Twistly, Oril Angril Jordà, 2012, 20" x 20", Watercolor and Graphite; Bear, Ola Liola, 2011, Watercolor; Relinquish, Kelly McKernan, 2011, 22 " x 22", Watercolor

Twistly, Oril Angril Jordà, 2012, 20" x 20", Watercolor and Graphite; Bear, Ola Liola, 2011, Watercolor; Relinquish, Kelly McKernan, 2011, 22 " x 22", Watercolor

"Is watercolor a dying medium?" by Brittany Thrun

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I asked myself as I scanned Buffalo State’s course listings. No watercolor class is offered at the college. Though I did find an introduction to watercolors at ECC, such classes are few and far between. Many major art schools focus on oil painting and do not currently offer a concentrated watercolor course.

It would only make sense to assume that most young painters use acrylic or oil for their work, for that is what is mostly taught. However, I was on the hunt to find young artists that reach for the medium that most art schools have moved away from.

I found many contemporary artists working in watercolor but I specifically wanted to find those under the age of 35. I was curious to see what my generation was doing with watercolors. Not only did they have to be under the age of 35, they must have multiple exhibitions under their belt or even a magazine feature. Most importantly, their work must be exemplary watercolor. After an expansive search, I narrowed it down to three talented artists, Ola Liola, Oriol Angrill Jordà and Kelly McKernan.

Flora and fauna collide in the intricate images by artist Ola Liola. Liola was born in Ukraine but currently resides in Berlin, Germany. She studied design at the Shenkar College of Engineering & Design. After graduating, she worked as an accessory designer and freelance illustrator. Working in fashion actually led her to her current work. Her watercolor animals take inspiration from fashion, mythology, nature and Ukrainian and Asian pop cultures. She expertly adorns her creatures with intricate designs and brilliant colors while still maintaining a high level of detail and realism. She often uses a Rapidograph which allows control over her watercolors. Her work has been featured Artnois and Singular Art Magazine and has collaborated with Kuzo Lamps, among others.

Oriol Angrill Jordà’s ethereal portraits combine with grand landscapes to recreate a double exposure effect. Known for his hyperrealism and reproducing photographic techniques in his pencil drawings, his newest series, Blendscapes, combines graphite and watercolor. While the graphite drawing is tightly rendered, his watercolors add an organic effortless beauty to these impeccable works. At only the age of 27, Jordà has already had numerous group and solo shows and has been featured in Juxtapoz Magazine. Jordà studied Illustration at Escuela Superior de Diseño de las I.Baleares and printmaking at Central Saint Martins College of Arts & Design in the UK. In his studies, he used a variety of media, including watercolor. From his body of work, Jordà most often uses graphite and colored pencil but his control and ability to reach hyper realism is just as successful in his watercolor and graphite works. This Spanish artist is definitely someone to look out for.

Moving to the other side of the pond, Kelly McKernan is an American artist currently living in Tennessee. She obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Kennesaw State University, with a concentration in drawing and painting where they offer a formal class in aqueous media. Her current body of work examines the personal growth that results from internal struggle. Her ethereal women are often depicted battling these internal forces or may be seen in their moment of resolution. Her painted ladies are enchanting and her play with negative and positive space is divine. Her work is a balance between the fluidity and translucency of watercolors while showing masterful control and definition with this media. Her work has been featured in Juxtapoz magazine and has participated in numerous shows throughout the United States.

Though many art schools do not often teach watercolor, it is a medium that is alive and well.

I only highlighted three artists; there is a lot of young watercolor talent out there. What young watercolor artist have you discovered lately?

Brittany Thrun


Brittany Thrun is the artist and blogger behind A Fine Tangle and art teacher at St. Leo the Great School. She also teaches freelance art classes at Monkey See…Monkey Do Bookstore. She earned her undergraduate degree from Buffalo State and is currently in their Art Education graduate program.