shadow play take 2.. or 3 or 4..

I love the shadows. Especially shadows that artwork makes. In the last few weeks I have been able to experience such shadows in abundance. MoMA, The Dairy Barn, Kennedy Museum of Art. How lucky am I? Here are a few of my favorites:
edge of a wall hanging by Cecilia Joe at KMA

edge of an art quilt by Danette Pratt at The Dairy Barn

bronze shadow makers by Dorothy Dehner at MoMA

bit of a wall hanging by Lenore Tawney at MoMA

wired orb shadows by Ruth Asawa at MoMA

corner of an art quilt by Sara Impey at The Dairy Barn

corner of a wall hanging by Sheila Hicks at MoMA

edge of an art quilt by Shulamit Liss at The Dairy Barn

floor shadow of an art quilt by Sue Benner at The Dairy Barn
Hope you have enjoyed these shadows as much as I did. I think I might make some art that makes shadows also soon....

shameless commerce

This blog post is brought to you by the shameless marketing division of Just in time for the holiday shopper, here, consolidated into one blog post is what I have to offer for your gift giving....
detail of Nikolsky Cathedral
Original art from the St. Petersburg inspired City Love Affair series and Cathedrals series is available on the Artful Home website.
detail of Spring
Original art and prints from NYC inspired City Lines series are available on the Saatchi Art website.
throw pillow with a print of St. Pete Lace 1
Art prints, canvas prints, framed art prints, phone and iPad cases, tote bags, throw pillows, and laptop skins and sleeves are available on the Society6 website.
On Sunday, December 6th from 12 to 4PM I will showing small artworks, postcards and prints at ART for the Holidays with the artists of Northern Westchester Artists Guild at the New Castle Community Center in Chappaqua, NY.
detail of Urban Perspective
And as always my art is available on my website. Just email me at natalya @ ! Commissions for Home Portraits and other artwork are also accepted and encouraged!

Thank you so much for supporting my artistic endeavors! Happy shopping!

back to school!

Are you tired yet at looking at only Wordless Wednesdays here? I am! Summer is very busy around these parts with kid excursions, camps, travel and all other things that summer with children entails... But now it's back to the school routine, the after-school routine and back-to-the-studio routine. Woo hooo!!! As much as I enjoy planned and not, spur-of-a-moment and crazy activities of summer, I also love the dependability of routine.

So back to our regularly scheduled programming here, aside from WW. I have a few blog posts planned to share some delightful sights that I saw over the summer and I'll also fill you in on the goings on in my studio.

If you are ever in upstate NY, north of Albany, I highly recommend a visit to this little gem of a museum. Located on the grounds of the Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Monastery, (which makes you feel as though you are in the Russian countryside) it's actually geared toward the non-Russian speaking visitor. The museum contains wonderful artifacts of representing four centuries of books and art in Russia. I thought I'd share with you the few that really captured my attention.
a detail from the Book of Gospels circa 1575...handwritten....
Book of the Twelve Great Feasts from 1825, also handwritten...
Gold-work detail from a Regimental Standard 1875
more gold-work from the Standard
Gorgeous cover of a book titled The Tzar's Hunt 1896
detail of gold-work from an Epigonation from the late 20th century
exquisite gold-work on a Shroud from the late 19th century
Hope you enjoyed this little tour of Russian history..

a little diversion

Sometimes you have to mix things up a bit and do some "art-lite" among the heavy duty stuff. Lately I've allowed myself a bit of a beading obsession.. It started with let's do a fun experiment for a day and led to a week of "I can't stop, someone pass the Advil..." I find this craft is more stressful on my right hand than any amount of hand stitching...I wonder why? But oooh! Look at how pretty it's turning out, let me make just another part or two, and the next thing you know....

I'll be participating in another Russian Festival right before Thanksgiving on Saturday November 23rd, if you're in the area come take a look! Meanwhile I'll be exercising my left hand in an attempt at being ambidextrous...

here we go!

Another challenge for moi, and I do love a good challenge. I have another home portrait commission and the choices are tough here. The home belongs to an artist with a strong point of view. She sent me a box full of treasures, tons of pictures, fabulously patterned fabrics and papers and books.. We belong to the mutual admiration society, I love her work, how do I not let it influence me on this home portrait when I know she wants my artwork...
There is the beautiful home
The gorgeous gardens
The lovely studio
and the ephemera, oh the ephemera....
fabrics with tons of color, patterns, papers and notebooks..
graphic card stock and jeans
old leather work gloves
precious handwork details
How will I ever winnow this down? How will I make a decision when I love everything? Lots of pondering shall take place.... I do know that the color choices have been made for me and that's a good thing!

decorative arts

Russian decorative arts have a long and storied tradition. There is weaving, embroidery, wood carving, ceramics... the list goes on and on. Just the decorative painting alone can be broken down into quite a few different styles, here is a small list from my book shelf: khokhloma, zhostovo, permogorskaya, mezenskaya, and gorodetzkaya. A scholar I am not, thus the links to each of the styles. Hard to find detailed information in English, so if you'd like more and want to play at translating online, here are more links in Russian: khokhloma/хохлома, zhostovo/жостово, permogorskaya/пермогорская, mezenskaya/мезенская, and gorodetzkaya/городетская. By the way, most of these styles break down into even more styles.

I am currently fascinated by the decorative painting inside Russian churches. Not the icons, but the decorative paintings on walls. Right now restoration efforts are in full swing in many Russian churches, especially those that were desecrated during the Soviet rule, which are innumerable. So there is quite a bit of new eye candy to look at. Unfortunately not all allow photography, so here my meager findings:
This "little" cathedral is a symbol of Moscow and has been in the restoration process for most of it's life.
I adore the before and after details at St. Basil's.
the vine motifs are supposed to replicate the glory of heavenly gardens
sky at St. Basil's
leafy swirls at St. Basil's
door trim at St. Basil's
This is a brand new wall in a St. Petersburg church that had NONE of it's paintings left, it was actually a skating ring for a long time. Now this is where the icon embroiderers work.
Another detail from the same church.
I also could not resist a few stone details, these are from St. Basil's
newly restored Kazan Church at the Novodevichy Convent in St. Petersburg
more from the Kazan church
and for comic relief the Russian Buddy bear painted in the Khokhloma style
my personal little Russian decorative collection: Khokhloma and Mezenskaya
If you'd like to read more about Russian decorative traditions the Museum of Decorative-Applied and Folk Arts in Moscow has quite a bit of information. You can see the influence this tradition has on my work when you look at this piece here.

golden threads

Edited 9-24-12
A few readers asked about the silver instrument seen the pictures below. It is an awl, used for aiding the placement of the needle from underneath the fabric. A very detailed post with illustrations is here, although in Russian. 
There is a wonderful little studio in St. Petersburg, Russia that I enjoy visiting whenever I get a chance. The women working there are very gifted artists and ultimate craftswomen. Their specialty is embroidering items for the Russian Orthodox Church such as Shrouds of Christ, clerical garments and vestments, headdresses, covers for sacred vessels and the like. Their attention to detail is incredible, to the untrained eye their work looks like it was done by machine. But each and every stitch is taken carefully by hand. The larger pieces are worked in groups, smaller are usually by one artist. 

They also offer classes in church embroidery during the summer. Perhaps one day I'll be lucky enough to be able to attend, not because I want to be able to embroider icons (although that would be very cool too), but because I would love to sit and stitch with them and steep myself in the atmosphere in this wonderful place.

When I visited them this summer unannounced, they very generously showed me around the studio, happily pulled out works in progress for me to see and asked me about my work as well. Luckily I had a work in progress with me and pictures on my phone. It turned out to be a lovely afternoon of sharing and mutual admiration. One of the ladies gave me a wonderful book as a gift after seeing my work. It is called The Architectural Flora of St. Petersburg, only in English, sorry. I know I will be referencing to this book again and again, comparing my own photographs and looking up addresses.

The embroidery studio's website is here, only in Russian, but do click through to see all the pictures, and here is the blog post about the last time I was there. Enjoy the pictures from this visit:

mosaically speaking

I have always been fascinated by mosaics. The idea of these wonderfully complex scenes of gorgeous pattern and color being created from tiny pieces of glass, is breathtaking. Russian cathedrals are filled with these amazing mosaics, at least the ones that were important enough to survive communist era of destruction.
Demetrius of Salonica from Mikhalovsky Monastery in Kiev
Most icons of value were lucky enough to have been spirited into museums, such as this antique beauty now residing at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
walls of the Cathedral of Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg
Others were important enough to survive and even be restored after the destruction of WWII. The Cathedral of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one such amazing example.
detail of mosaic from Savior on Spilled Blood
I am always fascinated by the subtle gradations of these seemingly precise stones. To think that stone can so beautifully evoke cloth.
When I got up close to this mosaic I noticed all the different color glass used just to create the wood beam. Note all the blues and yellows and pinks to create the sky. 

I really loved getting close enough to see all the colors used for skin in the mosaic below. 

Sadly the mosaics above and below are only few surviving from the Cathedral of Savior on the Waters in St. Petersburg. They were designed by Viktor Vasnetzov, one of the most prolific Russian artists. The cathedral was destroyed in 1932 and these mosaics survived because they were dragged away and hidden by some very brave parishioners. I consider myself quite lucky to have been able to see these.
 After looking though all my photographs of mosaics I realized that some of my new small pieces are somewhat mosaic like in their construction. It maybe absurd to compare my work to this magnificence....but I think there is a slight connection.
work in progress
work in progress

tarting things up

While I was cleaning my studio the other day I happened upon a collection of some of my older tiny framed windows artworks. I don't know what came over me, maybe it was the cleaning that did it.... But I felt the urge to add bling to these little pieces and make them into jewels. I wanted to doodle on them like I frequently to in my journals or on ATC's. So I dropped the cleaning and got right to the glitter. These are some details of the first piece, where I tarted up the frame. It's going to someone special today and I am going to keep adding bling to the others. Why not! A good interlude before starting another serious piece, right?

treasures from an angel

I received a box from a friend of mine just before I left for Houston. I suspected that this box was full of treasures that I would not have time to indulge in, so I tortured myself by waiting to open it till I returned. I was quite rewarded.... My friend used to work in a museum and as she says so herself - she "was always a little daffy about things old and their history". Well she has found a kindred soul. As she says -" you have the same illness".. boy do I... So I thought I would share a few pictures and words of what I have received with my other "ill" friends... There are embroidered napkins, doilies and hankies, scarves, bits of lace, hand made and machine made, crochet, silk ribbons, gossamer, embroidery thread, buttons, ric rac.... The list goes on, my mind is racing with all the things that I can do with these treasures. Paint, dye, rip, shred, hand stitch, free-hand machine embroider... I can promise you that you will see bits and pieces of these lovelies in most of my future work. You may not recognize them, but they'll be there... I thought I would give a plug to Elena and her Ebay shop, you will not find these textiles there, but you will find lots of other goodies. Especially if you use paper ephemera in your work, she's got tons of that. Go browse, it's fun...