1000 Heads: the book

1000 heads, my illustration book

Inspiring books for the creative type


Marina’s Terraces by Nils Burwitz

In my opinion (and many other people’s), one of the best watercolour series ever produced is Marina’s Terraces by Nils Burwitz.

This ongoing series of hundreds of big watercolours (51 x 73 cm.) is based on the shapes of a particular landscape of terraces near Valldemossa, Mallorca, the village where Burwitz has lived ever since he came to Mallorca in the mid seventies, after a long time living in South Africa.

Each drawing integrates pencil writings, typically on the right and bottom sides, and always surprising colour treatments in the main area of the rest of the image. Intended as letters to his wife Marina, each drawing in this series seamlessly combines those texts in german, english, afrikaans, catalan or spanish (he is a polyglot) with the image. He comments about his private life and events, and other happenings in the world that surrounds him —ranging from local to universal issues.

He started the series in 1977, and he is still creating new “letters”, with no signs of tiring, always being amazingly creative, fresh and fascinating. These watercolours have never been for sale, and probably never will, but the artists has had them exhibited in several galleries and museums, and there is a limited edition of a selection of the drawings, edited in offset prints.

Technically, most of these terraces are pure watercolours, which take advantage of transparency, wet fusions and paper whiteness. Others have a mixed media treatment, with wax crayons, inks, décollage... The paper is actually a drawing board with watercolour paper surface, and he draws the pencil lines of the landscape with a template he made with a board of the same size, where he cut out the shapes of the defining forms of the terraces.

Nils Burwitz (b. 1941) is an extraordinarily gifted artist who has created in oil painting, sculpture, engravings and other print techniques, installations, many drawing media and even stained glass projects for churches and other buildings.

Burwitz has a small webpage, but there is only a fraction of his wondrous talent showing up there. If you ever have the opportunity to visit an exhibition by Nils Burwitz, don’t miss it, especially his painted work and of course his Marina’s Terraces.

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