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Love for Watercolor

We’ve had the honor of speaking with one of our highly popular watercolor painters, Stefan Gadnell, who shares his journey from being an art teacher to holding painting courses on the Portuguese south coast.

“With a background in teaching, Stefan Gadnell has brought pedagogy beyond the school gates, teaching watercolor painting in Portugal, at home in Norrtälje, and on YouTube.”

“Stefan has been accustomed to receiving praise for his drawings since childhood. With a mother who proudly displayed every picture he made and an elementary school teacher who allowed him to sit and draw in the art room during breaks. Encouraged by both his mother and his teacher during his upbringing, he later chose to pursue a degree in art education in Umeå, with a secure income in the teaching profession and a government position that contributed to his motivation.

“The teacher training was a good time, even though it was the art that attracted me. And it just became more and more enjoyable,” says Stefan.”

Stefan Gadnell
Dramaten, 2022

“In the 80s, he held his first exhibition, showcasing watercolors. However, when his first daughter arrived, his artistic pursuits had to take a backseat as parental responsibilities took precedence. Nevertheless, he continued to draw, albeit digitally, becoming one of the pioneers in digital illustrations in Sweden. He was fascinated by computer animations and worked in vector programs. Eventually, he began selling his graphics to companies, and his digital drawings started appearing in large advertisements in the city.

Stefan created hundreds of images and was eventually contacted by a man from Gothenburg who demonstrated how to create clip art on CD-ROM, like a library of illustrations that could be sold. They quickly became partners, selling the drawings Stefan created. Until one day, when one of the world-leading companies in vector graphics, CorelDRAW from the USA, bought the entire product for a substantial sum.”

Stefan Gadnell
Smålandsgatan – Birger Jarlspassagen, 2022

“With more than enough savings, Stefan was able to take a sabbatical year and develop games. Just like before, he handled the graphics, and once again, it turned into a sales success. The classic was called Backpacker and led to a continued career as a game designer. Until the crash came. The IT boom with its overvalued dot-com companies resulted in a crash, and Stefan was one of many who had to seek opportunities elsewhere.

They moved to Malta, where together with his wife, they built a bed and breakfast. It would later turn out that there was a significant demand for watercolor and photography courses among tourists and summer Swedes in Malta. Around the same time, his wife found a British painter on YouTube who painted outdoors in the countryside in the UK. The painter used a technique called “loose painting,” which sparked something in Stefan.

“When I saw it, something happened inside me, and I realized I just had to learn this. At first, it was difficult, and I had to work very hard to get it right, but it was the loose way that got me started painting for real,” says Stefan.

Indeed, there is something easy and casual about Stefan’s artworks. They often depict bustling urban environments, full of life and movement. Characteristic is also the ability to recognize the places depicted in his watercolors, whether it’s Västerås, Gothenburg, or Albufeira in Portugal. However, he fluctuates a lot and always finds new things that are interesting, creating variation in his works. Just a few years ago, Stefan started painting in red, warm shades, which blend nicely with the dark, nocturnal motifs they often depict.”

Stefan Gadnell
Praia dos Olhos de Água, 2022

“What advice do you have for other artists?
“My main advice is not to try to force your own style. It’s something that comes with time, and eventually, you end up there. Trying to force your own style doesn’t hold up in the long run. Take Lars Lerin, for example, he can paint anything: mountains, naked old men, folders, houses, but his style is still there. Some paint pigs and decide that’s their style, and in the 80s, I also decided on ‘my style,’ it would be cows and groceries. There were cows standing in fields, plastic-wrapped tomato packages, milk cartons, and everything else. But you get tired after a while when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, but you learn such things over time.”

Stefan Gadnell’s painting courses are available on YouTube. You can find his profile @StefanGadnell here.

The article was published on www.konst.se

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