Saturday, September 20, 2014

White Elegance- Custom done

Hello there! Blogging after a real long time. Things have been busy hectic and chaotic for me. Well they normally are that way. :D But anyways its been pretty long since I posted my art here so I have a lot to share with you guys. Most of you who are with me on facebook might have seen these pieces posted there but here you get a more detailed look at my progress paintings and more insights. Here's an in depth peek at a painting I made.

A good friend of mine wanted something done for her new home in London and she sent me a picture of the wall she wanted to place it on. After discussing a few color schemes and ideas, we decided to go with these white flowers.


That's the finished painting. I decided to keep the background as dark as possible with several layers of glazing to get the color depth right. Wanted to bring out the whites of the flowers and highlight the sunlight falling on the petals.

Thankyou so much Monali for giving me this great opportunity to make something for you. Loved the whole process and it was a great feeling to see them hanging in your home. Thanks for the pics! :-)

Do stop by my website to view more of my recent artwork.
Join me on facebook...Shagufta Mehdi's Art

Have a great weekend :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Wandering Watercolorist- Paul Jackson

With a busy packed schedule of workshops, shipping of his latest book, painting, judging and a great spirit for adventure and travel; Paul Jackson is living every painters dream. He was my earliest influences and I have a deep admiration for his art. Yet his paintings never seize to amaze and bewilder me. His passion and dedication to painting is nothing less than inspiring. Each one of paintings exhibits and amazing eye for detail and a great amount of brush control and patience. The compositions and the choice of subjects and colours sets his work apart. He was kind enough to do this interview with me and I hope you enjoy reading it....

@ How did your journey into water colours begin?

I took a watercolor class in college and fell in love immediately.

@ Talk about your early influences 

There was a Watercolorist from Mississippi where I grew up whose work was very inspirational for me. Walter Anderson's Watercolors are quite unlike my own but possess a magic that resonates with others.

@ Looking at your paintings, I realise that there is something unique about your compositions....can you shed some light on that ?

My compositions do not follow formal rules. They are constructed intuitively. I purposefully lead the viewer on a journey into the painting, through to the focal point.

@ Your watercolours are very controlled and true to it difficult to achieve that when you are working on scales as large as you do? 

The larger you work, the easier it is to achieve a sense of realism. Working small is more difficult.

@ How did the 'Wandering Watercolorist' come into being? And  how important is travel to your art?
I've never really had a clear path...I tend to wander in my travels and in my paintings.
 Travel inspires is my first passion before watercolor. Meeting new people and experiencing new cultures help me to keep a fresh vision and a flow if new ideas.

@ Talking about establishing a name for yourself....what are the things that have been instrumental to achieving it? 

I did 40 arts festivals a year for nearly two decades. I entered many competitions, wrote a lot of magazine articles and a book. And I paint prolifically.

@ How do you go about planning a painting...right from choosing a subject to rendering the last strokes.?
I choose my subjects by what I'm most passionate about today. Dramatic light in my subject is what makes it interesting. I paint in thin layers from light to dark.

@ About your there any particular routine you follow...something you have come to develop over the years? 

I approach the lightest most delicate details first. I tiptoe in and go stomping out.

@ Your paintings exhibit an amazing amount of long do you normally work on one painting?
3 days...3 weeks...3 months. The more detailed... The longer it takes.

@ How easy/ tough has it been for you to find commercial success?
Commercial success is always a work in progress. It's never easy and I'm extremely grateful for every opportunity.

@ Any tips you would like to share with the budding watercolorists?
Paint a lot!!!  All the time. Ideas come while you work...not while you wait. You will get better if you keep painting. I was not born with talent, only passion. 

@ Talk about your favourite painting tools...brushes, paints, masking fluids and whatever else that you would employ to finish a painting.

My brushes are very special. They are hand made, double ended Martin weasel. They are they finest brushes available for watercolor. I'm currently using Daniel Smith Watercolors and arches 260 lb cold press paper. 

@ Your thoughts on the use of social media in promoting yourself and any tips to struggling artists...favourite 

You have to have a FB page and a website and be very active with both. There's a lot more competition than there was before social media. You must learn to tastefully self promote. Don't force your art on anyone, but have it available always. Don't tag other artist in your artwork to get them to look at's rude and counterproductive.

@ You have been a judge for various painting competitions... Would you recommend a few prestigious ones where talented artists should look to enter?

International watercolor society in turkey, shanghai and Shenzen biennials in china, American watercolor society and Missouri watercolor society international show.

@ Lastly talk about your did those come into being?
My first book, "Painting Spectacular Light Effects in Watercolor" is an instructional book published by Northlight Books. My new book, "The Wandering Watercolorist" is a portfolio monograph of the best of my Watercolors from the past three decades.

The three decades of watercolors sure reflect in his artwork. I had always wanted to do a feature on Paul and his art on this blog and I am really happy and excited to share it with you. Hope you find this informative and inspiring too. Happy Painting!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Bad Boy of Watercolor- Nicholas Simmons

Often referred to as the bad boy of water-colour for his defiance of the rules and practices attached to the medium, Nicholas Simmons takes water colors to newer and fresher heights. His ability to take risks with his artwork and letting the painting take its own course without over planning and trying to control the colors too much is what sets his paintings apart and breathes life into them. Watching his painting videos, one realises how  liberating it can be to let the medium just find its own path around the painting. Using the unpredictability and fluidity of the paints to his full advantage, Nicholas makes painting seem so easy.

To begin with how did you happen to stumble into Watercolors and when did you decide to take it up seriously ? 
I was always into art from an early age, and remember the thrill (and disappointment!) from my first experiences with watercolor. Many years later a roommate started dabbling with them and I got interested. I was using a small student set and just getting acquainted with the medium when I saw a demonstration by the great American painter, Valfred Thëlin. Then I understood what watercolor was capable of, in approach and scale. I signed up for his workshops in Florida, and those of many other recognized artists such as Barbara Nechis. It seemed to come to me easily, and I started exhibiting and selling my work. At the same time I was playing guitar, and opted for music as my primary career. After a hand injury, I got back to watercolor about ten years ago, and now it has become full-time. 
Let's talk about your technique... The approach you use is like a perfect blend of planning and did you get to developing such a bold style 
I never worked on technique in the way I did with playing the guitar. It more or less evolved as I needed it.  Like countless others, I experimented with lots of methods and stylistic detours. Eventually my tastes gravitated toward an aesthetic that might be characterized as bold and spontaneous. I do like the sensation that something dangerous or accidental has happened in the vision and process. And, as water is the most appealing aspect of the medium, I like to see evidence of it. Achieving all of that with certain subject matter, on a large scale, is difficult. It can result from one audacious move, but at times requires considerable planning  to create the illusion of spontaneity. 

You seem to be more of an intuitive painter, shed some light on that. That's true, I have little or no formal knowledge of many aspects of painting that some would consider mandatory. I really loved drawing while growing up, and I do believe that is a very helpful background. I took workshops from many people and saw most all of the techniques available.  Now, after acres of paintings over the years, I suppose I ought to have a defined regimen. Yet, I begin nearly every painting not really knowing what I'm doing. I've found this elusive medium is often at odds with one's intention, and adaptability is key. If I could boil my method down to one principle:

Listen to the painting. 

I work on the things I feel confident about, and put off anything I can't figure out. As the painting develops, it generally tells me what to do in those uncertain areas. If not, then I put it away for a while.  No painting has ever turned out the way I envisioned it. I'm fine with that, because sometimes it is better than I imagined. 

Who have been your greatest influences? Sargent continues to be a major inspiration, I just returned from New York to see the big show of his  watercolors at the Brooklyn Museum.  It is actually his oil paintings that I admire most, and he led me to others such as Sorolla. I love Whistler, Klimt, and several of that era. Later -- Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, Robert Motherwell, the printmaker Mauricio Lasansky, numerous watercolorists, and contemporary painters such as Alex Kanevsky, Lita Cabellut, and Jose Parla. 

Could you shed some light on the unique batik Watercolor technique you use? It has nothing to do with authentic batik. I discovered a long time ago that washing away paint (with a spray bottle, for example) before it has dried can result in some very cool  textures and patterns. It can mimic some of the effects of batik, and hence the term. I don't use it in many paintings, but it is a versatile technique and has been popular in workshops. 

Talk about your favourite painting tools...brushes, paints, masking fluids and whatever else that you would employ to finish a painting. 
Several years ago I switched to Da Vinci artist watercolors for their quality and unbeatable price. When they developed their line of fluid acrylics, I started using them, too, and never looked back. I was very fortunate they recognised my loyalty to the product, and we've had a great relationship ever since. A couple years ago I used my first Escoda brush, and was hooked. Again I was very lucky when they offered to make me a signature line of the very best synthetics available. Professional handmade brushes make a difference. As does paper. I use Fabriano Artistico 140 lb (300 g) in the roll, usually hot press. Some effects necessitate the use of masking fluid (I use Da Vinci), which I apply with inexpensive brushes. All framing is done to archival standards. 

How do you go about planning a painting? If it's the sort of painting that requires planning, I've often already painted it over and over in my head. This is sort of a filter. If the idea begins to bore me, I'll probably discard it, and then I don't have to paint it. Saves a lot of work! If the idea survives this process, any subsequent planning is best done with the understanding that something unexpected or better might occur during the process,  and relying on instinct and intuition is, for me, preferable to a more rigid approach. 

Anything you would like to share which has been instrumental in your journey as a watercolorist? 

To me, painting is 99% mental, and watercolor is probably 99.5% mental. 

You're also a musician.. Does music also contribute to your paintings ? 

I think music is the most profound medium of expression. Visual art just doesn't pack the same emotional punch, in my opinion. However, I could not live without visual art.  I think my music background has influenced my work, and reinforced my general aversion to authority. I wish I could get the sort of excitement in a painting that is generated by great music. Sometimes it gets in the ballpark, though, and of course painting is vastly interesting and challenging.  My whole life has been the guitar and painting watercolor, it's hard to separate them now. 

When we speak of making it in the world as an difficult or easy was it for you to establish yourself as one? Any struggles involved ? 
I started getting active again just as the economy began to take a dive. Good timing! I was fortunate to get some recognition quickly, but of course it was chiefly among the watercolor world.  Lots of workshops and judging further established the reputation, but as we all know, watercolor is something of a second-class medium. Less money, less prestige. There is a mindset that has segregated watercolor from the larger, "real" art world, and that concerns me. It's helpful to stop thinking of it as "watercolor" or "watermedia" and simply call it "painting." I don't want to follow the traditional path in watercolor, there's always room for something different. 

Your thoughts on the use of social media in promoting yourself and any tips to struggling artists...favourite I'm probably a poor example on the social media front. I always seem to be the last one getting in on it. I was practically the last to get a blog, the last to get on Facebook, I don't Twitter, etc.  At some point maintaining all of that takes too much time. Also, I think there is a danger of overexposure in putting too much stuff out there.

If you were to draw a roadmap for budding artists to tread on to find their own success in the field of art what would it look like?Again, I'm a terrible example of how to go about it since it has all hinged on circumstance. What worked for me could be disaster for others. Some formal art education would no doubt be the sensible path, but there no guarantees. Perhaps the most important asset is to have something individual that sets one apart. And a lot of persistence.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

For the love of Flowers!

It's been long since I wrote here.....but its time again to get into active blogging and active painting too! Paying a revisit to my love for florals....I am posting a few that I painted some time back! Hope you enjjoy them!! 

Wish I had a name for this....This floral watercolor is dedicated to my dad! 

Clad in Pink!
Watercolor on paper.

Painted from a picture clicked by Suhel on our trip to Kashmir. Brings back fond memories of our time in the place so aptly called Heaven on Earth!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Art Of Jonathan Frank

Saturated colors, bold, dramatic landscapes and well defined edges are what set Frank’s watercolors apart. His paintings are defined by the strong play of light and shadow and his signature lies in rendering all the hundreds of minute shapes that lie in the painting with India Ink. Every little detail is attended to and stressed upon making the landscapes appear high definition. It almost has the ability to transfer the viewer into the landscape.

Getting to know the artist better, one comes to know of all the hard work and perseverance gone into developing such a powerful and award winning style. He sheds light on his art, the process involved and his journey so far in the interview…

Into The Vast

@How did you happen to begin painting?
I had always drawn, or dabbled in paint, but it wasn’t until 1989 that I fell in love with watercolor. All of my learning has come through reading art books, and magazines, and a whole lot of trial and error. It would be another six years until I decided that I wanted to become a serious artist, and make it my life’s work.

@Where do you draw inspiration from?
My primary visual interest has always been with rocks…mountain-size rocks, and the coolest rocks I’ve ever seen are in the desert of Southeastern Utah. The colors range from soft pinks to fiery red-orange and the shapes are strangely rounded and smooth. Finally, in 2005, I moved to Moab, which sits in the middle of this desert, right between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Ninety percent of my work is inspired by this area.

@What are the things which have been instrumental to your growth as an
The main thing is just hard work and dedication. When I first started painting seriously, I would wake up at 3:00 in the morning, so that I could paint for four hours before having to go to my regular job. I do my best work when I am still half-asleep, and can’t think too much. I did this every day for over three years. I still paint an average of six hours every day.

Soaring High

@Tell us a little about how your current style of painting came into being?
I did some experimenting with watercolor way back in high school. I had a sheet of paper with a bunch of random marks on it, and just out of teenage boredom decided to outline all the marks with a ballpoint pen. I was so impressed with how cleanly defined these marks were, that the outline became part of my artistic thinking from that day forth.

@What is your typical method of working
I start by making a full size drawing on news print paper, where I define basic elements of shape and composition. Next I transfer the drawing to the painting surface using graphite paper. If any  masking is required, I’ll do it at this time. Since the finished painting has all the elements outlined, it’s important to paint every facet of the piece with hard edges, starting with the largest shapes first and working inwards. When I’m finished painting, I pick up my rapidograph pen and outline every shape. The outline unifies the painting and makes it clean and creates the effect of looking at it in high definition.


@Most interesting thing about the way you work…
Ninety percent of my color mixing is done by layering and glazing. I paint a shape with clear water and then float a color into sections of it. I’ll do this several times using various colors until I have achieved the richness that I want.

@How difficult was it to find commercial success and how did you go about it?
I have not found commercial success…haven’t really looked for it. When I chose fine art as a career, I knew not to expect a regular paycheck. That being said, I still do OK, and each year seems to get a little better, but mainly in terms of recognition. I’ve spent the past few years entering a bunch of national shows…even got into a few. One of the bigger profile shows I was in was looked at by one of the art magazines, who took an interest in my work and wrote an article on me. This was followed by other appearances in their magazine, as well as other magazines. I also believe in advertising when possible.

From The Beginning

@A lot of your works have won awards…..tell us a little about that….
When I received my first award in 2000, I had confirmation that friends and family weren’t the only ones who liked my art, and that I should keep trying. Since then I’ve received many more, several of them with particularly special meaning. The last one I received was my first “Best of Show” in a national exhibition. It’s always nice to be recognized for ones accomplishments.

@Where can we view more of your works online?

@Could you share a few useful and practical painting tips with us….?
My favorite tip to share is when applying liquid masking fluid to
watercolor paper, instead of using (and possibly ruining) a brush, use a Colour Shaper. A Colour Shaper is a brush-like tool with a silicone tip instead of bristles, therefore the dried masking peels right off.

@And lastly….any marketing tips….online and otherwise?
Get your art noticed anywhere possible, particularly places that apply to art. Have a website. Enter competitions, and don’t be afraid to aim high. Also, don’t let rejection stop you, it will happen, but it won’t kill you. You just keep trying, and always enter your best work. Art festivals can be lucrative too.

That was the artist getting candid about his art....

He was kind enough to show me a reference photo he used for a it is with the painting followed below...

Time On Earth

Jonathan shares a few notes….

"By the time I reached this vantage point, the sun had set, so all the light you see in the painting was done from memory, or invented, Except for the hills on the horizon which were done from another photo. Also, all the foreground elements were invented."

It’s amazing to see how the artist has transformed an otherwise dull photo into a dramatic painting.

Hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it…..remember to leave comments…they’re highly valued.

Happy Painting!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Art of Carol Carter

I came across Carol’s art online when I happened to chance on one of the paintings from her Everglade series and was really captivated by the strong use of colors and the fluidity in it. As I surfed through her other paintings, I found that, the beautiful vibrant hues and the intensity of her art really stood out. The subjects of her paintings are simple things rendered extraordinary by her bold choice of colors and strong use of contrasts compelling the viewer to move away from reality. The huge scale of her paintings also offers a contradiction to the humble choice of subject.

I had the opportunity to do an interview with her and here it is….

An e-interview with Carol Carter

@How did you stumble into arts?

I have painted all my life.  When I entered college-- all I wanted to study was art.  When I decided to go into the professional world -- I decided to be an artist.  That was the late 70's.

@What inspires you to paint and keep motivated?

Beauty, light and color generally inspire me to paint.

@Did your current style of painting develop gradually, or have you always painted like this?

My style of painting has evolved over the years.  I began my current "style" of painting shortly after I graduated from getting my MFA.  My work has been in development along those lines since then.

@Could you tell us some more about your work?

Having grown up in Florida, my strongest visual impression of an environment for human activity is water.  In much of my work, water, either literal or suggested, provides the setting for anonymous figures. The paintings contain duality: clarity and ambiguity; sanctuary and threat; pleasure and pain.  The use of vibrant, saturated colors--beautiful, but confrontational in their intensity--contributes to the tension between these extremes. 
For me, painting should have an intimacy, mysteriousness, sensuality.  At its best, my work also has an edge; something in it that takes a moment, a second look, an effort to comprehend.

@What are the things that were instrumental to your growth as and artist?

Security, stability, peace, and continuity.  If these are evident in my life-- I am generally secure enough to paint!  However, it is rare that all these qualities converge at the same time.... so I have learned to paint on and through most of life's dilemmas.  The rockier the road is of life...the more important painting becomes.

@How do you go about planning a series?

I look for an idea, a place, a time of day, or a human drama that sparks my visual curiosity.  After completing one painting--  it typically calls for another painting to carry through the idea.  Pretty soon-- one painting leads to another .. and so on.  Then... you have a sequential series developing.

@What is the current series you are working on and how did that come into being?

My next show is about the EVERGLADES in Florida. It is a National Park including the River Of Grass ecosystem. I was the Visiting Artist of the Everglades National Park in May of last year—and I will be producing a show built on the investigation of that Park.

@What about the commercial aspect of art? How do you go about promoting yourself?

I use the internet a lot.   I have two Facebook pages, two blogs, and one website to keep my work visible online.  I promote my work with postal mailings quarterly.  I use Mail Chimp for email blasts to 500 email addresses.  I also use to publish books.

I also work with a marketing expert to develop marketing campaigns strategic to each project I'm involved in.

I like using the internet.

@What are your thoughts about the online art market?

I like it a lot.  It has leveled the playing field for artists.  It also has brought the international community of artist closer together... so there is a whole online network of artists available to work with and exchange ideas with.

@And lastly, where can we view more of your works online

So that was the talented artist talking about her journey into this colorful world so far…..

Do leave your comments…..its nice to get some feedback!

Happy Painting!!!