With The Russian Evolution exhibition around the corner, we talked to highly acclaimed painter Iryna Yermolova to find out more about her work and inspiration...
Q. Talking firstly about your painting technique, when you start a painting, do you visualise how it will look when it’s finished or do you let the painting develop?
A. I usually do small pen sketches; it helps to build composition and form. However, the expression on the big canvas could take me in a completely different direction. I think my best paintings are those where I cannot explain myself how I created them.
Q. Do you begin with a sketch or dive straight in with oils?
A. It depends on my mood that day. I love doing small sketches and sometimes they could turn into cute art pieces. Sometimes I start work on a large canvas and after a few hours I already know that it isn't going to be good! When that happens I just turn my canvas upside-down and start a completely new painting! I also love the first brushstrokes on the pure white surface - I never know what to expect from it and it gives me an adrenaline buzz!
Q. What is your favourite subject to paint?
A. I love working with people. But most of all I love challenges. I love to take myself outside my 'comfort zone' and start something that is very unusual for me. This is why I did a series of paintings of dogs and chickens.
Q. How long do you typically work on a painting? Do you come back to it again and again and how do you know when it’s finished?
A. I could start the work at 9am and finish it at 1pm. I call these works 'perfect'! I love it when the canvas can 'breathe'. The more I work on a canvas, the less I can expect a good result. This is why every month I throw away between ten and twenty canvases which will never become an artwork.
Q. Do you have a favourite artist?
A. Schiele, Degas, Picasso, Chagall - these are my masters. But I love most of the impressionists and I’m crazy about expressionism and abstraction.
Q. You’ve been exhibiting your paintings with the Paragon Gallery for five years now, how do you feel your work has evolved over that time?
A. The Paragon Gallery is a heaven for artists and art lovers. They are experimenters with an excellent taste in art. They are always welcoming my new painting ideas. To be an artist it is very important for me not to feel boundaries and stay creative. I think the gallery made me feel more confident and professional as an artist.
Q. You’ve achieved many accolades over recent years, including repeated selection by the Royal Institute of Oil Painters for their Annual Exhibition; what’s next for you?
A. My plans are work, work and work. I have many unrealised ideas about future collections and projects. I will again apply to ROI, the Summer Exhibition and many other competitions this year. However, my main achievement is my collectors, people who appreciate my art so much that they open their homes to my paintings. This is so inspiring!