Seashells Seascapes And Artist’s Inspirations

artist, illustrator, impressionism, interview, paintings, plein air, realism, seascape, seashells, shells, Watercolor
I was approached by a Great Britain college student who explored my art for a research paper. It is great that young generation is interested in realistic watercolor paintings. This particular person was interested in my Seashells and Seascapes paintings.

I answered a few questions for this little interview; and, I am happy to share them here.



1. How did you start to make these paintings? What got you into it?

Seashells and beach treasures always fascinated my artist’s soul. Since the childhood I would be sketching my findings at the beach. My dad told me that each seashell holds a sound of the sea; and, as a kid I would be placing the large seashells, listening for a long time, imagining where it came from. At home, we had a large collection of seashells, which friends of the family brought from all over the world. Needless to say, my favorite book those days was Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid fairy-tale. My favorite jewelry was a little string of pearls that my grandma gave me. 

2. What do these pieces say/express about you?

Later on in life, I was fascinated with Old Masters Dutch Still Life paintings and Renaissance realism. I’ve research the symbolism of seashells, pearls and water in paintings. I found out that the seashells represented the world of exploration, power and wealth, scientific discovery, and brief passing of time on the planet Earth. Opened seashell suggested vanitas overtones of the brevity of life, or could be interpreted as having erotic implications. And a different shell might represent each continent as visual tribute to the exploratory travel and scientific discoveries of the day. I also learned that Pearls symbolize prosperity and vanity, wisdom and Imperial authority. Both pearls and water have long been symbols of purity and femininity. I started painting seashells, pearls and seascape artworks challenging myself to realism in watercolor when learning from oil masterpieces. I think, all this fascination and thorough research express my love to the history of art, painting techniques, and endless desire to succeed. 

3. What motivated you to create your pieces?

My motivation in creating seashells and other beach treasures paintings was to present not only beauty of Nature but the realistic approach in watercolor that can brings together history and contemporary times, classic oils versus fluid properties of only century and half old medium.

4. Describe your creative process?

When painting still life with shells and pearls, I carefully research the subject. I usually have my models right in front of me. I make a sketch. I take a few photographs. Then I draw detailed drawing but very lightly that the pencil does not overwhelm future watercolor transparency. I never use white (opaque) paint; I leave the white of paper shine through. Sometimes, for the background I use sea salt to make the water and color “curl” and “spread” in unpredictable ways. 
When I create semi-realistic decorative paintings with seashells and water, I marry realistic approach with abstraction. The watercolor is an amazing medium, it can do it all. 
When painting seascapes I follow two types of techniques. One is spontaneous Impressionistic style painting En-Plein-Air, e.g. painting in Nature at the spot. Or, I paint from memory and multiple photographs that I take on my travels. The studio paintings turn out usually more detailed as I invest more time not being tied up by weather condition and sun moving fast.

5. What are the messages/feelings are you trying to get across or expect people to have when interacting with your artwork?

I convey my love to the Nature, timeless beauty of the seashells, pearls, and water into my artworks with a strong desire for my Art Collectors feel my fascination of what the World can offer. A small finding from the beach, a seascape painting inspired by a walk along the shore with my husband, documenting the beauty in my art are priceless. I feel that no treasure of the World can be compared with these simple things. 



Cheers from 

Live To Create!!!



Carmel Mission Basilica – Watercolor Painting On Canvas

Basilica, California, Carmel by the Sea, landscape, Mission, plein air, Spanish, Sztukowski, Watercolor, watercolour
Watercolor Painting on Canvas Carmel by The Sea mission
This watercolor artwork was painted on a special canvas, that is made for watercolors and acrylic paints. I painted it on one of my trips to Carmel By The Sea, a beautiful quiet town where this Spanish Mission was built. 
The garden next to Basilica was full of flowers and the fountain was my focal point in this composition. Painting on the spot, el plein-air style, is not an easy task. The artist needs to be quick and spontaneous when painting rapidly changing weather. The morning sky cleared rather quickly that day; but, I am happy I was able to catch those fresh strikes of the clouds at the beginning, which gave this nice live look to the painting. 

More beautiful landscapes are here:

Cheers from

Painting Plein Air

impressionism, landscape, Monterey, outside, Pacific, Painting, plein air, rocks, seascape, shore, sketch, sketching, Watercolor, waves
plein-air style
I will be never tired painting plein-air style as long as I am able to go outside and withstand surprises of the Nature. Painting outdoors has its own charm and challenges; yet, still it is very enjoyable and the artworks have a special feeling to them. You cannot wait for too long painting under the open. The weather changes constantly, especially if you are at the ocean shore, like example above. It is my recent painting of one of my favorite places on Earth, Monterey Pacific Ocean shore. I’ve painted there many times and each time it comes out differently. The painting of Monterey above is free, though I “blocked” it in the ink lines to give it illustration kind feeling, e.g. I’ve illustrated the scene in the fast brush strokes with watercolor first and then “locked” the picture by adding rigid lines to amplify the stiffness of the rocks and power of the ocean.

Another plain air painting of Monterey shore is more impressionistic style as any of my outdoor paintings of Monterey:
Pacific Ocean shore impressionistic artwork

Here, I didn’t want to add the ink. The weather was so hot that it dried watercolor quite fast so the edges of each brush stroke were defined enough without any additions.

In comparison, the next plein-air painting of Monterey shore strives pretty much on energetic ink lines, the watercolors here are secondary. This free-style painting of Pacific Ocean shore is more a sketch than a complete painting, but it does have certain charm and spontaneity to it:

Pacific Ocean plein-air painting

Yes, each plein air painting tells a story of that specific day, but it also speaks for the mood of the artist. As an example, here is my recent plein-air landscape artwork of the calm sunny day from this week. The Spring is taking over, the grass is bright green, and many trees are opening their blossoms. A simple, yet informative landscape that illustrates a coming of a new season:

pond trees flowers Spring in California
My friend took panoramic photo of the area where we were painting that day, and I got into the picture by chance or intentionally. I don’t know. But this photograph shows so well the power of a fresh air and the creating artist, The Observer, who, during the plein-air painting trip, merges with the Nature!


 Cheers from

Small Town In The Mountains – Watercolor Pencils – Step By Step

Brentwood, California, landscape, lesson, Mountain Diablo, mountains, outside, plein air, sketch, sketching, step by step, step by step painting, town, watercolor pencils
watercolour pencils
I was recently visiting my friend artist in a small town of Brentwood that is hiding between the golf course and just behind a highest point of Bay Area, San Francisco, the famous Mountain Diablo. We went to paint en plain-air style, e.g. we grabbed our art materials and went painting outside. 
The weather was beautiful. Everywhere I turned I’d seen a lovely subject for painting. I’ve chosen to paint a scene with a small town in the golf course hills with a huge mountain behind. My choice of the materials this time were watercolor pencils (I’ve previously wrote an article about watercolor pencils HERE ) . 

I’ve sketched the drawing with a simple pencil first, and then started applying my watercolor pencils. That was the part that was actually accomplished outside:
The trick with watercolor pencils is that you have to know what colors to mix and predict what outcome will be at the time you put  water on the paper. I intentionally was drawing with a limited pallet. Out of my 72 watercolor pencils that I have in the box, I’ve picked only 16 to go plein-air painting.
Here is the first stage of the drawing/future painting:
After, I got home the main work had begun. 
I’ve added more pencils in depth, then highlighted the drawing with ink:
Then, I grabbed a softest Kolinsky Sable brush Number 11 and dipped it in a clear water. First areas that were “watered” were large ones, the sky and the grass below. Then I started adding some water to the smaller details such buildings and trees:
Right away I’ve noticed that in some areas the wash of water made the colors too bright, in others the colors were simply “washed” away. But the good part, that with watercolor pencils you can always reapply the colors with one important warning though: the paper should be bone dry before you add more colors. 

After several times of re-applying the pencils and rejuvenating them with water (clear water on the soft brush), the painting was completed and now it is ready to see the World!! 🙂
watercolour pencils step by step
Cheers from 

Into The Woods – Forest Creek Landscape

California, forest, forest creek, forest creek painting, Into The Woods, landscape, Mendocino County, mountain creek, pine trees, plein air, rocks, Watercolor, watercolor landscape, wood
wood river California watercolor
Not a long time ago I was on the painting trip to Northern California. The Nature there is so much different from San Francisco Bay Area where I live. 
I was fascinated by giant redwood trees, creeks and mountains. 
Gorgeous landscapes were asking to paint them right there, on the spot.

I painted this Forest Creek in impressionistic style, creating this artwork plein-air (outdoor), using fast brush strokes, capturing the beauty of the rising morning sun in
the deep monumental forest. 

The mountain creek was rolling its waters and creating
a lovely meditative scene, where you can be alone but not lonely. I was truly admiring the
beauty of the Nature. It was a great place for relaxation, to stay connected, and
rejuvenate.





www.artirina.com

Pacific Ocean Shore

beach, boat, boat at the shore, Hearts Castle peer, nest to the shore, Pacific Ocean, plein air, realism in watercolor, sailboat, San Simeon
realism in watercolor

This Sailboat At The Shore painting was a great addition to my Sea Ocean Lakes and Plein-Air galleries.

I found this peaceful scene on one of my field trips to the Pacific Ocean, right next to the Hearst Caste (San Simeon) peer. 

The weather couldn’t be better. The sun was gently warming up the beach. The boat did not move as if it was sitting there in the waters just for me. The passing by tourists were asking me jokingly: “Have you hired this boat?”. Some complimented my painting: “Oh, it is exactly how I see it!”, and “Cool! Looks just like a picture!” 

I smiled.

I love painting plein-air (open air , outside) style. Lots of interactions and fast pace in painting, which call for fresh brush strokes, quick decisions on composition; and, of course, a feedback from the observers :0)




www.artirina.com

Find A Cat in Benicia – Plein-Air Painting Session

Bay Area, Benicia, bestselling artist, California, CWA, history, landscape, Painting, plein air, realism in watercolor, San Francisco, seascape, Sztukowski, Watercolor
building mountains shore watercolor
Benicia is a small town in Northern California. It is only 15 minutes from where I leave. Cozy streets with restaurants, gift shops, and a beautiful San Francisco Bay shore attract a lot of artists. CWA plein-air artists group had the same idea: to come, to see, to paint. 
We made an attempt to come here last year, but October rain chased us away. This year the weather couldn’t be better. 
I was sitting on the shore and panting a visitors center with its palm trees. The building covered pretty much all the bay beauty; but you can still see Mountain Diablo, sparkles on a water, and even a fisherman in his little boat. 

If you look closely, you also will find a few birds and….a….. cat! I am not telling you where it is. You will need to look for it :0)

A little bit of Benicia’s history:
In spite of the fact that now it is a tiny little town, back in 19th century, for more than a year, Benicia was serving as California Capital in 1853. 
In 1860 there was an area dedicated to US Army Arsenal, an armory place. Historical building are still bringing joy to the visitors: The Clock Tower, The Camel Barn (yes, yes, they used to have stables with camels for transportation).
Being a major connector in transportation business back in 1860s, now Benicia is a quiet lovely place to visit for  fun and for arts. It has regular art exhibitions and art openings in its Galleries, promotes arts through Open Studio events, provides many art classes for children and adults. And needless to say, it is a great place to visit for a plein-air painting session.

All artists from CWA had fun painting different places in Benicia that day:
plein-air Benicia
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Original painting “Benicia, California” is 12″x16″ Watercolor on 140lb 100% cotton Arches
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For more paintings with California Landscapes please visit my Gallery California here:



In Every Piece Of My Art There Is A Piece Of My Heart And A Sparkle Of My Soul



Carmel By The Sea – California Landscapes

bestsellers, bestselling art, California, Carmel, Carmel by the Sea, Fine Art, Irina, outdoors, Painting, plein air, Sztukowski, Watercolor, watercolour
Impressionism In Watercolor
Last weekend a group of CWA artists and a few of my close friends went to a lovely town at the Pacific ocean. This cute cozy place is called Carmel By The Sea.. a beautiful venue for painting, resting, and dining.

The morning started rough. We thought that it will be raining any minute. But the clouds passed by and only a few drops fell on our art works. 
We even enjoyed a partial sun giving some mysterious shadows on the sand:
boats birds trees
When painting this piece (above), I wanted to tell a little story (as I usually do with my art). I call it “All comes in pairs” …If you look carefully, you will see two trees, two sailboats, two birds.. but only one person waking down the pier.. I left the second person somewhat hidden; so that, the viewers can make up their own romantic story

The last painting I did was of my friend-artist Vera Lysenko, she was passionately creating a seascape with acrylic. 
It is always fun to see the artist at work and wonder what is there on the canvas? 
Vera Lysenko
The artists gathered together after four hours of painting to see and discuss the artworks that they created:


More Plein-air Painting are HERE


In Every Piece Of My Art There Is A Piece Of My Heart And A Sparkle Of My Soul

Point Bonita and Rodeo Beach Plein-Air Painting Day

artists, Bay, bestselling art, bridge, California, Fine Art, Golden Gate Bridge, Irina, lighthouse, plein air, Point Bonita, realism, realistic, Sztukowski, Watercolor
San Francisco Bay
I painted this artwork on plein-air (outdoors) when the weather was changing rapidly. It was foggy in the morning. But then, the wind picked-up burning the fog, lifting it, and letting the sun shine and reveal the beauty of San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge.

Our CWA artists and their guests had a marvelous time. Somebody painted the lighthouse, others went to Rodeo Beach, and my friends and I picked the view of the famous Golden Gate Bridge.

Point Bonita Lighthouse
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Original Artwork Golden Gate Bridge is 12″x16″ Watercolor on 140lb Cold Pressed Cotton paper


The highlights of that day Plein-air at Point Bonita are in CWA Newsletter here
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More plein-air paintings are in this Gallery



In Every Piece Of My Art There Is A Piece Of My Heart And A Sparkle Of My Soul

Painting California Poppies

art that sells, Blake Garden, California, Fine Art, green, Irina, Irina's watercolor, orange, Painting, park, plein air, poppies, realism, realistic painting, red, state flower, Sztukowski
orange painting
California Poppies (scientific name Eschscholzia Californica) sometimes are called a Cup of Gold. They are official California state flowers.

I found this small golden field when going one day to Blake Garden in Berkeley Hills for a plain-air session. I was so occupied painting another field of Red Poppies that I only had a few minutes to run around the park and take some photos. In contrary to the poppies that I painted that day (see painting below), these orange cuties were volunteers. They just spread around the park glowing and bringing light and cheer.
poppy painting
SOLD
(previous post is here, and the prints are available here)
As I recall, it was a little meadow with the Red and Pink poppies hiding in the forest like garden.

The red ones were planted by people. 

The orange ones were probably brought by birds and wind. 

They decided to locate themselves wherever was comfortable: on a pathway that brought the artists to a marvelous view of the San Francisco Bay
I painted an artist there who came to paint California Poppies; so, that there is more to the story. When the viewer comes to the painting, the fist thing he/she sees are the poppies: bright, orange, big. Yet with more careful observation, you can notice that somebody else is there admiring the orange flowers at the Bay. 

In the last couple of years I painted quite a few of those orange flowers. But the painting above is probably the largest one 
(original painting California Poppies is 23″x17″ on Strathmore 140 lb Watercolor paper) 
 and it has a story
:0)

Here are just a few of those “Golden Pots”:
floral

framed art
SOLD

fine art
SOLD
open floral
SOLD
In Every Piece Of My Art There Is A Piece Of My Heart And A Sparkle Of My Soul