Planning Your Painting - Joseph Zbukvic


Planning Your Painting

Artist: Joseph Zbukvic
Language: English 117 Mins
Format: PAL DVD
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Price: £28.55 Inc VAT where applicable + P&P worldwide

In this latest film Joseph travels to “la bella Roma” and shows us the importance of planning your painting, concentrating on the fundamentals of selecting a subject and composition. He suggests that we avoid the obvious and emphasises the value of observation and drawing. He then uses these ideas to produce pencil drawings and watercolours of various corners of Rome—a market, along the river Tiber, a quiet street and outside the Pantheon. He finishes the film by painting a large studio watercolour of the Piazza del Populo that we see him sketch in situ.

“Painting begins with the decision of what to paint. If that's wrong, the rest is a waste of time.”

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All in the Preparation

For Croatian-born artist Joseph Zbukvic, planning is everything when it comes to watercolour painting. "Painting begins with the decision of what to paint," he says, "If that's wrong, the rest is a waste of time". In his latest film, Joseph uses Rome as his backdrop to show us how to set about planning a painting. Concentrating on the value of observation and drawing, Joseph describes how to select the subject and work out the best composition, before starting to paint. His demonstrations include a market scene, a quiet street, alongside the river Tiber and outside the pantheon. He finishes with a large-scale watercolour of the Piazza del Popolo, which he sketches in situ and completes back in the studio.


This is a film about looking, seeing and refining. It’s less about the mechanics of painting and Joseph spends quite a lot of time walking around Rome in search of subjects, rejecting the obvious, the pretty and the main tourist sites – “Don’t start just because it’s beautiful”, he says.

He begins with a short lesson in the basic shapes of composition and shows how these guide the viewer in and balance the elements of the picture. This leads on to a watercolour sketch in a quiet back street that demonstrates the use of shapes and tones: “I don’t think about colour, I just think about tone … warm, cool”.

Rome is a busy, bustling city and Joseph is at pains to show you how to find and isolate a subject in the middle of crowds and confusion. He is looking all the time for shapes and edges and the time spent not painting in this film contains some of the most important lessons. He is insistent about understanding and absorbing a place in order to commit it to memory: a photograph takes a moment and isn’t a real memory, he explains. Joseph is also insistent on the importance of working and sketching all the time: “Not matter how good you are, you should practise your craft”, he reminds us. The result of this is that he is able to produce pencil sketches quickly and accurately, although he also emphasises the importance of not getting bogged down in detail and accuracy: “Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you have to put it in” is perhaps the most sound piece of advice in the whole film. Details can overwhelm both the composition and the viewer.

This film comes from a different perspective to many, but Joseph is an astute observer and an excellent communicator and his message: observe, practise, simplify comes across loud and clear.

THE ARTIST - October 2018

This is a film about seeing, observing and refining. Joseph spends a lot of time getting to know a place, understanding its structure and looking for compositions that work. Here in Rome he tells us that 'if what you paint is wrong, the rest is a waste of time.' What he is looking for are shapes, forms and tones rather than mere beauty, which can distract you into a bad painting.

Joseph's peregrinations lead him into quiet corners as well as busy piazzas and he shows you how to select what you are going to paint, looking for the compositions that work best, with light, shade and tone. For Joseph, colour is something to be added at the end of a work when the form and composition are complete.

Sketching in pencil and watercolour, Joseph works in a variety of locations before completing a full-scale painting back in the studio.

Henry Malt

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