Igor & Marina, studio visit Chicago

On our recent visit to Chicago, we did 3 artist studio visits in one day. Our first of the day took us north to Linden to the home and studio of artist husband and wife team, Igor & Marina, Igor Kozlovsky and Marina Sharapova. Marina was away visiting family in their native Russia and Igor was a delightful host.

Of course no visit to a Russian host would be complete without the sweet thick Turkish coffee and Russian chocolates he offered us. Thankfully, the day was way too early for vodka or else we never would have made it to our other visits that day!

They came to America 16 years ago, after Perestroika and tough times in Russia. He was out with some friends (no doubt probably enjoying some vodka) and they urged him to enter a contest for a lottery for an American Green Card. One year later they won it and packed up and moved to America. They started out as interior architects and interior designers with their own company in St. Petersburg for 12 years but the move to America without the reputation or connections and with the language difficulty set them back a bit. After 6 months of doing regular jobs, they started to make good connections, began to do commission paintings. Pretty soon a gallery came calling and they were able to paint full time.

They had a large studio space in Evanston for 6 years but eventually decided to move the studio home. They dream of building a new home and studio sometime down the road. Their usual canvas size is 48 x 64 inches which is quite manageable even with regular stairs and not a freight elevator. Here, above, is a smaller recent work, still drying on the easels with the sketches on the wall behind.

Their painting process is a challenging one as they work together on the same pieces. Igor creates the backgrounds and Marina does the detail fine figurative work. As you can imagine this is not an easy task and Igor admits to much arguing over things artistic. Anything else, they can talk easily about but after painting together for 32 years yesterday (happy anniversary!!), its does not get any easier.

In this piece, we see a deeply textured background built up with acrylics and stencils then covered with white gold leaf. Except for this occasional under-painting, all their works are in oils. Lovely details in the face, gloved hands and booted feet.

Their daughter has been one of their most popular models and now that she's grown up and living in San Francisco, they sometimes arrange to meet somewhere in the middle for a little holiday together and to take photographs for their latest projects.

Their library was full of wonderful art books with a Russian twist and flavor.

Thank you Igor for a delightful visit, wonderful Turkish coffee (who could resist??) and a peek into the world of your very beautiful artwork. With its sense of theater and dazzling costume details, it is particularly appealing to me as that world is also a deep inspiration in my own artwork.
Igor & Marina

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