Category Archives: Watercolor and Gouache

Eye Candy for Today: Dürer’s Large Piece of Turf

The Large Piece of Turf, Albrecht Durer, watercolor and gouache
The Large Piece of Turf, Albrecht Dürer

Watercolor and gouache on paper mounted to board, roughly 16 x 12 inches (41 x 31 cm). Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Albertina, Vienna.

For its small size and unassuming subject, this painting ranks among the most well known works in the history of art. In it, Dürer did not set out to create a work of art, but simply to study from an artist’s greatest teacher, nature.

And study he did. The painting is a marvel of clear, direct observation and painstakingly precise but naturalistic rendering.

In a clump of grass, weeds and leafy plants that few would consider worth a second glance, let alone hours of intense study, Dürer reveals a world of intricate plant forms, their shapes, colors and patterns of growth worthy of a dozen separate botanical illustrations.

The painting has been studied, copied, analyzed and even modeled in 3-D. Its plants have been identified and listed. Much has been made of the artist’s keen powers of observation. There is a Wikipedia page that may serve as a jumping off point for more about the painting.

This is the most famous of Dürer’s naturalistic and strikingly detailed studies of small bits of nature (unless you count his wondrous Hare, painted a year before and also in the Albertina).

In particular, I love the way he has painted the delicate tufts of the grasses, with the same attention one might give to the form of a great tree.

Though not directly related to the painting, I’m reminded of a quote from writer Henry Miller: “The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself”


Bob Rudd

Bob Rudd, watercolor and oil landscapes, UK
Bob Rudd is a British painter who works in both watercolor and oil, though watercolor is his primary focus.

His colorful landscape and architectural subjects are depicted with an interesting range of technique, from loose and free to more exacting.

In what I feel are some of his most interesting compositions, he combines in the same painting freeform shapes — that look as though they may have been developed from splotches of color in which chance played a part — with more restrained and naturalistic rendering.

I also enjoy his frequent depiction of water — from seashore to small streams to the canals of Venice — in which he explores the varied surfaces and reflective qualities of water in its various moods.

There is a brief interview with the artist on Cass Art.


Mateusz Urbanowicz

Mateusz Urbanowicz, concept art, illustration, watercolor
Originally from Poland, Mateusz Urbanowicz is a concept artist, animator, illustrator and painter currently living in Tokyo.

Urbanowicz works in ink, watercolor, gouache and acrylic gouache, as well as in digital media. On his website and other online portfolios, you’ll find a selection of his professional and personal work.

I particularly enjoy his series of Tokyo Storefronts, as well as his Bicycle Boy illustrations, and his Mottainai NHK TV commercial backgrounds.

In his ink and watercolor approach, his loose, confident application of color over a foundation of solid draftsmanship gives his compositions a strong visual appeal.

There is a page on his blog about his tools, and a series of videos on YouTube, some of which are process videos for paintings, and some of which are animations. You can find prints of his illustrations on society6.


Eye Candy for Today: Léon Bonvin still life

Still Life on Kitchen Table with Celery, Parsley, Bowl, and Cruets; Leon Bonvin watercolor
Still Life on Kitchen Table with Celery, Parsley, Bowl, and Cruets; Léon Bonvin

Watercolor over pen and ink and graphite; roughly 7×9 inches (17 x 22 cm). In the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore which has both a downloadable and zoomable version of the image. There is also a zoomable version on Google Art Project, and a downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons.

As he often did, 19th century French painter Léon Bonvin started this piece with a pencil drawing, drew outlines of the intricate forms in pen and ink (dark brown iron gall ink) and filled in the outlines with delicately applied but definite washes of watercolor.


Shari Blaukopf

Shari Blaukopf, watercolors, urban sketches
Shari Blaukopf is a watercolor painter based in Montreal.

She is a dedicated location sketcher, and you can find her sketches on a dedicated blog, as well as in a section on her website, and on the Urban Sketchers blog.

Even in her more finished work, she maintains a feeling of the informal immediacy that comes from location sketching.

I particularly enjoy her loose approach to rendering architectural elements, and her take on simple, unassuming objects that might often be overlooked as subjects for paintings.

Blaukopf often augments her watercolor sketches with pen and ink, and she has two instructional video courses on related to sketching in pen, ink and watercolor.


Alexander Votsmush (Shumtov)

Alexander Votsmush (Shumtov), watercolors
Alexander Votsmush is a Crimean painter who works in watercolor. The name “Votsmush” is actually a pseudonym — a rearrangement of his actual name, “Shumtov” — that he adopted in his college days.

Votsmush has a unique and very appealing approach to his watercolors — part graphic, part paintlike, with skewed verticals and horizontals, or curves in their place — that that give his pieces a feeling of casual, lively structure and informal rendering.

Some of his pieces have a narrative feeling and may have been intended as illustrations, but I don’t actually know.

Votsmush does not have a dedicated web presence, so you need to rely on articles in which others have posted his work. One of the best is a series of three articles on Asif R Naqvi’s blog Living Design: “The wonderful world of watercolor maestro Alexander Votsmush (Part 1)”, along with Part 2 and Part 3.

There is another article on Scribd, and a 2014 interview with Votsmush on Art of Watercolor.

The work of Alexander Votsmush will be on display at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, CA, in a solo show that opens today, October 8, and runs until October 23, 2016. There is a gallery of his work on their site.

[A note of caution: if you go searching for Votsmush paintings on sites other than the ones listed here, be wary — some of the ones I encountered, particularly with .ru domains, set off my anti-virus alarms.]