7 Tips From Master Joseph Zbukvic

Attendees at last week’s Plein Air Convention & Expo were treated to a mesmerizing demo by watercolor master Joseph Zbukvic. I grabbed a few of his best tips and quips for you.

Joseph Zbukvic

Watercolor Painting Wisdom

“Water is the kiss of life in watercolor,” says Zbukvic. “It’s the oxygen.” [When he needs to reactivate a section of the painted surface, he hits the area with a spritz of water.]

“Never paint the object. Don’t paint the apple. Don’t paint the cow. Paint shapes that look like an apple or a cow.”

“My friend once said that painting is a 25 year long apprenticeship. He was wrong; it’s closer to 50.”

Watercolor Demo in Progress

“Your brush should move like an orchestral baton. A brushstroke is part of a full movement, like a ballet or fencing move.” [He wants to banish small, tentative brushstrokes.]

“When I first started out, I painted from photos like everyone else, but when I discovered plein air, my career took off. More important, my painting improved 1,000 percent.”

“You must believe in yourself, and you must believe in watercolor. It’s the boss. It’s telling me what’s necessary.”

Finished Demo Painting

[Of this demo piece] “They’re not lamp posts; they’re vertical, harsh marks against softness that create contrast — a little staccato, a few notes of the flute.”

Demo Detail

Joseph Zbukvic received a lifetime achievement award at the 8th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo in San Francisco. Join us next May in Colorado for more great watercolor workshops and demos by Thomas Schaller and Iain Stewart, among many others! 

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Kelly Kane
PleinAir Magazine and American Watercolor Weekly Editor-in-Chief With more than 20 years experience in art publishing, Kelly Kane has served previously as Editor-in-Chief of Watercolor Artist magazine and Content Director for The Artist’s Magazine, Drawing, Acrylic Artist, and Pastel Journal. She has interviewed many of the preeminent artists of our time and written numerous articles about painting, drawing, art education and art history. She is now the Editor-in-Chief of PleinAir Magazine and the American Watercolor Weekly newsletter. Click here to send her an email.



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