Natalia Smirnova, Eclectix Interview 43

Natalia Smirnova artist - Eclectix


The artist Natalia Smirnova (above) works as if from another era, her art harkens back to mysterious and fabled tales of medieval manuscripts. They would do Dante’s Inferno proud or even illustrate the Bible, in the way a great book of history/fantasy deserves. Evoking  spiritual occurrences, ghostly spirits and darkly ethereal visions.



Natalia Smirnova - Eclectix Interview



Natalia currently lives an isolated life in St. Petersburg, Russia. She works at her home desk, very simply with humble materials - predominantly watercolor and tempera on cardboard. The palette of her portfolio is mostly sepia tone or black and white works and her brush stroke has a gentle refined tenderness. Peeking out of the darkest shadows and magical forests, her apparitions materialize into winged angels, solitary dwellings, ghosts, flying ships, demons, fairies and holy figures. The outcome is fantastic – lovely and other-worldly, full of enchantingly dream-like phantasms. We would so love to see a solo exhibition of her works, here in the U.S. ( gallery owners – hint, hint! )

Some of the images here are cropped details or photos of works in progress.



Natalia Smirnova - Eclectix Interview



My favorite art memory from my childhood is …

I have three very different childhood memories about art…

1. Scary – Goya’s painting, “Saturn Devouring His Children.”

2. Full of admiration – 17th century Dutch still lifes.

3. Mysterious – icons, (during my childhood, religion was something very mysterious and forbidden).



Natalia Smirnova - Eclectix Interview



My interest in art/painting started …

My interest became serious when I painted my first copy of a Dutch still life, with fruit and flowers, at 13 years old. I drew it very carefully, over the course of two months, using oil paints for the first time.

I am often inspired and motivated by …

Phrases in books often inspire me - The Silmarillion by Tolkien, the Bible and Jewish traditions. I often see a “picture” in my mind while reading. The main thing is to have enough desire to portray that image. The cause of my inspiration can be anything. Sometimes I invent fantastic worlds in my head and depict them.



Natalia Smirnova - Eclectix Interview



If I could spend the day with any artist (dead or alive) it would be …

It would be nice to travel through the Alps into Italy with the young Dürer. Or to visit with Jan Van Eyck, to see what kind of a person he is.

My preferred medium is  …

Tempera, oil or acrylic on primed wood or cardboard, I don’t care for canvas.



Natalia Smirnova - Eclectix Interview



If I could own one piece of art, out of the world’s collections, it would be …

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

My current favorite piece of my own art is …

I like what I’ve done over the last year. But I prefer not to sit and admire my own works for a long time…  



Natalia Smirnova - Eclectix Interview



My ultimate project or fantasy is …

If I talk about the future of the project, it can not be done.

Do you have another occupation, other than being an artist?

My main profession is that of a restorer, for an antique shop. I’ve worked in restoration on Russian icons for more than 20 years.  I clean the old varnish from the surface of icons, reconstruct any lost fragments of the image and prevent future destruction.



Natalia Smirnova - Eclectix Interview



The last song I choose to listen to was …

The last music that I listened to were medieval Jewish chants.

The last book I couldn’t put down was …

I read a lot of Stephen King. I finish one book, and then immediately began to read the next one. The last one was Lisey’s Story.



Natalia Smirnova - Eclectix Interview



Favorite words? …

Safe haven and journey.

One of my favorite smells is …

My favorite smell is the smell of smoke from a fire, or smoke from a chimney in winter.



Natalia Smirnova - Eclectix Interview



I can’t live without …

I can not live without approval, this is my weak point.

It’s not hip, but I really love ….

It’s not hip, but I really love my main work – restoration.



Natalia Smirnova - Eclectix Interview



My favorite motto (or quote) is …

“What does not kill me makes me stronger.”

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

In Norway, near the Arctic Circle.



Natalia Smirnova - Eclectix Interview



If you had to name a hero or heroine, an iconic famous person in your lifetime, who would that be and why? 

Forefather Abraham – he decided to do something really new and it changed the world. Reading about him produced a strong impression on me. However,  I am not a particularly religious person. In fact, I try to stay away from all religious communities. Currently I am interested in Judaism.






Natalia Smirnova - Eclectix Interview



LINK: to Natalia’s (Vitiaco) Flickr site


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