The Hidden Fragrance of Watercolors

This is a beautiful time of year in the Boston area. The blooming lilacs, in outrageously different colors, summon to mind my far away land of origin, Central Russia; time for my most favorite aroma in this world!

Life is full of circular repetitions – or are they spirals, different rungs of the ladder – so remembering:

    Returning from a weekend in the country on a crowded commuter train, then subway, to our cozy flat in the center of Moscow, tired and thirsty – drinking kettlefuls of Georgian tea, and toting armfuls of lilac blooms that fill the room with heady aroma for days to come.

And coming full circle, to the present – the lilac bushes, the aroma, the half-fragrant fallen petals on the pavement, signifying the full coming of Spring… .

Such times call for more images and fewer words, for something ever-new and fresh. Ergo – some watercolors, using the reflected light and grain of white paper to lighten one's perception of outside reality, and strong and true colors to brighten it!

First, a couple of watercolors from two or more decades ago, the beginnings of my maturity as an artist.


"Like a Feather", 13in x 17in (33cm x 43cm),
watercolor stick & watercolor on paper, 1990's

Handsomely framed, this watercolor hung for a few years at the entrance of a favorite Chinese restaurant in Harvard Square, Cambridge, USA, until even that culinary institution was overtaken by the new century's wave of organic vegetarianism and locavore fare.


"Letter from India", 15in x 20in (38cm x 51cm),
watercolor stick, watercolor, water-miscible pastel on paper, 1990's

The title of this piece came to me by association. The turquoise here reminded me of the beautiful transcendent colors in ancient Mughal miniatures.

And now completing a full circle… a couple of watercolors from last autumn.

For some reason, this old and ever-new medium called to me again after several years' absence; I heard its siren call reverberating from the corners of my studio. The outcome was a tall stack of experiments, each on its own color schema, with its own mood, density, and the resulting spatial conundrum.

Here are a couple of examples… may it brighten your day!


"From the Heart", 17in x 13in (43cm x 33cm),
watercolor on paper, 2020



"Everything Is", 15in x 20in (38cm x 51cm),
watercolor stick & watercolor on paper, 2020

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Philip Gerstein | Scene4 Magazine | @David Lee Black-2019

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Born and raised in Moscow, USSR, Philip Gerstein began exhibiting his work in the 1980's with the Boston Visual Artists Union, after pursuing a PhD in Art History at Harvard University.  He studied painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Japanese calligraphy with Toshu Ogawa. Gerstein exhibits in NYC, Provincetown MA, and extensively in the Boston area, as well as organizing and curating painting and photography shows. His work has been reviewed, reproduced and praised in numerous publications, including The Boston Globe, ArtScope Magazine, and Art New England, and he is the author of the prize-winning essay, "Art of Color: Beauty in art comes in so many forms; art of color is a special case of it." International Painting Annual 4. 1st. Cincinnati: Manifest Press, 2014.
More at http://www.PhilipGerstein.com
For his other work in Scene4, check the Archives

©2021 Philip Gerstein
©2021 Publication Scene4 Magazine





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