Russian graphic designer and watercolor painter Eleanor Mill has a knack for capturing the spirit of place. Through her architectural watercolor sketches, she documents buildings with exacting detail. At the same time, Mill imbues her work with the color and light that gives each environment character. This allows viewers to come along with her as she places the memories of her travels down on paper.
Typically focusing on old-world European architecture, Mill is intrigued at how these buildings stand as a testament to history in the face of change. “Buildings and constructions once created by people but now fallen into oblivion have an inspirational value for me,” Mill tells My Modern Met. “They are silent witnesses of history. These giants towering over densely populated cities preserve the memories from the moment of their creation until the last stone drops off their walls.”
Mill starts her creative process out in the field, drawing in watercolor as she travels. “Sketching while traveling is a special kind of exploration of a new space, a subjective opinion expressed by the artist through different styles and accents,” she shares. “An ordinary photograph captures the moment while a work of art is an opportunity to view the world through the eyes of the artist. Similarly, sketches represent my subjective opinion and capture my personal impressions.”
Back in the studio, she uses these sketches to help lay out what will become a fully realized watercolor painting. Not content with copying her direct observations, Mill enjoys recalling the emotions she felt when sketching as well as bringing some hypothetical scenarios to each scene. “I visualize my imagination: what if people disappear from a big city? How ephemeral are we before the hundred-year-old giants created by our fellow tribesmen? Do we complement the greatness of nature?”
Fans of watercolor painting will appreciate that Mill documents her work extensively on Instagram, giving them the opportunity to see how each piece develops. These in-progress photographs also demonstrate the thought and care that goes into Mill’s work. From the color palette to the selection of the correct brush, each decision is carefully weighed in order to bring her vision to fruition.
For those interested in owning a piece of Mill’s work, she sells her prints and originals on Etsy.