San Francisco Bay Area Watercolor Painting

Benicia, editorial, hills, illustration, Martinez, ocean, rocky shore, San Francisco Bay Area, sea, seascape, sketch, Watercolor, watercolour
Editorial watercolour landscape artist illustrator
Yesterday, when I painted this sketch of San Francisco Bay shore from Martinez point of view to Benicia, CA; I was thinking that I was very lucky to paint this area el Plein-Air style so many times. 

Plein-Air painting does not allow to sit and paint too long. An artist has to be fast and free with the brush strokes. It teaches to find main point and to “forget” some details.

In this sketch I achieved all el Plein-Air points: spontaneous approach, fresh color theme, and free outlines. 

Cheers from

Florence Watercolor Sketches – Such Young Such Different City

artwork, Basilica, Firenze, Florence, Gardens, Irina Sztukowski, Italia, italian, Italy, Painting, San Lorenzo, sketch, Travel, Watercolor
Italian city travel City
Visiting Florence for almost a week I had an opportunity painting there, learning its history, feeling its character; which allowed me to make a certain conclusion. 
Florence is actually a young city as Italians would say. Even though the beginning of the town goes back to medieval times, majority of the city was build in 18th Century.
Florence is so different to my artist’s eye. One moment I was passing by all “framed in stone” buildings on the streets with not a hint of any greenery; and all of a sudden, I was in a gorgeous park without visible end with wild paths and fruit trees.

Above sketch was made in Boboli Gardens next to Pitti Palace. I loved painting the Fountain Island full of flowers and pots with lemon trees while hiding myself somewhere in the bushes of the huge trimmed hedge:


The other day I was stunned by the beauty of an ancient Basilica San Lorenzo. There were so many people around that it was hard to find a place to sit and look up at the gorgeous dome; but, I managed it:

The day was hot and the clouds just started forming. I wanted to show this monumental beauty, with its beige and brown of a solid stone cathedral against a gorgeous sunny sky:
Italy watercolor artwork sketch
In these two watercolors I pointed the difference between young greens of Boboli Gardens with their fruits and flowers of a new season in comparison with old gorgeous man made monolith that lasts centuries. 

Cheers from
🙂

Eiffel Tower – Sunny Day In Paris

art, Charvin, city, Cityscape, Eiffel, Eiffel Tower, France, French, Handmade, Painting, palette, Paris, sketch, Tower, Travel, Watercolor
travel sketch of Paris France
I have painted Eiffel Tower many many times. It is easy to prove this statement just by showing my France Gallery , which has more than five dozens paintings and design with Eiffel Tower and streets of Paris by now. 
But this time it was a special treat for me to paint the famous Eiffel Tower in person, as French say tete-a-tete (e.g. in person) and in el plein-air style (as the same French say) practically meaning that I was sitting there and painting Eiffel Tower from that particular spot. 
Last month I was traveling to three wonderful countries for inspirational business trip. France was one of them. 
Lucky for me the day I was painting was more like a Summer day as if Paris greeted me with a beautiful sunlight and gorgeous shadows well suitable for a nice watercolor painting. 
I was surprised to find a street that led to Eiffel Tower, but no tourists were there. Only block of the buildings was separating me with the crowd gathering around and under the tower, and here I am in almost solitude making a first drawing in this beautiful city of Paris breathing in a summer like spring day enjoying every moment. 
It was wonderful experience! 
Truly artistic one, when you don’t notice nor occasional person passing by, no time flying. I’ve only noticed that couple of hours evaporated quickly by looking at the shadows that changed drastically. Good thing I took an initial photograph of the place and was able to finish the paining in the hotel room, in my mini-art-studio that I improvised right there. 

Even though I brought my travel palette with me on the trip; I couldn’t resist the temptation when passing by an old Charvin Art Shop on Seine river embankment. This company produces watercolor handmade paints since 1830. Just to think that famous impressionists were painting Eiffel Tower and Paris streets with watercolor of this company, created a strong desire for me to get one of travel boxes with French watercolors. That was the best souvenir I could bring from France: a handmade watercolors in the box, and painted with these watercolors Eiffel Tower, the Eiffel Tower that fit my suitcase!! 🙂

painting and palette

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 

Hot Hot Chocholate

basket, bicycle, chocolate, chocolatery, country style, French country, heart, hidden hearts, hot cocoa, illustration, Le Cafe, le chocolat, sketch, vintage window, Watercolor, window, window shutters
Le cafe

In research for the subjects for a new commission painting, I thought about a hot cup of rich creamy chocolate. As I mentioned in the previous post French Cafe, my customer said that she wanted a bicycle with the basket full of flowers standing next to the window. I loved her idea about the bicycle standing next to some cafe. Now I am thinking, why not a chocolatery? And the painting had been created. I collect this and other ideas in the newborn Gallery that I called

Freshly picked wild flowers were placed in the basket of the bicycle; and, a happy owner went home to decorate the house with the bouquet. Yet, on the way home, a window of the local chocolatery was so inviting and so appealing that it was hard to resist not stopping by and having a nice cup of hot cocoa; and, possibly, a cup of espresso with an ice-cream on a top; or, maybe, a few warm pastries that came right from the oven..mm..good.. 

As I painted this story from my heart, I decided to hide a couple of hearts in the artwork. Now it is your turn to find them.

In the painting process of this series, I am not limiting my imagination by just French Country, there will be more paintings with new sweet discoveries from different parts of the world. 

Stay tuned! There are more painting to come! 
🙂




www.artirina.com

French Cafe

basket, bicycle, bicycle with basket, Cafe window, country, farmers market, flower basket, French Cafe, Le Cafe, sketch, Watercolor, window
Country style illustration

I have created this French Café painting as the part of brainstorming for a special commission for one of my dear customers. The customer said that she wanted a bicycle with the basket full of flowers standing next to the window. And she proposed the idea of some French cafe.
I loved the idea so much that I got cared away with tons of ideas, and this started a whole new series that I called
The painting above has a sweet little story in it for sure. 

I imagined a girl who was riding her bicycle to a flower stand at the local farmers market. Then, she placed the flowers into the bicycle’s  basket and went to the cafe to meet with the friend. The warm sunny day called for a good conversation that Saturday morning. The girls chatted long and even didn’t noticed the time passing by. The Sun was moving the shadows along the wall, but nothing would break that sweet tête-à-tête  between two girlfriends. 

Then, I have decided to create a few more stories and few more little painting on French Country before starting the new commission. In this case, my customer and I could work together on discussing the final composition details.

More painting to come soon 
🙂




www.artirina.com

Caution!! A Few Beautiful Nudes

body, figure, figure painting, impressionism, model, naked, Nude, Painting, realism, reclining, sketch, Watercolor
In order to see closer view, click on images.
watercolor painting Impressionism
Couple of weekends in a row, I was invited to paint with one local  art organization in Walnut Creek, California. 

I had a lovely opportunity to paint nude model in watercolor for the first time in my life.

The first painting (above) was painted in impressionistic fast brush stroke manner on student grade Strathmore 140lb watercolor paper.

The next one, I tried in realistic style on professional watercolor Artches 100% Cotton 140lb cold pressed. The difference in texture is obvious:
Nude art
(in order to see larger image, click on the painting)
And as a warm up before each painting session, there were a few gestures that the model did for 2 or 5 minutes. 
I am sharing here the most successful ones: spontaneous, fast, fresh
fast sketch
watercolor
painting
naked woman painting
In Every Piece Of My Art There Is A Piece Of My Heart And A Sparkle Of My Soul

Sketching Italy – Part I

buildings, city, history, hotel, Italia, italian, Italy, map, realism, sketch, sketches, Sztukowski, tourism, tourists, town, trip, Venice, voyage
After a long long flight, having a refreshing ride in a water taxi, my husband and I landed in the comfortable room of one Venetian hotel:
interior
The couple of sketches I made there were at the time when, after running around the town overwhelmed with heat and the history, we had a chance to cool down for a few minutes and rest:
lamp window door table mirror
Beautiful canals with waters from turquoise blue to milky emerald, flowers on the windows, and polls in the water attracted my attention the first day of our city discovery: 
cityscape
Two gondoliers were resting before the next ride. No rush, no hurry, they knew the next group of tourists is inevitably coming:
Italy sketch bridge
After walking through narrow streets where the Sun never hits the ground, it was nice to find a relatively large square surrounded with two canals and an army of buildings:
monument buildings Italy
But not only the canals that historical part of  Venice is made of. One of the main artery of the touristic mecca was Via Nuova, wide enough to fit even a car or two passing by, and with its colorful old buildings and shops, shops, shops:
Venice Italy trip
After three wonderful days in Venice, visiting museums such Palazzo Ducale, Biblioteca Nazionale, Modern and Ancient Art exhibitions at San Marco Piazza, Accademia and many gorgeous churches and cathedrals, we had to prepare to leave for a new endeavors that were planned on our Italy tour. 
Sitting in the lobby of the hotel Europa & Regina and waiting for the water ride to the train station, I had a few minutes to sketch my last Venetian interior:
Armchair Table Room

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

Winery in Martinez – My Travel Watercolor Palette Test

California, Irina, sketch, Sztukowski, travel pallet, travel sketches, Viano, Watercolor, watercolor travel set, winery
Sketch
As this Summer I am planning on traveling to Europe, I’ve decided to practice sketching. The painting above is done outside in 90+ degrees with my new Travel Watercolor Pallet that I’ve created specifically for this trip.
It was fun to paint Viano Winery combining only limited colors, and thinking about weight and comfort on my future trip.

The new travel watercolor set weighs only 11 oz and will fit a small purse. 
(I’ve placed step-by-step instruction in the post HERE)
DIY project
More Plei-Air paintings are HERE



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