Summary of akvarellen 4/2012

Eva Kylberg Johanson
by Jacqueline Stare

Ten years ago Eva Kylberg Johanson was able to start painting full-time. She got her own studio and began exhibiting her work. She now uses every opportunity to attend courses given by various watercolour artists. Peter Hefner – her teacher at Art College in Göteborg - is today a cherished mentor. Landscapes remain her prime source of inspiration, but she never paints outdoors nor does she start from sketches or photos. The images are stored inside her. Her main objective is to convey the feeling, the light, the atmosphere – not to create an exact or realistic depiction of nature. She must bring out the essence and omit all details. She works with washes and her method of painting demands great patience. She is very self-critical and will discard works that she isn't satisfied with. She never re-uses parts in collages and such. She only paints with pure watercolour technique, never mixed media. Her main subjects are landscapes, kept in harmonic, soft tones with tight almost graphic compositions, but sometimes she must try something completely different. Then she paints people, fantasy birds and animals or very bright and colourful abstractions with ink or watercolour. She finds it wonderful to have the time and opportunity to paint every day not having to pack her things away – to concentrate on being creative, getting new ideas and developing her talents.

 

Eva-Lena Carlzon
by Lasse Sandström

Before starting to paint watercolour full-time in the late 80'ies Eva-Lena Carlzon used to work with pottery, creating everyday objects such as shoes, bags, and wallets out of stoneware. With watercolour she paints still-life, superrealistic trompe l'oeil pictures. Her technique demands very thin brushes and heavy paper (640g), often large sheets up to 101x52cm that don't bend or bubble. She has shown her works at so many solo and group exhibitions and at so many juried exhibitions that she has been accepted to KRO, The Swedish Artists' Association, even though she doesn't have a formal art education. She wants to have absolute control when painting details with utmost precision over the many layers of washes so as to gain the 3-dimensional impression which is so important for her. To mix sharp lines and contrasts with soft colours and vague shadows is a very long and demanding process. She is inspired by life and nature but has no interest in painting subjects that she might as well take a photo of. This is her own interpretation of nature and is a mirror of her own feelings. "Some pictures make you feel good, others don't, but I don't know why I do it this way. I must be elaborating on some kind of emotion" she states. Lately she has downsized the watercolours and also started to make collages. She cuts out many small bits of watercolour but doesn't make any preliminary sketches. "It's great fun – I am interested in composition."

 

Björn Bernström
by Jacqueline Stare

Björn Bernström is first and foremost a landscape painter and in his landscapes he often places buildings. It took quite a number of years before art was to be predominant in his life even though he had been drawing and painting since childhood. He took the sensible route and worked in banking for 10 years until he went to art school with the ambition of becoming an art teacher. However, his talents lay elsewhere, and alongside his own artistic profession he started working part time as a "location scout" for the film industry. This is a means for him to find new painting subjects as well as to earn a living. Lars Lerin and Arne Isacsson are artists he admires for their skills. Björn Berström makes fully use of "backwash" effects, seldom painting the formation of clouds or shrubbery, but instead he makes the colour pigment do the work. He still has full control of the process and may help it along, perhaps with a hair-drier. It takes time to learn to master this technique and one has to be completely concentrated and know precisely when to intervene and when to let the combination of pigments, paper and water do their job. He needs focus points in the painting and uses cables, posts, and fences to divide and define the picture. There must be harmony between the flowing colours and strict formations. He may never have become a school teacher, but he is still keen on holding courses. He teaches landscape architects, print designers and advanced watercolour painters with great enthusiasm.

 

Leila Hunter
by Marianne Gross

Leila Hunter is a mixed-media artist who lives and works in New Zealand. Her sense of observation and her genuine and profound interest in other people led her to a nursing career, but the creative arts have always played an important part in her life, and she has always been painting and drawing. In her line of work at rest homes she encountered many old people who were a great source of inspiration. She collected statements from them - from the bitter, self-centred woman who complained: "My sister just died, so who's going to buy my bananas now?" to the warm, friendly exclamation: " Isn't it wonderful? I'm 94 and I'm still making new friends older and younger than me". Portraits naturally followed. These she made in watercolour and ink from notes, photos and drawings. Nowadays her portraits are more experimental and her favourite subjects include biblical characters which she depicts with a humorous approach or an unusual twist.

 

Hugo Alfvén – Two Winter Paintings
by Håkan Bull

Many people are aware that Hugo Alfvén (1872-1960) is one of Sweden's most famous composers, but that he also was an artist and primarily a watercolour painter might be unknown to most. While attending the Music Conservatory in Stockholm he was also taught painting but decided to pursue a musical career. When was about 50 he took up painting again. An important factor for this was his romance with the Danish artist Marie Krøyer (1867-1940) whom he later married. When they met she was married to Peder Severin Krøyer (1851-1909), the leading artist of the Skagen colony. Hugo Alfvén also counted Anders Zorn (1860-1920) and Carl Larsson (1853-1919) among his friends. I will take a closer look at two of Hugo Alfvén's watercolours: "Kaplan Farm" from 1926 and "Winter" from 1924. Both have buildings included but must still be classified as landscape paintings. He makes skilful use of the transparency of watercolour and leaves large areas unpainted so as to illustrate snow. But he also uses gouache to depict snow on the branches of one tree. The work "Winter" is built up with aerial perspective, cleverly using dark reds to expand the area towards the viewer and making the background lighter and more vague. In "Kaplan Farm" the perspective is not the main point – instead the branches of the trees make up a decorative organic network which reminds of the graphics of Japanese woodcuts, which were much in demand when he studied painting.
Some of his watercolours are presently displayed at Fullersta Gård in Huddinge, Sweden.

 

Daniel Smith Watercolour Paints
by Bo Sundström

Daniel Smith from Seattle, Washington, USA has produced watercolour paints since 1993 and these paints are now being introduced to the Swedish market. They are hand-made and of a high quality with 120 different hues. The most important factor making these paints different from other brands is that many are produced using natural minerals and semi-precious stones. Also they have several paints that are mixed with two or three pigments: Undersea Green is a paint containing Ultramarine Blue as well as Quinacridone Deep Gold. When diluted, the different pigments separate according to their qualities. The line of mineral pigments is named PrimaTek and follow an ancient tradition of using natural earth minerals from all over the world. The "separating" pigments can be very beautiful and interesting once you learn how to use them properly. Their blacks come in several varieties, all quite grainy and lively. Cadmium paints are toxic and Daniel Smith has replaced six paints marked Cadmium Hue containing non-toxic alternative pigments of the same colour and quality. Of course it is hard to tell how these paints will behave in the long run, but after 40 full-sized sheets of watercolour paper and 6 months of testing I find Daniel Smith's products satisfactory and will continue to make use of some of them.

 

Summary by Marianne Gross