The Countryside Alliance 2017 Christmas cards are still available to order. This year we have nine beautiful, top quality Christmas Cards to choose from and the Countryside Alliance 2018 calendar.

One of the cards ‘Master and Hounds‘ has been kindly designed by Joseph H. Sulkowski, who’s work has been represented in public and private collections worldwide and received numerous awards including the AAPL Grand National Award, the Grumbacher Gold Medallion Award and the Best in Show award at the Art in the Mountains exhibition sponsored by Southwest Art magazine.

We asked him a few questions about his skills and inspiration.

1. Tell us about your background and how you got into painting?

Joseph Sulkowski knew from the age of five that he would be an artist. His early skills in drawing and painting enabled him to begin a path toward fulfilling his passion. Following graduation from Canon-McMillan High School, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, founded in 1809 and the oldest art school in the U.S. Later he met his greatest influence and mentor, Frank Mason, the foremost authority on the principles and techniques of the Old Masters at the Art Students League of New York. Mason was the last great protegé of Frank Vincent DuMond whom he succeeded as teacher in Studio 7 at the League. Dumond was a close friend and disciple of James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

2. Is there a particular style or technique you use when painting? Can you explain how it works?

Joseph Sulkowski refers to his style of painting as “poetic realism”. He values his freedom to view the world in an interpretive manner and then to express that vision in rich impastos and luminous transparent shadows on canvas.

3. What inspires you and where did you get your main inspiration from for these Christmas cards?

The animals, figures and landscape of the sporting life are the subjects that continually draw Sulkowski’s attention. His love for sporting dogs, terriers and foxhounds inform many of his most illustrious canvases. At the same time, he is inspired by the intimacy of companionship of “man’s best friend”, the feeling of which is expressed in his privately commissioned pet portraits.

Sulkowski’s trips to places afield from the quail hunting plantations of south Georgia to the grouse moors of the Scottish Highlands continue to be sources for inspiration. The artist has also often returned to one of his favorite subjects, the horse, to capture this animal’s grace and beauty.

4. What would you say is integral to the work of an Artist?

I believe that an Artist should be, number one, a great draftsman. In addition, especially for the animal or figurative artist, a profound knowledge of anatomy, perspective, form, value and color as well as deep understanding of the craft of one’s materials adds to the expressive power of the artist’s intentions. If the artist is able to strike a fortunate rhythm in his/her work, the radiance will come through. Rembrandt and Velasquez, as well as Michelangelo and Leonardo, are excellent examples of the Artist as both craftsman and as powerful observer of the Natural world, and each had a technique which was uniquely expressive.

5. What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

For me, my own hand made oils and mediums are my most important tools. The recipes I use to make them are based upon those used in the studios of the 17th century masters, including Rembrandt, Rubens and Velasquez. The quality of these may be compared to that of home made bread versus a commercial product. With a fluid medium, I am able to create a range of expressive qualities in my brushstrokes as I shape the forms and also in the luminous transparencies I’m looking for in the shadow passages.

‘Master and Hounds’ is a beautiful image, perfect for Christmas time. You can order a pack of 10 online or call 0370 270 9011 to order by phone.