Ada Florek

Ada Florek watercolor painting

Ada Florek watercolor painting

Originally from Poland, Ada Florek is a watercolor painter based in Thoiry, France.

Though she also paints other subjects, she focuses primarily on architectural and still life subjects.

I enjoy her textural approach and use of crisp edges.


Thomas Paquette: Defined by Water

Thomas Paquette: Defined by Water

Thomas Paquette: Defined by Water

Thomas Paquette is a painter from Western Pennsylvania, whose work I have featured several times before and who I continue to follow, as I am delighted and fascinated by his approach.

Paquette breaks up his compositions in areas of color that are often edged with contrasting or complementary colors. The color areas and edges are in rough patterns that have a fractal appearance, but blend to make a naturalistic whole from a distance.

The result is part naturalistic, part graphic and part textural, with energetic paint marks providing surface qualities that move the eye, even within images that are essentially tranquil.

Many of his oils are fairly large in scale, in contrast to his wonderful gouache paintings that are essentially miniatures, often in the range of three or four inches on a side.

You can find examples of both oil and gouache paintings on his website, as well as printed collections of his work. (I found the book of Gouaches to be particularly a treat, as most are reproduced at their actual size.)

Thomas Paquette’s work will be on display here in Philadelphia in a solo show at the Gross McCleaf Gallery: “Thomas Paquette: Defined by Water“, that runs from September 6th to 28th, 2019. The reception is Friday, September 6th from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.


J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

J.M.W. Turner Sketchbooks

J.M.W. Turner Sketchbooks

English painter and printmaker J.M.W. Turner, who was active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, was astonishingly prolific. On his death, he left over 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolors and more than 30,000 works on paper.

Many of the latter are pages from his sketchbooks, and many of those are in the collection of the Tate Britain as part of the extraordinary Turner Bequest, which brought the museum’s holding of Turner’s works to over 37,000.

The Tate has put a number of these online, in a special section of their website: J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings, Watercolours.

The resource is divided into 5 chronologically arranged sections from different points in the artist’s career, and within that, the works are arranged in subsections by location or other theme. Exploring is a matter of drilling down through the categories to subcategories.

Eventually, you will come to pages in which an individual sketchbook or thematic group of works is available in a slideshow. In the initial window of that slideshow there are usually two tabs, allowing you to choose between “Entry” (the slideshow) and “At a glance” or “Artworks”. Choosing the latter will open up thumbnails of the images arrayed directly on the page, making them much easier to browse.

For example, in the section “1819-29 Italy and After“, there is a subsection for “Rivers of England c. 1822-4” and a subsequent subsection for “‘Rivers of England’ Watercolours“.

From there you can click on a thumbnail to go to the detail page for an artwork, and there click on the image for an enlarged view. Most of the images are available in a nicely large size.

A number of the sections contain sketchbook pages that are so light or barely notated that they may be of less interest, but if you patiently dig around, you will be rewarded with many extraordinarily accomplished works in watercolor and gouache.

The sections for “Loose Studies of Paris and the Seine” and “Meuse-Moselle Gouache and Watercolour” (among others) are particularly of interest to those who are interested in Turner’s masterful handling of gouache as a sketching medium.

This project is so extensive, so wonderful and so engrossing, that I will issue a Time Sink Warning.


Jean-Pierre Gibrat

Jean-Pierre Gibrat, French comics artist, Flight of the Raven, bandes dessinées

Jean-Pierre Gibrat, French comics artist, Flight of the Raven and others, bandes dessinées

Jean-Pierre Gibrat is a French comics artist and writer noted for his graphic historical novels set during wartimes in France.

He gained the attention of American readers of European comics with the translated version of his 2002-2005 graphic novel, Flight of the Raven, set in Paris during the WWII occupation.

The book is beautiful, filled with lush evocations of Paris. Gibrat studied various locations in pen and watercolor before translating them into story backgrounds in his comics drawing style, which is also done in pen and watercolor. Gibrat is also noted for his appealing depictions of female characters, and his attention to the visual details of everyday life.

Flight of the Raven was preceded by a related story (but not a direct prequel) set in the same time period, The Reprieve, and was followed with a three volume story, Mattéo. — also set against the backdrop of war, but further back in time, in this case WWI.

You can find a number of his books on Amazon, some translated into English, some in French and other language editions.

The Reprive and Flight of the Raven were published in multiple volumes in France (three and two volumes, respectively) but were combined into single titles in the English language versions. The three French volumes for Mattéo are apparently being translated individually; only one has been released so far, the second English language volume is due in November of 2019.

Though he is both the artist and writer for his current work, Gibrat’s history of comics art goes back further, through collaborations with Jackie Berroyer and other writers, and work in the French comics magazine Pilote.

As far as I can determine, Gibrat does not have an official website, so I’ll point you to what resources I can find. You can also just try a Google images search for “Jean-Pierre Gibrat“.

[Note: Some of Gibrat’s work is erotic in nature, particularly a graphic novel titled Pinocchia, and a search may turn up images that are NSFW.]


Michal Orlowski

Michal Orlowski, watercolor

Michal Orlowski, watercolors

Michal Orlowski is a Polish watercolor painter who is the founder of the Creosfera atelier and one of the cofounders of the Polish Watercolor Association.

Orlowski’s training as an architect shows in his solid draftsmanship and handling of perspective, along with is general fondness for architectural subjects. His confident, almost casual rendering gives his cityscape compositions a light, airy touch.

I particularly admire his handling of stone and block buildings, and the play of light and shadow in his portrayal of small angular European streets.

On his website you will find galleries of watercolors, drawings and architectural renderings. However, I found the image viewer on his site to be problematic (at least in Chrome and Safari for Mac); if you have similar display problems, it may be easier to browse through examples of his work on his deviantART gallery.

You can also see some examples of Orlowski’s work on Vexels blog and Art of Day.

In the “Lessons” section of Orlowski’s website, you will find some video tutorials and time lapse drawing process examples. There is a more extensive selsection on his creosfera YouTube channel.


The Watercolor World

Watercolor world: John Anderson

Watercolor WOrld: Arthur Melville, William Page, William Holman Hunt, William Bree, Joseph Nash the elder, Waller Hugh Paton, Thomas Baker, Thomas Baker, Gabriel Carelli, Henry High Clifford, James Maurice Primrose, Arthur Melville

It’s sometimes easy to forget that painting and drawing once served the function we now assign to photography of recording places and events for reference or posterity.

Watercolor, a portable medium that could easily be used for location painting, was a favored vehicle for reportage and documentary subjects.

A recently established UK based non-profit project is building an online database of watercolors from collections around the world that document the visual world prior to 1900 and the advent of commonplace photography. The Guardian has a good article offering an overview of the project.

The Watercolor World is their growing trove of pre-1900 watercolors, primarily those depicting an identifiable place or event. Most are full-screen zoomable in high resolution. The site is treating them more as historical reference than as artworks in the usual sense, which is an interestingly different take, but doesn’t prevent viewing them for aesthetic enjoyment.

On the tab for “Watercolors“, you can use a keyword search for artist or type of subject. There are some filters, apparently a list still in development. There is a dedicated tab for “By Location”, but I didn’t find it very usable. You can browse by simply clicking “Show More” repeatedly at the bottom of the page (and being patient enough to keep going for a while).

The most fruitful way to browse may be the “Collections” page, from which you can drill down into the collections of various museums and institutions.

This is a huge trove of works you may not easily find elsewhere, so I will issue my customary Timesink Warning.

(Images above: John Anderson, Arthur Melville, William Page, William Holman Hunt, William Bree, Joseph Nash the elder, Waller Hugh Paton, Thomas Baker, Thomas Baker, Gabriel Carelli, Henry High Clifford, James Maurice Primrose, Arthur Melville)

[Thanks to Carol Roethke for the link and suggestion!]