By likemindblog



I was born in Russia (Moscow), studied Fine Arts at Moscow University of Textiles. My family immigrated to Canada in 1996.  First few years were so full of  all kind of adjustments to new surroundings that I stopped painting at all.  It was the longest period in my life that I didn’t hold the brush.  And I didn’t really want to. 

In 1999 we had a vacation and went to Vancouver Island, where I found in a small store in Victoria  an orange wooden frog with attached blue wings.  The frog was made in Mexico and she was “talking” to me. “Buy me immediately!” – she told me.  And I did.  How could I say “no” to this strange creature who definitely had close relatives in the birds family. 

And then it started… I can really say that this frog (that flies now under the ceiling of my kitchen) inspired me to change my painting style and start to paint whimsical paintings.

 … So, I started painting again in 1999.  And all my new paintings had something in common.  I exhibited them in many venues (from cafes to Queen Elizabeth Theatre) and got very nice feedback from collectors and art lovers.  Lots of them told me that my art is whimsical and unique and asked  how do I call my  style.  I told them that it’s a new style, my own, and it doesn’t have a name.  My English was pretty poor then (I am not saying that it’s excellent now, but it’s much better), so I googled the meaning of “whimsical” and liked it.  A little bit later I start bugging my husband to help me to name my art style.IRENA 333Irena

After some brain storming he brought me a beautiful name that I loved right away – Whimsicalism. Then, together we wrote a Manifest of the new movement.  Maybe it’s a little bit pathetic, but I like it.  Here it is:  

Colourful optimism and unpredictable fantasy are the aesthetic foundations of the new art movement which is known as “Whimsicalism”*.

The Artist -Whimsicalist does not have a hidden agenda.  Juggling colours, light, air and shadows, he mysteriously transforms his work into what he sees as the spiritual essence of the Universe, into a representation of Goodness and Love.

This appealing world contains beautifully bizarre animals which don’t have the dangerous fangs or sharp claws that might be expected.  His simple creatures and happy people are not capable of contemplating Evil, and surrounding objects never represent a threat either to the creatures that live in the paintings, or to the audience that looks at this playfully humorous world.  To live with such art gives one the feeling of comfort and warmth.

It’s impossible to evolve into a Whimsicalist artist – you need to be born as such.  What makes a real Whimsicalist is the ability to see the amazing beauty of the world, to express its harmony in the simple but true contour of a line or a splash of colour.  He must also burn with the desire to magnify joy around himself and others.  These are the qualities that can unite different artists with a variety of styles, schools and traditions under the single friendly roof of Whimsicalism.

Much of contemporary art delivers only negative energy to the world.  In this aspect, the Whimsicalism movement serves as a logical and powerful counterbalance.

And now, more of Irena’s life story!

Some artist are able to paint and ALWAYS keep their hands clean.  I’m not one of those people.  When I was a child I got exited when I looked on my MyCard1952hands all covered with paint and ink. I always added more paint to make them look even more beautiful, I hated to wash the paint away and tried to keep it on me as long as possible.  I thought that it was very cool, artistic and attractive. 🙂

I remember one cold winter evening, when I took a Moscow subway to get home after an art class.  A kid, who was standing near me suddenly started to yell: “Mama! Look! It’s not gloves!” and pointed on my hands all covered with black ink… I really enjoyed this moment and I’m still enjoying memory of it now.

I’m not a teenager anymore (unfortunately), but still love the feeling of the paint on my skin. Very often I paint with my fingers, without using brushes. Fingertips are excellent tools for color blending and for some small details.

 Exposure to great art during my childhood and youth played big role in my desire to become an artist.  I was raised in a city where the best thing for me was huge Art Gallery, called The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.  You could see everything there, from Egyptian mummy and replica of Michelangelo’s David to originals of Picasso and Matisse. I remember spending many hours on Sundays just wondering around…

After this I was so full of emotions that it made me quiet and almost numb through the rest of the day.

 I’m 7 years old, attending grade 1.  My first teacher is young, nice and beautiful.  Her name is Ludmila Ivanovna. During art class we get a simple task to draw a ball with a pencil. I am putting lots of effort, the pencil (probably 5B) is not doing it’s job well.  And the eraser is not helping much. Dirt and black stains are everywhere… but I still like the process and I’m very involved in it, pressing on my pencil harder and harder.  The result is quite a disaster – I get a “Fail” for this drawing… This “unfair” mark didn’t prevent me from dreaming of becoming an artist.  I always told everyone since probably age of 4 that I will definitely become one when I’ll grow up.

The same year when I failed to draw a ball, my family moved to a new apartment.  For a while I was allowed to draw on the walls, covered with the old wallpaper before it was all ripped and changed for the new one.  I covered walls with my drawings and graffiti.  Across the biggest wall I wrote with huge letters: “I will become a famous artist!”.  This line became a conversation piece for my parents and their friends who were making  lots of funny comments  and jokes about it.

 I studied Fine Arts for 5 years at Moscow State Textile University.  Life was very interesting and intense, all friends were artists, young and ambitious… My favorite subjects were Drawing, Painting, Composition and History of Art. Everything else – Technology, Geometry, Scientific Communism (what a hell of a name!) and others I didn’t really like or, to tell the truth, I hated with all my heart.

What I remember about those years?  Painting thousands of stilllifes  and overdressed women, sketching everything and everybody all the time, creating countless textile designs and new fashions, drawing non-stop Greek and Roman statues, naked and dressed models… For naked models we usually got old guys.  Most of them were very quiet, during drawing sessions they looked like they had died in a deep sleep.  I heard that one of them actually died in front of the students and nobody noticed it until the bell rang and it was his time to dress up and go home…IRENA ManandWomanBig

Sometimes I ask myself how happened that I was captured so powerfully and forever by art. I think it all started in my early childhood.  I was always surrounded by a huge amount of my father’s books.  Those books were on very-very different subjects, pretty many of them were art albums, novels or poetry books with nice illustrations.  I spent long hours looking through them and copying some of them, they left their seeds in my soul and later, after many years, lots of strange plants grew from those seeds.  Those pictures were so much better and so much more interesting that everything else I could see in my real life – at school, at playground, in the store… Some of them were my favorites – illustrations from a fairy tale (sadly I don’t remember it’s name, but remember trees with blue leaves that looked like beautiful flowers), Kandinsky’s abstract paintings, long necked woman by Modigliani and animals with huge wet eyes from encyclopedia… Pretty strange selection… I loved those silent images because they were not moving and could stay with me as long as I wish.  They belonged to my own kingdom nobody knew of. I want to mention one more thing – books in our house were much more than just books, my father was obsessed with them and we all had to read them or look through them very-very carefully – as of their pages were wings of some exotic butterflies, that can’t be even slightly damaged. The feeling that I’m touching something very delicate and almost sacred lifted my emotions to even higher level.

What a wonderful story, Irena, you’ve been most generous in sharing and taking us on your life adventure with such a flair, I almost wish it would continue!    Thank you, it has truly been a pleasure, my friend!


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Filed in: Health • Friday, May 21st, 2010


A flying frog is most definitely an inspirational muse ?
Great departure for a gentle and warm path!

Interesting you mention “negativity” in today’s art as it is most disturbing to observe aggression, violence anywhere – it must be a reflection of every other media expression, of confused lives, following mindless knee-jerk reactions.

For dark and violent – generally speaking – you don’t need to “know” (or feel) anything about painting – dark colors are very “forgiving”, they hide a multitude of “sins”, of which the irony is not lost…

This was such a pleasure to read and enjoy your journey in life to this point. I’m sure you brighten every corner where you go. Found your early history in Russia enlightening. It is wonderful to be able to experience life in other countries that we might never know. Thank you for sharing your Whimsicalist style in painting and writing…..Cecelia
.-= Cecelia Gay´s last blog ..How Can I Tell You =-.

Thank you very much Alicia and Cecelia!

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My name is Michele Andree. I am an artist, I paint musicians in action. I think I’m a musician at heart, my instrument being… a brush, so I play…brush and I paint… music.
I love jazz. I call it freedom music. It promotes special values. I love intelligent people and good conversations.

Some people ask me how music relates to art. Personally I find they go hand in hand. Music is what turns me on to painting. It makes me see colours