Joe Cibere: Abstract Realism in Watercolor

Published Oct. 13th 2009

It’s always a delight to run across an artist who uses a medium or technique in a fresh way. Joe Cibere has taken watercolor painting to a new level with his thoroughly abstracted landscapes.

An instructor at the California Art Institute in Westlake Village, Joe describes his watercolors as "abstract realism." His love of nature and wilderness is transformed into beautiful washes of striking color and loose detail. Honestly, I struggled to choose just three of his images to showcase in this article—there were so many more that were just as amazing.

Joe states that "the challenge is to know when to stop and let the medium take over," which incidentally works very well to explain the painting below.


The trees surrounding this little village seem to be created by color spilling wherever it pleases, but Joe still has control over it. One cannot see the individual leaves, yet we know they are there, making up the vibrant fall foliage. The medium itself shines, yet there’s enough structure that we can still understand the entire scene.

Technique is one of Joe’s strengths, but he also uses color to grab the viewer’s attention. For example, in the painting above the vibrant reds and greens nicely frame the quaint structures.

In this next piece, the warm expanse of prairie creates a prominent foreground, which serves to draw attention to the delicate cottage in the distance.


The wall of the cottage is pink, and even the far-off green fields are an intense lime. All of this serves to direct our eyes towards the focal point, and balance the the wide open spaces around it.

In addition to painting many remarkable landscapes, Joe also captures the subtle detail of flowers in many of his works, as seen here. The "color" found in the white petals below are simply amazing.


I invite you all to visit Joe’s website at and experience the rest of his beautiful watercolor paintings.

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