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Biography
Interview

Konstantin Sterkhov

  • Graduated from Repin Academy of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
  • Member of Saint-Petersburg Water-color Society
  • Member of Watercolor Society of Finland
  • Participant of local and international exhibitions
  • Teaching art courses in Russia and abroad
  • International exhibitions judging
  • Author of a book series on watercolor
  • Co-founder of the magazine “The Planet Of Watercolor”
  • Art works in museum, private and corporative collections in Russia, Europe, Asia, US and Australia.

Born in 1968, Izhevsk

An active participant in international competitions and fundraisers, curator and member of the jury of exhibition projects and festivals, co-founder of the "Masters of watercolors", the initiator of the international competition of watercolors as part of the Biennale Art Bridge, the exhibitor of 6 solo and about 30 collective Russian and international exhibitions in the venues of private, urban and museum institutions, in particular: “Manezh”, “Exhibition Hall of the Artists Association”, museum of Gallen Kalela (Finland), city center Sanomatalo (Finland), gallery “Akvart, Art museum of Shenzhen (China), national Library in Nanjing (China), Museum of the Contemporary Art in Qingdao (China), Ratchamdanoen Center of Contemporary Art in Bangkok (Thailand), Watercolor Gallery in San-Diego (USA) and many more.

The award of an independent jury of the Hermitage at the watercolor Biennale Art Bridge in the genre Seascape in 2005, Diploma 1st grade in cityscape at Art Bridge Biennial, 2015.

Member of the Artists Association
Member of Saint-Petersburg Watercolor Society
Member of the Finnish Watercolor Society

His works are in collections of local museums, private and corporative collections in Europe, Asia and America.

Publishing projects, an author:

  • Book "Masters Of Watercolor. Elements Of Water" – “Music Planet”, 2013
  • Book "Masters Of Watercolor. From Classic To Contemporary" – “Music Planet “, 2014
  • Book “Masters Of Watercolor. From East to West” – Music Planet”, 2015
  • Watercolor instructional video series on landscape, marine, portrait, flowers - “Music Planet “, 2012-2015
  • Co-founder and art director of the magazine "Planet Of Watercolor" - 2015

Charity Projects:

  • The author of a series of works for the charity of the International Organization for the Protection of Children's Rights USWRC, 1996-1997.


Introduction

I do not remember a time when I was not drawing or painting. My uncle was a professional painter and he always gave me artistic inspiration. He was my first teacher. After school, I studied graphics at University. During those four years I received a solid foundation in professional graphics. However, I was aware that this was only a step to something greater. Actually the choice was made already during the first year of university - I knew I wanted to attend the oldest traditional artistic school in Russia – Repin Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg.

After 4 years of foundation work, I felt confident enough to apply to this honorable Academy. The Repin Academy is a place where even the walls can teach - students have the opportunity to bathe in the rich traditions and artistic atmosphere. The environment stimulates the desire for artistic exchange and learning, enhanced by the large number of unique art museums in St. Petersburg. The professors see it as one of their duties to pass on the traditions and deep artistic knowledge from past alumni to present day and future generations of students.

The Academy leaves a deep impression on the life of every graduate that passes through its gates. The influence of the Academy's teachings can be witnessed through different works of art whatever the genre or medium.

On graduation, I focused more on design, showing my work at exhibitions and selling pieces from time to time. Also I started teaching Art Basics and giving some short art courses in Europe. The country which influenced my painting the most was Finland. Its nature is very similar to the place where I was born. I spent my childhood in a place surrounded by forests and lakes. Finland, with its blue and green mosaics and bountiful waters and accompanying reflections, reminds me of my childhood impressions...

My favorite technique is water-color. It gives me the opportunity to express myself. I like the spontaneity of water. One has to be really flexible to operate with it. It has the ability to flow. The artist has to let it flow when he works with water-colors. These reflections of lakes and rivers, harbors and boats appear to be created for water-color painting. Water and reflections, wind, sky, clouds and boats have become the objects for my painting.

My work and travel made it possible for me to discover China – a previous unknown to me. That country lies behind a Great Wall. We know very little about it in Europe. I was lucky to be sent to a beautiful place where traditions and modern life blend together. I was invited to teach art basics in a college for designers and stylists. The management of the college has a great vision and taste for beauty and art. All the interiors and environment of that place reminds one of the old China. The brand new buildings contain many antique features, some of which are over 100 years old. Some of the architecture displays styles prevalent during the previous centuries.

Certainly these aesthetics have a great influence on the students and faculty of the college, not to mention a profound effect on my interest in China. I have started learning more about Chinese art, looking at old paintings, and asking people about their history. In this mood I have painted a series of works symbolizing my impressions of China. They are based on nature because I have been impressed by my new surroundings. My environment is filled with new objects of interest – sufficient enough to keep me inspired. It is a new kind of beauty – new faces, new patterns, new textures. All the works have been painted in one building. I would call the series "Windows and Doors". The whole building is filled with beautifully ornate wooden carvings on the doors and windows. The day light shining through the windows casts the shadows on the walls and the floor. The inner yard has no roof but it gives such an isolated feeling as if you were in a different world – no future, no past, only the present.

Konstantin Sterkhov in Finland

It`s past 16 years since Konstantin Sterkhov first time came to Finland. Since then more than 800 students attended his demonstrations, he had several exhibition in group and solo, there were a few articles about him in Finnish media, his illustrations where published in Kodin Kuvalehti and Hyva Terveys, and he issued 9 DVDs with tutorial videos representing watercolor to all art lovers.

Sterkhov brings the traditions of old Russian school of painting as a graduate of Repin Art Academy. His art is based on good drawing skills and noble color harmony. Old masters had only natural colors, and it remains an approach that Sterkhov tries to keep alive. The advantage of limited and noble palette is one of the sign of the St.Petersburg Art tradition. There are two other important things one can see in Sterkhov`s works. He is very particular about tonal contrast and composition. The play of light and shadow is one of the topic of his painting. The composition is very classical. Some of his exterior portraits have very personal intimate and inviting quality. The light penetrating into the darkness of the room is like the light illuminating the darker corners of our souls.

There is a great deal of impressionistic approach despite the classical way of thinking. Sterkhov has chosen the watercolor medium as his priority. He has been painting with aquarelle for over 30 years and he achieved an impressive cooperation with water as a basis of watercolor medium. His works demonstrate a lot of spontaneity, a well planned spontaneity that is so appreciated in aquarelle. He has a gift to see the beauty and transform it into the washes, splashes, drops-in, glazing and other techniques of watercolor.

Short after graduating from Repin Academy Sterkhov started sharing his art knowledge with those who wanted to learn painting. First coincidentally during his visits to Germany and Austria, then on more regular terms in Finland and Sweden. Actually after his first teaching experience in Finland he kept teaching there every year. Sterkhov finds it very inspiring to share art experience with students. He says he learns himself a lot from them. Many ideas come while giving critiques and correcting students` works. When Konstantin came to Finland in the late 1990-s he discovered in his students a great thirst for basic academic knowledge. By his practical teaching he invented a simple way of explaining the basics in a series of watercolor lessons, which do not require drawing skills from students but let them create quite good works already after 1 or 2 days of practicing. Many of his students keep coming to his master-classes, again and again.

The very new practice that Konstantin includes in his courses is meditation. After getting to know each other with his students Konstantin offers an easy way for relaxation, which is very important for his way of painting. It takes a few minutes a day and helps to “reload” the students, to drop all their worries and problems behind and use creative energy from the “clean page”. He has been practicing Sahaja Yoga for over 20 years and he applies his spiritual experience to teaching practice.

The last year has been very busy for Konstantin Sterkhov. He had been teaching his courses in YLE art club, Gallen-Calela museum, Espoo arbis, Espoo taideseura, R. Steiner school, in Akvart gallery and in Joutsenon and Ita-hameen opisto. His work represented Finnish watercolor society in International watercolor festival, Antwerpen, Belgium, he participated in some group exhibition in Ferrin gallery and Akvart gallery in Helsinki, several exhibitions and master-classes in galleries in Saint-Petersburg. The most interesting project for the Konstantin Sterkhov now is completing the video collection of watercolor lessons in DVD. He combines his experience of “easy teaching” in more than 40 lessons issued in 9 DVDs which is a very new experience for both Russia and Finland. Now any art lover can learn his method right at home!

Sterkhov`s works are represented in private collections in Russia, Europe, Asia, USA and Australia. He tries to bring the message to the art collectors that the watercolor painting is a better investment than oil. The paint itself has the same pigments only it is water based. It is more natural than oil paints and it doesn`t change its color after many years, even after 100 years it may look as when it was only painted.

Sterkhov Konstantin is a member of Saint-Petersburg Watercolor society which was found in the end of XIX-th century and restored in 90-s of of XX. It is the only watercolor society in Russia and it has its goal to keep the traditions of transparent aquarelle going. Sterkhov takes a lot of efforts to spread the message of watercolor medium to watercolor lovers through internet. He runs the blog sterkhovart.blogspot.com where he share a lot of information about the medium worldwide, takes interviews of international top watercolor artists, writes art reviews and publish free watercolor lessons. He believes that the interest to watercolor is in the process of development and this wonderful medium will have its highest blooming. He is doing his best for it.

The Sons of the Dragon

The idea started from a simple pencil sketch. I came to China for the second time and was eager to learn about Chinese characters and faces. I had had no experience of drawing these types of faces before. While I was looking for models a friend of mine told me the story about the Dragon. He said Chinese people believe they all come from this fantastic creature. It gave me the feeling that my models should be very special.

I tried to find out more about the Dragon myth. The next discovery was that the Dragon had 9 sons each of different appearance and character. Their bodies were made up of parts from different creatures and some parts from their Father. They all had different personalities.

The idea was clear. My models would be the modern embodiment of the Dragon's sons. I saw them as young, strong and full of hidden power. They should look up to date. They all should have an expressive element which would be different and uniting at the same time. I was teaching Art at the Hair Stylist College. I saw many students everywhere I looked. The element which lent itself to the most freedom of expression was hair styles. Many young people were trying to express their individual identity with extraordinary hair styles. I thought, "That's it! It's a spot light".

This is how my series emerged. I found the models - my Chinese friends helped me with the calligraphic writing of the Series name. This piece of writing together with the Dragon's images puts the project into a historical perspective. The young faces are the past, present and the future of the Chinese people, as I see it.

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