I featured an interview with Zosienka, a friend and exceptional illustrator who lives and works in London, back in 2010. So I thought it was high time to find out what she up to as part of my talented friends series.nAt the moment she is dabbling in watercolours, which is a medium that suits her delicate and beautiful work.
Why did you start a watercolour sketchbook?
There were a few reasons for starting the watercolour book. I was trying to overcome a fear of filling the page. I hear it’s a common phobia, the blank page. I have many pristine sketchbooks gathering and yet most of my finished work ends up on the back of receipts and other scraps because I’m afraid to tarnish the official medium. The watercolour book was a challenge, but I started with a pretty terrible painting, and after that it got easier. The possibility of turning the page on a bad painting and having a fresh start helps. While keeping a diary of the progress, bound together and inseparable, allows a certain sense of achievement. I also felt colour was lacking from my portfolio and it seemed the right time to explore.
What attracts you to the medium of watercolour?
Watercolour shares the best qualities of oil and acrylic paint, while being compact and portable. It’s a convenient medium, but until you get to know it, it can be pretty hateful. I detested watercolours for years because I couldn’t understand them, but I was seeing beautiful and fluent work by illustrators such as Carson Ellis, Yelena Bryksenkova, Christine Pym and Violeta Lopiz, so I knew they had the potential to enhance my drawings. I’m very found of oil painting, but it’s a slow process, so I decided watercolours would make a good compromise for projects with tight deadlines.
What was the inspiration behind the images you selected for the book?
Because the book is an exercise book, I’ve become a borrower. I have a little folder of Pinterest images to paint, and my inspiration comes from great photographs on Instagram too. And with a brazen new attitude, if I see an idea for a composition that looks fun to do, I’m trying it out. Until recently, that was something I’d frown upon, but now I think it restricts the learning and I’d like to remove any such boundaries.
Describe your creative process.
On a double page spread, the first page will usually influence the second. The first image may be detailed and precise; the second will be looser and composed of the left over colour palette. I’m using tiny brushes because these paintings are all very small. I have a rough pencil sketch in another book to work from. I lightly replicate this on to the page of the watercolour book, cover it with a faint wash of warm grey and then gradually layer up the colours. The dark colours need at least three layers before I feel they’re deep enough.
You recently exhibited your work at the Gallery Du Monde in London, can you tell us a little about it?
The Gallery Du Monde exhibition was an opportunity for me to display an ongoing project. A few years ago, I began work on portraits of characters from the Bulgakov novel ‘The Master & Margarita’. There are dozens of disconcerted Moscow civillians in this story, irresistibly described by the author. I’ve selected some of the protagonists and lesser players to begin with and hope to gradually work my way through the entire cast. The newest pieces have been painted in watercolours too.
Any exciting projects in the works?
I’ll be introducing a new collection of illustrated pendants in my shop very soon.