Interview With Svetlana Orinko

When did you first start painting?

I was born and grew up in Ukraine and at the age of 7 I was placed in an institution for disabled children due to a misdiagnosis. To escape the harsh realities I found comfort in painting and drawing and after 5 years of living in an extremely sterile environment, one of the teachers noticed my abilities and encouraged my parents to enrol me in to Art School.

What drew your attention to paint watercolour?

Watercolour was a compulsory medium in Art School, College and University. Teachers were saying: “If you can learn to paint in watercolour then you could handle any other medium”.

What do you love about watercolour?

I love the fact that if you know how you can make it paint for you. It’s transparent, glowing and a very seductive medium.

What piece of advice would you give someone starting watercolours?

Do not believe that watercolour is very unforgiving. I have found quite the opposite, especially if using non-staining pigments. Do not be afraid to use bold colour almost straight from the tube. Make it stronger and brighter than you think you need to, it will dry lighter. Wet your paper or the area you’re going to paint first, then add colour. Water will distribute pigment beautifully for you!

What challenges do you think you face in wartercolour over medium?

The biggest frustration I get is that many people believe that watercolour is less permanent than oil. Also, I misbelieve that the artwork on paper is less valuable than on canvas. The only disadvantage for me personally is higher framing costs and the need to be viewed behind the glass.

I do believe that every medium is truly beautiful if you can really master it. It will take a long time to get to know it. For over 30 years I painted exclusively in watercolours but I have decided to explore other mediums in recent times.

What is your favourite brush and why?

It’s hard to choose a good brush over the internet, but I do have confidence when I am buying from Rosemary. The quality is superb and great customer service. They even made a special brush for me. It was a squirrel flat that is 2 inches wide, for big washes. I use this brush to wet my paper and it does not disturb the layers of paint under.

I have a few favourite brushes and would not be able to do a painting with only one. I start with a thirsty squirrel (series 41 size 1”). It holds a lot of water and less pigment which is perfect for under-painting and glazing at the end. Then I move to a Jean Haines Kolinsky Sable size 12. It holds less water and more pigment, has a superb point and is great for detail. I also take away colour as much as I put it on. Rosemary’s stubby flat series 502 size 4 is great for scrubbing colour out and softening the edges.

Images courtesy of Svetlana Orinko.
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