No matter the medium I use, my works are always full of emotion, energy and power, be it low or high. These characteristics seem to lead to many questions from the viewers. Questions such as, “What is your subject matter?” “What inspires you?” “How long have you been painting?” and even “Is this really watercolor?”. Because of these questions I had an idea to do a simple ‘Q&A’ to let you know more about me and my work. Hope you take a moment to read and if you have any more questions you think I should add do email me, I would love to hear your thoughts.

What inspires you?

For me, inspiration is an ever changing, fluid experience. I have always felt very connected to my surroundings to the point that my mood is affected by the space and environment I am in. This is something I have been aware of since a was a young child. I distinctly remember having strong reactions to rainy days and quiet snowfalls growing up in Russia. So it is no surprise that my inspiration comes mainly from the natural world around me, and my response to it.

I have 2 rules set for myself regarding inspiration. Rule #1: follow the inspiration when it strikes. This means to paint the inspiration as soon as possible or write it down if painting is not an option. Rule #2: do your best to remove any distractions before painting the inspiration. This includes setting up a very broad painting station and listening to music which would relax me and clear my mind.

How did you start painting?

Why Watercolor?

I can honestly say that art making has been with me for almost as long as I can remember. It has also played a very important role in my life.

My journey began as an orphan in Smolensk, Russia. My older sister and I found ourselves in “Gnezdishko” when I was about 5 years old and her 7. I can tell you that we were absolutely lucky, for this place was full of amazing women who cared for us to the best of their abilities. As a young child I struggled emotionally and at the age of 6 I was introduced to painting to help me express my feelings. Soon after, art making was part of my weekly routine. A local nun named Ulia volunteered her time at the orphanage and took special interest in me. I remember her teaching me a lesson I implement currently “Yana, who told you that you need to mix paint prior to painting? Just mix it on the paper as you go.” I can only assume she taught me this realizing I was a very eager painter, which is still true today.

At the age of 12, I was adopted by a family from the United States of America. I continued to paint and draw. My first oil painting set was given to me by my godmother and I used it to make many very expressive finger paintings.

When turned 18, I decided to move out of my adopted parent’s home as a junior in High School and was blessed enough to be taken in by an incredible person. She supported my love for painting and during my senior year talked me into to attending a ‘portfolio day’ at Maryland Institute College of Art. My portfolio caught the attention of a reviewer and I was accepted into the school during my review. Even though I absolutely loved the freedom of MICA education, it was a very difficult time for me as a young artist. Only thing I can relay is that my inspirations over took my work and I could not keep up. Frustration level was high and I took not 1 but 2 breaks from school. It seemed that I was defeated. No Joan Mitchell or Agnes Martin were going to help me out of this one.

I stopped painting for almost 2 years. It is then that I learned I was pregnant. I of course could no longer oil paint due to fumes and toxins in my style of work. It is then that my boyfriend bought me a small set of watercolors.

I have not touched oil paint since.

This is a question that I receive a lot and it is the most difficult one to answer. Even though watercolor painting might appear a reserved type of painting with lots of control and slow motion painting— it is absolutely not so for my works. I tend to always paint standing, with a board that regularly gets tilted and flipped upside down, paired with fast paced painting—my process is almost a funny performance!

Also, watercolors allow me to have a very interesting dialogue with my creativity. Since I paint very much intuitively my creativity has to keep up with the medium and vice versa. And that is a very interesting process for me. There is never a dull moment for me when I am watercolor painting!

When I think of art, I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye, it is in the mind. In our minds there is an awareness of perfection.
— Agnes Martin