Iryna Yermolova was born in Ukraine, and has lived in England since 2005. Her figurative works are illustrative, bold, spontaneous, and colorful. They can be a bit too illustration/pretty for my personal tastes, but they still give me some good inspiration for my own painted figurative studies.
The fresh quality of the paint might feel as if they were painted from a live model, but the cropped compositions, flattening, and “first mark” accuracy (I see no evidence of sketching and adjustments typical with live studies) suggests to me she’s working from photos. In addition, there are a few paintings with bright white sunlight shapes, typically seen in photos taken in rooms with strong hot lights, which would be obnoxious to try to paint through in the studio – all those blind spots – but I like the effects of the light across the body, and behind it.
IRYNA YERMOLOVA’S PAINTING APPROACH (AS I IMAGINE IT)
- NO TONE. Yermolova likely starts with a bright white canvas, and a photograph.
- LAYOUT. She might quickly sketch in some line work to map out location of shapes, composition.
- BLOCK IN LIGHT/MEDIUM VALUES. Block in the light and medium values with a warm vibrant transparent wash of yellow or orange. Thinned paint is brushed on, and scraped off in large swatches with the largest tools possible, painting quickly. White canvas glows through in the lighter value areas, and the bold color provides feeling of depth and energy.
- BLOCK IN DARKEST VALUES. Next I think she applies the darkest values, boldly attacking the darks without working it – blacks are clear, unclouded by lighter tones, and colors are kept clean. Windows are left to the previous layers, so the painting does not look finished, blended, or overworked.
- WHITES. This layer is cool compared to the first very warm color. Opaque white/neutral tones are applied to give feeling of skin, solidity, volume, and sometimes texture to the composition.
- DETAILS. Details are scratched and scribbled in. Small pops of brightest colors applied. She may make some refinements here, but no step completely obliterates the previous step, and there is no blending, so the story of her painting can be seen clearly through each layer.
- JUXTAPOSITIONS. She now has very clear juxtapositions: light/dark, warm/cool, bold color/neutral tone, hard/soft, large/small, thick/thin. These juxtapositions aren’t subtle. They’re formulaic, she nails them, and they’re effective.
- COMPOSITIONS. Notice how neither the figures nor the still lifes have any straight horizontal or vertical lines. Every portion of these paintings is directing to somewhere else in the painting.
- ABSTRACTED. Color and value choices have been made with the composition abstracted and flattened. Color and value was not to used produce an illusion of depth, or an illusion of reality. The figure and the ground are equal, both paint, and decisions are based on the weight and movement in the overall balance of the composition.