A new year typically sparks the motivation to pursue new aspirations and goals among people. For Wilmington’s art community, 2017 has arrived with the opportunity to learn new skills and techniques from award-winning art instructor Tatyana Kulida. A former Port City citizen, Kulida will return this month to lead the workshop “Still Life in Oil – 35 Hour Immersion” at the Cameron Art Museum. Students will learn the process of setting up classic techniques of painting still life throughout the 10-day course.
“I work from life rather than photographs and my favorite subject matter is people, so most often you would find a model in my studio,” Kulida says. “Painting is sort of a meditation on the essence of the person, subject or scene. I like spending hours with my subjects in efforts to peek into their essence.”
Although she currently lives in New Zealand, the Russian-born artist lived in Wilmington for more than 10 years before moving to Italy to further her art education at the globally renowned Florence Academy of Art. Kulida was already familiar with the Italian realism school, as she attended a summer workshop there upon receiving the Sarah Toy Student award from Queen’s University of Charlotte. She went on to teach the French Academic Method, a style which describes true to life, realist paintings and sculpture, at the academy.
Kulida works with oil and canvas to create realist portraits of the models. She also sets up her own still life with objects of nature, often working with self-prepared marble and panel, and charcoal along with oil and canvas.
“I enjoy beautiful objects and flowers,” Kulida says. “Sometimes I go out to paint en-plein air. If I am on my own with no model, I listen to classical music or podcasts or voice books as I love learning about artists, history and various non-fiction books.” Kulida also finds inspiration in the works of classical artists, including Rembrandt, Velázquez, Aivazovsky, and Kramskoi, as well as contemporary artists, Charles Weed, Steven Assael, and Odd Nerdrum.
Her workshop, “Still Life in Oil,” will provide a hands-on learning experience for artists of a variety of levels. “We will spend about three-and-a-half hours each day covering a lot of information, so that the students can use be set up with the tools to do a variety of still-life projects in their own studios,” Kulida states.
While the course will cover the required skills for multiple works, students in Kulida’s workshop will only focus on completing one project.
“We’re not trying to just produce a whole lot of stuff,” Kulida explains. “Instead, we’re learning about the set-up, why we choose certain objects, the symbolism, how to orchestrate the idea of shadow and how to design through the object’s light shapes and shadow shapes that they create when you put them together in a specific way.”
Along with painting, Kulida will also touch on certain drawing techniques that significantly enhance the realism in the artist’s work. “We will talk about drawing and how to achieve accuracy, because a lot of times we will have an idea about how something looks,” Kulida elaborates. “Though, when we draw or paint we’re trying to draw that idea, rather than the objects in front of our eyes.”
Kulida notes that it’s not always easy at first for artists to train themselves to view their subject in such a way. “It’s a bit of a stretch, usually, for people to really start looking,” she admits, “but I have some tips and tricks on how to get students to really observe nature, or the object that’s in front of them, since we’re painting from real life, rather than a photograph.”
Kulida will also incorporate importance of understanding color in still life into her course. “We will go over how to mix color,” Kulida divulges. “One of the fun parts of still life is the variety of colors we can use. We have to be sensitive to color because there’s an incredible number of colors that can be mixed.”
Adding to the curriculum is the role of value. “Value is basically taking the color in question out of the equation for a little bit,” Kulida adds. “For instance, if we took a black and white photograph, we would still know the still life set-up because the camera would still capture the relationship between light and dark.”
Kulida’s workshop “Still Life in Oil – 35 Hour Immersion” will be held at the Cameron Art Museum and run from January 17-21 with a break on January 22. The course will continue on January 23-27. The course welcomes all levels of artists, however, it is not recommended for beginners. Information on how to register for the course can be found on CAM’s website.