With Bay Leaves
(believe you or not I painted this one for an Onion Marmalade label, I had no idea you can make onion marmalade):

realism in watercolor

Add some cut Bell Peppers:

Throw a few green peas:

Also, add as many other things as you wish; and, voila, a watercolor soup is ready!!! :0)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Pillow Fight

Art to pillow

 Today, I am glad to announce that my hosting website (FineArtAmerica) is now offering a new option for the clients: throw pillows in various sizes. 
It means that each and every painting on my website can be transform not only to canvas, metal, acrylic print or cell phone cover, card and so on; but, as well into a cute pillow.

Being curious to see how it would look like, I went to my Abstract Gallery and created a few pillows myself.

It was an interesting transformation of a two dimentional artwork into a three-dementional object.

My Abstract Sea artwork brought some kind of dream-like feeling when it was "placed" on a pillow:

art to the pillows

On another hand, the vertical lines of Abstract Waterfall were delivering some serious statement:

art to pillows

Meditative serene Abstract Landscape in green invited to have a good Beauty rest:

pillows cases art

Meantime, small squares of my Geometric Abstract artwork brought cozy and warm feelings into a pillow design: 

art on pillows

The variations of the designs are practically endless.
A curious mind can play with images and find an artwork for desirable pillow with no fight by visiting my art gallery

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Going Green

watercolor on canvas

Here, I am presenting a few recent abstract works that I have painted on watercolor canvas. 
The green soothing colors reminded me a glow of emerald crystal, sometimes deep green with a blue tint and sometimes grassy yellow..

I called this part of my abstract landscape series an Emerald Flow.

Emerald I and Emerald II are below:
watercolor on canvas
The model on a couch is Fred, my puppy, he was posing so good that I couldn't resist and placed him "to guard" the peace in this green room.
And to be fair to my other dog, here is what he was doing while Fred was "guarding"..
Prince George was "deep-ing" in Blue :0)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Relish Labels Sweet And Spicy

Sweet and Spicy with a dash of salt
realism in watercolor relish label

I was lucky to paint these vegetables as a part of my Jam Relish and Marmalade labels project. Lucky, because it made me feel quite warm in a chilly November days.

Great combinations were selected for the relishes project.

Sweet Red Bell Pepper and spicy Yellow Onion:

realism in watercolor relish label

Oh so hot Chili Peppers with Sugar:

realism in watercolor relish label

And a Vinegar Bottle with fresh cut Cucumbers will certainly make a Happy Pickle relish one day:

realism in watercolor relish label

I am glad that in this relish labels project I had an opportunity to paint not only vegetables themselves, but as well a porcelain and a glass bottle. I am sure it adds some more realistic feeling to the artwork, inviting the viewer to a kitchen to try these sweet, spicy, with a dash of salt relishes.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Watercolor Iris Garden

realism in watercolor

This 16"'x20" Iris Flowers painting was a pure joy to create. I received commission request from a client to paint this garden from multiple photographs. Her husband grows gorgeous iris flowers of many kinds in his garden. My client wanted to place some of them into one painting. 

First, I have created a few sketches:

After the composition and sketches were approved, I started painting:

I have used wet-on-wet technique for the background wash, yet leaving the leaves of the iris flowers untouched. Later I painted them, one at the time, to give them more definition.

Painting flowers was truly fun. I had to incorporate the photo-references of blue iris, purple iris, and yellow iris flowers into one little garden that fits 16"x20" window of the Arches Cold pressed watercolor paper. 

I also documented stages of the painting and later on created a mini movie with step-by-step creation of these Iris Flowers Garden:

My client was very happy with the results; and, she loved the original painting when it finally arrived in the mail.

But, as I usually like a little more than just one painting creation, I've also created a few designs with these Iris Flowers for Thank-You Cards, Birthday Cards and just Notecards with these sweet little flowers.
My Cards Gallery is now in full bloom with these and other iris flowers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Very Very Berry

realism in watercolor

A Very Very Berry designs were inspired by the Forest Fruits jam label order that I posted below.
It was an instant desire to bring some of my painted berries together; than more then better, creating one juicy watercolor still life.
It was easy to find good "models" for these artworks. 
Mouth watering Beauties!
Sweet, fresh, and mm tasty!!

realism in watercolor

Forest Fruits Jam Label

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Artwork On The Cover

The Thanksgiving holidays are not even started, and we are already exposed to Christmas holiday themes in the stores, TV commercials and radio. Feels that it is a little earlier than ever. 
Yet for some venues it is the right timing to think about holidays fast approach.

Among them are some artists and publishers.

I am glad to announce that one of my Christmas paintings, the Pink Poinsettia, was selected for November cover of The Showcase magazine, which will be circulating mostly in December. Editors of the magazine chose this artwork appreciating a realistic approach combined with continuous decorative floral pattern so well suited for the holiday’s spirit. 

Established in 1996, The Showcase offers the community a professional magazine with informative columns, community news, community calendars, and articles.

Full Issue is here:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Farmers Market Treasures Jam Relish and Marmalade Labels Project

What Color Are The Vitamins?!

realism in watercolor jam labels

My Jam, Relish, and Marmalade Gallery is growing. Several new paintings and designs were born in the last month. And with enough water and plenty of colors on my palette, it keeps growing as if I opened a "Farmers Market" in my studio. 

I've looked at my previous and new paintings of vegetables, berries and fruits and combined them into a color themes.
The above one calls for some cool colors. This group is for Blue and Black Vitamins, and it contains blueberry, blackberry, blackcurrant, and grape paintings.

The next bunch is so so red. The mixture of cranberries, raspberries, redcurrant, strawberries and even rhubarb would water any mouth:

realism in watercolor jam labels

Unusual combination of berries, fruit, veggies, and even herbs is in my Green collection. Gooseberries, cucumbers, green apple and mint leaves are here in Green Vitamins collage:

realism in watercolor jam labels

All shades of yellow and orange are in this Citrus Quartet, a Vitamin C in all its glory. It contains ruby red grapefruit, oranges, and lemons:

realism in watercolor marmalade labels

And not so well coming together in one dish, but oh so well came together by color into a collection of Purple fruits, berries, and vegetables.
It contains plums, eggplant, purple onion, and freshly picked blackberries that certainly have a purple tint to them:

realism in watercolor jam relish labels

It was fun to combine so many different creation of mine into a colored vitamins series.
Thanks to my Jam Labels project, which allowed me to generate so many different designs!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Marmalade - A Citrus Serenade

citrus marmalade label

A combination of flavors of Grapefruit, Orange, and Lemon in one marmalade sounded oh so good to me. It waters my mouth even now, when I am writing this post. 
As an artist and illustrator, who created images for jams and marmalade labels, I had to juggle between different shades of yellow and orange there.

A Mr Grapefruit had to appear big, round, and light yellow (almost a pale yellow in this case):
marmalade label

On another hand, a much juicier yellow and bumpier texture were applied to a Sour Lemon:
citrus marmalade label

Sweet Orange, I called him a Happy Orange, had a nice warm skin and a shiny leathery leaves:
marmalade label

But my all favorite of this Citrus Bunch designs was a request to create a label painting for Whiskey Orange Marmalade.
Not that I am a big drinker, I was just challenged to paint glass one more time. And I liked it! In this watercolor, a good Old Masters traditional still life style was mixed with more modern illustrative techniques. The white background helps to bring up the juiciness of the fruit and transparency of yellow-orange whiskey...

More creations on citrus family are in my Jams Relishes And Marmalade Gallery on 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Best Christmas Story Contest

holiday story

As an artist and illustrator I paint artworks that usually tell a story. 

In the month of November I am running a contest for the Best Christmas Story that would apply to the above painting.

Three winners will be selected:
1st Prize
Quality Print of this Christmas painting 10"x8" on watercolor paper (signed by the artist, front and back)
2nd Prize
A dozen of cards from the Artist's collection that includes one hand-painted card.
3rd Prize
Half of a dozen greeting cards selected by the Artist.

Just e-mail me the story. 
It doesn't have to be too long (a half of printed page or a page will do good). Look at the painting of this Christmas Scene, imagine, create your own Christmas story

Please indicate if you want your name published when I place the story online between the 1st of December 1st and the 10th. The winner story will be next to the painting on my website; and, who knows maybe some day it will be in a book.
Live To Create!! 
Cheers from Irina Sztukowski

Friday, October 24, 2014

Gooseberry Goosebumps - Jam Labels Project

watercolor jam labels project

When I was looking at variety of gooseberries for my Jam Labels Project, I got some goosebumps realizing how many different kinds of those berries are in the world. They can be green, they can be red, they can be kind of green but with red spots. They also have many different sizes: round, oval; and, tastes: sweet, sour, sweet-n-sour. 

So my decision was to paint them all.
The green and round gooseberries above are composed in a compact still life, more suitable for labels with central composition.

Red gooseberries here, represent more botanical style.
The berries are hanging from a branch, heavy from the ripe fruit:
labels for jam

On another hand, I wanted to design Green Gooseberries (which by the way are Sunkissed with Alizarin Crimson Red watercolor here) in a little different, upright way. I imagined them being very happy, reaching to the Sun, ready to be picked and placed in the gooseberry jam:

jam labels project

Friday, October 17, 2014

Blackcurrant Redcurrant - My Current Jam Labels

jam labels project

Painting blackcurrant and redcurrant was fun. Those closely related berries brought some challenge for me as an artist. I had to juggle between botanical approach (e.g. realistic painting) yet still keep in mind that those tiny berries will be even tinier on the jam labels. So, in spite of my love to realism in watercolor, I had to simplify a little. 
I still wanted some details on the blackcurrant and redcurrant berries, so I painted them doubling the real size on paper. And when I painted, I had to step aside quite a bit in order to see the "whole picture" and not to get lost in the berry maze. 

It is interesting to note that when I painted blackcurrant, I had to apply red (Alizarin Crimson) as the first wash, in order for the black to have rather warm tint.
On another hand, when painting redcurrant, I used black and purple while red was still wet. That helped me to indicate transparency of the redcurrant berries, kind of see-through berry seeds feeling:

jam labels project

The jam labels project continues. I am not only eating lots of good fruits and berries, but definitely "killing" many birds with one stone: researching botanical structure of the fruits and berries, having good time painting with watercolors, and accomplishing a big important project.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Jam Labels Project Rising

realistic painting

About a month ago I've received a request from one jam producing company from Great Britain.
They loved my Farmers Delight series, which was created after my first Jam Labels project:

farmers market delight

This company thought my style of painting will fit greatly the labels of their jams, relishes, and marmalade. 

realism in watercolor

There will be dozens of new designs that I will need to create. I am quite excited about this new Jam Labels opportunity. It will involve my artist skills and polish my illustrator skills as well.

Many hours of work are ahead; but for now, the jars are waiting for the labels 

Watercolor Mandarin On Packaging of Saison Yogurt

Saison Mandarin Yogurt  -  new product on European market with my watercolor peeled and whole mandarin illustrations that I've pai...