Sabine Blomqvist paintingintuscany

GUEST ARTIST: “Painting In Tuscany” by Sabine Blomqvist

Ciao! Hello, my name is Sabine Blomqvist, I am a watercolor artist and teacher, living in beautiful Tuscany, Italy. I moved here many years ago from Finland where I was born and where I graduated in Design and Applied Arts at Aalto University in Helsinki. In the beginning, I lived in Florence, but I really missed nature. So, after just a few years, I moved from the city to the hills of Chianti, between Florence and Siena. I still live here today with my family; my husband, two sons and two cats!

Sabine Blomqvist commissioned watercolor

I used to work as a fashion designer, mainly for youth and children, but I also designed and created a small line of unique handmade bags for some years. My love for watercolors started here in Italy. I got my very first watercolor box as a present from my husband, long before we got married.

To be honest, it wasn’t really love at first sight since I preferred bold and strong paintings, while the watercolor paintings I had seen, and would manage to paint, would not be like that at all.

But I didn’t give up and continued to paint occasionally until at some point I decided to take lessons – which really helped me to improve! I continued to experiment – and often to struggle – until I finally developed a much more playful approach to watercolors and a passion was born!

Door watercolor sketchbook

Stealing time to paint …”

In the beginning, I used to paint in the early mornings while preparing breakfast and before going to work – or while cooking! It wasn’t easy to find time, so I used to say that I was stealing time to paint. When the kids got bigger, I started teaching watercolor classes and preparing the lessons as well. Teaching really taught me a lot! I also organized exhibitions for my students, but deciding to exhibit my own work was the hardest part for me. I mostly kept my paintings for myself.

The first time I submitted a painting to an international exhibition was a big win for me – much more than the fact that my painting actually was accepted to the show! Now I am painting almost daily and I have participated in several international exhibitions. I also continue to share my passion for art and watercolors by teaching classes and residential workshops in Tuscany in the Chianti area, and also in the town of Florence .

Sunset watercolor painting by Sabine Blomqvis

The world is full of beauty – and that’s what I prefer to paint .”

I find my inspiration mostly in nature – during walks in the hills of Chianti, while exploring Tuscany and Italy, but also in my garden. What captures my attention is the light, the details and the changing seasons. I like to paint many different subjects from florals to landscapes – and everything in between – with an intention to express my inner vision, not to copy exactly what I see.

I paint mainly to express myself and my feelings of the moment. I adore the fluidity of watercolors; leaving the pigments to flow on a wet paper, expressing emotions and atmosphere. I’m a prolific and fast painter – I paint intuitively, but observation and drawing from real is also very important for me so I regularly do life drawing and join fellow artist to paint together ‘en plein air’ or at Urban Sketching gatherings in and around Florence. These moments of study and sharing are very inspiring, and give a welcome break, as most of my paintings are done in solitude.

I do love to carry my sketchbook with me everywhere I go, and I also enjoy dedicating them to a theme, a place, or for example ‘abstract landscapes’. Sometimes I will restrict the materials that I use in one sketchbook like combining watercolors with ink or graphite.

Cactus plant watercolor painting

My sketches also serve as inspiration for my paintings – and I do accept commissions, also, to recreate one of my sketches or sold paintings on request. It will never be identical, of course, and that’s the beauty of it. Every painting is unique and reflects the emotions of that specific moment.

If I feel blocked in my art practice, I will take some time and maybe try a different technique that can bring me joy. Lately it has been a lot of abstract explorations and creating artist’s books with acrylics and mixed media.

Purple flowers

I also continue to study and occasionally love to take classes with other artists – it is always inspiring to learn something new! I also like to vary my approach to watercolors – sometimes I’ll do more realistic studies, and sometimes quite abstract -but usually my style is loose and expressive.

I enjoy challenging myself, and I believe that exploring and experimenting are very important for learning and making progress. This is also true regarding my materials, so I use different brands. I usually choose a 100% cotton paper, as it helps any watercolor painting to turn out beautifully, but I have been painting a lot on different cheaper papers as well.

Even if they might not be suitable for all techniques, such as wet-on-wet or layering, they can be used for quick studies and sometimes the rich flowerings and bleeds that occur on these papers will turn into beautiful surprises!

Produce truck watercolor painting

As every artist I have way too many brushes even if I usually use only a few: a medium round brush with a nice tip works for most of a painting (in this moment I like chinese and korean brushes) and a smaller one for details. I also like to use a big soft brush like a Hake for larger washes and a rigger brush for fun and loose lines.

I prefer to use watercolor in tubes, because this way I can get rich colors quickly for my larger paintings. In the sketchbook, I often use student grade colors while for paintings that might be sold I will choose lightfast artist quality colors only.

Bicyclists watercolor painting by Sabine Blomqvist

To keep my floral paintings clear and transparent, I prefer single pigment colors. But for landscapes with muted shades, it isn’t as important. I do have many different brands on my palette, and a lot of colors in my box – but I try to keep the quantity of colors restricted in each single painting.

However, for me, the most important material is water – together with a combination of courage, spontaneity … and patience!

Pink Potted Plants watercolor painting by Sabine Blomqvist

If I want to paint large, my favourite brush in this moment is a Herend flat, natural hair brush about, 2.5-3 inches, because I can do almost all the painting with just one brush. Then I also have Herend round brushes N.16 and calligraphy brushes and mops (natural and synthetic imitations) and smaller synthetic brushes N. 6-8.

I often use Fabriano paper and Arches. In this moment my favorite colors are MaimeriBlu, but I also like Winsor & Newton, Schmincke, Daniel Smith and many more. Roman Szmal has beautiful colors as well. They only come in pans, but they are soft and easy to use, so I like to carry them for a limited travel palette.

I believe that everybody can enjoy painting with watercolors! It can be fun and enjoyable even if you think that you can’t draw. It is also important to be gentle with yourself and accept that not every painting will be a success. But when we choose a playful approach and enjoy the process without focusing too much on the outcome we will be surprised at how beautiful the results can be! Exploring and experimenting with the various possibilities of watercolors will take us on a lovely journey where we rarely have moments to feel bored!

Carrots watercolor painting by Sabine Blomqvist

Thank you for reading my story! I would love to hear from you – and maybe one day we will meet and paint together in Tuscany?!

Sabine Blomqvist

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27 thoughts on “GUEST ARTIST: “Painting In Tuscany” by Sabine Blomqvist

  1. I absolutely am in love wi5h your style and colors. I enjoyed reading your story and where you find inspiration. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Isn’t it interesting how much we learn when we teach. Your work is lovely. I especially love the feeling shown in the Tour de France bike race. I like the composition of the looks towards the yellow shirt leader and the feeling of lightness and speed without overworking the realism. Just the right balance. You are very talented.

  3. Loved your paintings Sabine 💕..I have the supplies but sadly, lack the motivation and imagination. With the tutorials, I manage to do some work but on trying to do something by myself, the white paper just scares me!

    1. Dear PR, thank you for your comment. The hardest part is to start: lower your expectations and just play around with color. Many of my early sketchbooks were just filled with color blobs and very quick sketches. – I think I should do a post about this as well – it is important to understand that learning requires a lot of practice – and that not all the paintings will be successful!

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