#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Carmella Tuliszewski - Doodlewash

GUEST ARTIST: “Artist Reinvented” by Carmella Tuliszewski


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 - Doodlewash

After 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 - Doodlewash

This 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

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43 thoughts on “GUEST ARTIST: “Artist Reinvented” by Carmella Tuliszewski

    1. 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!

  1. 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!

    1. 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.

    1. 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!

    1. 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!

  2. 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!

    1. 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!

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

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