Thursday, November 1, 2018

DPW Spotlight Interview: Vitaly Borisenko

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Vitaly's painting "Fresh Local Peaches" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Vitaly's DPW Gallery Page:

Vitaly was born in 1989 in the former USSR (nowadays Kazakhstan). During the next years his family moved multiple times within Russia before ending up in Vitebsk, Belarus (hometown of Marc Chagall). There he graduated from the high school and studied professionally German and English at the Vitebsk State University. For the next two years he worked as a school teacher, translator and interpreter with an international company in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. In March 2014, Vitaly moved to Pennsylvania, USA. Here he finally gets the chance to try himself in oil painting, something he always wanted to do. Since that time he continues painting with oils in realistic style, learning from books, online video lessons as well as from advices of experienced artists. Since recently Vitaly is resident of Lititz, PA and explores the discipline of Daily Painting, painting every day, exclusively from life and in one sitting ("Alla Prima" approach). (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Well, there is a photo of me from 4 years ago. May 20, 2014. I am sitting on the floor of a hallway and painting with oils for the first time in my life. With the cheapest paints from eBay ($7 for the whole set), cheapest brushes from Michael’s (turned out they were for watercolors), on cheapest bargain cotton canvas. Scribbling some flower pot from a garden book. Just looking to see what I can do. It’s like if you wanted to play a guitar and you took one into your hands and started trying the strings. No education. No mentor. Just take it and go. The pre-story to that photo is that I am starting a new life at that moment. I am a Russian, who just landed in the USA with an immigration visa two months before the picture is taken. Starting a new life, having all roads open.

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

I did. I had several periods after I started my first job here in America and then a second one later, when I didn’t touch the brush for a few months in a row. Eventually though I inevitably got back to the easel.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Since I am self-taught and was developing in a “free fall”, with no particular teacher, I experimented with different genres. I tried still life, then landscape, then seascape, then pets. I was never interested in portraiture for some reason. As to the medium, it always has been oils. I was always a good student and learned over the years, that if you want to master something new, you need to focus. Plus, oils have a particular historical “higher class” meaning for me. I am an elitist in a way.

Fresh Local Peaches
(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Vitaly's interview.

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Still life has really stuck. I know, in academics it is considered not the most serious genre for a professional artist, but that is what I like.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I was thinking of my love for the tall ships and old sail boats. Maybe one day I will try more seascapes and paint ships in harbors.

Orange and Silver
(click to view)

Who or what inspires you most?

For a long time my biggest inspiration has been Sarah Lamb. She is a contemporary American painter. Sarah is amazing and was courteous enough to give me few tips via email when I wrote to her. Also, since last year it is Julian Merrow Smith and his daily painting project “Postcard from Provence”. Most recently I find inspirational the work of Michael Klein. Inspiration also comes from looking at old antique copper pots, crates, raw fabrics. Old and New Masters’ paintings online always help, too.

What does procrastination look like for you?

Heavy feeling to carry around. But with the daily project it is a bit easier, since it is “Alla Prima”. You know that you just sit down and paint and it is done. With larger projects just thinking of all what needs done can be scary, and could be a reason to procrastinate. It reminds me of an analogy – if you have to climb a high mountain, just looking up scares you away from starting. So, focusing on your very first step and then on the next one makes it much easier to have the work done.

Local Peaches
(click to view)

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

Most of all – having a set schedule. A set daily layout from the morning to the evening. If doing this consistently, it just goes automatically, becomes a “flow”. It gets harder when “life happens” and something disrupts it. Then it’s harder to go back.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

All of my larger paintings are either commissions (people tell me what they want in it) or something that I saw and it clicked in my head (“I want to paint that”). With my daily painting project it is sometimes the hardest thing to find a subject. “What do I paint today?” Many times I end up going through the fridge and the cupboards in the kitchen or through my shelf with props in the studio. Whatever clicks. Of course, then the subject needs to be arranged well. It is not what you paint, it is how you paint it.

Lititz Pretzels
(click to view)

How do you keep art "fresh?"

I think, it refers to two things: First, the subject, and second - the technique. Keeping the subject fresh is a matter of leaving the walls of the studio and visiting markets, stores, farm stands. As to the technique – it is about constantly learning something new. Recently I tried a new palette of colors, medium and brushes from M. Klein. It changed the whole look of the resulting painting. Not saying it turned out great (yet)... But fresh!

What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

Burnout is a thing, that is true. Working with a set schedule in the studio day in and day out can become monotonous. Getting out there, going for a drive, meeting people helps to balance it out. Adding highlight/shadow contrast is usually what helps to make artwork vibrant and engaging.

Wilbur Bud

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

I recently got some instructional videos from Michael Klein (East Oaks Studio). There is a whole new concept of painting in both materials (lead primed ACM panels; new paint colors and mediums from new manufacturers) and painting techniques (round brushes and rough glazing on the second pass; more impasto; free shape drawing instead of measured outlines, as well as a whole new way to set up the easel, the palette and color organization!). All of it shook up my standard way of painting I am used to. Maybe even too much, because some results scared me. I decided to make a step back and take some more time and practice, before I can get the results that I find satisfactory.

French Kitchen

What makes you happiest about your art?

We artists paint for other people. I heard of an experiment when several artists were offered commissions under one condition: Their paintings will be locked up forever, and nobody will ever see them. The artists refused. So, when I hear someone saying they like my paintings (mostly at art shows), then I am the happiest. When someone loves my painting so much to purchase one, I am the happiest. When I receive an award, I am the happiest. I guess, “public recognition” is the description word here. But of course, the very process! A painting session in my studio on a sunny day, with a cup of tea in my hand, and a history podcast playing from my phone — it makes me the happiest.

Thanks, Vitaly!

© 2018 Sophie Marine

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