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Alex Shtelman

Upon entering my studio, I turn on classical music. I usually play Chopin or Vivaldi as their magical sounds help me turn my heart onto painting and let go of the vanities of the passing day. They help me find, deep within my soul, that balance which I need to be able to express, with precision, the state of my mind, my thoughts, my feelings, and my emotions.

When I was a young student, I read about how Renaissance artists would fast and seek full solitude in order to isolate themselves from the distractions of daily life. This empty state allowed them to gain insight into their own consciousness, pure and unperturbed, and transfer it onto their canvas. Life experience alone allows me to truly understand how important it is to be honest and open with oneself for the sake of creativity.

When I feel that my thoughts and emotions are pure, and are in line with one another, I turn off the music. I like to ponder over the story I want to tell in complete silence as I do not want to be swayed by the music; I want to be free to express my own creativity. Only then, in complete silence, do I dare to pick up my pencil or my brush.

I turn my thoughts and emotions into color, forms, and lines. Although I carefully think over the color and composition that I intend to present, I often find the brush floating on the paper by itself and prompting me to create unexpected variations, which occur when the paint travels across the paper and mixes in surprising new ways. Besides working with oils, I also love working with watercolours. I love watercolours for their unpredictability, vibrancy, and for the many different possibilities they provide me with to express myself in my work. The uniqueness of watercolour paints is their transparency. When light penetrates paper coated with watercolours, it reminds me of stained-glass windows and the sunlight penetrating the coloured glass pieces, bringing to life the narratives of their creators.

I derive my story plots from real life occurrences, fortunes and tribulations. I try to examine these events through the eyes of a philosopher; it allows me to extract from them an essence, and to give my characters life. The energy that penetrates me at this point provides me with a unique perception of an event, which then materializes in my paintings.

The stories my paintings tell often arise from seemingly unremarkable events that I have come across, such as a leaf falling onto water, swirling around, while a small orange ship passes by, or a flock of birds nosily arranging themselves on the branches of a blossoming cherry tree. Days pass by yet these small scenes continue to reappear in my mind, increasing in frequency and in intricacy, ripening in my mind. Jokingly, I name this condition of the hatching of a plot "pregnancy". There comes a day, when, on a canvas or on a sheet of paper, the particles of my soul appear and begin to lead an independent life.

It is difficult for me to judge how successful of a work I have produced, or how much progress I have made during a single day, but either way, my work is still a reflection of my life; it is a fragment of my unique world which I choose to share with my spectators.