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Meet our artists: Delnara El

Meet our artists: Delnara El

Knowing more about who painted an artwork and how artists approach their creative endeavours often helps giving more context to the artworks we admire.

As a result, today we speak with Natalia (also know as Delnara El on Artfinder), a watercolour artist born in Ukraine and currently residing in Turkey, who introduces us to her artistic journey.

(Please kindly note that this interview was conducted prior to the war in Ukraine)

Q: Could you start by introducing yourself to our community?

Hi, everyone! My name is Natalia (Delnara is my pseudonym), I was born and raised in Ukraine. But for the last 8 years, I’ve been travelling non-stop, mostly to the countries of South-Eastern Asia and Europe. Since March 2020 I’ve been staying in Turkey and right now I live in a picturesque town on the Mediterranean coast. During my travels, I’ve created more than 50 artbooks about 30 countries, and every drawing in those reflects my impressions and local lifestyles –- landscapes, cuisine, people, architecture, holidays and traditions, flora and fauna. In tropical countries, I was amazed by the nature, so I created a series of paintings to try and convey that bright sunlight and those vivid colours.

Q: How long have you been on Artfinder and what has been your experience so far?

I discovered Artfinder at the beginning of 2021. Because of the pandemic, I couldn’t travel anymore, so I started looking for opportunities available for artists online. I got inspired by the ideas, the mission and the values of Artfinder, and I’m very happy to have become a part of this community. Furthermore, thanks to the interactions with the community, I began to dive into the history of modern art, reading books and articles, and taking courses. I also enrolled in educational programmes “Curator of contemporary art” and “Art management”. I started to experiment more with materials, themes and techniques, and all of this happened thanks to Artfinder as well.

Q: What made you want to become an artist?

To be honest, I never would have thought I’d become an artist. I graduated from Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture, and I had a good job. But I dreamt of travelling and having a diary, like pioneers of old, to describe and draw everything I would see. I enrolled in an academic drawing programme at Salvador Dali Academy of Contemporary Arts, but I got bored pretty quickly. Shading of geometrical shapes was miles away from pictures of exotic places I aspired to draw. That’s why I just took a sketchbook with me and went travelling, having decided that I would learn on the way. It’s been a long road (I started in 2010), but infinitely interesting. I've been learning new things all the time and continue to do so to this day. One day I just realised that I’d become an artist. I can’t imagine my life without art. And while previously I was learning how to draw what I want to or what I see, now I’m on the lookout for new ideas

Q: What has been the biggest hurdle you have had to overcome in your life as an artist?

It’s difficult to name one big hurdle. I’ve always had some minor ones and almost every time I found them in my own head. It’s tough to believe in yourself, to keep working no matter what, to trust that your works are appreciated by others…

Q: What project/artwork are you currently working on?

Right now I’m reevaluating my artistic practices and all those experiences and impressions I got while travelling. I’m working on a new series, using the polysemy of the concept of “migration”, while trying to find new facets of the multicultural and multiethnic society. I use a dynamic worldview, rejection of a settled way of life and migration as tools to re-actualise my “mental map”, as a way to see more clearly and get rid of automatic perception. Being a nomad used as a cognitive tool in the artistic field allows space for miracles and manifestations of life itself.

Q: If you could only use one art supply for the rest of your life, what would it be?

If you put it like that, I would probably choose an iPad, because it would allow me to imitate any material and it also has a camera. But of course, I prefer “living” materials and I would find it hard to give them up. In the end, you can make your own pigments and use your own hair or a few of your cat’s borrowed hairs as brushes :)

Q: What's the one artistic technical tip you cannot live without?

I can’t imagine my life without a camera. I’ve been an amateur photographer since I was 12, took a lot of photos on film and always brought several cameras with me while travelling. I could forget to bring clothes or shoes, but I would always take a camera, a sketchbook and paints with me. A camera is a part of my memory, I sometimes draw using my photos as references when I don’t have enough time to draw in the moment.

Q: Finally, what advice would you have for anyone wanting to start a career as an artist?

I’d say, practice a lot, be open to everything new and never give up. Just keep doing what you do and enjoy it.

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