Sergei Kurbatov traveled from his home in Russia to Israel and found that the medium of watercolor let him focus on specific elements, while loose washes created the appropriate atmosphere in the periphery.

“During my journey to Israel I took only what was most necessary for watercolor: paints, brushes, paper, portable chair, plastic bottle with water,” says Kurbatov. “I try not to overload the backpack, because I love to walk all day long and carrying weight is tiring. Israel is very hot — hat and drinking water are necessary.” 

Israel is a country rich with history and interesting buildings. Watercolor let Kurbatov focus on what he wanted to express in paintings of the region.

“My philosophy is simple: When we look at a subject, we notice only the things that attract our attention,” says the artist. “In the case of this piece, these buildings are placed in an interesting way, with interesting dynamics and rhythm. The surroundings are interesting also, but I wanted to focus on the buildings only. So I gave them the detailed place in the center of picture and put loose wash around it.”

Kurbatov says Israel can be a busy place, but his interactions with locals as a plein air painter were wonderful. “I spent about two hours on this spot and only one dog and one man met me,” he recalls. “In other cases, when I painted on location, people were very polite, sometimes asking questions about technique, mostly saying ‘wow’ or ‘good job’ and so on. I like to communicate during my work. But some places in Jerusalem remained closed to me; my friends didn’t advise me to paint in Mea-Shearim; it is a quarter of religious people, and they have strong rules of behavior. Also East Jerusalem — the Arabic part of the city — was kind of a secret to me. But everywhere I painted, I met only friendly, communicable people: Muslims, Jews, Christians, and a lot of tourists from other countries.”


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