When did I first learn to relay the visual world around me into images? I do not remember. But it must have been at age 2, or probably earlier, that I first laid my hands on color pencils.
At 6, I was enrolled in an art school, where I attended classes for three hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon, for ten years. So, painting was the most natural human occupation for me - no big deal, really. We, the art students, were taught along the lines of traditional art education. The three core elements were painting, drawing, composition, each assessed separately. (I remember my very first assignment, in gouache: a street scene in Moscow - children in a playground, a passing bus, trees, sky with some clouds...)
From November through March it was drawing from classic plaster casts - in pencil, charcoal, sanguine, black ink, pastels... When days were longer, we painted - still lives of all sorts, landscapes, portraits (the students in turn posing as models for the group), illustrations, sketches from life... A home assignment for one week could be 50 pen and pencil sketches of , or animals, or cars, or whatever... In later years, we also had sculpture classes (learning how to handle clay, plaster, wood, metal).
As I was approaching graduation, I was faced with dilemmas. I could go on to specialize in applied arts as a sure way to make a living, or get a broader education in another field, the great unknown world out there. But the main reason why I chose at that time to abandon my artist's career was that I had been fed up with realistic painting, being then basically ignorant of the possibilities offered by numerous other styles. It was only later, after a decade or so of heading in other directions, that art began once again creeping into the range of my life. I traveled, admired lots of different pieces of art at greatest museums in Europe and America (mostly being influenced by Symbolism and Expressionism), learned new media unknown to me in my youth - acrylics and alkyds, made friends with some amateur artists, and discovered that the many years of proper schooling had not been in vain, after all... From the early 1990s, through hard work and many failures, I have been developing a style that, I hope, is recognizably my own.
It takes a lot of time to complete a painting (at first, it used to be 2 to 3 years, sometimes longer). I am struck by a view that I feel is absolutely necessary to put on a piece of canvas. I do a life sketch or take a photograph, but sometimes there is neither the time nor opportunity for that - it is usually sudden and unexpected. I keep it in my head and get to work at the first opportunity. First, I do a sketch on canvas, with paint, and apply the first layer with a big brush. After the paint dries, I go over it again with a medium-sized brush. The next phase is when the real work begins. I sit for many hours in my Moscow studio, applying small strokes and tracing lines in all directions with a tiny brush, until the desired image finally emerges. Sometimes I am certain that the painting is unfinished, but do not know how to proceed - then I set it aside and keep glancing at it now and then, often for days, while the painting, in its turn, sits there and looks at me. Then, after more effort, it seems finally to be finished - only to call me back to apply yet another touch here and there. However, once it is finished, it tells me so, plainly and unequivocally. It cools down and asks nothing more from me.
Many years ago I was considered to be good at color arrangement, but drawing was my weak point. Now, if I were to describe my style, it is essentially 'drawing with paint' - or 'paint-stitching'. No doubt, I have borrowed something from embroidery. Perhaps it is essentially feminine. But, as I have other professions and do not depend on art as my sole source of income, I can spent as much time as I like on each of my works, focusing only on its quality.
I have never been a formal member of any group, movement, or professional union.
Other, less important essentials:
1962: Born in Moscow, Russia (then the USSR).
1968-1978: Krasnaya Presnia Art School in Moscow.
1969-1979: Moscow secondary school # 22 (majoring in English).
1980-1985: Moscow State Linguistic University.