From Anna's DPW Gallery:
I live in Saint-Peterburg in Russia, where I grew up, but I was born in the ancient town of Cesis in Soviet Latvia two years before the collapce of USSR. I always loved to draw but never took it seriously, because my family convinced me that there is no point to aspire to it as a profession, as I wouldn't make a living. Just like so many young people before me, I blindly trusted the judgement of my parents and got the profession they wanted me to. It turns out their choice was not the best one and couldn't bring me money nor happiness. I constantly had a feeling that I was waisting my life. Two years ago I decided that I postponed my vocation way too long and went to a local amateur art school. (click to read more)
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.
Probably just like everyone, I had some attempts at art during my school years. Actually, some level of painting and drawing was obligatory for my first school. I'd been studying at Waldorf school up to the last four grades. This education system strives to emphasize imagination in the learning process through artistic and intellectual development of pupils. I don't remember ever using textbooks except for grammar and maths there. All the possible illustrations and schemes for history, physics, you name it, we used to draw in our copybooks by ourselves under the supervision of our teacher. We even had a subject where it was our home work to paint several illustrations about some part of a story that was read to us. Sometimes I think that I remember information learned in that school better because I had to paint most of it.
Unfortunately my Waldorf school was closed and I went to state school where I was pressed by my parents to get serious and chose a normal profession, even though by that time I started considering becoming an illustrator. But well, I listened to my family as I sincerely believed that they were the wise adults and knew what was best for me. The next time I started to think about drawing again was only when I got married. I'd been looking through CG illustrations for some months, some were too beautiful to even think about that level of mastery, others were painted by amateurs, but nice nonetheless. At one point, after watching another tutorial I thought: how much longer am I going to just look? I needed to try it myself. Seeing my interest, my husband made me a Christmas present - a tiny drawing tablet. At the beginning it was an awkward experience, but I still keep the very first picture I painted on it, it is absolutely terrible.
After several months of playing with this new toy, something nice started to come out of it. It was fun and I became thoroughly engrossed in CG painting, but my works were lacking. I'd been enthusiastically stumbling in the dark without any understanding. So after two years of painting on the computer in my free time, I resigned and found an art school not far from my work. I started from the basics and found that I feel extremely motivated when I pay for my own education. I had surprisingly fast progress in pencil drawing and after some thirty lessons my teacher started to nudge me to try first watercolor and then oil. So I would say that officially my oil painting started only two years ago.
(click to view)
Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Anna's interview.
Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?
I feel that currently I'm in the very beginning of my painting career and as my art finally started to bring some money I doubt that my very supportive husband would give me any chance to stop.
What mediums and genres have you experimented with?
I started with gouache and crayons at primary school, then moved to watercolor pencils and watercolor washes. Without any art education I was free to happily mix watercolor with gouache and thoroughly enjoyed it, fortunately I don't know where these works went. Tried pastels and acrylics for a few months. I love painting people on the computer but have never tried it with oil. Returning to watercolors after painting on the computer was a humbling experience. I started to paint flowers because ten years ago, when my mum asked me to paint red roses on her wall they turned out more like tomatoes, so I decided to learn it finally.
(click to view)
Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?
Of course I still make sketches in pencil, I like to spend an evening painting something on my iPad. Currently, I'm striving to master oil. I feel like I like to look at watercolors more than I enjoy painting them. Others have fallen away.
Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?
I would like to play a bit with acrylics this summer, maybe do some studies in my garden and in the forest. Also I want to try figurative painting, though I'm not sure that I'm ready for it.
(click to view)
Who or what inspires you most?
Nature and countless wonderful artists. I'm in love with academic painters of 19th century, charmed with contemporary American realism painters and I am in constant awe of CG artists.
What does procrastination look like for you?
I'm not able to make myself paint in the morning. I only managed it at art school and just because my teacher worked in the first part of the day. Several times a week I promise myself that I'll start at least at noon, but in the end I find a dozen seemingly important chores, interesting articles in the internet, can't stop reading that story or weather is too good to miss, and as a result I drag myself to my workplace around 5 o'clock.
(click to view)
What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?
Interesting audio books help a lot, otherwise my thoughts tend to stray and I go search for the answers online. I'm not able to do anything while listening to audio books so it is a perfect combination with painting for me. Also my husband is so supportive that he doesn't let me be overcome by my laziness.
How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?
I may see some beautiful fruit in the supermarket and buy it just for painting. Once I bought just one small plum because it had a nice leaf attached. I like to walk through the forest with my camera and visit botanical gardens. I love to paint from life, but quite often I make a photo for future use because at the given moment I may not have time or enough skills for it. Some photos I find in the internet, but I rarely like painting from them, it is too difficult to find something that feels right to me.
|Red Onion with a Pearl Tomato|
(click to view)
How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?
When I get frustrated I change the subject or the medium. From time to time I can't stand painting at all, usually a day of different activities helps. Last autumn when I went camping on Ladoga islands I took with me everything for painting and just felt that I didn't want to paint, so I spent two days just laying on the rocks and gathering berries. But by the second night I started to sketch the moon road and a boat on the back of my book despite the lack of light.
What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?
I feel like I'm at the bottom of my ladder and the skills I want are somewhere around the moon. Right now I would like to learn looser technique and the one with the pallet knife, also I need to work on my volume and I strive to understand the composition.
What makes you happiest about your art?
I love the process of creation, but the second best part is when my works find a new home and I get feedback. I'm not very interested in my paintings after I finish them, but it brings me real joy to know that they made somebody happy.
© 2018 Sophie Marine