Week 3: January 15 – 21 2018 – Hundertwasser

Week Three: January 15 – 21 2018 – Hundertwasser

In the late 90’s I had a business making handmade notecards and quality archival giclée prints that featured both my paintings and my captured-digigraphs. One autumn I shared a booth at the Javits Center with another card-making artist and a toy store owner who specialized in toys from Germany.  The toy store owner had notecards and advent calendars that used the work of Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.  His work fascinated me.  When I discovered that he also designed organic buildings and communities that reflected his belief that all art should be beautiful regardless of the story it tells and his commitment to protection of nature and the environment.  To me, his buildings are the manifestation of pure joy, playfulness and childlike imagination.

“Hundertwasser, a visionary and responsible creator, mobilizes the power of his art in order to spread his message for a life in harmony with nature and the individual creativity.
He is a symbolic figure for a non-conformist way of life, a forerunner of environmental protection and an ambassador for a self-determined alternative existence.” (www.hundertwasser.com)


Day One:  January 15, 2018 – Bouteilles de Sirop Paris, France

I am struck by Hundertwasser’s brilliant use of color and patterns.  The movement in his paintings is created by his positioning of warm and cool colors and the variations of shape size and proximity.  To create a sketch each day with a Hundertwasser mindset is labor intensive.  Due to time constraints I may do very small studies. Bouteilles de Sirop measures only 8″ x 11″. I will try something half this size on Day Two.

Completed sketch – ink and watercolor

Stage One: ink line drawing drawn with Carbon Ink Fountain Pen

Stage Two: adding color, making decisions as I move along,

beginning with analogous hues on each bottle.

Stage Three: bringing accent hues into the bottles.

Comparing finished sketch to reference photo.

Comparing finished sketch to Hundertwasser’s painting.

Loewengasse – Die Dritte Haut by Hundertwasser – mixed media



Day Two:  January 16, 2018 – Exposed Artery Paris, France

I’m definitely not detaching from the photograph enough to be playful. This felt forced rather than influenced.  Tomorrow I may try working from a memory of something I observed during the day. 

Exposed Artery, Paris France – ink and watercolor

ink line drawing drawn with carbon ink fountain pen.

The next stage is where I allow myself to step across the threshold into the foyer of Hundertwasser’s vision.

Before adding patterns within the color shapes, I’m not expressing Hundertwasser’s influence, though I am feeling it in my brain.

Moving toward playfulness and design patterns brings in Hundertwasser’s influence.

Hundertwasser’s print, reference photo and Exposed Artery drawing

171/200 print after Waiting houses by Hundertwasser

photo taken in Paris, France, July 9, 2016



Day Three:  January 17, 2018

Feeling a time crunch knowing that I had to complete my daily sketch before heading north to Hartford, CT.  There would be no time later in the day to draw and post. I realized that on the weeks when I travel, I should probably pick an artist whose work is the result of quick, spontaneous sketching. I chose the iron kettle that sits atop the wood stove to be my subject.

water kettle atop wood stove – ink and watercolor

The clock was ticking and I had hoped that I might achieve the feeling of Hundertwasser if I simply added the lines curving around the stove pipe chimney.  No such luck.

(left) Island of lost desire – Moreton Bay Fig by Hundertwasser

(right) wood stove water kettle

I knew I was cutting corners.  Time pressure can be a good thing, forcing me to just do something without too much contemplation.  I added more black lines.  I felt I was learning something as I observed how the drawing changed, but I couldn’t grasp what I was learning.

mixed media print by Hundertwasser

My original excitement was to see how the marble tiles behind the stove were going to look when I painted them in as the blue sky and green grass horizontal lines.  I never got to paint those in.

Grab my bag and head to the car ….


Day Four:  January 18, 2018

Awoke early so that I could complete my daily sketch before Kathleen awoke.  We had a full day planned; visit the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, attend an early movie, have a delicious dinner and of course … talk, talk, talk.  Kathleen and I have been friends since the age of two. We were staying on the sixth floor of an apartment building on Main Street in Hartford. Large windows gave us a panoramic view facing East and South.  I felt inspired.  My pen glided playfully across the smooth paper, distorting the buildings yet capturing the feeling of the early morning as steam rose from smokestacks.  I had been trying too hard to bring Hundertwasser’s playfulness into my work on the previous three days.  I am happy with this sketch.  I’ll begin to count on this fourth day magic happening in future weeks. As I closed my sketchbook I already looked forward to rising early on Friday to sketch again.

Looking south across Hartford from the sixth floor window.

Comparing my ink sketch to Hundertwasser’s Voyeurs de jardin



Day Five:  January 19, 2018

Arising early was a challenge after staying up late, very late.  The thought of sketching another view of Hartford boosted me out of bed with my eyes still closed.  I felt excited, anticipating the fun of restructuring the building looking East from the living room.

The paper in the little sketchbook is too thin to work well with a watercolor wash.  I would have had fun adding color to the two ink drawings.  I counted it a blessing that the paper was too thin.  I had traveled to Hartford to spend time with Kathleen, not to indulge in the hours of meticulous brushwork with Hundertwasser whispering in my ear.

ink sketch



Day Six:  January 20, 2018

After two days of feeling Hundertwasser’s influence pulsing through my bloodstream I chose to try working from a photo again.  I created the ink drawing looking at the photo of Mumbles Lifeboat Station without looking at any of Hundertwasser’s work.  I then put away the photograph and opened the book to one of H’s prints that I felt I could use as reference for color scheme and inspiration to try unfamiliar patterns. Great fun!

Mumbles Lifeboat Station, Mumbles, UK

Drawn with Rotring ArtPen filled with Noodler’s Polar Brown ink.

Top: Mumbles Lifeboat Station – ink and watercolor

Bottom: Gib acht wenn Du über die Prärie gehst (Take care when you walk over the prairie) by Hundertwasser

I can feel doors opening in my brain!  The shift that occurs between the third and fourth day continues to surprise me.


Day Seven:  January 21, 2018

Mumbles Lifeboat Station Dala – ink and watercolor

Photo taken of Mumbles Lifeboat Station (old and newer) on October 8, 2017

Swansea, Wales, UK

I decided to use the same color etching and aquatint I used the previous day,

created in 1976 by Hundertwasser

Take care when you walk over the prairie (Gib yacht went Du übedie Prärie gehst)

Five minute video of painting the dala.  I begin with real time and end with real time, speeding up everything between.  The real length of time was a bit over an hour.

Comparison of dala and Hundertwasser print

What did I learn?

Hundertwasser’s influence pushed me to create patterns out of my repertoire and to use color more strongly to create patterns within all of the shapes, playing with color schemes within each shape.  I was also pushed to use line a bit differently, taking advantage of very fine line more than I usually do. That was a lesson I learned only in this last day, though I had been observing the fine lines throughout the week.