Artist Spotlight - Eva Volf and Her Favorite Oil Painting Brushes
Meet Eva Volf, one of our talented Ambassadors! Eva is a professional full-time artist and loves to create beautiful ocean-inspired paintings. Read on to learn more about Eva and some of her favorite Princeton oil painting brushes!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My whole life has been driven by a love of water. Being an avid swimmer and kayaker, I cherish the sense of timelessness and calmness that being in, on, and by the water gives me and channel these feelings of tranquility and fulfillment into my luminous seascapes through oil on canvas. I live with my husband and three kids in the Cleveland area, Ohio, United States, by Lake Erie, where I often paint plein air or just watch spectacular sunsets at Headlands beach. Passionate about travelling and the world’s beaches (as of now I visited 21 countries), I take inspirational tours to the coast every 3-4 months to make sketches and take reference pictures for my studio pieces.
2. When did you start painting and what inspired you to start?
I’ve been painting and drawing for as long as I can remember. My parents always supported me in my artistic endeavors, and I always had all the art supplies needed. I have always been inspired by the beautiful nature around me and my own rich imagination. I consider myself mostly self-taught, but I was lucky to visit workshops and learn the secrets of painting in oils firsthand from living seascape masters, like Byron Pickering, John A. Sargent and Karen Blackwood. However, before becoming a professional full-time artist, I worked 8 years as a teacher, maybe that’s why I still pursue this passion for sharing my knowledge and skills through my YouTube channel where you can find painting tutorials, timelapses, tips and tricks, as well as inspirational videos. Ten years ago, with the emergence of social media and online art marketplaces I took the plunge and opened my Etsy shop, and then Artfinder and SaatchiArt online shops. With their help I became a full-time artist. Now my work is held in numerous private, corporate and public collections in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Europe and Asia. Over the years I have participated in many national and international juried shows, won awards, including several “Best of Show” and First Place awards, and joined the Oil Painters of America and the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve. My work has been featured in American Art Collector and Vogue Magazines, “Artists at Work”, a Cable 9 TV Show, Fox 8 News and other news outlets. Before COVID I was working with several Cleveland galleries, but currently my focus is on selling my work online through my own website evavolf.com and online galleries, which helps me successfully combine my family life and art career as well as paint/travel more.
3. What’s the best piece of art advice you’ve been given?
It’s important to measure your progress against your own past work and notice your growth, while being a lifelong learner, always experimenting, and finding your unique style and brushwork. Being a social media influencer, I love sharing my creative process and deeply appreciate daily inspiration, encouragement, and feedback I get from my social media followers. But budding artists can be easily intimidated by other artists’ skills or success. Be kind to yourself, learn, try, fail, try again, and fail better. It’s all part of your growth. This advice helped me when I was just starting out.
4. What are your favorite Princeton Oil Painting Brushes and Why?
First, when I block in a larger painting in the studio, I always use a #10 Flat Catalyst Brush, because of its excellent ability to load and smoothly release the paint. Then as the painting develops, I use Aspen Series Filberts for softer edges and Angle Bright, for sharper edges. Angle bright brushes are greatly versatile and can create a variety of edges and brush marks.
When it comes to blending to create a beautiful gradient in the sunset sky or a translucent wave, I take my 3” Mottler Angular brush from Aspen Series, it works wonders for blending and is also perfect for softening the edges of clouds or foam. Aspen series Liners and Select Artiste Dagger Striper brushes are perfect for fine details and bold final touches, like reflected or refracted light. After the painting is completely dry, for varnishing I use 5450 series 2” Natural Bristle brush, it helps me spread the varnish smoothly for a perfect thin coat to protect the paintings from UV radiation, dust and scratches.
5. What’s one oil painting tip that you can share with our audience?
Learn from the source, paint on location, make small plein air studies, observe the light, values, edges and colors in nature, but don’t try to capture it all, simplify the shapes and create the illusion of detail with light and shadow without painting every little bit. Leave something untold, to be guessed, that’s what adds interest to an artwork.
I have many personal favorites. I really like living with my paintings and seeing them on the walls of my house every day. They help me relive beautiful peaceful moments spent on the beach watching breaking waves or silk smooth waters at sunset/sunrise. And it makes me happy to know that my art collectors also experience positive emotions living with my seascapes in their homes. My all-time favorite painting is a large waterscape of Lake Erie at golden hour “The Sun’s Blessing”, 2020, oil on canvas 60×48 inches. It’s so peaceful and powerful at the same time. It reminds viewers of primal waters of the sea where life began. This painting has been awarded several prizes in different regional and online juried shows as well as featured in Vogue Gallery section of the British Vogue in February 2021. The original is now in a private collection, and I have been commissioned to paint 3 different versions of it which now reside in private collections in the USA and Europe.
7. What is your creative process like?
Each of my paintings begins with a visit to the beach, where I take my time to conceptualize my art. After making the necessary preparatory sketches and color studies I return to my studio in Cleveland, Ohio to produce final paintings, using fluid brushstrokes making the oil-rendered water shimmer on the canvas. I vary the format of my canvases depending on the part of the water I depict. Circular-shaped pieces, for instance, are used to highlight immersive bodies of water or porthole-like views of the open sea. But for the atmospheric scenes of the ocean at sunset or sunrise, I often choose long vertical canvases. In selecting this format, I am able to show how the transient colors of the skies are reflected in the soft, rolling waves. I mostly paint in layers, allowing them to dry between the sessions, building up the depth and luminosity.
8. Are there any reoccurring themes in your work?
It has always been my dream to make a living doing what I love doing most – paint and be by the water and I feel blessed to be able to capture the beauty and tranquility of inspiring beaches I visited in oil on canvas. For me the ocean contains the wisdom of life in its intricate foam patterns and secretive depths and its infinitely changing character is a useful metaphor to keep life in perspective. I express my lifelong love for the ocean in paintings of breaking waves and picturesque headlands of the Maine Coast, dreamlike underwater scenes, inspired by snorkeling in South Florida, spectacular sunsets on the Gulf of Mexico and romantic sunrises in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, or silky, smooth water at the golden hour viewed from a kayak by Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. I usually take these inspirational tours every three-four months to paint on location and take reference pictures for my studio pieces.
9. Where can we find more of your work?
We love getting to know our Ambassadors and other artists. Thank you, Eva for sharing your story and your favorite oil painting brushes with us!