Alexa Dilla, freelance artist and painter on board of a large cruise ship, has painted one of the winning motifs of the Hahnemühle Art Calendar 2016. Her artwork was selected for the month of February. In our studio report, Alexa tells us what inspired her painting “Amsterdam in the Rain”. All 12 winning pictures of the painting competition for the 2016 edition of Hahnemühle´s art calendar on the theme “Nature in the City” can be found on our website. By the way: The painting competition for the calendar 2017 is now open, the entry rules and the upload portal are online. Join in for your chance to win!

My picture “Amsterdam in the Rain” is painted with watercolours on Hahnemühle Watercolour Board Britannia. I passionately paint outdoors – in any weather – so this artwork comes to life on the basis of a Plein Air drawing in Amsterdam. 03_erste_tropfen
Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities and I spontaneously went there to draw with the Amsterdam Urban Sketchers. I didn`t need long to find a motive and immediately began to draw and paint. I always carrying with me what I call the four elements of doing watercolours:
1. my watercolour paints that I have collected in its own range,
2. my watercolour sketchbook,
3. 1 or 2 brushes (I use mainly synthetic watercolour brush)
4. and water!

04_let_it_flow_mal-dich-glüIn this design I hardly sketched; I have immediately addressed the light and diffusion of colours. So I stood at the canal and suddenly it was raining buckets. There was only a small roof overhang as protection and I resented my beautiful picture, in which I had such a good feeling! The annoyance made me defiant and I introduced myself now more than ever in the rain and left my sketchbook, my painting and myself pouring with rain.

Somehow exhausted yet happy I went to a cafe to warm up with a coffee and dry my sketchbook. I was completely blown away by the flowing colours of the raindrops and the structures they left on my sketchbook painting. This was the moment I got an idea for a new image: the intense fresh green and the young woman with the umbrella that sets a counterpoint to the washed-out shade of the rain with its colour. After some small sketches in which I tried the composition, I was determined.

I started, as so often in watercolour, with bright, soft colours and a lot of water. Gradually, I compressed the colours and overall it was a very fast-paced artwork. From the abstract forms of the houses in the background I worked out the figure, the bicycles and the major lines of the motif. It was particularly important to me that I left the room for the bright green and other bright colours on the paper. Here the grey tones of the background run over it, no more pure white would be available that I need for the vivid colours in the foreground to shine. Therefore I love the very good quality of Hahnemühle Britannia that does not dissolve or ‘cockles’ after applying the first layer.

150619_amsterdam_rain1For me this painting includes everything what makes me happy as an artist:
• outdoor painting,
• in extreme weather and environment conditions (hot, cold, rainy, noisy, quiet)
• a painting experiment with the elements and the situation
• with a clear head and still the fire in the heart to create sketches,
• thereby develop new ideas and
• then the next big adventure: the painting itself.

I am particularly pleased when all my feelings and my approach is visible in the artwork and the spark of creating skips over to the viewer. How it feels for me and hopefully my picture in Hahnemühle´s calendar bring bright colours in a rather gloomy February!

The painting “Amsterdam in the Rain” is available as original in the web shop of the artist as well as a fine art print in strictly limited edition; also created on Hahnemühle watercolour paper with an inkjet printer using archival inks. A great combination of a unique artwork and a limited edition on finest papers Hahnemühle for fans and collectors.

Alexa DiIla is 2nd chairman of “German Watercolour Society” and active in Urban Sketcher groups. “Painting make you happy” is her motto for workshops and painting journeys and as well as an onboard painter hired on cruise ships. Other motifs, tutorials and the artist´s travel blog can be found on her website.

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