GUEST ARTIST: “Artist Reinvented” by Carmella Tuliszewski

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Carmella Tuliszewski - Doodlewash

In the Beginning There Was Cereal

I would love to tell you that my first memory of loving art was seeing an old master painting in a museum or a movie about the life of a famous artists but no, it was cereal.

I clearly remember, at six years old, drawing Tony the Tiger from my Frosted Flakes cereal box, followed by the Rice Krispy Elves, Capn Crunch, Toucan Sam and on down the line of sugary treats that graced our morning table.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Carmella Tuliszewski - Doodlewash

Shortly after, Santa left for me a paint by numbers set which I ripped into that very day.  Filling in each section by building up colors one next to the other and watching an image emerge was magical to me.  I was hooked from then on.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Carmella Tuliszewski - Doodlewash

I attended Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, PA on a scholarship earning my BFA in Illustration.  And, as you will see, I have reinvented my career as needed over the years.

Greeting Card Designer & Illustrator- Artist Life #1

Senior year a rep from Hallmark Cards was interviewing at the college, so not wanting to leave any stone unturned, I took an interview. They offered me a job on the spot. (Wait. What? You’re in Kansas City, Missouri?)

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Carmella Tuliszewski - Doodlewash

So being an east coast city girl my entire life, I thought that cows and tornadoes were not for me, so I declined.  Six months later they approached me again with an offer.  This time I was a little disenchanted with my boring publishing company job and accepted.  The actual job was a great experience and I learned so much. But the down side for me was that it was very different from the east coast so I resigned and returned home to Philly.  But having been a Hallmark artist opened doors and impressed art directors for many years thereafter.

Art Teacher- Artist Life #2

I freelanced as a commercial artist for 20 years after in greeting cards, gift-wrap, package design and collectibles. Got married to a great guy and raised two children while doing so.  But then with the advent of the digital age and home computers those markets dried up.  Many card companies folded, package design was less illustrative and more photo/digitally generated and people stopped buying collectibles.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Carmella Tuliszewski - Doodlewash

I went back to Moore and did graduate work toward PA State Certification to teach Visual Arts and Art History. I taught art in a private school in Philly for the next ten years.

Fine Art Watercolorist- Artist Life #3

As a certified teacher I was required to take continuing education classes. And then one night about six years ago, I walked into a watercolor class at my local community college and it was the cereal boxes and paint by number set all over again.  I was hooked.  I went back to the classroom, but on my free time I taught myself everything I could about watercolor.

How to start?

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Carmella Tuliszewski - DoodlewashAfter a while, I felt like I had something to offer so I started entering watercolor society exhibitions. After quite a few rejections I finally broke through.  The Philadelphia Watercolor Society was my first acceptance. I was so thrilled to be at the opening reception with so many talented watercolorists!

Nothing like a little success to breed enthusiasm!  So I kept going and soon the acceptances outnumbered the rejections and I eventually gained Signature Status in the NWS, PWCS, PWS, NWWS and BWS.


Inspiration  & Composition

I began in watercolor with subjects I knew from my greeting card days, flowers.  I worked only in acrylic and gouache prior to watercolor. These mediums are handled very differently than watercolor so I was in for a whole new learning curve.  But over time, my interests turned toward still life. I love having the control of setting the stage with each painting. Odd objects I find in thrift stores, fabrics and especially colored bottles hold my fascination these days. Strong dramatic light and bold colors get me excited for every day of painting. I set up my stills in the early morning sun for the best cast shadows.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Carmella Tuliszewski - Doodlewash

Composing through the viewfinder of my camera, I then go through all my photos from the set up, twisting, cropping, and zooming my way to the composition I’m looking for.  I don’t sketch anymore. I work out all the kinks in iPhoto and Photoshop so that by the time I get to the drawing I am ready to go.  The chosen photo is then uploaded to my iPad, which is connected to an inexpensive TV monitor on my drafting table.  The image comes up on the TV and I can zoom in for details.

The Drawing

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Studio Of Carmella Tuliszewski - DoodlewashThis is where all those years training and working as an illustrator really pays off.  Drawing is instinctual for me. I work from my selected photo laying in only the most basic contours for size and placement.  Then I am ready to spend many happy hours drawing in a very detailed representation.  When completed, I use a kneaded eraser to lift excess graphite to keep the colors clean.  If my substrate is 140 lb. weight paper I will soak and stretch at this point.


Working from back to front I will mask the main objects to first work on the background.   When totally dry, the mask is removed and I work the subjects in detail moving from one completed object to the next.   I work wet on dry for details and glaze to build color.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Carmella Tuliszewski - Doodlewash

Realistic painting is about developing a strong sense of observation.  Studied details of texture, value and light are most important to me.  You learn something from every painting that will help with the next.  No painting, however you may be unsatisfied with it, is ever a waste of time.


Paper: Arches Cold Press Watercolor paper in 140lb and 300lb weights. I do not stretch 300lb paper.

Brushes: Loew-Cornell synthetic brushes for the detail work.  Sizes 2, 4, 6 Ultra Round. These brushes have more spring and resistance needed to paint details. Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky sizes 1, 5, 6.  Beautiful soft natural brushes for glazing and blending.

Paint: My preferences are, Winsor & Newton, M. Graham & Daniel Smith. I use a large white butcher tray as my palette and mix most of my colors.  I also make color charts demonstrating dilutions, transparencies, staining and granulation of each paint tube I own. Very helpful in not slowing down my painting process.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Carmella Tuliszewski - Doodlewash

I hope you will join me on my studio Facebook page and visit my website. And thank you so much to  Charlie O’Shields and Doodlewash for having me as a guest artist.

Carmella Tuliszewski

Recommended14 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. Pamela Smith 5 years ago

    Awesome amazing detailed work…thank you for sharing your journey and I love that you said no painting is a waste of time,,because a lot of the time I feel like I am wasting time..

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Thank you Pamela. I truly believe that every brushstroke builds prior knowledge toward your skill as a painter. So we’ll keep “wasting time” together. Good luck to you!

  2. anamika808creative 5 years ago

    Dear Carmella….my praises will not be enough….so better I wish your best..!!!

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Many thanks Ana. This is such an up and down business that I appreciated all good wishes as they come.

  3. Jean Marmo 5 years ago

    Simply beautiful! A wonderful read! Congratulations on your success.

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Hi Jean and thank you so much!

  4. Jayshree 5 years ago

    Excellent , very talented

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Thank you for your kind comment Jay.

  5. Mary Roff 5 years ago

    The detail is truly amazing. Beautiful!

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Thank you Mary.

  6. Lisa 5 years ago

    What beautiful work you do! Your paintings make me want to get out every single piece of glass I own and set it in the sun! Unfortunately, that would also show just how much dust I have in the house!

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Haha thank you Lisa. Don’t think I haven’t had to give mine a dust off before putting them in place 🙂

  7. Rod Fletcher 5 years ago

    Your paintings are wonderful. Your story is inspiring. Thank you for sharing

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Thank you Rod. I’m glad you think so. This artist business takes a lot of trial and error to find your niche.

  8. Sandra Strait 5 years ago

    Carmella, I love your work and have added your blog to list of blogs to watch! Thank you for sharing your work with us.

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Thanks so nice of you Sandra, thank you!

  9. Susan Cuss 5 years ago

    Wow! I love all the detail, the reflections,and wonderful colours in your art. Beautiful.

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Thanks Susan. I’m a little obsessed with colored glass right now. Even using the same bottles are very different in each painting. I am always intrigued.

  10. June 5 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful artwork and your journey

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment June. Happy Holidays!

  11. Jennifer McLean 5 years ago

    such beautiful and detailed work, so stunning.

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      I have always loved making a true likeness of whatever I am painting. It’s so satisfying to me and worth all the work. Thanks for commenting Jennifer!

  12. Teri Casper 5 years ago

    Love your story and all the twists, turns and growth. Fascinating detail work. Wow!

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      One of the great aspects of being an artist is that you can pivot into other art forms either out of necessity or want. Happy Holidays Teri!

  13. Sharon Nolfi 5 years ago

    Your work is stunning! Thanks for sharing your process.

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Thank you Sharon for such nice praise. It is much appreciated.

  14. Laura Hale 5 years ago

    Wow! Your art is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing samples of your art and your journey with us.

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Many thanks Laura.

  15. Sandra Gilbert 5 years ago

    Your paintings are filled with amazingly colorful details. You must have the patience of a saint.

  16. Congratulations Carmella for your extraordinary artwork 🙂
    I like painting still life too, but never tried to do so many details as you do in one painting. I’m always thinking that I won’t be able to convey the core message of the painting if too many details are added. Your work proofs that numerous objects and colors could coexist in balance. I believe it happens only after an extended planning of the painting.
    Thank you for sharing your artwork which is truly fantastic and inspirational!

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Thank you Violeta. Yes it takes a lot of planning especially with the compsition. There needs to be an object or grouping as a focus and a color that repeats throughout the scene. A favorite artist inspiration of mine is Janet Fish. If you don’t know her, look her up. You will love it!

  17. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 5 years ago

    Carmella, your art is a visual tour de force! Thank you for sharing your strategy.

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me this. This painters life can be very solitary at times so it’s great to get such encouraging feedback.

  18. Delores Azary 5 years ago

    I enjoyed seeing your beautiful work!

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      My thanks Delores. I’m glad you liked it.

  19. Jill Gustavis 5 years ago

    Truly beautiful work! Thank you for sharing your story and some of your process!

  20. Thomas Blanchard 5 years ago

    What amazing depth in your paintings. So beautiful Carmella.

  21. M. Caulder 5 years ago

    These colors are so vivid and exciting to the eye! The subjects and compositions show a very unique way of seeing things, and it’s wonderful. Your story was also very interesting, just goes to show how our paths change over time. Thanks for sharing your beautiful work and your story.

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Thank you. My very first show was with my local art league. I stood near my painting wanting hear some unsolicited comments. A husband and wife were discussing buying my piece. The wife really wanted but the husbands did not saying “Too much color.” And my heart sank as they walked away. Ugh it’s rough sometimes. PS that painting went on to selll during the opening of the PA Watercolor Society International Exhibition.

  22. Jan Castle 5 years ago

    Stunning work – thank you for sharing your creativity!!!!

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      It was fun for me too. Thank you

  23. Coming back to this post and adding you, Carmella to the list of my favourite watercolor artists. Your talent is God’s gift!
    Merry Christmas

    • Carmella Tuliszewski 5 years ago

      Sorry I missed this earlier Violeta. Thank you!

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