Erhan Orhan Watercolor Artist Painting of Atelier Gurhan New York City

GUEST ARTIST: “Joyful Watercolor” by Erhan Orhan

Hello, my name is Erhan Orhan and I am a self-taught watercolorist, living in the Netherlands. I am glad to share some of my watercolors with you on Doodlewash. I was born in Turkey, and as a child I always liked to draw. But my first contact with watercolor was in 1981, after I settled in the Netherlands. I attended a watercolor workshop, which was held in the same building where I followed a Dutch language class, and it was love at first sight.

Street in Haarlem, Holland Watercolor Painting by Erhan Orhan

In the absence of the Internet, the next logical step after the workshop was to search for books about watercolor. The first book I bought was simply titled Watercolor by John Pike, and I tried to copy every picture in the book. The next book Watercolor Energies from Frank Webb became a reference book for me. I still have it and read it again and again, if I need inspiration to paint.

Haarlem, Holland Watercolor Painting by Erhan Orhan

Unfortunately, due to having full time work and children, I stopped practicing this new hobby too soon, before I could develop myself further. It was only after my retirement in 2016, that I decided to start painting again. This time with more affection and devotion than before. I try to paint every day, if possible, and otherwise, I follow the works of other artists to learn more and to generate new ideas.

Balcony in Havana Watercolor Painting by Erhan Orhan

There are lots of great artists I like, in fact too many to name them all, however I would like to mention at least the following names (in random order) as a reference for starting watercolorists:  Bill Vrscak,  Dean Mitchell, Frank Francese, Josep Cruañas, Ong KIm Seng, Orhan Gurel, Richard Sneary, Tony Xu. And the Taiwanese artist Chien Chung-Wei is my absolute favorite.

Mountain Cottage in Turkey Watercolor Painting

I paint mainly from a photograph in my studio, so I have not much plein air experience yet. Partly due to my background as a city planner, urban environments and particularly old architecture fascinates me, so the majority of my subjects are buildings and street scenes.

Historical Houses in Haarlem, Holland Watercolour Painting by Erhan Orhan

I usually don’t have patience for a long preparation. If I am attracted by a subject, I want to start painting as quickly as possible. On the other hand, I often use PhotoShop to manipulate the photo; eliminate color, rearrange objects, add figures, reduce tonal values etc., and I always begin with a pencil drawing, and spend time to get the drawing right.

I am not trying to develop an own ‘style’. Sometimes I paint quite realistic, and the next painting can be a very loose one. For me, to paint in a loose style seems to be more challenging than a realistic approach.

Among the three painting tools; paper, paint and brushes, I find paper is the most critical one. I like Arches Cold Pressed paper, but lately I also paint on Saunders Waterford (extra white) and Fabriano, all 300 gsm.  I buy my paper in full sheets (56×76 cm) and cut down into quarter sheets, which is, at this moment, my favorite size to paint. The purchase of paper in large quantities greatly reduces the sheet cost, and a large supply of paper seems to encourage more painting.

Still Life Watercolor Painting of Squash by Erhan Orhan

In the beginning, I bought a few expensive sable brushes, but I noticed that they lose their point very quickly and are not necessarily much better than good quality synthetic brushes. I have several watercolor brushes from various manufacturers, such as Rafael, Da Vinci and Winsor & Newton.

Vijfhoek Haarlem, Holland Watercolor Painting by Erhan Orhan

My paints are mostly Winsor & Newton watercolors. I also have a few colors from Daniel Smith and Schmincke Horadam. I use only tube paint and a limited palette with mainly classic colors: Burnt Amber, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Winsor Blue, Viridian, Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Orange, Alizarin Crimson, Neutral Tint and White Gouache.

Zeedijk, Amsterdam Watercolor Painting by Erhan Orhan

I have tried various types of palettes and at this moment I use the aluminum Holbein palette, which has place for 13 colors. In addition, I use a round porcelain palette for color mixing. I use two separate containers for water; a rinse bucket for rinsing my dirty brush and another one with clean water for mixing paint.

Winter Cottage Watercolor Painting

Thanks for stopping by and reading my watercolor story. I wish everyone a joyful watercolor time. You can see more of my works at the links below.

Erhan Orhan

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42 thoughts on “GUEST ARTIST: “Joyful Watercolor” by Erhan Orhan

      1. Love the colours! I think your paintings are great. Like you, l didn’t take up painting again until l was in my early 60s. Please don’t stop. Cathy

  1. Thank you for sharing. I felt I had visited a wonderful places seeing your work. Your use of light lifted my spirits during this gloomy winter day.

  2. You are right. It is more challenging to do loose and impressionistic than that dratted left-brain realism. I finally did a painting by intuition (what colours want to appear, what shapes?) and it worked. I made a painting I would never have done otherwise plus I found that left and right brain hemispheres can actually work together: balance and creativity.

    Enjoyed your paintings!

  3. Beautiful work! Thank you for sharing your story with us. Dean Mitchell is one of my favorite artists and I am so fortunate that there is an exhibit of work by Dean Mitchell, John Salminen and Thomas Schaller for the next month at the art center 2 miles from my home. I can hardly wait to see the exhibit!

  4. Orhan, there is so much joy in all your work. In fact, I’m impressed by how lively your architectural scenes are with the juxtaposition of composition elements and unexpected color. The winter scene with the bridge over the frozen stream is rich with reflections, and the old man with his dog is lovingly observed. It’s a pleasure to see your art.

  5. I love your style so much. I especially like that you not only draw what you see, but you enhance the colors to make the scene even more beautiful and meaningful than it is. Thank you for sharing your story and your art with us.

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