It is a rare luxury when you get to follow up with an artist who is truly making an impact in the fine art space. A short time ago I discovered a woman who had an amazing collection of original paintings that just blew me away. My jaw dropped at her intricate use of color and delicate blending that lay in her style. The woman I am talking about is none other than the lovely Olga Krimon. Sating my curiosity, I reached out to Olga and she kindly shared with me her journey through her aesthetic career.
To start, Olga gave me an explanation of how her art livelihood began. “It’s that voice inside you that nags and pushes and makes you do what you are meant to do. I believe that. I tried for years to get away from it, ever since completing a four-year academic art school in Kazan, Russia. I went on to get my MBA and do other things in the consulting and corporate world. Yet, there was no fulfillment and that nagging voice was only getting stronger. I knew I needed to find a way. This urge to create and to continue to learn and master the skills is a very strong force that has to be satisfied. It literally takes over you and pushes you. Maybe with age we also have that need to create so that something is left after us, survives us? Working hard at it also got me through some hard times in my life, kept me sane and gave me a different world to live in.” Spoken like a true artist. Almost every aspiring artist who delves into this career is simply doing it because they have no control over the creative instinct. Hell, it is equivalent to breathing for many of us.
Olga went on to give some thoughts on her memorable pieces. All of the pieces below are prime examples of her impressive craft. “‘Ania,’ my first finalist in the Portrait Society of America (PSoA) International competition, is still one of my favorites. It opened up a new level of exposure to me. It somehow felt nostalgically Russian to me; at least I felt that connection to Serov and Repin while painting it. It’s all in my imagination, I know, but playing with the composition and textures gave me that feeling of achievement and satisfaction.”
“I very recently received first place in drawing from the Portrait Society of America for ‘Yin and Yang.’ I just got back from an amazing conference and ceremony. I am sure this piece will become very dear to me.”
“Another piece is ‘Blue,’ one of the portraits of my son (also awarded by PSoA). It captures his personality. This small piece (11×14) has that force of a spirited child that is very much his.”
“Recently, I would say, ‘That What I Dream,’ a figurative painting where the folds and the movement of fabric are as important as the child figure itself, is probably the one that I will be very thankful for. It moved me into a different direction, reality-bordering abstraction. The folds move and envelope space, the point of view is top down, and this commotion and movement of lines and shapes is fascinating to me. It’s a 2016 piece, and some of the other pieces that followed are continuing this new path. I will continue to work in that direction.”
Her ambitions continue to soar as she shared her next series of mediums to tackle. “I would like to have a series of larger scale paintings, maybe a diptych or triptych. I have never done that. I would like to explore painting on copper and marble, I already prepared some pieces for that. I wonder how different the paint handling will be on different surfaces and how much copper I can show through the paint. I am itching to get to it and I really want to sculpt. I have not sculpted since art school, and I know very little about it. I recently got books for self-study, and I am looking for a workshop with one of the sculptors that I follow to get me there. Time is the only factor, there is not enough time to paint and draw, there is never enough time, but I will work it out. I just need to approach it as I approached my art training before, very seriously. I also want to mix media to come up with larger scale drawings/paintings that include charcoal/graphite/watercolor/ink/maybe some collage elements, because who says you can’t? I am already mixing charcoal, graphite, ink and chalk, so I want to continue to explore.” Another sign of an artist constantly reinventing oneself, I am excited to see where she goes with this.
It has not all been a piece of cake for Olga. She elaborated a bit on one of here most difficult works to date. [It was my painting] ‘Self-Portrait with Peonies.’ First, it’s my largest painting (36×48). Two, who knew that the person you see so much in the mirror is hard to paint, she moves all the time, the light is off, the reference photos are bad, and even when you think you are getting to the likeness, you actually are not sure if there is a definitive likeness. Never rush into a painting, I painted and repainted the head two times before I decided it was in the wrong place and had to be moved up. Then it was repainted eight more times. The best part of that painting was the still life; I didn’t have to look at me. Even then, the peonies faded very quickly but I was able to finish from an initial sketch. The figure took me forever. I still find things now I would change, especially the skirt (that was also repainted oh so many times). I did use a model, Ania again for the body. There was no way to capture what I needed in a reference shot. Due to the size of the painting, I discovered another challenge, having the palette close enough. I did experiment with a handheld but eventually figured out a way to elevate my regular palette. Through all that I learned a lot, and most importantly I achieved the paint quality that I was aiming for. Oh, and another challenging thing with this painting was that I was too self-conscious to actually display it anywhere, let alone my house. I wasn’t even thinking that when I first conceived it. I was just trying to work larger, and I had no other model at the time so I thought I would challenge myself with a self-portrait. Note to myself, never paint a self-portrait larger than 12×16.” I think it came out beautifully. Take a look and see for yourself!
As far as the art world goes, Olga seems to be enjoying every bit of it. “I am very glad to see so many great representational pieces, the revival of academic training in the ateliers, the emergence of so many skilled artists that have so much to say. There are so many new ways of sharing and receiving. Facebook and Instagram are playing such a big role in that. It’s so easy to connect.”
On top of her ambitions to explore other mediums, Olga has plenty of more that she has tinkered with. “… I started to play around with drafting film for my drawings, and there are some very interesting possibilities with it, layering images, playing with collages, working on the back so that some of it shows through, scraping and sanding, you name it. It seems to sustain a lot of abuse, and with that come some fascinating possibilities. I also have not drawn with red sanguine for a while; I want to go back to that. As well as ink drawings, or combining ink and pastels. I really want to try Vasari oil paints.”
Fans of her work will be happy to know that Olga has a substantial variety of inspiring idols that keep her going. “… From the past: Valentin Serov, Ilya Repin, Isaac Levitan, Nicholai Fechin, Jog Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Joaquin Sorolla, Cecilia Beaux and Michail Vrubel. From the Contemporary side: Jeremy Lipking, Safet Zec, Sherrie McGraw, Richard Schmid, David Leffel, Teresa Oaxaca, Quang Ho, Alicia Ponzio and Susan Lyon. Some of them I met personally, some I admired and learned from. My good friends that I met in the art community, because they continue to pursue and push forward are Kelly Carmody, Wesley Wofford, Casey Childs, Bryce Billings and Kristy Gordon.” Now, that is a mouthful.
Lastly, the artist remains busy. “I am finishing several new pieces for a Contemporary Figuration show at Abend Gallery in Denver, CO. It opens on May 13th and runs until mid June. I also have a composition idea for a life size painting that is ambitious, which is why I am itching to get down to it. In parallel, I am exploring ideas for a series of large-scale drawings with mixed media, as I described above. The possibilities are endless.”
There you have it people, another living legend in the art space who is adding more beauty and grace into the world. Her work to date and future pieces will continue to inspire and excite generations of artists to come. Fans of great creativity will have no choice but to get lost in her paintings. I know I did. I recommend you all do the same! To get you started, enjoy some below: