"When I work in my studio I think about what makes me stop in front of certain paintings, and I strive to create works that can potentially trigger similar emotions in people."
Tell us about yourself and background. Iamusuallydescribedasa‘Russian-bornBritish artist’,whichisverytrue.However,I’velivedinso manycountriesIoftenthinkofmyselfasa‘citizen oftheworld’.IwasborntoaRussianfamilyinthe formerUSSR,grewupinLatvia,CzechRepublic andSlovakia,wenttohighschoolanduniversityin Russia,receivedmyarttraininginMaltaandItaly. Since2005myhomehasbeeninGreatBritain but I work worldwide: my current schedule includesprojectsinsixdifferentcountries. Tell us about your work. I create realistic portraits in classical style, workingprimarilybycommission.Iambestknown forceremonialportraitsandpaintingsofchildren. I have tried working in different genres and techniques but my passion for classical portraiturehasbeensostrongthatIgaveitallmy time and energy. I’ve been painting portraits full time for the last 15 years. I also have a strong interest in painting fabrics and elaborate embellished garments, which makes me very suited for ceremonial portraiture and attracts most fascinatingcommissions. What makes your work and approach unique? I practise techniques that are rare today as they arenolongertaughtinartschools.Myoilpainting methodisbasedonthetraditional17-century Flemish technique. I start with a detailed monochrome underpainting and develop the image gradually by applying multiple layers of opaque paint and transparent glazes. This technique creates visual effects that are not possible to achieve with modern direct painting methods. My pastel works are inspired by the colouredchalkdrawingoftheRenaissance.Iwork inConteontonedpaperandusealimitedpalette ofonlythreecolours–red,blackandwhite–which can produce a surprisingly wide range of subtle realistic skintones. Why is your work a good investment? I believe that classical portraiture is a unique genre that has a timeless value and is above trends and fashion. People are always drawn to well-paintedportraitsbecausetheyaremorethan paintings: they engage the viewer and provide psychological insights into the characters of the sitter and the artist. I try to create portraits that speak a universal language and communicate feelings and ideas that will be as relevant in the future as they are today. I care a lot about longevityofmyworksanduseonlypremiumquality archivalmaterialsandtime-testedtechniques. Tell us about some of your achievements. I would like to hope that my major achievements are still ahead, but I’ve had a few moments that mademefeelproud.Onehappenedin2016when Iwasawardedthestatusof‘LivingMaster’bythe ArtRenewalCenterintheUSA,whichincludedmy worksintheARCMuseumofrealistartandplaced meinthesameleagueasmanygreatartistsIhad admiredforyears.Anothermemorablemoment waslastyearwhenIwascommissionedtopainta veryimportantmilitaryportraitforthepermanent collectionoftheRoyalRegimentofArtillery(UK). What are your sources of inspiration? Idrawmyinspirationprimarilyfromthegreat figurative artworks of thepast. Iloveexploringhowartistscapturedtheirsitters, whatclothestheywore,whatsettingstheychose and why, how they resolved compositions and orchestrated lights and shadows. I can get inspired by passages of masterful brushwork, graceful lines, subtle colour harmonies and exquisite detail, meaningful props that contain hiddenmessages. WhenIworkinmystudioIthinkaboutwhatmakes mestopinfrontofcertainpaintings,andIstriveto create works that can potentially trigger similar emotions inpeople. What you are passionate about? Iampassionateaboutrevivingtraditional aestheticsandstandardsofqualityinart, particularly inportraiture. Modern art is an interesting area of activity and experimentation,butIfindalotofitgimmickyand toofocusedonthedesiretoshock.Idoubtmany ofthoseworkswillsurvivethetestoftimeasthey try to fit the trends that are fleeting, and also because they are not made with archival materials. It makes me sad because what we create today establishes us in the eye of the posterity as a culture. I do not want future generations to judge us solely by examples of modernart. Fortunately, there are many brilliant figurative artistsactiveintheworldtodayandIamhappyto feel a connection with them and to see that realismisappreciatedagaininthe21stcentury. Tell us the back-story of some of your projects. Oneofthemostfascinatingprojectsofminewas asetofceremonialportraitswhichIcreatedafew yearsagowhilelivingontheIsleofMan. Itbeganin2011whenIwascommissionedtopaint two Speakers of the local parliament called Tynwald. I got an opportunity to meet very interesting people and learn history of one of the oldest European parliaments which is more than 1000 years old. Ilovedpaintingthegold-embroideredceremonial robesandelaboratepropswhichreallychallenged mypaintingskills!LaterIcontinuedthethemeand painted several more artworks inspired by the Tynwaldtraditions,includingapanoramicsceneof national day celebrations with Manx folk dancers in theforeground. Three of those Isle of Man themed artworks are nowonpermanentpublicdisplayandareofficially partoftheUKnationalcollectionofoilpaintings. Share with us your upcoming projects. Ihavealwayswantedtoworkonsomeinteresting projectsinRussia,itwasmydream,andfinallyit has come true: I am painting two very famous RussianfilmandstageactorsSergeiBezrukovand DanilaKozlovsky. Theyareverydifferentbutbothincrediblytalented andcharismatic,andIfeelextremelyfortunateto haveachancetomeetsuchamazingpeopleand work withthem. I am also getting ready to paint Mr. Howard Quayle,theChiefMinisteroftheIsleofMan,a distinguishedpoliticianwithafinetasteinart. My list of private commissions for next year includesanumberofportraitsIwillbecreatingfor clientsinEngland,Scotland,Sweden,Ukraineand Italy.
Tell us about where you are based. Iliveonthesouth-easterncoastofEnglandinthe scenicEastSussex.Setintheprivategardenof ourfamilyhome,mynewrecentlyopenedstudio provides a very inspiring environment for me to workin. Thenearbytowns-coastalHastingsandhistoric mediaeval Battle are both full of character and popularwithvisitorsallyearround.Thehistoryof this area is amazing and there are many picturesque ruins of Norman castles scattered around thecounty. LondonisonlyanhourawayandIgothere regularlytoattendmeetingsandexhibitions. Website: svetlanacameron.com