Q and A with Istvan Bernath in the artist studio on top of Hollywood Hills.
He published his second book about the 16 years of collaboration with Princess and Cunard Cruises. It futures 240 paintings from more than 1,200 originals within the Princess and Cunard Permanent Collection.
-What inspires you to paint a piece?
Paintings on Princess Cruises follow specifications. Princess brings designer Teresa Anderson to create certain themes of an area like a restaurant. Over the years we worked together on several variations of an Italian restaurant called Sabatini’s. During my numerous visits to Italy, I fell in love with Italy's many different regions. Nature, architecture, and people from a variety of cultures are truly inspirational to me.
-How long does it take you to finish a painting?
After a particular area has been approved, I am ready to paint all the paintings simultaneously.
They are color coordinated. After I calculate the sizes from the ships architectural plans and transfer the numbers from millimeters to inches, I stretch all the canvases, and prime them. I still have time to change all imperfections when I’m drawing them on the real scale and add more details. Once I' am ready to paint, each area, consisting approx. 6 original paintings, takes about a month to complete.
-What techniques do you use to have everything so aligned and straight?
Most of the paintings are six foot to fifty foot in width. They are not just for decorative purposes,
but also create a particular ambiance . The paintings' architectural lines extend the area of the ships real space. Using straight lines as a guide line for dimension from the four corners of the painting, meeting in the middle, creates believable three dimensional space. Since these paintings are on a moving ship, I have to put the horizons on eye level. When a landscape or the cityscape is created, the horizon is on eye level for a more stable view. Passengers with motion sickness will not be affected. The technique is the old fashion chalk line rope, which is in a thirty-foot case. It is a necessary tool to keep lines together.
-Are the murals that you paint on the ship for sale?
No, they are not. They are part of Princesses’ permanent collection. They have specific function. I have more than eight hundred large size originals on eighteen different Princess ships.
I have smaller paintings and studies of the larger paintings in my studio in Los Angeles. A smaller scale reproduction is a solution to collect a memorable image for a private customer.
-When did you start your relationship with Princess?
In 1995, sixteen years ago. And after twenty cruise ships, I’m still excited today, as I was many years ego. There are two , the largest ever built Princess ships are coming up; named Royal Princess.
-Who are your favorite artists modern/classical?
My favorite period is the fifteen and sixteen century classics like Boticelli, Leonardo,and Raphael. The Pre Raphaleists have re-created the classical style, using less religious subject mater, adding more refined details. I have seen many originals in our extensive travels throughout Europe.
I especially enjoy seeing the newly opened palaces in Italy, and in the Louvre, and in the Napoleon apartment . I also enjoy Art Deco and Art Nuevo painters from the turn of the century. In downtown Los Angeles are many examples of great Art Deco and Art Nuevo paintings. Some great ones are located in the old Broadway movie theaters. I also like Tamara de Lempika. She was a very passionate painter, as well as Diego Rivera.
-Where do you paint?
I paint in my studio which is on the second level of my house. in Los Angeles. The studio has large French windows that overlook the Hollywood Hills. The house is close to Mulholland Drive. And it stretches alongside the top of the Hollywood Hills. It gives me sun all day long. My working hours are very long, when I paint for a new ship. Between ten and twelve hours, seven days a week. I can stretch a fifty foot long ten foot high painting in my studio easily. When the painting is finished, I roll it up on a tube, and is being shipped to the shipyard. That is where the installation is taking place.