You started painting in the middle of your 20s. Where did the inspiration come from?
I quit my full-time job as a journalist and editor and practically immediately felt a lack of expressing myself in the creative sphere. I tried different ways of doing that, including scrapbooking and wood burning and then in my list of possible hobbies was the paragraph “try painting”. This is how it all began and at that time I did not expect it to become my true passion, life, and profession.
As we know, your favourite painting technique is watercolour. How did it come that watercolour has become your favourite media?
The versatility of watercolour makes it a fantastic medium. You can control it while at the same time you can’t completely control it. It may be transparent or opaque, bright, or pale, sharp or blurry, obedient or capricious. You cannot repeat the wash exactly the same way again. Watercolour is thought to be one of the most difficult mediums for a reason – it has its own character. It may have been this combination of incongruities that led me to fall in love with watercolour – and that love does not fade away.
Your main painted motives are mountains. What is what makes them so fascinating for you?
Painting mountains with light, fresh and transparent watercolours allow me to share emotions that people could feel while being in mountains – the freedom from conventionalities, the opportunity of being yourself, conscious loneliness, and the immutable passage of time.
Who or what inspires you most in your art?
I would say that the main source of my inspiration is traveling and seeing nature in its incredible and versatile beauty. The mechanism of forming ideas it not so well researched, but there is a direct pattern: the more I travel and see different countries, cultures, and places, the more I want to express these feelings and emotion on paper.
Where do you like to paint more? On-site or in your atelier?
I prefer to paint in an atelier and comparatively only a little on-site. For me comfort is important, and of course, has its benefits, but it’s not convenient for me when the light constantly changes, the wind blows the brushes off, the paper dries faster in the sun, and so on.
You are a watercolour artist and teacher and offer several online classes on Arthustle, Udemy and Skillshare. What is the difference between these three?
The difference between these platforms is in the model: Udemy provides separate workshops for lifetime access, and Skillshare works on a subscription model, where for a monthly or annual fee you have access to master classes. ArtHustle was founded by guys who live in Germany. They are the only ones who have my master class on painting snowy mountains with German voiceover.
Before the pandemic changed our daily life, you also taught in classes. What is the difference between teaching online or offline, and what do you prefer?
I was living in Moscow when I began to teach watercolour, which was before the pandemic. So at that time I mostly taught offline. Then I started spending more time in Germany, there was a pandemic, endless lockdowns, and restrictions, so, like everyone else, I had to move online. I decided that it is more convenient for me to give individual lessons online in Russian and to work in English with recorded online lessons. Personally, I like it better to work offline: it’s easier to correct students’ work, there is more interaction and connection and in general watercolor watercolour always looks better when you see it originally than on the phone or computer screen. And offline is more emotional, of course. But nowadays we don’t have much choice: it’s much more difficult to schedule offline than online, so now for me, it’s mostly online.
As you recommend Hahnemühle The Collection Watercolour 300 gsm paper as your favourite paper, let us know what makes it special for you.
I am ready to sing odes to the Collection watercolour paper, and now it is my main working paper on which I paint almost everything. Since I prefer wet techniques in watercolor, not only 100% cotton is important to me, but also the specifics and technical parameters of paper – behavior, wipeability, drying speed, and so on. The Collection Watercolour paper is perfect for me: this is a very stable paper that does not make any surprises at all and doesn’t interfere in any way with your goals. It absorbs water evenly and dries evenly too, allows to wipe, does not snag the bottom layer on the second wash, doesn’t give the feeling of “too dried” and has no white dots on the surface after drying, waves little. I like the fin texture – it’s so velvety, I feel physical pleasure when I wash over this texture. So for me, this paper is the very best.
You were one of the lucky ones, who had the chance to try out the brand new Watercolour Book 100%, 14 x 14 cm before the launch. What is your impression?
I really liked the new Watercolour Book 100% Cotton! It is very handy in terms of form factor (square, not big and not small, very good size), super-quality stitched and looks neat and stylish. And, of course, the paper! Cotton sketchbooks are quite rare (so I must sew my sketchbooks from my main work paper myself), and I appreciated the new paper created specifically for this sketchbook: it’s just as good, just as stable, and has all the qualities of good cotton paper that I listed earlier. The texture of the paper is a little more visible and the grid is larger than in The Collection. For me, this sketchbook is almost perfect, and I’m glad that finally, Hahnemühle has a 100% cotton sketchbook.
Do you have a dream you would like to realize sometime?
At some age, you stop dreaming, but you start setting goals and looking for ways to achieve them. For me, this “dream and goal” is a personal exhibition of my watercolors with mountain landscapes in a mountainous region – in German Bavaria, Austrian Tyrol, or the Italian Dolomites.
We are curious, what’s next?
There are a lot of plans, and they relate to different things – creativity, teaching, and being an ambassador. These include big plans for a series of paintings, several project ideas united by themes (like “people in the mountains” and “severe mountains”), painting large format watercolors, oil painting, constant learning and studying painting and drawing, shooting a few big courses on Russian and English, more workshops on different themes online, offline workshops in Germany in German, and new projects together with Schmincke and da Vinci.
Additionally, my book will be published in the German language, regarding painting landscapes with watercolour.
So I am really excited and looking forward to all these great things coming up.
Wow, that sounds like a very busy schedule with lots of great events. We wish you every success for all upcoming projects and, above all, continuing fun with your creativity.
Thank you for taking the time to talk.