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 

Sketching Italy – Part III

Amalfi, coast, Colosseum, Forum, Irina, Italia, Italy, paintings, Positano, Ravello, Rome, ruins, sketches, sketching, Sorrento, Sztukowski, Vatican, Vesuvius, Watercolor
Part I is HERE
Part II is HERE
Although Rome looked so much as Saint Petersburg (Russia) to me as there are so many buildings in Saint Petersburg that were built by Italian architects back in 18th century; Rome, has its own, one of a kind, feeling when you come face-to-face to the older than old ruins

First thing in Rome, we’ve visited Colosseum:
ancient building

and next, the Forum ruins next to Colosseum. They surely remind people about thousand-years history and once powerful empire:
Roman old
Being in Rome only for two days was pretty intense as we had big plans. One of the days was devoted to a holy place, a country in the country, the incredible Vatican

As you see, no time to paint at all, but I painted Vatican‘s St. Peter’s Basilica a few years ago, and now it comes handy: 
Holy City
Most impressive for me in Vatican was the Papal residence, with paintings (fresco) from floor to ceiling, gorgeous statues, and mosaic floors. Sistine Chapel was impressive, but tourists there are not allowed to talk or take photos.. you can only breath in.. 

Leaving Rome after two busy days was like escaping ancient civilization, when we started heading South. Our point of view shifted to the one of the popular leisure places, Amalfi Coast… 

Passing Naples and Pompeii, we landed in a beautiful town Sorrento, with its view on volcano Vesuvius:

Naples view

cafe
Three Story high cliffs with the hotels on a top and a private rocky beach below: 
umbrellas
It was so relaxing that we had time to just rest and watch beautiful sunsets and the boats parked at the shore:
Mediterranean sea

italian landscape
After traveling along the coast and visiting very beautiful towns Ravello, Positano, and Amalfi (I can’t wait to work on my photos and start painting them in my studio); it was nice to relax the last 24 hours in downtown Sorrento with its lovely narrow streets full of souvenir shops, restaurants, and flowers everywhere: 

building flowers
Italy trip was fantastic! Unforgettable and inspiring for a lot future painting to be created…


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


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
SOLD
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

Barcelona, Spain – Travel With Me – Sketchbook Project

Barcelona, Blood Cathedral, book, Church, Gaudi, sketch, Sketchbook, sketching, Spain, Sztukowski, Travel, Uncategorized, Watercolor
Watercolor travel sketch
http://irina-sztukowski.artistwebsites.com/featured/barcelona-spain-irina-sztukowski.html
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