elements. I first recall starting drawing when I was around 6 years old. We grew up without the constant buzz of television and electronics, and our parents encouraged us to busy ourselves outside. Everyone had that one drawer in their home— the one with miscellaneous items, among which you’d likely find crumbly scrap paper and chewed-up pencils. I remember drawing simply what came from my mind and hands naturally, and didn’t think
MS: What made you want to be what you are now?
GV: My creative journey stemmed from a very young age. I was born in Ukraine and grew up in a quaint, countryside setting. My family uprooted and moved to the states when I was just 5 years old. A lot of my earliest memories and discoveries stem from the environment I grew up in; that’s where I first discovered the beauty of the natural world. We’ve been back a few times, and it has helped solidify those early childhood memories of playing with flowers, mushrooms, mud cakes, twigs, and all sorts of natural
much of it because it was just so enjoyable. The people around me expressed interest in my art and that’s when I first realized that I may be good at something. It was exciting that my loved ones thought I made artwork worth viewing and appreciating. I created art for my siblings, my classmates, and my teachers. I sketched through my classes and couldn’t wait to come home and get back to my art box.
MS: What was your pivotal moment in life that made you take this direction?
GV: As I grew up, I took on lots of commission projects. It made me happy creating something specific for someone, but I had little boundaries at that age and made my entire practice based on commission work. Over time, I found myself limited to my subject’s parameters, which had me bound to a specific outcome and hindering my creative flow. Soon after I began slowly dissociating with my practice, it didn’t bring me that joy I had once hoped it would. This past year, I’ve finally taken the plunge and began creating work that deeply resonates with me.
MS: How did you get started/where did you begin?
GV: One of the ways I rekindled inspiration was by traveling and exploring the outdoors with a camera in hand, documenting the journey. Nostalgia hit as I remembered my childhood days playing in nature. I wanted to feel the way I’d once felt as a child. When everything seemed more carefree, enjoyable, peaceful. I felt that quiet calling to create the things I really loved, time and time again. But the thought of it terrified me— painting what I wanted, not what other people may have wanted. I felt quite rusty and didn’t know what the outcome would be. I didn’t know where it would lead, and how I’d find my way again. Regardless, the discomfort of not doing what I was passionate about became greater than the discomfort of doing it. I had no other option but to take a leap of faith and follow my instincts.
MS: What are your favorite parts about what you do?
GV: The creating part! Few things are more satisfying than laying down that first stroke on a clean, empty surface. Or stepping back and visually receiving the fruit of your labor. It’s also a great joy— getting to capture a memory or a feeling that takes you, the viewer, back to a special place or time in your life. I believe that art is a powerful statement. Besides sitting pretty in your hallway or on your shelf, it is something that you subconsciously connect with as you pass by. Just by being there, it has a way of calming, energizing or soothing your soul. We create our own experiences within the artwork, so it's an honor when the viewer feels the same emotion I’d hoped to relay.
MS: What are your short-term and/or long-term goals at the moment?
GV: My short and long term goals are just to keep on creating good work. I believe that good, soulful work speaks for itself and draws in multiple opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have surfaced. You meet fascinating artists, collectors, and teachers.
MS: Do you have advice for people interested in the same field?
GV: Start before you are ready. Often times we painfully prolong the starting process, and it doesn’t do us any good— mentally, spiritually, emotionally, or even physically.
MS: What is something you wish you knew in the beginning?
GV: One thing I wish I knew in the beginning is that it takes 3-10 practice pieces to create one “good” piece. That it’s ok to spend a full day creating and not be satisfied or fulfilled with what’s shown up on my paper. I’d have started enjoying the process so much more, way earlier on!
MS: Who/what are your biggest inspirations and why?
GV: I am greatly inspired by the work of the Great Creator. Everywhere I look, I see that signature touch. The beauty created by this almighty force is so thoughtful, intricate and made up of many beautiful patterns. Have you ever wondered why mountain ridges from a birds-eye-view look just like the iris of an eye? Why tree roots, lighting, fractals, and veins have a similar design woven throughout? It is evident to me that there is a magnificent force working behind all of this, and through understanding nature, I feel that I get a bit closer to comprehending the heart of God. It is a great honor of mine to relay this beautiful creation through a way that I perceive the world.
MS: What is your favorite food-related memory?
GV: My absolute favorite meal has always been “vareniki” (in Ukrainian) or “pierogi” (in Polish.) Coming from a rich Ukrainian heritage, dough is the way to my belly. There is something so nostalgic about the soft, cooked dough with crispy, lightly fried edges. Even softer is the filling, often potatoes or wild blueberries. Nothing beats homemade.
MS: What is your favorite quote(s) and why?
GV: “Adversity provides us with the opportunity to develop our character in a natural, recurring, and powerful way that only the challenges of adversity can offer. Only adversity refines and reveals the gold and silver of our character. ” Taken from ‘The Richest Man Who Ever Lived’ by Steve K. Scott. I particularly resonate with this quote (and quite frankly the entire book) because the advice is very raw and rings very true. Only through practice and overcoming our limited beliefs, do we become better versions of ourselves. And when we become better, our work becomes better. It's a beautiful cycle.
MS: What is your favorite meal and/or drink to share?
GV: I love hosting with homemade “vareniki.” My favorite filling is potatoes. We throw crisped bacon, wild mushroom, and cheddar cheese into the mix. Served with sour cream and garnished with dill.
MS: What is your ideal day in the work life?
LG: Windows open, fresh air streaming in. Brushes washed, table cleared. Orders shipped, dishes done. My husband and I live, work, and create from one space. Throughout the past couple years, we’ve established a workflow that works very well for the both of us. He has always encouraged my quest for creativity and has not ceased to support me in whatever way he can. One side of our loft is residential, and of course the side streaming with natural light is where we have our work-desks. We love the breathing room we get with the 14 ft tall ceilings, and feel that it is a breath of open air allowing for a healthy, creative flow. The charm of these New England mills is something special to work around with, and we appreciate the character found in the beams, floors, and exposed brick. We have repurposed lots of furniture from our past studios, and among many design quirks, have 1920’s window-frames as our partition panels throughout our space.
MS: What is your ideal non-work day?
GV: One word: admin. A day full of admin makes me full like a dry raisin by the end of the day!
MS: What are some things that keep you going?
GV: What keeps me going is that understanding that inspiration is infinite and waiting to be found. If I have a rough day or a stressful week, I try to remember that something fresh is always right around the corner.
MS: How do you approach a work life balance?
GV: Unfortunately I don’t believe there is such a thing as a work life balance. It’s a fluctuating give and take, at least in my life!
MS: What is something you wish people learned or knew more about in your industry?
GV: Creating artwork and having a sustainable business is just as much work as a non-creative business. We all have to take part in the administrative and back-end tasks just to keep the flow going. It may even be harder because often we are emotionally entangled, essentially sharing a part of ourselves within our creation.
MS: What does supporting local mean to you?
GV: Supporting local to me means shopping directly from a local maker or a small shop. This way, I am getting quality service/product and the money stays within the community. I am supporting someone’s dreams, and that helps build up a generation of healthier entrepreneurs and makers in general.
MS: Do you have advice or encouragement for ways to support local?
GV: Supporting local is a belief that turns into a way of life. One has to believe that supporting local creates a riffle that leads to lasting change. Without that belief, you’ll always resort to whatever is most convenient.
MS: Is there anything you wish to add?
GV: I believe we can all use a bit of calm and nature inside of our homes. Whether it's with plants, artwork, photography— the list goes on. We spend more than half of our lives inside of our homes, so may as well make them a pleasant environment to thrive in!
MS: What is your favorite book and why?
GV: ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield. It outlines practical ways to break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles.
MS: What is your favorite location and why?
GV: The New England quaint countryside. It always takes me back to where I grew up in Ukraine.