Japanese Tea Garden Plein-Air

California, Golden Gate Park, Irina, Japanese Garden, Painting, San Francisco, sketch, sketching, Sztukowski, Tea Garden, Watercolor, watercolour
Pond Iris Flowers San Francisco
Recently, when painting in Japanese Tea Garden of Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, I had an interesting conversation with a few visitors. They wanted to know how long it can take to make the painting like that one above. I explained them the difference between sketching and painting in the studio. Difference, they asked?! Absolutely, there is a difference between painting in the open air (under a morning mist) vs painting in the comfortable studio :0)
Here is my painting of the Tea Garden that I completed back in 2008:
Realistic Landscape
Here is all: a careful exploration of composition, great deal of details, many hours of painting, stepping away, coming back and painting again.

Yet I still like to challenge myself with a plein-air painting when you have to make immediate decision on composition, be fast with the brush strokes, not be bothered by landing bugs, and proceed no matter what the weather is like.

Luckily, the day I painted the fist sketch transformed into the nice one. I even was able to sit outside the Music Concourse (looks like Roman Amphitheater) next to the Academy of Science museum and finish one more sketch:
Roman Theater
And later on, while resting at the De Young Museum cafe, I caught my sister in the moment of drawing. She was so focused on the process that barely noticed me “snooping” at her:
Cafe Scene

More Plein-air paintings are HERE

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

Eiffel Tower – Phase I and II

art commission painting, art studio Irina, commission, Dramatic Sky, Eiffel Tower, Fine Art, France, French, gift, Irina, Paris, romantic, sketch, Sztukowski, Uncategorized, Watercolor
The drawing on the left and the first wash on the right.
When I drew the tower I started with the main shape going slowly into tiny details, yet did not want to place too many of them to avoid the pencil marks showing too much. 
The fist wash was made wet-on-wet. I used Alizarin Crimson and warm yellow to give the sun reflection on the clouds. The Ultramarine blues with Violet Purple fit right in for the clouds shapes. Yet it was only the beginning. The clouds would need to be touched several times here to achieve the intensity of the night Paris sky. 
At this stage of painting I was not concerned neither about Eiffel Tower construction details, no figures. The main focus was on area, which will help the Eiffel Tower to shine.
In Every Piece Of My Art
There Is A Piece Of My Heart And A Sparkle Of My Soul

Rebuilding The Eiffel Tower

art studio Irina, commission, Dramatic Sky, Eiffel Tower, Fine Art, France, French, gift, Irina, Irina's art, Painting, Paris, romantic, sketch, Sztukowski, Uncategorized, watercolor Paris
Detailed Image of the Original Painting: Here
My client asked if I could paint The Eiffel Tower for her (original art was recently sold) but instead of one lady she wanted to see two young girls. The painting would be a gift to her friend who she met in Paris. When start working on the new art piece, and having the original image handy, I wanted to make a new one as if it was the only painting I ever did of The Eiffel Tower. I’ve been to Paris twice; but unfortunately pictures didn’t turn out great (a good excuse to go there again, eh :0) .. 
The day I’ve received the commission request the skies in my area were so beautiful and so dramatic that I rushed to take a good photo reference to have it for my future art:
Even though the girls’ figures on the painting were important they should not distract the attention from the main subject, The Eiffel Tower. Better, if they would be engaged in some kind of conversation, and maybe about the beauty of Paris and the Eiffel Tower itself. 
I made a few figure sketches for my client to choose. I really wanted to leave the scarf on one of the girl to show not only the style, the breeze; but more, keeping it as the romantic Paris-like piece, which by flowing with the wind would bond two figures together. And, it should be the brightest spot of the figures. The figures were supposed to be painted pretty much in one color: 
This sketch (above) was engaging but it was a little detached from the mail subject.
My client chose this sketch. It was not only showing a nice conversation, but as well the dynamics. One girl was pointing towards The Eiffel Tower as if they just discussed its grandiose beauty, which suddenly appeared from the cloudy skies. 
Stay tuned. Tomorrow I am posting first two phases of the painting.
In Every Piece Of My Art
There Is A Piece Of My Heart And A Sparkle Of My Soul

Munich, Germany – Travel With Me – Sketchbook Project

art that sells, bestseller, commission, Germany, illustration, Irina's watercolors, Munich, sketch, Sketchbook, Sztukowski, Travel, Uncategorized, watercolour

This sketch is about Marienplatz Old Town Hall, which is located in Munich, Germany. First built in wood it was completely destroyed by fire in 1460. Between 1470 and 1480, the old town hall was rebuilt in Gothic style by Jörg von Halsbach. I thing the Gothic pointing roofs and lace knitted architecture that what invites me in visiting Europe and particularly Germany. It is amazing how in spite the hardest time for Europe in 1940s its countries were re-born practically from ashes. In this scene the beauty of the yellow flowers compete with the beauty of another kind, the man-made one.
4″x6″ Watercolor Sketch on 90lb Cold Pressed Paper

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

Stockholm, Sweden – Travel With Me – Sketchbook Project

art that sells, bestseller, bestsellers, downtown, sketch, Stockholm, Sweden, Sztukowski, village

I traveled to Stockholm by Silja Line cruise from Helsinki. Only one night on the ship and you are in the most beautiful city of Sweden. Besides old downtown with its narrow streets and gorgeous King’s Palace; there are plenty of things to do for a historian as well as for a modern tourist who likes to shop in the old part of the town. Although, I was not denying shopping, one a very quiet and isolated area remained my favorite part of Stockholm. It is a well preserved historical place Skansen which is located on the small island of Djurgården not far away from the downtown. When you are there you practically fly in times and experience the old days Sweden with the countryside, old town quarter, small parks and gardens. You can feel, be, see the old village with its routines and tribal rules. And if you are lucky you can even witness how is the glassblower is making old style vases in the glass shop.
The sketch that you see is of my other favorite place where I happened to bring the group of tourists that I used to bring from Saint Petersburg. It is Stockholm City Hall (Stadshus) ; for some reason its tall part always reminded me Venice Bell Tower although I have not been to Italy yet.
4″x6″ Watercolor Sketch on 90lb Cold Pressed Paper

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

Barcelona, Spain – Travel With Me – Sketchbook Project

Barcelona, Blood Cathedral, book, Church, Gaudi, sketch, Sketchbook, sketching, Spain, Sztukowski, Travel, Uncategorized, Watercolor
Watercolor travel sketch
Spain is the country that woke up my love to the color. Being born in the North of Russia, in the city that has half year winter, and another half cloudy skies and gray weather; and when the Sun is literally shining only around 30 days in whole year (except the cold winter days with below 30 Celsius when you don’t want to show up your nose out of the door); in Spain I was welcomed by a warm sea, sunny days, friendly people, hot music, and absolutely stunning architecture. I thought nothing can impress me after leaving in the great City of Saint Petersburg. When I visited Barcelona and saw future Gaudi’s inspiration Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, it reminded me a sand castle made by a genius Giant. Looking fragile but meantime timelessly strong and eternal the Cathedral of Barcelona captivated my attention for a long time. I found myself in between time zones when I stopped keeping track on what was happening around and remained looking at the piece of art, centimeter by centimeter, exploring its beauty.
More sketches are in my new book Travel Sketches

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

Saint Petersburg, Russia – Travel With Me – Sketchbook Project

Blood Cathedral, Church, Russia, Saint Petersburg, sketch, sketchbook project, Travel, Uncategorized

This year I am participating in The Sketchbook Project 2012 World Tour and I chose the theme Travel With Me. The book has only 14 pages and it will have 14 of my original watercolor sketches. I decided to place seven countries that I’ve visited or lived in; and, other seven will be the countries and places that I dream to visit.

And what is the better choice to start with if not my home country that I’ve been for 32 years of my life, Russia, Saint Petersburg. The sketch that you see is about Blood Cathedral (

The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood)

, an amazing piece of architecture that was built in early 1900s. I lived 10 minutes walk from this church but was able to visit it only in the late 90s as it was closed for restoration for more than 30 years. The building is decorated with tiny pieces of mosaics, gold, blue, terracotta. Each inch is worth looking at and admire.
This is the first sketch for my book. Thirteen more to come.
4″x6″ Watercolor on 90lb Cold Pressed Paper

Sketchbook Project "Down My Street" – Last Part

art project, book, ink, library, sketch, sketchbook project

The Sketchbook is complete and went to NY Art House. It was fun project that required good preparation, the ability to stick to one thing; and, finish meeting a deadline. Watercolor and ink is not what I usually do. Neither the sketch-like paintings. Therefore, I was challenging myself by braking the comfort zone. At the end it was very helpful to me as I taught myself to loosen up and fight my perfectionist nature by painting fast and almost “careless”. It was also fun to use ink with watercolors. I think it gives cheerful cartoon-ish look to the sketches. Each sketch took not more than 15-20 minutes. 38 pieces completed. Love the outcome!!…………………………………4″x5.5″ Watercolor on Paper, 90lb Cold Press