Using only black and white watercolors, Jakarta-based artist and graphic designer Elicia Edijanto creates breathtaking paintings that show the unique connection between children and animals. In her dream-like scenes, small, young children stand alongside wild animals like bears, elephants and buffalo. The juxtaposition makes each painting feel surreal in a tranquil, contemplative way. “There’s an innate relationship between children and the animal kingdom,” she states. “Our children sing songs about animals, they have toy animals, they have books about animals and they dream about animals.”
I got the rare chance to interview Edijanto on her background and technique, which you can read about below.
How did you learn how to watercolor? Are you self-taught?
I learned it all by myself. I practice a lot, and I try and explore different things. I sometimes like to watch YouTube or other artists’ paintings to know more about their techniques.
How many years have you been painting?
I’ve been painting since childhood. As I grew up, I painted occasionally. I majored in design at my university so that kept me close to art and the creative world. It allowed me to have more time and a chance to work on paintings. Slowly but surely, it got more and more serious, and now I thank God that I’m able to do what I love while supporting my life as well.
How has your watercoloring changed over the past year?
Actually it hasn’t changed a lot. The concept and message, even the style are still the same. There are still a lot of things that I can explore, and I don’t want to rush to move into another different ground. However, for the past year, I’ve tried to picture different kinds of atmosphere in my paintings. From silence to chaos, from mild to wild. I’ve also learned more about many animals, their characteristics, and what they represent.
What are some of the special techniques you use?
I’m depending a lot on watercolor’s fluidness. In fact, I don’t do much, I just wet the paper with water, put on some amount of watercolor, and then just let it flow and make its own shapes. Just like in real life, we can’t control everything. Sometimes we have to let things go their way. Let it be. Sometimes I like using a sprayer and other tools to achieve particular effects.
Why do you only paint in black and white?
Colors can have both its advantages and drawbacks. I believe that the effect of colors on people is subjective. It can enhance the beauty and message of an artwork, but sometimes, it can also mislead you. In my case, I want people to focus on the essentials in my paintings, the emotions, the atmosphere. I want to focus on those things and leave out the colors. But this doesn’t mean I won’t use colors on my paintings in the future. I love colors. It’s just how you carry it out with the message you want to send.