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Water colour in contemporary art


An often overlooked art form, watercolour is having a renaissance.
Watercolour is one of the most demanding art forms, as water has a dynamic nature. Unlike oil or acrylic painting, the watercolour will move. Artists must understand and leverage with these movements and react accordingly—like dancing with a partner. Different styles of brushes as well as watercolour pencils are used by artists to create different lines and effects, from washes to precise lines.

It is not a forgiving art form either. Mistakes may also not be easily hidden, and must be removed by carefully rewetting and blotting the paper—so as to dilute the pigment as much as possible. Precision is absolutely necessary in any art form, from (especially) watercolour, to even silver smithing and architecture work done here at Ivar.

Above is Zeynep Oba’s reimagining Ivar, featuring our Half Moon Street project.
Other art forms may be consistently corrected and modified—and thus somewhat artificial—meanwhile watercolour is much more natural and creative. It is true to life as the creations come directly from the artist and do not have the possibility of being largely modified. The artist must bravely work to tame the dynamic nature of water, and it does take an experienced individual to do so.
Some popular contemporary British watercolour who brave this challenge are the vibrant Alf Löhr and Barbara Nicholls. A couple other contemporary watercolour artists of non-British background are the ever ornate Ben Blatt) and the exceptionally talented Zeynep Oba.
In celebrating this medium, the Royal Watercolour Society frequently holds various galleries, exhibits, and competitions to showcase and celebrate the medium in its contemporary context. Some current and forthcoming events include:

  • Gallery: “London – A Sense of Place” 7 October 2016 to 5 November 2016

  • Exhibition: “The Mini Picture Show” 9 December 2016 to 22 January 2017

  • Competition: “Contemporary Watercolour Competition” 3-15 March 2017

Image by NordWood Themes

This medium which has truly stood the test of time, really
Watercolour is an incredibly skilled art form that has stood the test of time, and did so by evolving and growing in complexity. Originally just a basis for quick sketches or landscapes, it now is used to express so much more. In combination with other mediums, such as ink or digital tools, it adds unique depth and dimension. This unique ability is what keeps this classic medium relevant today in a post-photography society.
It has more contemporary uses such as in commercial artwork—and we at Ivar are so fortunate to have been able to collaborate with the ingenious Zeynep Oba, a truly cutting edge contemporary watercolour artist. For an exclusive interview with Zeynep Oba, continue reading below.

Zeynep Oba is an experienced artist based in Berlin and Instanbul, who worked with watercolour and digital collage to create beautiful pieces that reimagine Ivar’s products. She is a leader in contemporary art and watercolour, with a very distinct style and modern flair. Above is Zeynep’s piece featuring the Apple Silver Soap Dispenser, from the Ivar Silver Bathroom Accessories Collection. Zeynep has been so kind as to agree to a brief interview in regards to her art and relationship with Ivar, exclusively for this article, which can be read below.

What (or who) first got you interested in art?
“For me art is a way to express feelings. I like to tell stories and feelings with drawings since I was a child.”

What (or who) inspires your artworks?
“Egon Schiele’s artworks always inspire me. Also everything that I see in my daily life inspires my artworks. Sometimes it is an artwork in an exhibition and sometimes it’s a special view from a ferry window on the Bosphorus.”

How do you define your style?
“Finding a story is the most important step before composing my illustrations. So each new artwork has its own story and sometimes it brings its own spirit. I draw with different tools until finding the right techniques for my artwork. Sometimes it is an analog collage, sometimes a watercolour drawing. It is not so easy to define my style. But I am always happy when people look at my artwork and say this is Zeynep’s drawing style.”

Why did you choose to collaborate with the lifestyle brand Ivar?
“I graduated from the architecture faculty at the University of the Arts in Berlin, studied also graphic design and fashion design at the same university. So I think I have a flair for high quality design and high standard craftsmanship.”

What inspired you for this collaboration?
“Ivar has a clear spirit that I can see in the interior design projects and also in the object collection. I like the young British elegance style, which inspires me by my artworks.”

What does contemporary watercolour mean to you and how do you view it?
“Contemporary watercolour means for me the possibility of mixing variety of techniques. For instance, ink, calligraphy, gouache and acrylic can be combined with watercolour. I often use ink and watercolour together. In recent years, digital tools create a new dimension for artworks, so making collages with photography and watercolour illustration is now possible.”

How do you think this compares to watercolour historically?
“Historically watercolour was used for the first and quick sketches, or it was the basis for an oil painting artwork. I think now watercolour has its own place in the history of art.”

What are the trends in contemporary watercolour that you most enjoy?
“I love minimalist watercolour artworks. Especially I like the watercolour artworks of Tina Berning, because of her inspirational kind of detailed patterns in her drawings.”

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