The Artist Inside Of You​

Did you ever look at that artist on a street or that painting on a museum wall and wondered – how do they do it? I mean, where do you even start? When painting a portrait for example, do you draw eyes first? Do you start from the top? People got used to considering artists a different breed, ‘free spirits’. But I bet you, there is an artist living inside of you, just being unnoticed!

I grew up in a non-artists family. My father has a degree in engineering and my mom – in foreign linguistics. My grandmother would give me paints and paper so that I entertained myself as a kid when she needed to do some work. That’s how it started and yes, I painted all my life since then. I totally believe any skill is acquirable given time and effort. I was lucky to have a lot of both.

 

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National Academy of Fine Art And Archtecture in Kyiv, Ukraine

 

When I had to choose a college – I wanted to go to Australia and study film production. My parents wouldn’t let me: way too far and I was way too young to even apply (as we used to finish high school at 16 then). As a compromise, I agreed to apply to the National Academy of Fine Art and Architecture in my hometown Kyiv, Ukraine.

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It was close to exams time and I had a lot to catch up. Most applicants graduated already from a community art college. I spent a lot of time studying about theater (as I chose theater stage design as a major due to the least competition). I saw applicants drawing human models at live sketching classes, while I was trying to at least get the general proportions right (pretty unsuccessfully). I was recommended one of the professor’s workshops. It was in historic Kyiv district in a basement. I fell in love with art much more then and met plenty future friends, who as myself succeeded in enrolling to the Academy.

I remember this stage design workshop with another professor. He would have a huge vintage wooden table in the middle of his studio. There were plenty of books everywhere, that we looked through and discussed during a class. He would brew tea and one of the students would always bring some homemade cookies. Then we would show our work in progress. We would talk about whether an idea that was presented works and what are the other possibilities. Our professor said that a stage should remind one of a dream. It shouldn’t be necessarily realistic but it must be persuasive. Whatever it is, it should reflect your relation to an object that you are observing.

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Performance: Sartre ‘FLIES’

One time I was walking with a friend in a park. He wanted to take a photo of a tree, wondering how to make it different. I said that he should show through his photo, how he feels about this tree, how he perceives it. Generally, that is how you learn to tell a story every time you create. Unless you are a journalist that has to depict an unbiased reality, your relationship with a subject should be felt through your work. That is where you have to prove why you want one to spend the time to look at your work.

 

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Painting: ‘Matter of Choice’

 

We all have opinions and feelings. Thinking critically is the first step to awakening that artist inside of us. That is when you become conscious of events surrounding yourself and start to notice things. Anything. Whatever it is that resonates with you. It can be facial expressions of people around you, maybe your family or co-workers. It can be patterns of traffic, or glitter of produce (in my case).When you notice things, you will then start to form your opinions, you will realize how you personally perceive them.

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Painting: ‘Life in Traffic’

When you notice things, you will then start to form your opinions about it, how you personally perceive the matter. It doesn’t really matter whether you love the subject or hate it. There is beauty in both approaches.

The next step is to share the message. It is the skill to let people see (or hear) how you feel about your subject and why. Every one of us has a unique mindset. You know how daltonic people might not even know they don’t see colors right. It’s very simple: the way they see is the only way, hence the right one. So when you tell a story, make sure you tell it loud and clear. The idea should be comprehendible. But it’s not the ultimate goal.

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You remember how it feels when you wake up that winter morning and you see that streets got covered with snow over night and it all seems so freezing cold, that it gives you shivers. But then you make yourself some hot tea and while brewing it your inside windows get covered with newly formed condensation from the heat coming from inside the room. It’s warm and bright in the kitchen, where you are at. Remember a smell of that tea and bread or breakfast. It makes you feel ever warm. It’s all about contrast. One feels rich in a poor neighborhood, and one falls in love with rain when living in a desert. Comparison to an obvious opposite makes your idea visible.

They also told us at art school to sometimes rotate our paintings upside down to see what’s wrong. The trick is that we get used to looking at our work from the same perspective. By changing an angle we pay attention to details again. It’s not only in regards an artwork. They say that driving after 3 years of experience is the most dangerous. We don’t have substantial skills yet, but the process already seems very familiar. So we loose focus, hence car crashes. Staying focused is a skill essential to succeeding in any field. In surgery and art particularly.

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And the last thing – you just need to find your language. It can be painting, drawing, photography, installations or video. Whatever it is that resonates with your perception. And when you start, just never stop. That’s what I did. You can see my work here and maybe share what you think about it with me. But even now, having over 10 years of a professional art career, I can start a portrait sometimes, and have hard times delivering it. But eventually, I always do. It’s consistency that makes it possible. Also the passion for a subject of the story, you are trying to tell. And constant questioning yourself – why? why not? and what if?

And after that, there are really no rules. Just explore and live your life with a story worth sharing. Choose to see the ugliness or the beauty. Just be open and feel it.

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how to stop profiling and wake up from day dreaming

I came across this haiku by Matsuo Bashō (Matsuo was a Japanese poet, lucky enough to be recognized during lifetime):

“Frozen in the night

The water-jar cracks

Wakes me”

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It made me think of the absurdity of dreams. One may be a homeless, ‘the next top model’, or a manager (you name it) in everyday life. But similarly to a butterfly, that gets out of a cracked cocoon, one reveals the real self in dreams. Guided only with subconsciousness, you travel through intricate scenarios. The development and outcome are based on decisions that you make. Cheating yourself is impossible, though. One can only be a true self. It’s a tricky game, you know.

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I once wanted to make an object: a bar cabinet in a shape of a drunk person. A joke would be: ’a person’ stores liquor inside. This idea quickly transformed into an art project: ‘A Dream That Hatched From a Broken System’. Instead of a bar, I felt like I needed to visualize a concept of dreams as a cracked cocoon. In this case, that would need to be a broken, transparent, real-life sized sculpture of a homeless person. I wanted to make it very realistic. My friends and I searched the streets of Kiev to find an ideal model. We provided a full-service: drinks on a bar, car transportation, change of clothes, all in exchange for a couple of hours modeling. We needed to mold a man’s face that had all the signs of street lifestyle.

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As it turned out, it was a rather sad story that he had to tell us. He spoke English, he quoted literature and poetry by-heard, in fact, he was rather well-known in the neighborhood. Kolia ‘Fisher” (his nickname) was just unlucky at a certain stage of his life. He used to work in advertising and video production once, used to own an apartment in a prestigious part of Kiev. Then things went downhill. And from there, it’s just a snowball effect. He said he was fine now. What else could he say?

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His story was a perfect fit and I was glad to tell it. We all just love to stereotype people we know nothing about. I still see him from time-to-time around, when I am in Kiev.

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But my story is about dreams. It only becomes more real from there on. It is a story from within ourselves.

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After we had his face, we needed a body. Kolia didn’t seem to be excited about it. So it had to be me now. I put on two thick winter jackets to reference the size of a grown man. Slavik, my sculpture-artist friend helped me. I want to tell you: being covered with gypsum, that is heavier than my body weight was a challenge. When gypsum dries, it releases heat. It was very hot. Two jackets didn’t help either.

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Then there was a process of filling the shape with plastic. Plastic is a great material on one hand, as it copies every single nuance of a mold (its texture in particular). On the other, it is very toxic and fragile.

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In the end of a day, it turned out to be a great project. It was a real trip and I believe it educated all of us (who helped its creation). It is important to be conscious. But even more so, to try to reflect the dreams in real life. Be true to ourselves, and maybe we’ll start to see more clearly the stories, that people around us are ‘filled with’.

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See more installations here:

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Cheers,

Masha 🙂

I have a problem – I can’t stop cycling

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It was in mid April 2013, that Kiev drowned in snow almost overnight. And that snow storm just wouldn’t stop. In spite of a perception of Eastern Europe as an eternal winter – it’s not rue. At least in Kiev [Ukraine] we normally wear jeans and t-shirts in mid April. But it started to snow. I remember my neighbors tying to dig out the front door to our apartment complex, as it was blocked by snow. (In fact in Russia during the USSR, it was common to build doors so that they open inside the room/building, for that particular reason. But we are not Russia, so we still have problems opening doors on the days like that.)

Cars got stuck in traffic on the highways that lead in and out of Kiev for two days. Many including myself happily used this opportunity to snowboard down the streets.

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Later I stopped by my friend’s art studio. Slavik is a sculpture artist. He had been working on this project for three days now, and cycled to the studio in spring outfit (as three days ago it was spring), before he knew the snowstorm would break out. Slavik is from Odessa and these people are known to be arrogant, but also very hard-working. After locking himself up and eventually finishing the project, he realized he had to make his way home now (to the dorms, where he lived at the time). He got his bike ready. It was a nice Bianchi road bike.

Next day he told us how he cycled to the dorms all the way through the snow-covered  streets and that, even though his bike was rather sliding than riding – he made it home quicker than all those cars stuck in snow and traffic, because bikes never get stuck.


I remember cycling to the presentation of my first big commissioned project with a laptop in my backpack through the rainstorm, that would challenge my eyes to even attempt open for a second (as pouring water would momentarily get in them). And then standing in front of the ‘white-collared’ customers, all covered in dirt, with that soaked laptop. But I really wouldn’t rather stay in traffic, because of some collision ahead.

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1936 Tour de France Stage 1 by BikeRaceInfo

And of course there are those days when you get a flat tire, during that ‘I’ll be right back’ trip. You realize you have nothing that could help you to fix it, and no people around that are willing to assist.

Just that group of mtb cyclists, who almost break your tube even more, by trying to use their air pump on your bike.


And then you walk in your cycling shoes for an hour and a half, with only Slavik on the other end of the phone to entertain you, because his stories are always unbelievably more intense and it somehow makes you feel lucky.

My new art series is about this impossibility to stop cycling. You just don’t stop, however out-of-this-world the circumstances around you seem to be.


Painting above: ‘Froome Chasing Geese’ – acrylic on canvas. It was inspired by that stage of 2016 Tour De France, during which, after a massive uphill and nervous competition between Froome and Quitano (who was unsuccessfully trying to break away), a crash took place in the front rows of break away. It happen because of the misplaced finish line. It was high in the mountains and due to weather conditions the finish line was moved a bit down. That caused a tight crowd. A motorcycle, that was supposed to clear the way, ran into standing too close spectators and suddenly hit breaks blocking the cyclists. Froome got left without his bike as it was broken. Without further hesitation he started to run to a finish line, that was just around the corner. It reminded me that feeling of chasing geese when you are a kid and you are running for life. Also I was inspired by that book ‘The Wonderful Adventures of Nils’, that I remembered from childhood.


Paintings above: series ‘Chasing The Pink’ – acrylic on canvas. They are dedicated to chasing the dreams (the allegory is a reference to the pink shirt of a champion of Giro d’Italia).

Read more about the creation of the painting above ‘Sky is the Limit’ in my previous post.

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The new painting, I am currently working on, explores the absurdity of cycling situations. In this case it’s cycling through snow, no matter what. See the sketch below.

Follow my blog and Instagram to see the finished painting.

See more sports related paintings here.

How you like it? – RAW

Marketing is a common part of our everyday life. Since the establishment of early trade relationships in society, we have learned to present ourselves at the highest value. We still have to ‘market’ ourselves nowadays: when we apply for school or a job (we have to prove our worth at any cost). Food at your local grocery store also participates the competition, and only that, that reaches to the highest standards becomes part of exposition.

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Fall Pampering Harvest

I disagree with and at the same time admire the power, that marketing has on our common sense and the way we perceive objects; the way that marketing strategies are designed to read the target audience’s wishes fascinates me. I wanted to learn all about it.

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‘Human On Display’ – photo by Oleksiy Zubrytsky; model: Olga Balashova; idea: Masha

Marketing is all about creating the unique experience, that stays long in the consumer’s mind. It aims at persuading the buyer, that this is ‘once in a lifetime deal’. At the same time it is based on patterns.

Andy Warhol depicted this process by creating a mass-produced art pieces (that was revolutionary at that time). Andreas Gursky, on the other hand, puts that almost ornamental pattern, straight into your face. His photos swallow the viewer with its infinite details.

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Andy Warhol – Campbell Soup Series
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Andreas Gursky. Chromogenic color print. 6′ 9 1/2″ x 11′ (207 x 337 cm) Lent by the artist, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, and Monika Sprüth Galerie, Cologne. ©2001 Andreas Gursky.

I look at the theme of marketing from the point of view of a hypnotized customer. The one that is like a fly attracted to the light; the customer that is in the same way attracted to the product. This is a very powerful force, that is able to completely blind a person.

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‘Problem of Choice’ acrylic painting on canvas by Masha

 

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‘Problem of Choice’ – painting in process
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‘Problem of Choice’ – acrylic painting by Masha
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‘Problem of Choice’ – acrylic painting by Masha
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‘Problem of Choice’ – acrylic painting by Masha

My series started with an observation of the problem of choice we have nowadays. Whereas it seems that our options are endless, we are in fact, just tricked by variety of labels,  that promote the same substance. When you choose between ‘cola’ and ‘fanta’ – it’s ultimately sweet water produced by Coca Cola brand.

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‘Pick Me!’ – acrylic painting by Masha

The first work is called The Problem of Choice. It depicts the average woman anxious at the drink isle. I was inspired with the part of the movie ’99 Francs’.

Later I decided to dig dipper and play with the parallels between marketing of a product and marketing of the person. This theme basically starts with high-end modeling and luxury goods and ends with your next neighbor in the snack aisle of your local grocery store.

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Salmon on display at the local store – photo

My friends (who so generously volunteered their time and effort) and I organized a photo shoot that would depict a ‘person on display – raw’. We brought a blown-up pool to the photo studio and filled it with 200 kg (440 lb) of ice. I was trying to stylize the models and their positions similar to those in the raw meat and fish section.

Two most adventurous models I ever had were Alina and Olga Balashova. Olga was the first art curator, who picked my artwork, piled among other things in corridors of the Art Academy, for the huge contemporary art show in Kiev. It happened so that we started talking about art and then I just asked if she would want to volunteer as a model for these new series, I am working on. The fact she agreed was a pretty big deal for me at the time! And looking back at those photos I still can not appreciate it enough!

Watch Olga’s art lectures on Vimeo and read more of Olga’s articles dedicated to the contemporary art here. (UA/RU)

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For the photo of ‘meat’ I actually splashed that red-colored acrylic paint all over the model.

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Couple of the models didn’t show up. My friend had to drive my old manual stick ford car (that was lacking right mirror and would die every time you stop) to pick up the substitution. These were two guys whom she saw for the first time. They made their way back to the studio and brought a bottle of vodka. I also had to substitute one model. The ice was beyond cold. I can not admire enough the dedication with which Alina and Olga laid in that pool, waiting for our next command.

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Final pics looked like this:

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And here are the paintings that came out of them:

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‘Meat’ – acrylic painting; ‘Human on Display’ Series
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‘Fish’ – acrylic painting; ‘Human on Display’ series
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‘Meat-1’ – acrylic painting; ‘Human on Display’ series
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‘Fish-1’ – acrylic painting

 

Check out more of my paintings at Createdbymash.com!

And follow me on Instagram 🙂

Cheers,

Masha!

 

Targo Florio – Brian Redman & Porsche 908

Brian Redman – a talented racer, who survived a massive crash at the pick of his career. Always with a smile and great charm. Brien’s is the one of a true British elegance and humble success stories. He is usually accompanied by his absolutely beautiful wife. Traveling around the US with the automobilia car events, races, and vintage car shows teach one to appreciate having such person nearby.

We meet closer at Monterey car week in California. Particularly at the Laguna Seca Vintage Race.

The portrait I painted of Brian was signed and copy on canvas was given away for a charity auction, that both Brian and myself committed to.

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Later I decided to make a bigger piece of him. Brian raced at Targo Florio in 1970. That was a very unique race, as it was going through the mountainous Italian island of Sicily and was held entirely on the public roads. For this event, Porsche introduced their new car, the light and nimble 908/03. Pole position went to the Wyer 908/03 of Jo Siffert/Brian Redman, followed by the official works 908/03 of Vic Elford/Hans Herrmann.

I thought it made a great story for a larger painting. In fact, Brian wrote a great book based on his memories of racing career, that I became obsessed about.

See the complete painting, with a chance to purchase the original or a copy here:

http://www.steveaustinsautomobiliaandtravel.com/masha.html

Here’s how the process looked:

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Painting Targo Florio 70′ – depicts Brian Redman on the way down to Cerda in the Porsche 908
See the final product and buy the original painting here: http://www.steveaustinsautomobiliaandtravel.com/masha.html
See more paintings at: Createdbymasha.com

Sign up for a newsletter and follow me on Instagram!:)

Cheers,

Masha

Sky Is The Limit painting creation process

Sky Is The Limit – is the painting that was created at a very special part of my life. I am an artist and was painting for as long as I can remember myself. However after graduating from my art academy I was close to realization that I might be not that good at painting and maybe I will achieve more in promoting art (more of a PR/marketing sector of the industry). I also got involved in advertising and contemporary ballet. In fact, I even developed the whole ballet performance project (Sweet Expiration), that I took to NYC to try to raise funds for its production. Little did I know that was the trip that took me away from home country Ukraine for good.

Ballet performance never was produced. I ended up moving to Arizona. The day my plane landed on the US soil, the national revolution had started in Ukraine. I didn’t paint for two years. Then I started that “so west coast” common routine of doing yoga in the morning at a gym, followed by those super overpriced kale smoothies.

 

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I discovered that my yoga group instructor at the Village gym was a massage therapist. My spine is far from perfect and running/snowboarding etc. really don’t help. So I set up an appointment. She was great. I felt like I could breathe again (that magic was the massage, she gave). That day we agreed for a barter: I paint her a painting and she gives me massage sessions worth of the painting cost. I got intrigued to fit her place and concept of it with the painting I will make for her. I came across the Bolivian salt flats pictures. Then, I read all those stories about the biggest one of them – Salar de Uyuni.

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It is the world’s biggest salt flat desert. And just a few times a year, during a rainy season, it get’s covered by few inches of water. That is enough to make it the world’s biggest mirror. In fact, it’s so perfect, it is used to calibrate satellites. The beauty of it (how I imagine it) has curved into my consciousness for a while now. I read multiple blogs on how to travel there. It is definitely on my bucket list. Among the best ones seemed to be this:

Source: Salt of The Earth, Cycling Bolivia’s Salars – BIKEPACKING.com

Deserts like that, are often used for setting speed records (due absence of obstacles). I saw this bike. It all suddenly came together: the Bolivian salt flat desert and Tour of Italy (Giro d’Italia – pro-cycling bike race) that I was obsessing over recently (as it was the end of May, and I was watching this race live).

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I made the first painting, that inspired me to proceed with the whole series. My yoga instructor loved it. I quit yoga classes and smoothies very soon, and never saw her again. But she appeared in my life in the perfect time to kickstart my painting process.

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There is also a great song Sky Is The Limit by Notorious B.I.G. The actual painting was titled in its name. It still hangs in my bedroom – looking for the right buyer. But it is definitely one of the most special for me.

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The final version of the painting is here.

See more of original art at my website: Createdbymasha.com and follow me on Instagram @createdbymasha. Also please feel free to comment and subscribe to my blog. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cheers!

Masha