Summary of akvarellen No. 3/2015

Stina Wirsén
by Håkan Bull

Stina Wirsén is one of Sweden’s most beloved illustrators. In 1993 she was hired as chief illustrator of the newspaper Dagens Nyheter while still studying at Konstfack Arts and Crafts School. She usually paints 20-30 images in a row and from this flow, the ideas will materialize. At DN her main focus was on fashion, culture, travel reports and portraits. She has also illustrated a great number of children’s books, many of them in co-operation with her artist/writer mother. Her favourite tool is her Mont Blanc fountain pen, but it seems like she paints with her pen and draws with her brush. Some of her inspirations come from Japanese and Chinese calligraphic art works. She strives for simplicity and minimalism in her works and uses a technique where she mixes watercolour and pen on dry and wet surfaces, and sometimes she challenges the rectangle of the paper, drawing a composition in a more free manner. She has been very busy lately, and among her recent jobs are: exhibitions, illustrating books for children and adults, creating dolls for a marionet play, creating public wall decorations and having some of her illustrations converted to stamps. From now on she will also deliver illustrations to Harper’s Bazar in Germany.

 

Malin Ahlsved
by Camilla Granbacka

Common fantasies of life and death and stories told by animals are typical for Malin Ahlsved’s watercolours. Often she will depict herself in the images, disguised as an animal, a child or an old man. She will often return to the theme of mice which actually are people, because she was once called a mouse. As a student she would paint very large expressionist paintings which a teacher crudely remarked as being unusual for a little grey mouse to do. Even though it was a cruel comment, it made her start to work differently, now painting small, narrative images where mice are weak and strong at the same time. She has exhibited drawings and watercolours regularly since she graduated from the Art Academy in Helsingfors in 2004. Despite their fairy-tale character, the images deal with the tension of private life, uncertainty, loneliness and dark inner feelings. Her works are quite small but one can sink into the many stories each image contains - visualizing hopes, dreams, and fears. Creating these paintings is a way for her as an introvert person to deal with an extrovert world.

 

Malin Persson
by Jacqueline Stare

When studying to be an architect at Chalmers in Göteborg, Malin Persson was not taught much watercolour, but attended courses on her own account with Lars Holm and Magnus Berg. Her eyes were opened to a style of watercolour that was new to her: large formats, colour from tubes and the use of plenty of water. She now works as a self-employed architect and spends much time on painting as well. Since 2010 she has participated in a number of juried exhibitions where she also has won some prizes. Malin Persson paints houses, no tall buildings, no square and no bustling life, but she seeks out older environments and sees her works as portraits of houses. From her own photos taken in various lighting conditions she will depict parts of streets and houses having omitted all unnecessary details. Her emphasis is on light and darkness, sometimes with a streak of bright white. There might be the odd lamp in a window, but mostly there will be no traces of human life, thus creating a kind of magic world where the spectator can fill in the gaps. Painting houses with a these very straight edges and minimalistic compositions is something Malin Persson can carry on with for yet some time, but she has also started to paint “softer” images, such as a cushioned chair - still without people.

 

Linda Olafsdóttir
by JBK Ransu

This year’s winner of The Winsor & Newton Nordic Watercolor Society Award is an illustrator who has in recent years been gaining attention for her elaborate work. Linda Ólafsdóttir was born in Reykjavík, Iceland and studied Fine Arts at the Iceland Academy of Arts but went on to study illustration at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Since then she has devoted her practice to various kinds of pictorial designs, such as illustrating stamps for the Icelandic post, Christmas cards, calendars, and magazine advertisements. Her most notable works are however to be found in children’s books in Iceland and internationally distributed illustrations of classic fairy tales for Sterling Publishing in New York. In the illustrations she uses certain angles of view to create the befitting atmosphere to the fable. When she draws Belle in The Beauty and the Beast running in the woods Linda gives us a view down from the trees and enhances the shadows to indicate the fear and uncertainty that Belle must be experiencing. Linda repeatedly uses the scale of surrounding figures to emphasize the smallness of the heroine, yet giving a sense of the freedom and wonders that Thumbelina experiences as she explores the vast world around her. Linda uses watercolour as base for most of her illustrations but often mixed with gesso, to create structure, and coloured pencils to sharpen the lines. Her style is not far from the classic illustrators of the Victorian era, yet her pictures are also cartoonish. This combination is befitting for contemporary illustration and it gives her pictures a kind of a childish beauty that is also mysterious and adventurous.

Summary by Marianne Gross