Friday, April 20, 2012

DPW Interviews: Elena Katsyura

From Elena Katsyura's DPW Gallery page:
She was born in Russia and received her Master's degree in Art in her native city of Chelyabinsk. Her artistic creed is a combination of the traditions of Russian realistic art and French impressionism. Her paintings have been shown at exhibitions in Russia and in California and she currently resides in Georgia, U.S.A., with her husband and daughter.
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

In my childhood, I was very interested in everything that had to do with art. I had many collections of postcards with drawings that I found pretty or unique, and I still keep those postcards. I was always into art books and could look at one painting for hours. Later, in elementary school, I enrolled into the Children’s Art Studio in Chelyabinsk, Russia. I loved the place, I loved to draw and paint. I felt that I truly belonged with art.

That was my true start in painting that kept me going my whole life.

Peach and Black Grapes
(click here to see original image)

In my middle school years, I attended a more serious art school for children my age. I learned to paint better there, and decided I would move onto Art College. There, I fell in love with both watercolor and oil painting, but later picked just oil and I have been painting with it ever since.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

Well,  when I gave birth to my daughter in 1999, I had a minor pause in my artwork, but resumed shortly after my daughter began growing up. I find that I cannot live too long without my paintbrush, and that it is hard to take a long break from my artwork. Since my daughter is 13 now, I am painting regularly and find no need to stop my art.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with? Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away? Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I am not really an experimenting person. I tried some acrylic, some watercolor, but I stick with oil. I find it the best medium for me, and currently in Daily Paintworks, I paint only in oil.

Maybe when some time has passed and I become even more experienced with my art, I will take a break from oil and pick up watercolor once more.

Black Coffee
(click here to see original image)

You capture such fine details in so many of your paintings. Have you gotten "faster" at painting accurately over the years?

I find that now that I am painting at least one painting every day, I am getting better, and know what techniques to use and when. I try to remember my previous painting each day and keep mental notes about certain colors to use this time, what brush to use for specific details, and so on.

I remember that one day I thought about what certain type of color to use on a detail in my painting. Then I referred to one of my other paintings, and found out which color I had to use. Referring to my previous paintings helps me a lot in my new paintings, because I learn from my mistakes.

What does procrastination look like for you? What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

I don’t remember a time when I had a problem with procrastination. But then again, I have never painted daily, and always tried to schedule when I would work on a painting.

A couple of years ago, I worked on maybe two paintings a month, because my daughter was still pretty young and dependent on me. Whenever I would try to get some painting done, she would interrupt me and I was once again back where I started on my work. Nowhere.

Now that my daughter is pretty much grown-up and can find activities to do without my help, I paint daily. It also helps that she is in school from 8:30 until 3:30, so I have plenty of time to paint.

If I don’t have anything scheduled for the evening, I work on another small painting as well. I am usually not in a hurry to get my painting done, and I have a peaceful environment behind my easel.

Paris Memories III

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I get ideas mostly from nature. Whenever I see a flower or a pretty leaf growing somewhere in the middle of the highway, I am frustrated that I don’t have the chance to pick it. When it was autumn, I had a large variety of red and golden leaves that I would paint with my teacups. Now, in spring, it is blooming time, and many of those blooming blossoms and flowers have ended up on the table in front of my easel.

I am also thrilled with the idea that I have a “real live” magnolia tree right in my own backyard! My neighbor’s magnolia is already blooming, so I am expecting my own tree to start producing those gorgeous white flowers sometime soon.

Although it sounds like I am having an easy time just simply picking flowers and setting them in front of my canvas, whenever there isn’t an item from nature nearby, I have a very hard time deciding what to paint. I am famous for my teacups, but I notice that so many of my paintings have teacups on them.

My husband is a great help in giving me advice on what to paint, and I am always grateful for a few pointers. Actually, I forgot to mention that my husband graduated from the same Art College as I did, and it is where we first met. So, naturally, my husband is a good drawer himself, but since he is a teacher and linguist, he doesn’t have time for any serious painting.

How do you keep art "fresh"? What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

Now that I am painting for DPW, I paint every day and usually on 6”x6” gessoboards.

What is very new for me is this tiny painting size. I feel that that is very fresh, and it is amazing how I can fit so much information that the still life in front of me carries on a 6”x6” limited format.

My teacups surrounded with flowers, leaves, and fruit; the vases of flowers; and especially Two Kids from my new “Farm” series simply fascinate me with their ability to fit onto the tiny canvas. But those small paintings carry meaning, and the miniatures that capture interest are the best ones of all.

A Day on a Farm

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Ever since I signed up for DPW, I found out that it is actually possible to paint daily, monthly, yearly. I am continually painting and finding out more from others.

Before I came to the USA, I didn’t have a blog, and didn’t have any experience in describing my paintings, so this is something else new. Since my first language is Russian, and my daughter is way ahead of me in learning English, she often helps me translate my ideas from Russian into English, even though she is currently 13. Now I am learning to write descriptions for my paintings in both my blog and DPW.

Pansies and Autumn Leaves
(click here to see original image)

What makes you happiest about your art?

I just love returning to my easel every day and accomplishing something I had in mind, as any other artist would! I try my best, and once in a while I have a bad day, but it always turns out fine the next time I paint. I thank God that He has given me an opportunity to express myself through the wonderful study of art.

Thanks, Elena!

© 2012 Jennifer Newcomb Marine

Jennifer Newcomb Marine is the Marketing and Community Manager of Daily Paintworks. She's an author and blogging and marketing coach.

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