Read on for a wonderful conversation with a very insightful artist...
Web sites, social media etc:
Jelena, tell us a little about what you create:
ARcoTexturePaintings are abstract, architectural, tectonic, textural oil paintings, which I dare to share with art lovers worldwide on etsy J. I find enormous joy in art making and have experimented with various media and techniques both traditional such as figure drawing and ephemeral such as fruit salad. My abstract paintings allow for conversational and contemplative moments without requesting a commitment on the part of the beholder, and therefore truly allow for open and free participation in art regardless of who we are.
Would you like to give us an inside view of your process or technique?
As I shift from realistic and representational to abstract, often non-representational work and back, my process and techniques also change. For abstract paintings I present at ARcoTexturePaintings, I use different palette knives, wedges, and various “tools” and “stencils,” which I occasionally make myself. In the painting process I use these tools to spread the buttery paste of oil colors over canvas, but also to lift, scratch, press, impress or otherwise manipulate color. As I have a full time job, using knives instead of brushes is very convenient because I do or not need to worry about cleaning brushes, while knives also do not allow for high precision and hence allow for more relaxing, free, and not so much controlled process of painting. I love watercolor for its immediate happiness, have tried acrylics, but it is really the brilliance, smoothness, smell, and viscosity of oil colors that I find most invigorating and at the same time most resilient and forgiving; or simply put, from a total mess and disappointment it is relatively easy to achieve some satisfaction by over-painting either sections or the entire painting I was not happy with at some point. I love to paint in full speed wet-on-wet, but recently started to experiment with the layering process that can last for days and months, depending on the painting. In this layering process, which also can be described as sculpting with colors or archi-tectonic process, sometimes I use cold beeswax. Beeswax adds matt and textural quality to the painting and can subtly subdue the glowing explosion of rich colors to reveal the multilayered happiness of oil paintings.
What did you study and where, or are you self-taught?
I am trained as an architect and art and architectural historian, but am self-taught in painting; really had a few art classes as an undergrad student of architecture. Drawing and painting were always part of my life, though with breaks that could last in some cases for several years. During these breaks I often supplant my need for manual art by making excursions in photography.
Where do you do your creative work?
In my kitchen because there I have windows, water source is handy, and it is easy to clean the mess from the floor after a painting session. As I have a need to paint larger and larger canvases (perhaps also because as they are both increasingly more physically and mentally demanding), I hope to be able to have larger space in the future – perhaps to move to a house where I will be able to make my own studio. For now, I am quite happy with my working space in the kitchen; I most often stand when I paint, do not have an easel, and am comfortable to put the canvas on a kitchen counter, on the dining table, or on the floor and paint with both hands if needed, or simply to hold a small-sized canvas in one hand and paint with the other.
How often do you get to do your creative work?
Due to my hectic life and busy regular job, sometimes I manage to paint almost on a daily basis (usually weekends or late nights) but more often I have to make longer breaks… then I simply dream that I paint or dream of and in colors J.
How do you get started?
It is pretty simple. I just spread the drop cloth I buy at local hardware store, turn on some music, take a canvas, and start (or continue) …
How do you define art or creativity?
For me, every art has an aesthetic and spiritual appeal. Rather than originality or a condition of a person or a thing, for me, creativity is above all a process of making meaningful connections and relations among people and/or things in the realms of ideas and forms…
What motivates you?
People and places around me as well as search within me …
Do you find drawing or sketching to be an integral part of your process, why or why not?
Depending on the type of work. When I do representational work, drawing or sketching are critical at least in the early stages of work and at least for the purpose of the composition; for abstract work, quite often the composition emerges on its own … perhaps my training in architecture and years and years of drawing by hand or on a computer (where the "surface" can extend without limits) also allow me to sometimes “speed up” the process and “skip” the sketching part, quite often really relying on a tiny diagrammatic scheme through the entire process; occasionally I also use the segment of my previous painting, to develop a new one … at the same time, I have realized that my need for geometry and drawing is often reflected in the final layers of my paintings where geometry and linear drawings emerge as a kind of connectors that seemingly aim to return the painting “back to order” … in my abstract paintings, I am now trying to completely free myself and to paint just by “sculpting” with colors; in this process, sketches are actually an impediment for me …
Are there any particular artworks or artists that surprise you, inspire you or repulse you?
So many to name … for example, last summer in Munich, I was surprised how relatively small-sized Gustav Klimt’s Music is, an intimate oil painting from his early carrier … and yet, what was I expecting from an emerging young artist who lived in poverty? I later thought… Obviously, despite all training in the field of art history, somehow I was not prepared to see a "small" painting by a big artist; such is the power of art and artists … various other “art surprises” can happen … wherever I travel I visit art museums and art shows; but art can happen literally on the road; … Etsy, which I have discovered recently, is where in a virtual space and on a daily basis I also discover artists and artworks from around the world that move me and inspire me …
Who are some of your favorite artists or artwork?
So many favorites to name … Was blessed in my life thus far to travel a lot, to meet many artists and architects in person, and to experience many artworks one-on-one; some of these artists and many of these artworks are featured in standard art textbooks… With some artists and architects that I met in person, there were situations when nothing had happened; sometimes we would have a chat, and even a dinner or lunch together; sometimes we talked about art but more often about other topics as our discussions developed; in some cases, we were silent standing in front of the artwork or enjoying fantastic space …
When and why did you decide to start your own business?
It was my birthday. I had just come back from yet another draining meeting. For a moment, there was a feeling of resentment. Instead, I wanted to do something nice for myself and for my family and to do something nice for the many nameless others and to spread love and joy … I love to paint and love to share happy moments with the others; I heard from some of my friends about Etsy … By the end of the day, I went on Etsy, opened a store, and put on sale some paintings I did for the past few months on my leisure time... The vibrant Etsy community inspired me; it helped me learn about starting a business, and how to develop policies for my shop. Inspired by some artists on Etsy, I then also opened a section called “the Deal of the Day” where, for a limited time, I put on sale artwork that is heavily underpriced, which simply means that the price is below the cost of the painting materials I used. “The Deal of the Day” rotates and results from my belief that everyone should be able to enjoy and look at art -- as the platform on Etsy allows -- but also that most people should be able to purchase art if this is what would make them happy. Surprisingly, thus far I sold 10 paintings from “regular” sections but not a single one from the “Deal of the Day” … Such is an unpredictable world we live in…
How did you choose the name for your business?
ARcoTexturePaintings is a neologism that contains words ART, Paintings, color and Texture – and this is what it is about
What is your most treasured possession?
There is no “thing” that I could not part from …
What are you currently working on or have recently completed?
In addition to my regular job, I currently work on 17 paintings at the same time – 2 relatively large canvases (larger than 36x36 inches), 6 mid-sized or as I call them “hug-sized” paintings, and 9 small-sized or “happy tiles” (8x8 inches). Of these, one hug-sized painting is the “yearly painting,” which I paint for my husband each year.
What is the most interesting thing about you?
I am just an ordinary person who loves people and life and enjoys art and architecture.
Here is a selection of artwork and artists statements:
"Little Ship Jole is a large-sized painting, which had been prepared and layered for months, and then the last layer was finished in one take in some nine hours without break during one long night when my nephew Jole was born. A friend who was visiting while I was working on the painting asked me whether I would really sell it because I put it on Etsy the day after the baby was born. Of course, I could part from the painting – it brings happiness to me, and would be nice to bring happiness to someone else regardless of the story behind it. Despite how much we can be emotionally attached to paintings and “things,” this “exercise” of putting on sale a painting I am very much attached to, is also for my personal improvement as I wish to always put human condition and human relations first. If I ever sell this painting, money will go with all my boundless love to my nephew, hopefully before he realizes how much money rules our society. "
"Heavenly Leader is a large-sized painting done in oil colors and bees’ wax on gallery stretched canvas. Inspired by the seventh-century treatise the Ladder of Divine Ascent written by a monk John Klimakos and by Byzantine icons, this painting is my interpretation of the urban ascent and descent. "
"Winter in Iowa is a diptych I worked on for months during the first winter when we moved to Iowa. Winters in Iowa are long and brutal; the winter light, however, is brisk and most divine. This diptych done in heavy gesso, oil colors, and gold leafing, tries to catch this winter light-ness, though unsuccessfully …"
"Happy tiles are intimate paintings that can fit into hand or sit on your desk or a shelf and bring a lot of joy despite their small size. I always sign them on the side (somehow people love signed artworks ;) so to allow the beholders to play with them and to rotate them as they wish. I have selected a happy tile “dancing square” and rotated it four times and combined these positions to demonstrate what I mean by the playfulness of happy tiles. Similarly, several different happy tiles can be grouped and assembled and reassembled in numerous combinations. The happy tiles are very reasonably priced and I can see that buyers are most comfortable in purchasing these of all my paintings, perhaps also because they are so playful and not a huge commitment."
Is there anything you would like to add?
Many thanks, dear Sue for inviting me to your art page. I wish you great success and fulfillment in pursuing your art. Best wishes to all artists, aspiring artists, and art lovers. I extend special thanks to everyone who reads your interviews.
Thank you Jelena, for a thoughtful and thought provoking interview!