Watercolour in Cordoba

My watercolour "Stones above the sky" photo by Karin Lipkin-Forsen
In the beginning of October there was an eventfull week in Cordoba, Spain where I attended the 17th “European Confederation of Watercolour Societies” International Watercolour Exhibition and symposium. We were 150 artists from 11 countries and I was happy to be chosen as one of the 6 artists to represent Sweden. 

The exhibition as a whole shows the enormous diversity of the medium and 150 ways of painting with it.

Aurora Charlo, Spain
Wiktor Gago,Poland

                                For those who might be prejudiced about watercolour, thinking its just a matter of splashing some pale, watery colours on a small piece of paper, this exhibition proves them wrong! Perhaps the fact that it is an international show makes it so inspiring and dynamic. There are paintings with strong colours and bold strokes, some with sensitive expression and some with intricate detail. Numerous styles, right from non figurative abstract to hyper realism, are represented.      
Marie-Helene Stokkink, France.
Karin Lipkin-Forsen, Finland
Francine Camerlinckx,Belgium

The exhibition was opened in style, housed in the old palace style building of Casa de Gongora in the presence of artists, guests, dignitaries and sponsors.

Mixing pigment with honey
It was a busy week with a full program every day. I took part in a                
workshop on how watercolour paints are made. The Spanish artist                 
Mikael Heredia told us about pigments and additives and we tried 
our hands on mixing the different ingredients. It was an intensive
crash course but very interesting. 

Three tired artists
 Marjatta Salmi, myself and Karin Lipkin-Forsén
Meanwhile another group led by the watercolourist Camilo Huescar learned some secrets about painting the Mediterranean light.
painting the Mediterranean light

The following day was a trip to Alhambra and Granada. The well known and much photographed architecture was fabulous to see in real life and countless pillars, arches, courtyards, tourists, guides, schoolchildren and fountains were round every corner. We walked a total of 10 km that day. Having done that it was nice to come back to a more peaceful Cordoba and enjoy the narrow cobbled streets with a bit more space between the souvenir shops.

Painting a stray cat in the ruins of a roman temple
my painting (after 2 more days work)
A painting competition was also organised in connection with the symposium. The idea was to paint an urban landscape in 6 hours. I usually use at least 3 days for a watercolour painting so this idea was doomed to fail for me. I did take part but couldn't finish in time but it was fun while it lasted. Other artists produced some really admirable work in the short time allowed and received some well deserved prizes.
The final evening was to be a great Galla dinner, with all attending artists from the 11 countries represented and including guests we were about 300 participants dressed to kill. Along the walls of the upper balcony were all the paintings the participants had made in the competition.  The enormous town hall courtyard was laid out with a round table for every country represented. There were flags and candelabras, flower arrangements, red carpets, live guitar music etc.  The immaculately dressed waiters served wine, but just as the soup arrived thunder roared, lightening flashed and torrential rain poured down on the guests who all charged out to take shelter. Not quite all though. The Finnish participants just calmly opened their umbrellas and continued to eat and drink as if nothing had happened!

Later when the rain settled down to a drizzle we returned to our wet seats and continued eating the now diluted fish soup. Nevertheless it really was a great evening.
I am so glad I could took part in this event and was very happy to meet colleagues and make new friends amongst the participants.
All in all the 17th ECWS  International Watercolour Exhibition and symposium was a great experience and there is no doubt that the organisers invested an enormous amount of time and work to make it the  success it was. Next year it will be in Catalonia in September.

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