Masters of watercolor

Olga Litvinenko, Saint-Petersburg, Russia

Olga Litvinenko is an artist from St. Petersburg, graduated
and postgraduated from the Repin Academy of Fine Arts. She
started exhibiting her works in 1999, when she was a student
and is a winner of international competitions. Her creative
works have been exhibited both in Russian and international
exhibitions, and her works are also in private collections
in Russia, America, France, China and Korea.How did you discover watercolour?My first watercolour sketch I made en plein air, when I was in art school. I still remember that sunny day. In the harbour there were very scenic ships and they impressed me, so that turned out to be a pretty good, lively sketch. Anyway, then I liked it the most.It was my first watercolour. I remember that I was incredibly interested in the process of work.Do you think academic education is important for watercolourists?I know so many talented watercolourists who have neither artistic, nor academic education. So I think that is not important.What has given you the Academy of Fine Arts?With great respect and warmth, I always remember the years of study in the Repin Academy. I am grateful to all teachers and professors. I received an excellent education, that has been always helpful in my career. This knowledge will provide a wide range of possibilities, both technical and creative. It now remains only to competently use them for creative work in almost all genres without restriction. Which gives, of course, freedom of expression.


О. ЛИТВИНЕНКО. Банковский мостик/О. LITVINENKO. Bank Bridge. 43×60 cm. 2013


Who influenced your development as a watercolourist?

Do you have any personal heroes?

I was very impressed in my early youth by watercolours and drawing by great Russian artists such as M. Vrubel,

V. Surikov, K. Somov, A. Benois, and L. Bakst. They were my first heroes, and of course, they had a strong influence on my development as a watercolourist. And special thanks to my outstanding teacher, People’s Artist V. G. Starov.

Has your style changed over time?

I do not think about my style as such, when I paint. I just draw. But comparing the finished works, I can say that my creative expression changes from time to time. This is the developing process.

Do you always paint what you like?

For the most part, yes. But if it happens that I paint the work, that I do not like emotionally, I concentrate on solving the technical problems, I try new tricks or hone the familiar ones. And it often happens that this exciting process leads to the fact that it turns out an interesting and quite worthy watercolour work. Any work has its benefits for the artist. But, of course, you should try to paint only what really inspires and excites you.

Which paper do you use?

Saunders Waterford 190-300 g, Arches 300 g, and Bockingford 300 g.

What is more important for you, the quality of the paper, paints or brushes?                                 §

Paper is the body, the basis of watercolours. The largest percentage of possibility that the watercolour goes well, depends on the paper quality. As for paints, of all the colour palette you can use 34 colours and get an excellent watercolour, or monochrome we know many examples of successful works. As for brushes, I have successfully painted with not very good brushes when I was a student. That time there was not much choice and the quality was not the best, but with certain skills, it was not the biggest problem. So for me, the leader is paper quality!

What is your choice of colours?

Now I mainly paint with domestic paints “Leningrad”,and also use English paints Winsor & Newton. The palette consists mainly of cadmium yellow medium, yellow ocher, cadmium orange, madder red, scarlet, natural sienna, umber, cobalt blue, purple, and ultramarine.

What kind of brushes do you use?

Escoda, and Roubloff.

What is more important for you the process or the result?

I get a real pleasure from the process, but also the result is important. I get real satisfaction from the work from the final positive result.

Do you have a goal in Art?

The purpose in art? Yes! Of course! To try to achieve a high degree of skill and my artistic expression.

in the distance a church is visible

О. ЛИТВИНЕНКО. Дом книги / О. LITVINENKO. Book House. 42×60 cm. 2013



IWS Hong Kong Journal

IWS Hong Kong Journal



How do you start to paint watercolor?

First of all I do preparatory etudes, fast sketches (in watercolor or a pencil) Such etudes I create from nature or memory or when the interesting idea appears. Sometimes I use photos. I look for the best composition and color scale. Such small etudes sometimes turn out better than a subsequent painting in a larger format. It occurs because during fast sketches almost you don’t think of the watercolor technique, and you try to represent the main mood. As a result of my lack of fear I sometimes get results which I also apply on a large format.


首先,我会先画作为预备的练习画,例如说很快的素描,水彩或 是铅笔也可。这些练习可以是写生、也可以是凭记忆,也可以是 记录一些忽发奇想的念头;有些时候,我也会选择临摹照片。我 会透过这些练习画,去寻找最佳的构图和色阶配搭。这些小小的 练习图随时会比放大了更好看,因为当你快速的画画的时候,你 会少了去注意该使用什么技巧,反而就能把最重要的气氛带出来 。所以往往,当我摆脱了对材料掌控的担忧,就更能发掘出一些 图画中有趣的地方,从而再应用到大画里面去。

Which subject do you like to paint most?

I like to drawing something that really interests me at a specific moment in time— a city landscape, a still life, a portrait.The word is so diverse, that I prefer not to limit myself to one subject matter.


我喜欢画一些最吸引我当下注意力的东西,可以是城市风光静 物,或者是人像。世界如此广阔,我不能把自己局限在任何东西 之中。

Is there any concept or message behind your piece? Where do you get the inspiration from?

I, of course, take material from everyday life as a basis. Everything that surrounds us can serve as inspiration for the artist. The real world passes through my imagination and then the creative process begins. Painting is a form of meditation. I do not need to copy exactly. The artist’s purpose is to create images. At first the picture is born in my head with all details. I see the colors to improve either composition or details. The artist gets the real inspiration only from the fact that it is honest and really interesting to him. Then pictures will be alive.

您的作品有什么讯息希望观者知道的吗?不知道您如何取得 画画的灵感的呢?

很自然而然的,我会以身边的、日常的事物作为一个起点: 所有围绕我们的事物,都可以成为激发画家灵感的来源。真 实世界与我的内心想象交接之时,便是创意创想开始之端, 过程就如冥想一般。艺术家的目标之一是要去创作自己的图 像,千万不要一成不变的去模仿自然。我的脑海之中会事先 有一个图像成形,逐渐取得更多细节,然后选择最f的颜色 去配合那个构图和那些细节。真正的感,来自于画家自身 真真切切的好奇和感受,.如此一来,画面才会变得有灵气。

What style will you describe as your watercolor painting?

I very much like improvisation in a watercolor. In most cases I don’t know where the process will take me or if it will be good or not. The process carries me away. As an artist with the academic education,

I can realistically draw everything, but the pure realism isn’t what interests me most. I enjoy a more free manner of painting with realistic elements.There is a passion which in combination with the unpredictability of watercolor, gives me sheer pleasure from the process.


我陶醉于水彩的即兴感,甚至往往我都不知道作画的结果会成功 与否、会变成什么样子。但是就是这个作画的过程,使我如痴如 醉。作为一个有学院训练背景的画家,我有相当的写实功夫去画 任何东西,但是我现在觉得单纯去写实已经不能满足我。我喜欢 透过自由的画法配合不同的技巧去画现实的物像;这种画法允许 我享受到水彩的不可预知性,让我享受到过程之中纯粹的快乐的 同时,另一方面又可以发现到新的技术上的启发-这种满足感让 我无止境的去探索更多我自己和属于我的画风。

What advice do you have to beginners of painting watercolor?

If you really love watercolor, then never stop. Try to draw every day and be patient. Begin with simple things. It is easy to see beauty around us, but it is necessary to be the artist to see space in simple things. Just watch and draw.

Many beginner aquarellistes also have a fear of the technique. You have to understand that your attitude is the most important thing, and the technique is secondary. The main thing is the idea and what do you want to tell. The artist has to have the unique vision of the world. He differs in it from many others. The watercolor technique too,of course, is important, and you will become better if you do it every day. The technique must obey your idea, your feelings. It is ok not to be perfect technically. Your imagination has to be first place. You will do it!

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Watercolor Vitebsk railway station
Railway station 42x60sm



















Cathedral in Venice
One day in Venice 56x38sm