Art Maker: Walter Cudnohufsky | Watercolor painter
"Transparent Maple Leaves" by Walter Cudnohufsky
Walter Cudnohufsky works on a painting of the William Cullen Bryant Homestead barn at his studio in Ashfield, Friday, March 18.
Walter Cudnohufsky pauses while working on a painting of the William Cullen Bryant Homestead barn at his studio in Ashfield, Friday, March 18.
"Howes and Wells Farm, Ashfield" by Walter Cudnohufsky
"Bear River, Ashfield" by Walter Cudnohufsky
Walter Cudnohufsky, 75, of Ashfield, is a representational watercolor painter who captures the many moods of the changing New England landscape. He also teaches watercolor painting, in Ashfield and elsewhere.
He's been fascinated by pencil drawing since he was a youth, so chose a career — landscape architecture — that requires drawing as a basic and essential skill. It was through that profession that he also became hooked on watercolor painting, which he learned to use to convey design intent.
"I have been painting only since the early 1990s and rely on pencil for establishing scale, composition and focus before and as an armature for watercolor,” he says.
Hampshire Life: What do you aim to achieve with your paintings?
Walter Cudnohufsky: I paint a fanciful, yet believable representation of our world — our landscape from the smallest stone or mailbox to entire scenes. … I work to capture mood and temperament of the often fast-disappearing landscape, its barns, orchards and rural roads. Tranquility is a specific fascination, and many paintings work to evoke contemplative reflection. It’s been said that I am a realist, not in the super-realism sense, but rather near the fantasy end of the continuum.
HL: What is your creative process like?
W.C.: My creative process has several starting points, each with its own emotional pay-out. I sometimes start with the application of subtle thin paint, using but a few rules and with only a vague subject in mind, if any. On other occasions I rather carefully construct a landscape composition in pencil and proceed to darker applications of paint. Each approach has its benefits, and the larger the canvas, the more planning required.
H.L.: How do you know you’re on the right track?
W.C.: Emotions will alert me if I am on track, but often in watercolor, one needs to be two-thirds finished for it to be coming alive. This is a critical stage: continue on or flip the paper and start over? If I am bored, it is not a helpful condition, if I am excited to a point of forgetting the clock, it is good! Years of design have made focus and dynamic composition a predicable starting point, and I have long ago gotten comfortable with manipulating that composition through ruthless editing and compositional additions.
H.L.: How do you know when the work is done?
W.C.: Because I know it is easy to overdo a painting, I slow down if there is any chance that it may be near finished. On occasion, I purposely shorten my allocated painting time in my already fast-paced and energetic approach to painting.
H.L.: What did you do today that relates to your art?
W.C.: I looked up two artists who caught my attention and communicated with art students. I also worked on planning two upcoming classes and began an overdue commission painting.
H.L.: What are your near-future aspirations?
W.C.: I wish to expand my materials beyond watercolor and pencil to include egg tempera, possibly oil. I'd like to increase — and even more regularly achieve — captivating power, where all components of a painting simply sing together. I also hope to increase the emotional content of my works to the place of being consistently memorable.
— Kathleen Mellen
"New England Landscapes,” an exhibit of watercolor paintings by Walter Cudnohufsky, is on view through April 30 in the second-floor waiting area at 22 Atwood Drive in Northampton. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information about Cudnohufsky's paintings and watercolor workshops, visit www.cudnohufsky.com.