A watercolor artist of renown
The Wise Owl talks to Michael Solovyev, a watercolor artist of great renown, with exhibitions and workshops all over the world, from Bolivia to France to Australia. Michael’s prolific watercolor artistry translates into 16 personal and over 70 group exhibitions around the world, where he won multiple awards and recognitions. In recent years, he represented Canada at many renowned watercolor festivals all over the world. He is also the Brand Ambassador of Daniel Smith and Escoda International, two of the world’s leading manufacturers of art and watercolor materials.
The Interview : Michael Solovyev
(Rachna Singh, Editor, The Wise Owl talks to Michael Solovyev)
The Wise Owl talks to Michael Solovyev, a watercolor artist of great renown, with exhibitions and workshops all over the world, from Bolivia to France to Australia. He is often called a ‘sunny watercolorist’ on account of the fact that his artwoks look as though they emit sunlight. His traditional academic art education, extensive experience as a head theatre stage designer, and oil painter career now inform his priority as a watercolor artist – light. Michael considers novelty, and experimentation the necessities of the creative process. He is always challenging himself with new techniques & ideas.
Michael’s prolific watercolor artistry translates into 16 personal and over 70 group exhibitions around the world, where he won multiple awards and recognitions. In recent years, he represented Canada at many renowned watercolor festivals in Hong Kong, Slovenia, India, Italy, France, Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico, Bolivia, Hungary, and Portugal among other countries. He is a signature member of four prestigious art societies – Canadian Society Of Painters In Water Colour, Canada (CSPWC), National Watercolor Society, USA (NWS), Society of Canadian Artists, Canada (SCA), North East Watercolor Society, USA (NEWS), and International Watercolor Society (IWS). He is also the Brand Ambassador of Daniel Smith and Escoda International, two of the world’s leading manufacturers of art and watercolor materials.
Hi Michael. Thanks for taking time out to speak to us. We are delighted.
MS: It is a great pleasure, thank you very much Rachna!
RS: For the benefit of our readers please tell us a little about your journey as an artist- what attracted you to art, what were the major creative influences in your life et al.
MS: As all of us do, I first started at the age of 4. However, usually, after this period has passed, people start thinking about their future careers. My thinking, on the other hand, was that it is such a great job that there is nothing else I would rather do. So, I started at 4 and stayed in this profession for my entire life.
RS: You are a watercolor artist with some fabulous works brightening up your portfolio. What attracted you to this medium? What are the challenges (if any) that you face as a watercolor artist?
MS: Watercolor is a very unique and specific medium. The fact is, when you work with oil, acrylic, pastel, or anything else, you are the sole person responsible for what is happening or your paper or canvas. When you work with watercolor, you have a partner – water. It makes the whole process perfectly unpredictable. I love this collaboration with water very much as it brings many surprises into my working process. This makes the watercolor lively and impossible to copy. You can easily copy an oil painting, but copying a watercolor is much much more difficult.
RS: While looking at some of your artworks, I noticed that your works look bright, almost as though they are emanating a light of their own. Our readers & viewers would be eager to know what technique you use to create this all-enveloping light in your work.
MS: Thank you for this wonderful question and your kind words. As a matter of fact, light is my main subject. That is why it really is not that important to me what to paint – a seascape, a city street, a portrait, or a ballerina. I try to catch this very light that helps us see anything in the first place. There are many technical methods for it. One of them I like to use a lot is called washout – for it, I use my SOLO Flat brush of my own design. I like the light very much, and it stays as a main subject in all my paintings.
RS: Your art portfolio has urban scenes as well as portraits in equal measure. What impressed me about your portraits is that the faces you paint are alive with emotion & sentiment (A Plate of porridge, Game of thrones etc.), which I feel is very difficult to achieve with watercolors. Please throw light on how you achieve this.
MS: There is no doubt – humans are the most interesting subjects on our planet. Humans are interesting because of their diversity – we are all unique, and their emotions. The same person in a different mood can be extremely different. I noticed that when we bump into an interesting character and want to paint them, the desire to transfer them into a sheet paper is always dictated by the emotional spirit of you character – they can be grim or happy, but that’s what makes a human alive and interesting.
RS: If I were to ask you to describe yourself as an artist in three adjectives, what would they be and why?
MS: Seeking – I still do not stop, learning new tricks, finding new materials, trying new things, that is why my artworks still differ from year to year – what I painted 4 years ago is very different from what I do now, and this process keeps on going. Sunny, as the sunlight is my main tool and something that really inspires me. Workaholic – I work a lot. For example, this year I will conduct 29 workshops in 17 countries all over the world. In parallel with it, I regularly release new video courses, new free videos on YouTube every Monday. I don’t think any other artist works on a similarly busy schedule. And I like it a lot!
RS: Are there any artists (traditional masters or contemporary artists) who influence or inspire your work. Do tell us how and why.
MS: You know, it will take me a very long time to name my contemporaries, because they are my friends and I often meet them on festivals. They are also constantly seeking new things, so we of course influence each other a great deal. Even a conversation with an interesting person is of great value. If we turn to historical figures, then Andrew Wyeth is the main influence. In my opinion, he is still the undisputed King of Composition, who always found something lively, unexpected, and truly wonderful in the subjects he depicted, whether he worked in tempera or watercolor.
RS: Among our readers and viewers we have a lot of lovers of art as well as upcoming artists. You are not only an acclaimed artist but also a teacher who has conducted workshops across the world and offer art courses. What advice would you give upcoming artists?
MS: The main advice I can give is to never be afraid of anything when you are creating. There is a famous phrase that reads: He that feareth is not made perfect in love. You can’t get anywhere in art or in your work if you are simply afraid. When you are making art, you must dive into it headfirst. However, it has nothing to do with the absence of anxiety. You must be anxious. You must be shaking every time you start painting, as before the first kiss. But it has nothing in common with fear. When you are afraid to touch your paper, and not just anxious, you will never get an opportunity to create something worthwhile.
RS: What for you is the essence of creativity?
MS: For me, the essence of creativity is to always marvel at the world, discover in it something new, unusual, and interesting for me, and have a huge and powerful desire to share what I have seen with others. For me, this is what creativity is.
Thank you so much, Michael, for taking time out to talk to The Wise Owl. We are delighted and honored and wish you the best in all your creative endeavors. Here is hoping that you keep brightening up the world with your light-emanating artworks.
MS: Thank you very much for your invitation. I read The Wise Owl interviews with great pleasure. I really like the people you select for your interviews. It is always tremendously interesting!