On Creating Figurative Art > “If you paint a human figure in the right way, you can paint anything,” says Nikolai Blokhin. “To draw hands is almost as difficult as to draw a face. When in a museum I see a picture where hands are thoroughly painted it literally mesmerizes me.”
Russia’s Master Artist, Nikolai Blokhin, finally agreed to reveal 18th-century art techniques handed down since the “Golden Age of Russia.”
The “Russian Style” has never been documented until now, as we introduce Blokhin’s Art Video: Russian Master Portraits (learn more below).
Related article > 5 Tips for Drawing Portraits and Figures on Toned Paper
In his first appearance in the US since 2014, Nikolai Blokhin was also on the faculty of the 2019 Figurative Art Convention & Expo (FACE). (Join us for the next amazing event > Realism Live: A Global Virtual Art Conference.)
The Birth of Russian Impressionism
When the Empress Catherine the Great ruled Russia, from 1762 to 1796, the country went through a major change. During her reign, she revitalized Russia; it grew larger and stronger, and was recognized as one of the great powers of Europe.
Today, that period is widely considered the Golden Age of Russia.
One of the Empress’ goals was to fill her homeland with beauty the world had never seen before. She desired to make cities like Saint Petersburg so beautiful that Paris would look bland in comparison.
So she came up with a genius idea…
She imported Paris’ best sculptors, painters, and architects to design her city and train her craftsmen. She also founded the Imperial Academy of Arts to train young Russians to achieve her vision.
The prestigious Imperial Academy was completed in 1789, and it stands today as one of the largest art schools worldwide — complete with a significant museum of paintings, sculpture, and plaster casts.
The Academy has developed a reputation as one of the finest art schools in the world, training artists who became world-renowned, like Ilya Repin, Ivan Shishkin, Vladimir Makovsky, and many others. These artists were responsible for what has become known today as the “Russian Style.”
In 1991, the school was renamed the Saint Petersburg Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, and even today it remains true to the vision of its founding in 1789.
The Institute’s goal is to train and prepare artists to reach their highest level of mastery, and only the finest artists get to become professors there.
To be accepted as a student into the Institute is not easy. Out of hundreds of applicants, only 20 to 30 students are accepted each year.
These are the best of the best, and most of these students start drawing at age 7. Then they spend the rest of their lives refining their craft under the guidance of some of the Institute’s top instructors.
One of those instructors is Nikolai Blokhin, and today he is in such high demand that he no longer teaches in person, but he recently shared his techniques in a new release from Streamline Art Video:
What Can You Expect from Nikolai Blokhin’s New Art Video?
The Russians are famous for their style of Impressionism, using thick paint to create great, expressive paintings with powerful emotions.
There’s also a certain exactness to their style … the creation of form … the feeling of the subject … all thanks to the skills that have been passed down through generations of master instructors.
Blokhin’s paintings have been sold for half a million dollars or more, and are collected by respected patrons of the arts and top collectors worldwide.
Mary Peterson, an attendee at FACE, watched Nikolai paint live on stage. After seeing this master at work, she just had to have the painting.
About Nikolai and the painting, Mary says this:
“I was totally mesmerized by the brushwork. He used a large fan brush and a single stroke to create the hair down the sides of the model’s face. Most of the facial skin tones were also created with very large brushes.
“Each stroke of the brush created something that still exists as originally placed on the canvas. He moved back and forth across the stage to better understand the model and the painting. He then placed each stroke with precision and with seeming emotional attachment. There was a single blot of white, for example, that eventually became an earring.
“There is movement everywhere in the painting. The colors are vibrant in the light of day and more beautiful under light. For me it was performance art, and I really wanted to own the painting. We were lucky to be able to purchase it that day.”
Artists now have the opportunity to learn from Blokhin himself as his words of wisdom have been masterfully translated from Russian to English for the video.
Realism Today is sponsored by Streamline Art Video. We hope you enjoyed this preview of Nikolai Blokhin’s paintings. For more information about “Russian Master Portraits,” please click here.