Sophie Rodionov recently won our ‘Summer Seascapes and Landscapes’ watercolour competition. Her winning work, ‘Hidden Path’ depicted a wooden walkway in a lush forest. The work demonstrated the artist’s skill of describing dramatic light effects as the sun danced around the dense foliage. Rodionov combines expressive wet on wet techniques with the lightest of washes and saturated splashes of deep greens and umbers to create this succulent and fresh looking painting. Here below is an interview we conducted with Sophie after she received news of her competition victory.
Lisa: Can you tell us what inspired you in particular about the subject matter of your prize winning painting ‘Hidden Path’?
Sophia: It was a moment from a walk in a small park near the house of my parents in the US. Actually it is hard to say a “park”, just a small lake and trees around. The atmosphere of this place was so totally different – just a couple of steps and you are surrounded by the mystery of nature. I’m always inspired by nature and trees especially, so it was no surprise for me that I wanted to paint this moment immediately. I made a tonal sketch to capture the light and took a photo in order to be able to continue the work in my studio. Generally, I use paint to capture “moments” in my art, by this I mean “moments” which pass away in seconds, but remain in our souls. The “Hidden Path” was one of these moments and I’m happy that this moment has already been loved by so many people.
Lisa: What is your artistic background?
Sophia: I’m professional artist. I have B.F.A. from Haifa University (Israel) and always worked in an art field of interior design – glass art such as a stained glass and fused glass, and design of play rooms in hotels for children. Four years ago I quit my daily work and switched to be a freelance artist. Then watercolour got into my life and since then I’ve been painting mostly with watercolour, sometimes with soft pastels too.
Lisa: I’ve noticed that you have posted some painting demonstrations on to YouTube… do you think sharing how you paint with the internet helps to develop how you work? Can it be a useful feedback tool?
Sophia: About video demonstrations… to tell the truth, it is the hardest part of the work for me. I do it just because my Instagram followers were waiting for me to do them. Most of my demos on YouTube are taken from the demos I make for Live Stream Videos on Instagram, or are made to show tips or answer questions. I see a lot of interest from my followers for this kind of activity and so I try to share my way of thinking in art and art techniques. And that is the most important word: to share. I feel that by sharing I get so much back for myself…. So, if I’m going back to the question: I think that to see how an artist is working, even if it’s just online, is really helpful for those who want to paint, but it’s not a useful feedback tool. From my side I feel I have to share, and online is the best way to reach my audience.
Lisa: How often do you paint and can you describe your favourite place to work?
Sophia: I paint daily. I feel bad if I miss just one day. I get nervous and feel that I’ve missed something really meaningful. My favourite place to work is my home studio where I can paint in silence with no one around. But I also walk a lot and make sketches on location. This is another side of my art work. If I could travel more maybe I would find myself painting ‘en plein air’ more too but since I’m a mother to my little daughter it is impossible right now.
Lisa: Are you loyal to a particular brand of paints or paper?
Sophia: No. I love to use new art materials, so I test all the kinds of paints and papers I can find. All the professional paints available today are so good, and I paint with all kinds of brands. As for the paper: now I use Saunders Waterford rough or cold press 300 gsm mostly. I use other papers as well, but it depends on what final result I’m striving for. Sometimes subjects and techniques require other kinds of papers.
Lisa: What is your favourite subject to paint?
Sophia: I really love to paint nature. But since I don’t paint ‘the Subject’ but rather I paint the ‘Space’ defined by this subject, it doesn’t really matter to me “what” I paint. As a result the subjects I paint are so eclectic.
Lisa: How important is preparatory sketching to you? Do you spend time drawing to plan your composition before you get your paints out or do you dive straight in to the painting process?
Sophia: Depends. I’m a huge fun of expressive and flowing painting where planning could ruin the work. However sometimes I do make tonal sketches before starting the work on a final painting.
Lisa: Do you have any favourite special techniques/hints and tips that you’d like to share with your watercolour painting readers?
Sophia: I don’t think that I know something about technique that is unknown by others. We all know the same, but at the same time we all different. Personally for me watercolour painting is full of freedom and unexpected points. Therefore I so much love to mix one colour into another on paper and not on a palette, for example. If you choose to paint watercolour – give the chance for the water to make its work and don’t use it in the same way as you would use oils or acrylics. Your personal hand and mind plus water will create work that will never resemble any other artist. Be yourself.
Lisa: What are you working on at the moment?
Sophia: I was on vacation in the US all summer. I painted a lot but mostly quick sketches and ideas which I had no time to try and develop into finished works. I’ve collected a lot of “moments” to paint during this period and now I’m going back to my home studio to start work on these “moments”. They are mostly ‘light in nature’ type subjects, but I’ve started to work on some city scenes with figures and stories around these figures as well.
Lisa: Where online or in the flesh can we view more of your work?
Sophia: The most updated channel is Instagram @canotstoppainting. I’m updating this kind of art diary daily. All art originals and art prints for sale available on Etsy: canotstop.etsy.com and canotstopprints.etsy.com. My YouTube channel is Sophie Rodionov. My website is at canotstop.com.
Header Image: ‘Cyclamens’ by Sophie Rodionov, Watercolour on Saunders Waterford Rough Paper 140lb, 12 x 12″