2018 Winter Trimester – Part 1

Added on June 15, 2018

2018 Winter Trimester
with Olga Klimova

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Our first teacher for the 2018 Winter Trimester was Olga Klimova. Originally from Russia and now maintaining a studio in New York, Olga has a classical art school background and started creating Visionary Art as a result of mystical experiences. Through the deepening of Vipassana meditation practice, her work has become more spontaneous, intuitive and vibrant.

As well as becoming a successful painter with her own unique style, Olga Klimova is also known internationally as the creator of WizArt Visions – a New York based deco studio which has developed numerous backdrops, fabric installations and stage settings for the Transformational festival scene.

As we got to know more about her personal struggles and successes in becoming a professional artist, it became apparent that she is a very open and motivated person with a well-balanced and conscious mindset. She told us about the inspiration and development of mind that comes from a daily meditation practice, as well as the determination necessary to become a successful artist with a sustainable income. Thanks to her great wealth of practical knowledge, the students were enthusiastic to learn all the ins and outs of her art practice within this 5 week intensive training.

 

The Beginning

Olga’s unique method for creating a painting starts with a black and white background in acrylics, then moves on to layered colour glazes in oils. Between the glazes, highlights are applied in white casein and completed with detailed atmospheric effects.

First, Olga demonstrated how to create our backgrounds using randomness and intention. She encouraged us to have an experimental approach while we discerned the emergent patterns that were forming in the paint. By allowing the paint to move freely over the smooth surface, interesting, textured patterns formed almost instantaneously.

Being open to experimentation from the beginning, we could see how the paintings would evolve quite naturally, and it helped us to free ourselves from any anxieties about perfectionism. In a short amount of time, everyone felt fully inspired and began imagining original ideas from what they could see in the random swirls of paint.

“Putting the mind aside and trusting the flow of creation, listening to what is unfolding in front of the eyes and one’s own subconscious, not trying to control what’s happening and letting go – all are very useful skills not only during painting, but in life.”

 

However, the process didn’t end with pure abstraction. Although it can be interesting and fun to play with the paint in an openly expressive way, we came to learn the finer aspects of painting. The next part of our training required a well-informed approach to composition and the figure, as well as a certain refinement of technique. During her lectures, Olga presented design principles and gave examples from other artists’ work. This stimulated us to better understand how great works of art make such a strong impact.

The most important design principles were:
Unity / Balance / Opposition / Repetition / Variety

Although these principles were not at all obvious in the examples she showed us, after some elucidation they became much clearer. To the untrained eye, the finished result may look impressive; but for the trained artist, an understanding of these principles is absolutely necessary, if the painting is ever to deliver a strong impression. Confident in moving forward with our own ideas, the group became fully immersed in the process and everyone found their personal creative flow.

One of the strongest features of Olga Klimova’s work is her ability to depict the figure from unusual angles and to create a sense of movement in her composition. She taught us how to draw the human head from a variety of different angles, and how to subtly portray a range of human emotions. We also had detailed demonstrations on hatching techniques, on laying out our colours on the palette, and on painting realistic flesh tones in oils.

As our paintings advanced, we used a variation of the Mischtechnik, applying colour glazes and then building up the whites again before the next glaze. This layered approach to oil painting gradually built up subtle tones of colour within the lights and added much depth to the shadows. We became familiar with casein hatching technique to create a sense of volume. These whites would then be pushed back after laying in a fresh glaze in oils.