Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Penchant for Plein Air | Mike Kowalski Watercolor Paintings

Mike Kowalski enjoys the myriad challenges—and the resultant rewards—of painting outdoors to capture light and space in his watercolor paintings. Underpinned by sure draftsmanship, a firm grip on perspective and a fine eye for color value, Kowalski’s brushwork is fast, animated and direct. Working within the natural constraints of plein air painting—with its shortage of time, shifting light and unpredictable conditions—the artist still manages to find intriguing compositions in which he structures space and light to achieve satisfying and engaging scenes.

“I’m happiest outside and would much rather be there than in the studio,” says Kowalski, who divides his time between Seattle and Melbourne, Australia. “As an artist, you’re accumulating skills all of your life,” he explains. “With watercolor, for example, it’s learning which colors to mix and how to mix them, using your brush effectively, understanding your surface, and knowing ‘when to strike’ and put on the next stroke. Watercolor requires that you be in the moment as you weigh the pigment load for each wash, evaluate paper dampness and consider other factors.”

For more about Kowalski, see the December 2015 issue of Watercolor Artist, available in print or as a download, at, and on newsstands October 20.

Don’t miss Watercolor Artist! Get your cost-saving subscription—and a FREE gift!—here.

Old Mosier Bank by Mike Kowalski |

Old Mosier Bank (watercolor on paper) by Mike Kowalski

Case Patent Method by Mike Kowalski |

Case Patent Method (watercolor on paper) by Mike Kowalski

Downtime by Mike Kowalski |

Downtime (watercolor on paper) by Mike Kowalski

Blacksmith's Rest by Mike Kowalski |

Blacksmith’s Rest (watercolor on paper) by Mike Kowalski


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