Archive for April, 2015

 

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Have you always painted ?

As long as I can remember I was always drawing as a child, and used to copy photos of my guitar hero’s when I was a teenager.

Have you had an art education ?

No I consider myself self taught, and find that being open to new ideas, materials and techniques is actually an advantage. I have never been a lover of rules, and my flexibility I think leads to avoiding being labelled a ‘one trick pony’ .

Do you have any online tutorials ?

Yes  in a couple of ways first there is my youtube channel, which is great fun and I love getting the feedback from around the World.

You can see my video’s here

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The second way is my recently launched skype lessons for individuals and groups. You can read all about them on another separate blog by clicking the link below the logo.

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http://wp.me/pQX5h-s5

How often do you paint ?

I like to paint every day, often starting before dawn (I am a night bird) and usually finishing at lunchtime drained and exhausted. Very happy when it’s gone well, and putting it down to experience when it hasn’t. When I have periods without painting, It makes me grumpy !

Do you paint in other mediums ?

Yes as well as my first love, watercolours, I also like pen and ink, mixed media (gouache) and chalk pastels. I have always been drawn to oils but hate the mess and the smell so have avoided it so far. Also I started relatively late in life (painting seriously that is) so feel I am against the clock, so would rather concentrate my efforts on fewer mediums, and do them really well.

Do you sell books ?

Copy of Final E-Book Cover Design

Yes, a few years ago I tried to remember everything I had ever learned (and read) about watercolours. I then produced my own e-book called ‘Watercolours for Beginners’ which is now available free to my Skype students.

It’s also for sale on Gumroad,  and as a special opening offer, the first 100 customers can download it for just $1 US, normal price is $15. Gumroad let’s you pay safely and securely online in your own currency.

https://gumroad.com/l/CSjh

You can also check it out first for free using this link, which gives you access to the contents page and a sample page on painting from photographs.

https://gumroad.com/l/vngo

How do you sell your paintings ?

Through Galleries in Bulgaria (currently in Bourgas and Sozopol) , in Greece and also in Asia. And of course directly from our Art and Yoga centre in Sozopol.

What about your Teaching ?

I have been teaching for years now and really enjoy the challenges and the experience, it certainly teaches you humility, and how to think on your feet. My workshops in Sozopol, Bulgaria are very popular during the Summer, and in recent years I  have spent time in Asia teaching. I am also into my third year teaching in Vassiliki, on beautiful Lefkada in Greece, where I run workshops and painting holidays. So my teaching schedule for this year looks like this :-

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Scan this to read all about my Greece Painting Holidays

MAY – VASILLIKI, LEFKADA GREECE

JUNE – VASILLIKI, LEFKADA GREECE

JULY – SOZOPOL, BULGARIA

AUGUST – SOZOPOL, BULGARIA

QR for BG Art Holiday on wordpress

And scan this one for my Bulgaria Workshops

SEPTEMBER –  MID OCTOBER VASSILIKI, GREECE

Do you do commissions?

Yes I do, but don’t do portraits or animals !

What paints do you use ?

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I use Tintoretto artist quality paints from Italy. I hate the restriction of pans and have always used tubes. My subjects and style involve access to lots of paint quickly, so I don’t use a traditional palette either I use white china bowls for mixing.

What brushes do you use ?

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Almost exclusively Kolinsky sable brushes that a friend brings me from Moscow and St.Petersburg. I also have two full sets of Ron Ranson hakes, and various japanese mop brushes bought on my travels in Asia. I also love to use those cheap household paint brushes bought from DIY stores.

How long does it take to do a watercolour painting ?

The most enjoyable ones are the the ones I do ‘alla prima’ (in one hit) but sometimes I get bogged down in detail and those paintings become less enjoyable and more of a labour of love. Wet  in wet paintings can be done as quickly as 20 minutes. Some take up to a full day, but I do like to start a new painting every day. Sometimes when I am on a roll I can paint 12 in a day !

The most enjoyable ones are on those rare occasions, when it seems that someone else is controlling the brush. They are rare moments of magic, but the resulting paintings are usually my best work.

I have never been precious about my paintings, as far as I am concerned, they will always just be a cheap piece of paper. Apart from the pleasure I get from painting, the person who adds the value to the paper is the one who will spend their hard earned money on buying it. Now that is an honour.

What paper do you use and do you stretch it ?

In the early days I did stretch paper, but now I don’t. There is so much choice of paper out there these days, but I am bit limited to what I can buy locally in Bulgaria. I have always had a preference for 140lb 300gsm Bockingford Rough Paper. I think getting to really know one paper is more important than the brand so just experiment. My advice would be to buy the thickest you can then it won’t buckle as much (and you don’t need to stretch it). I simply tape my paper to a board using masking tape. It also leaves a nice border around the finished painting. But don’t let your younger students remove it themselves, as they have a tendency to rip their masterpiece, usually followed by tears !

How do you decide what to paint ?

I like to paint anything that moves me, though do have a preference for buildings, seascapes, rust and peeling paint.

Do you prefer plein air painting or studio work ?

I love to paint outdoors, but living and working in Bulgaria, and working and teaching in other hot countries is very difficult as the paint can dry in seconds, so I usually limit plein air work to sketches, and line and wash. This was my tiny plein air kit I used in Asia, where I even painted on the beach in full sun !

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Do you paint from photographs ?

I try not to, but usually use a combination of a sketch and photos to record details. The mood of the paintings is something that I ‘feel’ from the experience of the scene.

What kind of camera do you use ?

I have recently bought a very small digital Sony WiFi camera, and take it everywhere with me. It has a fantastic zoom and you can download your images wirelessly, without cables or having to remove the memory card.

Do you exhibit ?

In the early days I did, but I find the experience very flattering but expensive, so are a little more synical these days about Exhibitions generally. It’s great for all those slaps on the back, and the kind words from friends. But in these tough days artists generally are finding it tough. And I would rather spend my time and money improving my work, and spending my money in art shops !

It’s also never been easier to have an online presence at a fraction of the cost. So I have concentrated my time there.

Do you have a website ?

Yes and No really. My website  was traditionally maintained by me, using a template, but it was never as I would have liked it to be. Partly due to the templates limitations, and partly due to my lack of technical knowledge. The upshot of that was that it was rarely up to date and relevant.

So recently I have migrated everything to wordpress, and find it much easier to update this regularly, sometimes even daily. Also I am very active on facebook, as it’s just so easy to get things ‘out there’ quickly.

Where else can I find you on the internet ?

Frankly everywhere, just search for Martin Stephenson or artstevo and see what comes up. I have been active for years online so the paper trail will be extensive….Just ignore the search results for the band Martin Stephenson and The Dainties ! That’s not me …..

You will find me on facebook, twitter, linkedin, , instagram, pinterest, wayn etc etc.

Click on the logo below to see my facebook page, where I always post my finished paintings first.

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https://www.facebook.com/artstevo?ref=tn_tnmn

What about the future ?

Hopefully I will have more time to paint and improve. I recently started painting mixed media on canvas, and hope to do lots more. In addition I hope to write another book on mixed media, and produce lots more youtube tutorials, where nearly 100,000 people have already viewed them. It’s very gratifying to read the comments, and see my likes and followers continue to grow.

Can I subscribe to keep up to date ?

Yes most of the platforms support that, just click on the Subscribe button.

ANSWER – TIMING !

image11521excerpt from my ‘Watercolours for Beginners’ e-book

Copy of Final E-Book Cover Design

‘THE GOLDEN TIME EXPLAINED’

Allow me to explain this absolutely crucial rule of watercolor painting, and one often ignored my both beginners and experienced painters too.

 WHEN YOU WET YOUR PAPER WITH YOUR PAINT YOU ONLY HAVE A LIMITED TIME TO WORK ON IT, THIS IS CALLED ‘THE GOLDEN TIME’ MAYBE IT SHOULD BE RE-NAMED ‘THE SHINING’ !

The reason for this is that once you apply the paint it immediately starts to evaporate. Several factors are worth considering here, such as the thickness of the paper and the air temperature and humidity where you are painting. The best way to check is to paint some clean water onto the paper before you start and time how long it takes to lose it’s ‘shine’. You will probably be shocked by how little time you have. In hot countries as little as 3 minutes….. Try the relaxing hobby of watercolour painting…. it’s a race against the clock and a high adrenalin rush. Ask my past student, an extreme rock climber who returned to cigarettes (being off them for years) after just one lesson with me in Thailand !

DURING THIS TIME (AND THIS TIME ONLY) IT’S POSSIBLE TO ADD OTHER COLOURS AND GENERALLY MANIPULATE THE WASH USING OTHER TECHNIQUES LIKE LIFTING OFF FOR EXAMPLE.

image973THAT’S THE BIG SECRET……. BUT

And I see this all the time when I am teaching

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”OK EVERYBODY THE SHINE IS NOW GOING OFF YOUR PAPER AND YOU NEED TO STOP PAINTING NOW”

THEN I LOOK UP TO FIND STUDENTS STILL FIDDLING ABOUT, ADJUSTING THIS AND THAT ‘I’M NOT QUITE HAPPY WITH THIS BIT”, ”I’LL JUST CHANGE THIS BIT”

I guess it’s human nature, or maybe our striving for perfection who knows. All I do know is that they are rewarded with a muddy mess, paper with dark scrubbing marks on it. Some students even think they can ‘rescue’ everything by adding more water, at this late stage oops !

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The thing is, that you can apply as many washes over other ones, as long as the previous wash is perfectly dry. I have a hair dryer to speed this up. Another clue is to see if the paper has dried flat to the board, if it’s still raised in a bump, leave it alone.

THE SECRET IS TO BE PATIENT

Another early morning blog from me , sun shining, birds singing, storks building their nests and the sound of the river in the distance. So done the coffee juice and ciggies, and it’s off down to the studio for me. All this talk of painting really gets me in the mood.

HAPPY PAINTING

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LIKE SUBSCRIBE OR COMMENT

MARTIN XXX

You can download my e-book here from as little as one dollar

Copy of Final E-Book Cover Design

THE STORY OF MY E-BOOK AND HOW IT CAN GET YOU PAINTING FAST

Following years of reading art books, and having a busy life, I knew exactly what used to make me glaze over, and what didn’t.

So when I decided to write my own book ‘Watercolours for Beginners’  I instinctively knew what information other people would need, and what they wouldn’t. And with my face to face teaching experiences  I knew what they would need to know, and what they didn’t.

MY OWN EXPERIENCE (AND YOU MAY RELATE TO SOME OR ALL OF THIS) IS DEMONSTRATED IN THIS SIMPLE

QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION ?

Q. THERE ARE LOTS OF RULES WITH WATERCOLOUR PAINTING AND IT SCARES ME…..YOU CAN’T USE WHITE PAINT, YOU CAN’T CORRECT ERRORS, YOU MUST STRETCH YOU PAPER ETC ETC.

A. This is covered at the very start of the book with sections on simple theory, golden rules, and busting all those rules and myths. Most people are shocked by these revelations, especially art officiando’s and art critics.

Q.I FIND MYSELF FIDDLING AND DON’T ENJOY PAINTING

A. Most people (me included) start that way as it seems more ‘in control’ but it is not enjoyable, and very time consuming, and my book is designed to make you a loose, confident artist, whilst also having fun. This example took me over 90 hours with very fine mapping pens.

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Q.ALL MY PAINTINGS SEEM DIRTY AND MUDDY

A. The single most common problem for beginners and one easily solved at the very start of my book. Gasps and comments from my students like ‘no one ever explained that before’ or ‘my paintings look so much fresher now’ are the results of just a simple explanation of ‘The Golden Time’ covered on one of the earliest pages. As you can see my work was muddy too in the early days. Lesson 11 ‘Avoiding Mud and Keeping it Clean’ tells you everything you need to know to achieve fresh luminescent paintings.

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Q.I AM TOO BUSY TO PAINT EVEN THOUGH I WOULD LOVE TO

A. For busy people, two features of my book are very simple text and clear graphics. One of which is a ‘lightbulb’ and it’s possible to simply skim read the book, using these lightbulbs, ensuring you don’t miss those really important bits.

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Q.I JUST GLAZE OVER WHEN IT COMES TO COLOUR WHEELS, EYE LEVELS AND PERSPECTIVE

A. Put quite simply you don’t need to understand any of it, you simply have to have the ability to copy what’s in front of you. Chapter 1 has this covered, as does Lesson 3 ‘Really looking and painting what you see’.

image975Color itself can be quite scary to a beginner, so Lesson 2 ensures that you are happy with painting tonally before moving onto colour mixing, which is featured in Lesson 7

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Q.I CAN’T DRAW VERY WELL !

A. One of the nicest (and most commercial) techniques you will learn is ‘wet in wet’ technique, which involves absolutely no drawing skills. My book shows you how you can produce beautiful paintings without any drawing skills whatsoever. Lesson 9 ‘The three main techniques’ covers all those techniques.

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Q. WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE SPECIAL TIPS AND TRICKS ?

A. I have that covered too in Lesson 10 ‘Other techniques and neat tricks’ shows you how to use masking fluid, salt and other household items to enhance your paintings.

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My contents page shows you the rich content and the ‘step by step’ layout of the book. You can download a couple of pages FREE by clicking on the link here….

E-Book Sample Page

IN SHORT IF YOU WANT TO ENJOY THIS MOST BEAUTIFUL OF MEDIUMS

WATERCOLOURS FOR BEGINNERS IS THE ONLY BOOK YOU NEED

AND THE FIRST 100 DOWNLOADS CAN PAY AS LITTLE AS 1 US $


DOWNLOAD IT NOW AND LET YOUR PERSONAL ART JOURNEY REALLY BEGIN

Happy Painting !

Testimonials for Martin Stephenson and his e-book ‘Watercolours for Beginners’

Penny from England said

Comment

I just wanted to share with you that I have had the best ever 4 day Easter break as I painted every day!!

Over the last few weeks I have read your e-book cover to cover twice(!) and it has inspired me, taught me and given me confidence to pick up the brushes and start painting again! I have been trying to do some painting every week (I can’t manage a daily painting but I am trying to sketch every day!) and I have promised myself that I am going to put some time aside every weekend to paint – it is feeling good!
So, I just wanted to say a big thank you because, with the lessons in Pangkor Laut and your e-book you have rekindled a flame; before Pangkor I hadn’t picked up a brush in at least 30 years and now that I have I am so enjoying it! I do hope that we can get booked for a trip in September as I know I would benefit so much from some further lessons and I would love it!

Sue from Norfolk, England said

Comment: I had hit a big freeze with my watercolour painting, ie I began to freeze whenever I even imagined that empty white paper! Now I have read through your e-book, have tried some skies, even stormy ones, and my confidence is returning….so a big THANK YOU, Martin 🙂

Maja from Croatia said                                                                                                                                                                               Comment: Dear Martin…your e-book is amazing good, very helpfull and I’ll be injoy in my further watercolour paintings….be succssesfull and give us some more e-books like this one…regard from Pula

Barbara Strong from USA said                                                                                                                                                                Comment: I have just read and scanned some of the pages of this e-book and am so excited to try watercolor painting the tips are so very well explained it really makes me think i can do it so i can’t wait to get started Thank you so much for sharing your enormous talents and i feel like for the past hour i have been living inside your head and it is awesome Thank you again

Karen from Bulgaria said                                                                                                                                                                Comment Martin is a very patient teacher who is willing to spend as long as it takes to improve your understanding of all the techniques of watercolour painting. He also somehow manages to make sure that you always go home with a painting you can be proud of even, if like me, you didn’t know one end of a paintbrush from the other before you started

Katerina from Slovakia said

Comment: Martin, thank you so much for your great tutorials on youtube. They were very helpful and guided me through my first steps into art of watercolour. And your ebook is absolutely FABULOUS!!! thank you for being my inspiration. Wishing you lots of happy students and satisfied customers.

Lily Dodds from Bulgaria said

Comment: Martin has in five short days turned me from a nervous, tentative paint dabber into a free, confident artist! A miracle! He is a great teacher. LILY DODDS

Cath from England said

Comment: Martin has the patience of Job especially when teaching me as i tend to want to paint everything quickly.The lessons are very enjoyable and cant wait for them to begin again.

Lorin Jones from USA said                                                                                                                                                                      Comment: I was watching you tube this evening, and found a three video series where Martin was demonstrating the painting of a snow scene with rocks and fir trees. It was very informative, and far more detailed than most of the other videos on you tube for art instruction. I have always been fairly capable at drawing, but am now finding just how hard it is to turn a decent drawing into a decent painting as I finally begin to learn the craft of being an artist. It’s so hard to get the colors right and the shadows properly done. I think the videos by Martin are some of the best I have seen, and they are very helpful and informative. I think anyone choosing to avail themselves of his talent will learn a great deal.

Michael from South Africa said                                                                                                                                                              Comment: Thank you for taking the time to pass on years of experience.

If you would like to share the experience of my readers and past students you can buy my book here

Happy Painting

Martin