Maria Luostarinen – Fotometer, 56x76cm, 2013
by Håkan Bull
The Winsor & Newton Prize 2014 was awarded to Maria Luostarinen at the Nordic Watercolour Society’s annual meeting in Stockholm for her fairy tale watercolours with a symbolic world acting as a vehicle for the viewer’s own imagination.The world of fairy tales is connected to ancient mythology and folklore where mythological creatures go through transitions in a supernatural world, people turn into animals, and genies pop out of bottles. Such images are also contained in our dreams. Fairy tales, myths and dreams are along with philosophy, religion and art a way for us to try to understand the world we live in. Maria Luostarinen is like Alice in her own Wonderland and we can come along if we want, but she tries not to be too specific as to how the viewers should perceive her works. Lately she has worked primarily in watercolour, but still alongside other techniques. She will often start by tracing the contours of figures and forms from her growing collection of pictures on to dry watercolour paper with a bit of texture. Then she will continue with quite wet paint mainly inside these contours. Both her parents are blind and she has always been their “eyes” explaining and filtering what they should see. This is probably a key factor to her artistic work.
by Jacqueline Stare
At the end of the 1990’ies Marianne Gross got the opportunity of pursuing a lifelong dream of an artistic career after having worked for a number of years with design and marketing in the graphic industry. She was lucky to meet an art teacher who opened her eyes for the beauty of watercolour and taught her the basics of watercolour painting for which she has had a passion ever since. The next ten years or so she worked hard in order to obtain control of the technique – but reaching this goal wasn’t quite enough. In 2008 she participated in a NAS workshop where she met Mona Sloth and saw the way she handled watercolour. This was the eye-opener Marianne Gross had been waiting for and a new watercolour journey started for her. Mona Sloth had in turn learned a lot from the painter Anna Törnquist, who is one of the Swedish artists influenced by the ideas of Arne Isacsson (artist and professor). Marianne Gross sought the teachings of some of these artists and has been particularly inspired by the minimalistic ideas of Anders Wallin. Now she seeks to loosen the control she has gained, and works more freely and spontaneously approaching more minimalistic and abstract images. The new openness and purity in her works create an interesting dialogue with the viewer of the painting, but she still finds herself learning new things every day. However skilful a watercolour painter is, one must always take into consideration that the watercolour medium has a mind of its own, especially if one works in a free, flowing – and more unpredictable – manner.
by Lisa Stålspets
Ylva Carlgren finished Valand Art School in 2012. She paints large-format watercolours extracting elements from advertising photos of perfume, lipstick, make-up and other luxury articles for women. Her images deal with consumption, gender and melancholy.
Painting watercolours this way can almost be compared to a masterly athletic performance. Nothing random, no drippings, runnings nor backruns. Everything is meticulously planned. She spends up till two months working on each watercolour after deciding on a picture and a composition as a starting point. Ylva Carlgren is interested in structures, grammar and language. She began studying as an interpretor but when she started painting watercolour in 2006, she realized that she wanted to become an artist. She paints photo-realistic large-scale paintings and she sees a connection between the structures of a painting and of a language. She finds the gender issue interesting: things that women like (such as perfume, make-up, silk shawls) are considered “flimsy”, vain and worthless, whereas things that men find desirable (such as watches and cars) are considered objects of value and high status, but she has no intention of moralizing.
by Jón B K Ransu
It has been mentioned that when photographs were introduced in the 1840’s, painters realised that they would need to step away from the craft of representational imagery and seek new frontiers. Painting itself expanded even as far as other mediums being used to explore painting. To explore watercolour one can use photography as Icelandic artist Ívar Valgarðsson did in his exhibition “Watercolour” where a photograph of the artist’s hand dipped in water shows the colour above and below the surface. Opposite the photo were placed glass plates on watercolour paper showing the effect of light through glass and water. The main elementals in these works are water, colour and paper but they do not involve paint. In his work Channels/Watercolour at Akureyri Art Museum Ívar based a whole installation on a single watercolour: A blue monochrome watercolour on paper was placed at the end of a room facing a video recorder. On an opposite wall one could see the live recorded image of the watercolour on a TV monitor. The image travels from one place to another, from one medium to another, yet stays blue. In 2013 Ívar participated in a show in Boden, Sweden, where he explored watercolour by viewing it from a different medium. He painted 3 monochromes by soaking 30 m2 paper sheets in red, yellow and blue watercolour, then curled them together into 3 balls, around 1x1m each. He did the same with a drawing. The 3 watercolours and the drawing were installed on the floor as an object which not only questions the elementals of the medium, but also expands the question to other mediums, leaving us asking: “Where does a painting end and a photograph or an object begin”? These questions make (watercolour) painting a philosophical activity
by Bo Sundström
Paper is an essential part of watercolour painting. Bo Sundström has tested various brands and qualities. All tests have been done on sheets of 56×76 cm weighing 300 g/m2. Qualities vary between cold-pressed (NOT), hot-pressed (smooth) and rough and come in sheets, rolls or blocks. Thicknesses (weights) are supplied between 185 and 640 g. In the list, the papers have been divided into 3 different categories: paper made from 100% cotton, paper made from cellulose, and other kinds of paper. The tests have been done on the following papers (in alphabetical order). For the results please see the magazine.
Paper made from 100% cotton:
Arches (Canson), Fabriano, Fontenay (Canson), Lanaquarelle (Lana), Langton Prestige (Daler Rowney), Millford (St Cuthberts Mill), Moulin du Roy (Canson), Saunders Waterford (St Cuthberts Mill), Winsor & Newton Artist
Paper made from cellulose:
Bockingford (St Cuthberts Mill), Cotman (Winsor & Newton), Langton (Daler Rowney), Vidalon (Canson)
Indian paper, framing cardboard
Summary by Marianne Gross