When I first saw the art of Joseph Zbukvic it was early in my watercolor education. I was fascinated at how he took this what I felt at the time, was the most difficult of mediums, and painted anything he wanted with it. I also enjoyed his humility, how he said every ruined painting begins with the words “I’ll just do this.”
There are the four things that describe how Joseph Zbukvic’s art speaks to me. They are work ethic, craftsmanship, artistry, and humility. His work ethic is reflected by a consistent and productive career. An artist doesn’t just paint, they manage the business side of things. They do the work, maintain a specialized inventory, and understand what their clients need.
The craftsmanship of his artwork involved a few concepts new to me. One was what Mr. Zbukvic described as a visual language, a way he conveys his art. I would have called it a style, but he added a new level of understanding to this for me.
I had heard that your style would develop over time, through experience and naturally. While that is true, on the surface, it ignores the fact that the noun experience is one word, but the verb takes years. While he has a number of imitators, no one paints like Joseph Zbukvic.
It’s not that he repaints the same scene, but that any scene he paints has his signature in the imagery itself. Joseph Zbukvic is a versatile artist who has painted numerous subjects, but they have the feel of coming from the same hand.
This is where the craftsmanship comes in. It’s more than a picture, a feeling is conveyed. He tells a story as only he can. This isn’t merely in the brushstrokes, but in the palette.
A phrase that comes to mind when looking at his paintings is colorful monochromatic. Grays are prominent in his paintings, but are never dull. He shows you it’s not so much the color you use, as the tone and impact of it.
One artist said, grays add volume to the painting. His reds are never over used, but add emphasis wherever placed. Bright paintings, strong paintings, with balanced tone and color. This is truly craftsmanship, especially from a watercolorist. As watercolor is a wonderful, but challenging medium.
The artistry goes beyond his skill as a painter to his success as an instructor. He is both an entertaining painter, as well as an active teacher known across the globe. Some artists can paint, but not all of them can teach. Mr. Zbukvic excels at both.
He holds your interest and shares knowledge you can put into practice. I’ve watched many art instructors, those who held my interest taught me the most. This is vital in any field of study from art to mathematics. Joseph Zbukvic removes the barriers to help make it attainable for others to get there.
There is an image of him, with his easel positioned on the bank of a river. One wrong move and he could fall in, much like watercolor itself. Yet every time I’ve seen him paint, he paints the river, it does not paint him.