Studio Stefan Gevers
Stefan Gevers is a Dutch-born artist who creates stunning and powerful watercolour paintings from his Melbourne studio. We met Stefan and his wife and business partner Therese O’Donoghue at their studio in Spotswood to discuss the motivation and history behind Stefan’s work. We were delighted to get the chance to see him at work, as he explained his process and style.
For me painting is a combination of thinking and skill. Having the right idea and then having the skills with paint brushes, colour mixing and showing some emotion and feeling. It needs to have some sort of vibrancy that people can communicate and connect with. If all those three are on your paper or on your artwork, that’s a good start.
Nature is a common theme and inspiration across Stefan’s artworks, and is front and centre in his current range of panoramas. Stefan captures the raw emotion of the reference landscapes and translates the feeling and depth seamlessly onto paper. His mastery over the craft of watercolour is displayed in each piece, as he seemingly effortlessly pushes the medium right to the edge while keeping the natural and unpredictable flow inherent in watercolour. This blending of natural inspiration and the natural process of watercolour paint comes together to create intricate and powerful works with true character. There is something much more than just faithful realism in these works, they really make you feel the atmosphere of the landscape itself.
There’s a crispness, but still allowing the watercolour to do what it wants to do. There’s a control but then there’s a relationship between the two.
Stefan has been working with watercolour since he was 17, and while he has also produced works in other media such as oil and acrylic, he always comes back to watercolour. This extensive history with the medium has given him highly specialised and refined skills. He is no slave to technique alone however, and rather than go mad in the pursuit of technical perfection or control over the medium, his proficiency gives him the freedom to explore and take risks in a confident and unrushed way. One example of this is his 2017 Solstice exhibition where he created intricate and beautiful natural patterns, but then (much to the initial horror of Therese) proceeded to make a series of small punctures across the entire piece. This adds an unexpected textural dimension to a piece that was already playing with light, colour and translucency, adding a surprising and delightful twist that elevates the work.
I’ve been doing this for about 30 years and I still make mistakes, it never ends. I find that if you put so much pressure on yourself to make a masterpiece it’s not going to work. Anything that you want to do well takes time and practice. In the end I’m quite lucky that I’m doing what I like to do. Painting makes me happy, I’m passionate about it and I love it.
About four years ago Stefan and Therese started selling high-end photographic limited edition prints of Stefan’s original paintings as a way of sharing the works with a wider audience. The prints are drawn from current and previous works, with Therese sometimes going through draws full of completed works to find overlooked pieces, and deciding what will work best as a print.
Stefan also runs watercolour classes and workshops for those wanting to learn or improve their technique. The classes range from one-day workshops to seven week term classes, and feature a range of professional artists and experienced tutors.
It was a pleasure to meet Stefan and Therese, and we can’t wait to see their next exhibition.