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Capturing urban beauty through expressive watercolor
Hello dear readers! I am delighted to welcome Hong Kong-based artist RAINB.W for our new edition of the Arterald newsletter. Known for her striking watercolor nightscapes and cityscapes, she shares her thoughts on the inspiration behind her unique style, the interplay between technical skills and intuition in her art, and more.
Your work often features cityscapes and nightscapes - what do these environments represent to you, and how do you capture their essence in your art?
I grew up in the city - the skyscrapers, the urban city life; all the street lights were 'home' to me. And so naturally, it became the subject I gravitated towards painting. But more than that, I sometimes see cityscapes as a medium or tool in itself, through which I can capture and reveal the underlying beauty, and sense of wonder embedded in the colors, geometry, brushstrokes, and life of a street scene. It’s quite a natural process I think. Rather than approaching it intentionally this is what I want to show in the painting, I think I notice it in retrospect. Like oh, that’s how I saw it, after I finish the painting.
What initially drew you to watercolor as a medium, and how do you work with its unique properties?
I first picked up watercolor because I wanted to do plein air and it was the easiest to travel with. But watercolor became so much more to me along the way. I love the way water moves; it is one of the more dynamic types of mediums. Painting is a bit like a dance with water, a question and answer, a conversation. You learn to observe, to wait and see where the colors end up in each layer before responding with a new layer of paint. I like that watercolor is a medium you can never fully control, yet that is precisely what makes it so beautiful.
How do you balance the technical aspects of painting with the more intuitive, expressive elements of creating art?
At some point, the technical and intuitive become one; you no longer have to actively distinguish them. I see skills and techniques as tools—you work to understand them, master them, so that they can be at your disposal when creating. It's about getting to know the medium you are using so that it becomes second nature. You recognize the dampness of the paper and what that will do. You know the water-to-paint ratio in your colors by feel and how to adjust that. With that, you have more space to simply create, experiment, and express.
You enjoy sharing your process online and teaching in workshops. What do you hope students take away from your teaching?
I think watercolor paintings are commonly quite soft and light in color. With my own journey in painting night cityscapes— usually using high contrast to create a “glowing” effect—I wanted to share with others what that process is like, to show the versatility of this medium and that yes, this is also possible with watercolor.
How do you envision your artistic practice evolving in the future, and what new challenges or ideas are you excited to explore?
For one, I'm always trying to push the boundaries of color. That is very enjoyable for me when I get to experiment with color. But overall, I think I'll just let it take me where it takes me. Beyond watercolor painting, I also do quite a bit of digital painting for fun. It feels like a different set of rules, limitations, or lack thereof. I am interested to see how I might interweave the two. But I guess I'll have to wait and see how my own art practice continues to unfold.
I want to send a heartfelt thank you to our amazing readers for your support and engagement on the launch of this project. A special thanks to RAINB.W for sharing her inspiring thoughts and artistic journey with us! You can follow her work at the following :
You can buy original artwork directly on RAINB.W’s website.
Thanks for tuning in for this edition of Arterald!
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— Adrien @adriengonin
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