My name is Naila Hazell. I’m 35, and I am a British artist based in London. I was born in Baku the capital city of Azerbaijan which is called Land of Fire. Baku is a city full of culture and art.
As many artists, I started drawing at a young age. I remember in my childhood, I was always dreaming about becoming an artist and to have a chance to express myself with my paintings. It was my hidden dream.
My parents wanted me to study at university with English as a subject. But I found it quite hard and I was not interested in it. So my parents gave up with their dreams and they let me do what I really wanted to just 5 month before exams. I found a local artist who could prepare me for the Art Academy.
My first star was learning to draw still life and then portraits. In 1998, I was accepted to the Azerbaijan State of Art Academy. I can not forget that feeling. I was over the moon from the happiness. The time when I saw the studio with lots of easels and art materials where I would be learning my art skills and would spend my 4 years of precious time.
I said to myself, “you are in right place Naila.” I was really lucky in that time that my teacher was a quite famous painter in Azerbaijan. One of the last generation of Soviet artists. His attention and belief in me made me more ambitious on studying art. I was always a hard working student.
After my Bachelor, I did my Master degree as well and completed with First Class. During that term, I joined art exhibitions and competitions. I was inspired by Amedeo Modiglianiet, Nicolai Fechin, Lucian Freud, etc. Since then, I can not look back, art has become part of my life and will be forever.
I started working as a illustrator in a small company. In that time, my private life changed when I married my husband. He used to be my classmate and was a very talented artist. But unfortunately, my love story ended with tragedy when I lost him in car accident at his very young age of 28. It wasn’t fair. He was such a talented artist, friend, husband, and amazing father of our two sons. Life is full of unexpected surprises.
After that very hard period in my life, I was offered job in a big publishing company. I had taken it upon myself to raise my two sons and find my path in art. So, I accepted that opportunity and I started my new life and new career. Since 2008, my illustrated books are still being published for all schools in Azerbaijan.
As I said, life is full of surprises, good or bad. Years later, my very close friend who lives in London invited me to come and continue my career in the UK. It was a very difficult decision to start my life, my career, in foreign country. In 2010, I moved to London to study English which made my parents’ dreams come true. After language courses, I started working as a freelance illustrator and part-time art teacher. During that time, I worked with USA-based children’s book writers. And some of them succeeded and published.
Since I moved to London, I was really busy raising my sons and was busy with settling in, so it made a long gap that I couldn’t have time for daily sketching and paintings. After 6 years, I finally started to join artist sketching groups, life drawings, drsketchy etc.
I love doing daily sketches now, which helps me to improve my drawing time to time. I will always remember one of my favorite teachers said to me, “always keep your sketchbook with you at all times and at least spend your 10 minutes for your sketching in a day” (you can see my sketches on my Instagram and my Facebook page).
I was always using oil paints on my portraits, as I spent my 6 years studying it. I started my watercolour and oil pastel work recently when I traveled to Berlin in 2016 to visit my artist friend. We went out to do sketching and watercolour of urban life, nature, and people. I always find watercolour difficult to do. I gave a try to my first portrait with watercolour and I found it amazing!
I really enjoy the freshness, transparency and brightness of watercolour. Especially on cold press watercolour paper. It is very important to choose good quality materials. I use Saint Petersburg watercolour which is amazing, intermixable and made with high pigment. When I travel, I use Pentel black pocket brush pen, Pentel Hybrid Gel Grip, water brush pens size 1, 2, 4 and Winsor & Newton travel watercolour.
Before I started using watercolour, I was always sketching and trying to find proportions of lines. But then I found out that lines makes the process longer and you get lost between sketching and watercolouring. Then I decided to use just watercolours. So I started portraits or any subject with light tones of colours. Then before the colours dry, I add a second layer of pigments which is mixed with the other colors and makes it look alive and bright.
I really enjoy what I do and I will continue my journey or exploring watercolour and keep doing more attractive, interesting works. I would like to thank Charlie for making me part of World Watercolor Group! Thank you very much!
14 thoughts on “GUEST ARTIST: “Watercolour Portraits” by Naila Hazell”
Naila, I think the most difficult subject to paint well with watercolors is portraiture. Your portraits are simply extraordinary. You capture the personality of your people with your gentle overlay of color applications. Every image is bright and clean, not easy to do with watercolor. You know when to stop, something artists must learn to do if their art is to have life. I simply LOVE your work. From some very sad circumstances you’ve created great beauty. Best wishes to you in future.
I am really happy that you enjoyed my watercolour portraits. Thank you for your amazing comment!
Art leads your way and completes many aspects of your life. Sorry to hear about your loss but its good to know you are doing well with what you love.
Naila, i just adore your portraits – they’re so expressive and alive! Wish I could do the same. In fact, I love all your work – have just followed you on Instagram. So pleased to meet you! 💕🌺
These are very beautiful! Congrats on your success 🙂
Love your portraits, so simple, so alive, so expressive!
PS: yes, at least 10 minutes sketching a day is a good recipes…I’ll try it…
Oh, your portraits just glow with light and vitality! Thank you for sharing your story.
I love your portraits,your use of the watercolor medium in them is wonderful,it is also apparent that you can teach..thank you for writing this article,I enjoyed it very much.
Just came across this page Naila. Love the relatively unblended use of layers which as others have said give your portraits a life of their own.It definitely works. Thank you for sharing