Afternoon sunlight streams through the window into a small, second-story bedroom. Paintings-in-progress are perched on easels around the room. They look on passively as a petite artist with huge talent sits at her easel by the window. She deftly moves her paintbrush across the paper as her cherished kitty purrs at her feet.
She is Russian-born Natalia Eremeyeva-Duarte, a nineteen-year career architect turned artist, busily at work in the Anaheim, California, apartment she shares with husband and fellow Art-A-Fair artist Leonard Duarte. Natalia’s 2006 move to America was a radical change from the busy career life she knew in Russia. She spent her first two years seeking new direction, but – despite her best efforts – Natalia remained adrift. Opportunity finally surfaced in the form of a Christmas gift from husband Leonard: an assortment of art supplies and a painter’s easel.
According to Natalia, education is critical to learning how to create – and critique – good artwork. She once had a teacher who required the class to “draw something every day”, frequently assigning seven drawings a week. Like most students, Natalia occasionally procrastinated, drawing them all the day they were due – and, her teacher could always tell. It was a valuable lesson in which she quickly learned that drawing something every day was indeed the very best way to develop and maintain her skill.
Her architectural background was also key to developing Natalia’s high degree of technical skill. Many of her works begin as light pencil drawings with very little reference. According to Natalia, “sometimes I just need a few points on the paper because I already know where the lines need to go.” Although she researches different watercolor techniques and enjoys watching other artists at work, Natalia does not copy any particular technique or style. She prefers to embrace the creative process, and freely admits that structured and organized techniques are not her top priority. She enjoys painting “plein aire” (outdoors), and uses reference photographs for finishing detail. Natalia loves to draw, and keeps a sketchbook close at hand wherever she goes. Her sketches often provide references for future works.
Like many artists, Natalia is quick to note that “knowing when to stop” is critical to keeping her artwork fresh. She typically steps away from a watercolor “before it’s finished” so she can evaluate the work over a period of time before deciding whether to return to it. She claims that looking at a mirror reflection of her artwork can be an effective way to evaluate her work.
The petite artist with huge talent has made an equally big impression in the relatively short time she’s been in America. Natalia has consistently received Art-A-Fair’s coveted “Artist’s Choice” award in the Watercolor category each and every year she’s been with the show. She plans to continue evolving as an artist, pursuing an interest in creating larger works and developing a free-form, impressionist style.
Make sure to look for Natalia painting in her booth throughout the upcoming 2016 season!