Watercolour artist, Elina V.G., creates realistic paintings to capture, document and preserve memories and places she has visited. From ugly abandoned buildings, graffiti-covered walls to old childhood buildings, she paints these buildings to help document that time, when the building was once cared for and looked after, now full of history, but also to create a little database through her eyes of the places she’s been and gone. Here Elina shares her story..
Can you tell us your backstory? How did you get to where you are now?
I’m a watercolour artist, based in Denmark (originally from Bulgaria). I create realistic paintings to capture, document and preserve memories and places.
I’ve always been in the creative field, working as a digital/visual designer for many years, but some years ago I found a set of old watercolours and decided to see what I can do with them. I didn’t expect it to become my thing at all. I had never painted before but I enjoyed it so much and I just got addicted to it in a way.
I had a lot to learn from scratch, but since then it has felt natural to express myself via this medium and I get restless if I haven’t painted for more than a week or so. A couple of years ago I really felt the urge to take a break from the digital design world and to dedicate all my time to painting.
It hasn’t been the easiest decision, but it gives me 100 % satisfaction to do what I do now.
Why did you use watercolour as your main medium?
I studied art history and graphics at high school, where one had to choose between sculpture, painting or graphics after the first year of school. One thing was sure, I’d never choose painting, as I just didn’t get what was so great about it. I’ve always enjoyed sculpture and tried to sneak myself into those classes instead of having to paint. My teachers however were convinced that my medium was graphics, so it kind of wasn’t a question I had to deal with.
When I did try watercolours, I was truly surprised to find out how enjoyable painting actually can be and how much it gives me. Watercolours are special as they have this transparency in them. You have to have a plan for what and how to paint, in order to accomplish the visual effect you look for.
I work in layers so I really have to think when I start adding colours, always from lighter to darker. I never use white in my work so it’s important to keep the light in it, as I can’t really go back and put more light into it. This makes it more challenging, but also much more interesting for me to paint. It also demands a certain amount of patience which is not always present within me, but it’s good to practice it.
Why architecture and buildings? What is drawing you towards painting such complex structures?
I’m a very visual person and always find something to reflect on in our everyday life surroundings. My attention can easily be caught by an ugly building, abandoned place or anything else that in many others’ eyes wouldn’t bring any thoughts. However, for me these are full of stories and beauty worth noticing.
I don’t mind if a building is old, covered by graffiti tags or half ruined. I don’t mind showing the scratches and marks on the facade and would rather make them as realistic as possible instead of hiding or totally removing them from the motif. I think about the story behind the places I visit, I try to understand what made people go there, what made them stay there or why they left. But it’s somehow more related to the surroundings than the people themselves. I often paint buildings from my childhood. It’s become like an obsession to me.
I grew up among huge chunks of socialist concrete panel blocks. And ever since I moved to Denmark I started noticing the buildings that used to surround me in a completely new way.
The buildings built there before the 1990’s are usually looked at with lots of prejudice. People forget the stories behind them, it has become okay to ignore the fact that they’ve been a huge part of our culture and history. Those buildings are full of history, whether we like it or not. And it looks like they are about to irreversibly disappear from our lives. Either because they are not being cared for properly or because they lose their soul in the renovation process.
At some point I realised they create a special environment different from the newly established buildings and neighbourhoods. And I really like to help document that time which is slowly fading away. It’s like creating my own little database with reality seen through my eyes. I know everyone will see it differently but that’s the beauty of it and it’s totally fine by me.
I try to give my paintings a very realistic feel. I don’t think about painting a complex building structure, but a moment in a nutshell. For that, colours are an essential aspect while in the process of creating, but I never aim to match the true colours of the buildings in my paintings. I’d rather change the colours completely and instead capture the atmosphere.
Where do you find inspiration?
I’m one of those people who notice the strangest things at the most unexpected places. I always have my phone with me to take pictures, as I paint from photos. Most of the time I know how I’ll crop the motif on the paper before I’ve even taken the photo. It takes just a few seconds to figure out if it’s something I’d like to explore further or not.
The best place for me to find inspiration is when I visit my home country. As much as I look forward to seeing friends and family, I can’t wait to walk the streets of the cities. It’s like visiting a beautiful museum. I like to think of Bulgaria as one big outdoor museum. I just have to open my eyes and I will immediately find something interesting for me to paint.
How can people buy your art?
For anyone interested in learning more about me, seeing behind the scenes photos or reading the stories behind the paintings, you can find out more on my Instagram account: @elinavg as well as on my website. I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have regarding my artworks.
READ MORE ARTIST STORIES HERE.
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