Artist Monika Pate uses strong light and contrast to create strikingly realistic watercolor paintings. Enjoy more of her portfolio by visiting her website.
I was born and raised in Warsaw, Poland and moved to the United States in 1993 to pursue a PhD in biology. Art has always been my passion. Although I have loved drawing and sketching, it was mainly a hobby that I enjoyed in my spare time.
After moving to the United States, I decided to take a watercolor painting course just for fun. I fell in love with the medium immediately and wanted to learn more. I took this class in 1994 and have been working with watercolor full time ever since.
When I first started painting, I also wanted to experience other media. I experimented with pastels, colored pencils and oils, but watercolor has definitely been my favorite medium.
Growing up in Poland, I was surrounded by flowers from our garden. There was also a beautiful lake nearby, and I frequently went on bike rides just to enjoy nature. I think the love of nature and being aware of the beauty of various objects had a big influence on my art.
I decided to take a realistic approach, emphasizing the fascinating details, forms and textures of my subjects, especially when they are illuminated by a strong light source.
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I love how light establishes the mood of the painting. It allows me to create the strong contrast that I’m after.
I find inspiration everywhere. Sometimes it will be sunlight coming through the petals or leaves of a plant. Other times, it is a beautiful crystal vase that came from Poland, rusty doorknobs from a flea market, or objects that I brought from travels.
When I started creating art, I also started noticing and appreciating details that often get ignored. While teaching classes and workshops, I constantly hear the same comment from my students, “I can see it now, after you pointed it out!” It makes me happy that I can help students discover something new and exciting to use in their own art.
I love the luminosity and transparency of watercolor, and preserve the white areas of the watercolor paper rather than using white opaque paint. I also rarely use black. Typically, I mix my own variations of black and this process allows me to create more depth and interest in my paintings.
My goal in my paintings is to create strong contrasts, with depth and rich colors. My painting technique involves applying multiple layers of pigments. I really enjoy using this layering technique to develop details and to explore a variety of textures and colors.
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