by Kurt Grünsteidel
Stromboli, 32x25 cm
When I look back on my childhood, I can remember one thing: I was drawing, I was drawing all the time! It started when I was about 5 years old. One day I got this comic book with Donald Duck stories. I couldn’t read at that time, but I could watch the pictures. Although I was so young, I noticed the difference in the drawings. Some were so much better than the others. From that time on, when my parents brought me new comics, I’ve always looked first for the stories with the good drawings! Many years later I’ve discovered why I admired these drawings so much, the name of this artist was Carl Barks! So, I can say, he was my first drawing teacher!
I was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1953. When I went to school, my teachers soon noticed my talent. They wanted to send me to the Art Academy. But money was small at these days and I had to left school at the age of fifteen and go to work. A cousin of my father was a lithographer, and so my parents thought this could be a profession for me. So, my father’s cousin organized me a job in an Lithographic Art Institute! From that time on I was so busy, there was no more time for drawings.
The year 1999! There was that book in the window of this bookstore by Edward Hopper. I knew I’d heard this name before. I went inside the store and had a closer look. American painter! Yes, I was right, and there was it: Night Hawks, the famous painting everybody knows. But there was so much more, I was blown away! This was exactly the art I’ve always wanted to do.
But how? Painting with oil? I had no studio, only my living room... that wouldn’t work!
Then I’ve remembered my passion for drawing. Colored pencils? No, that’s a child thing! But why not? From my profession I knew you can create all the colors you need with only four: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black! Okay, let’s give it a try.
This was the day I started drawing again!
Brighton Esplanade, 26x33 cm
My first drawings didn’t satisfy me. I had to make several tests, and I found out only Prismacolor pencils were smooth enough and had the luminosity I need.
My first work was a copy of Edward Hoppers New York Movie from 1939. Not bad, but not good enough! At that time I knew nothing about blending the colors. At last I did copies of nine Edward Hopper paintings, including Night Hawks!
But I wanted to do my own thing. So, I started to work from my own photos. But again, I was not satisfied. The result was flat, there was no life in the pictures. What was wrong? Again, I looked at Hopper. Soon I learned that my photos were wrong! That was it, I had to use more the play between light and shadows. And there must be a story in the photo!
And this time I had not only a teacher for drawing, he also taught me how to make photos!
“If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint!” - Edward Hopper
In 2016 I had my first exhibition in an art gallery in Hamburg, Germany! I had the chance to talk with other artists, and to my surprise they all couldn’t believe I’ve worked with pencils. They thought my drawings were photos, can you imagine?
Ricadi Train Station, 34x27 cm
So, what advice can I give to you, the reader? First, there could be no good drawing without a good photo! Have your camera always with you! I, for myself do most of my photos with my iPhone. When start drawing, be patient, take your time! Mix the colors! For example, when painting a green, don’t use the green pencil, take a blue one, a yellow, orange, a little red, so is nature!
So, that’s all my friends! Thank you for reading!
Kurt is a self-taught colored pencil artist. He was born in Vienna and started drawing at the age of five. Later he became a lithographer and worked in several companies for forty five years. His inspiration is the art of Edward Hopper. He works only from his own photos!