Hello friends! My name is Milena Guberinic. I was born in Yugoslavia and moved to Canada during the Yugoslav Wars of the 90s. I have mostly lived in Toronto since then. I always loved drawing, doodling, coloring, and creating all kinds of contraptions, but my first memory of falling in love with capturing something out in the world on paper was just before my family’s move to Canada.
I wanted so badly to keep close the image of my grandparents’ summer house that I spent hours and days working out exactly how to draw, shade, and render the thing to my satisfaction. It was in the course of that drawing that I figured out how to handle perspective, and it was in the course of that drawing that I first felt the true thrill of discovery in the art process. After that, I wanted to do nothing else! But life has its ways (and opinionated parental units) and those steered me away from art, into science and math, and finally, Japan.
I ended up learning Japanese, attending a university program in Tokyo, and later working in the south of Japan. While there, I finally had time and space to breathe and felt inspired by my surroundings to resume my childhood art ventures. I spent a great deal of my free time drawing everything I could, but didn’t do any painting, as the process of “proper” (i.e. oil) painting was just too laborious and demanding for me.
Upon my return to Canada, I became a Japanese-English translator. I also started a board game blog and Instagram account that grew in popularity, but I soon realized that my favorite part of doing any of it was producing the vibrant visuals. And so, I turned my eyes back to my pencil box and started drawing again… and eventually painting.
That was about two years ago. I felt like I was starting from scratch, but having access to online resources like Artists’ Network and Schoolism gave me a wealth of material to devour. And devour it I did. I learned everything I could and explored a great variety of media. In fact, I continue to do that daily and believe that we are all students for life.
I truly latched onto watercolor when I discovered the watercolor works of Charles Reid. Since then, he has been my greatest teacher and inspiration, and watercolor has become my greatest comfort and joy. I love the fluidity, immediacy, and quick turnaround time of watercolor, the ease of drawing the brush across the paper, and the wondrous effects that the pigments produce. And with a full-time job and a slew of health issues, I don’t have much time or patience to wait for oil paint to dry or to fiddle with cleaning supplies and toxic solvents.
Ultimately, watercolor simply suits my personality. It can be as spontaneous and fluid as it can be meticulously controlled and as soft and polite as loud and demanding, but it is always a lot of fun. I think everyone needs more fun in their lives. And I do try my best not to take things too seriously in art or life. It isn’t always possible, but I think that watercolor encourages a more fun and fluid approach, at least in producing the watercolor work I tend to find attractive.
As for subject matter, I am primarily drawn to life. I most love animals and humans and life drawing/painting and portraiture are my primary means of expression. I’ve had to leave many beloved humans behind and lost my closest family members far too early, so I wish to immortalize people in paint. I sometimes use multiple faces to imagine what my father might have looked like if he had had a chance to grow old. And, I often paint relatives. Ultimately, life attracts me because it is so short and fleeting and I feel a strong need to give it a more solid form.
As for materials, I am a shameless art supply junkie. I love paint, markers, pencils, and papers of all varieties, but most of all, I simply love color itself. I have no qualms with using funky assortments of craft paint like Prima when I just want to practice, play, and explore. And I love learning about other artists’ preferred palettes. In fact, Charlie’s “Vintage Trio” set from Da Vinci was the first artist-curated sets of paint I ever bought!
However, most of the time, I will use my own palettes of artist-grade paint from Daniel Smith, Schmincke, and Holbein. I also recently discovered Roman Szmal Aquarius watercolor and have been hooked on that since, as it is very affordable and rewets beautifully into gooeyness I can slap onto paper with abandon. I tend not to mix my paint on the palette and do tend to use a lot of paint, so my palettes are extensive and filled either with fresh paint from tubes or with highly rewettable pans like Schmincke and Roman Szmal.
I am attracted to a broad range of colors and pigments, but there is one thing that I never compromise, and that is Winsor & Newton PB 35 cerulean. I have a terrible addiction to cerulean and wish Winsor & Newton would make their PB35 available for sale in buckets! I go through it like a woman possessed, truly.
When working in ink, my favorite thing to use is Rohrer & Klingner Sketch Ink. It is suitable for use under watercolor as it dries very quickly and is nice and matte. The shade “Thea” is my favorite grey. I also use a variety of ink brush pens, but my most highly used ones are the Pentel pocket brush pen and the Akashiya thin line brush pen – the Pentel is great for covering larger areas and the thin line for very tiny details. I like to make very small drawings and the Akashiya thin line pens just feed that addiction.
As for brushes, I prefer the Escoda Perla range. They hold plenty of pigment and water while providing good control. I also use various synthetic flats, some of which are better suited for acrylic painting. I tend to use flats for quick studies and tests because they allow me to cover a lot of ground in a short time and make very definitive shapes with ease.
For daily work, I love to use watercolor sketchbooks. I live in a very small apartment with many things and not a lot of space, so I have no special storage space for work on loose sheets of paper. Any work in such a format ends up crumpled and stained. I also feel much less pressure when working in a sketchbook, so I stick to that when I’m working for myself.
With many fine options made of cellulose and even 100% cotton from Stillman & Birn (I love Delta and Zeta) and Strathmore (specifically, their new cotton travel journals and 400 Series watercolor sketchbooks), I don’t feel a need to stray too far from my preferred “book” format. The Stillman & Birn Zeta is a particular favorite because of the unorthodox effects it can help produce. However, I do also work on Fabriano Artistico and Arches cold press when doing work I do not intend to keep for myself.
Truly, I could go on about materials for ages and pages, but I’ll stop here. If you would like to discuss art “stuff,” I am always open for a good chat!
I will forever be indebted to the online art community and to Charlie’s generous gift of the space to share my passion with the world. I suppressed my natural urge to create for many years, but it always managed to manifest itself in my life in some form. I didn’t feel like I deserved to make art, and I didn’t feel I could create anything worthy of sharing.
However, starting an Instagram account during Inktober taught me that planning, creating, and sharing daily can be a worthy and awarding endeavor. With encouragements and opportunities to learn and create every day, like the Doodlewash prompts and community, it is easier than ever to find a place to belong. And to feel deserving of that place. Thank you.Recommended8 recommendationsPublished in