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Anna Pankratova is a jewelry artist from Ukraine who creates masterfully crafted polymer clay pieces. Most of her pieces include aspects of nature, one of biggest inspirations.
ToonariPost (TP): How and when did you first start practicing your art (are you traditionally trained or self-taught)?
Anna Pankratova (AP): I began to draw at the age of four. Ultimately, after a year, I earned admission to art school, and studied for twelve years. Speaking in terms of my education in the arts, I consider art to be an immense relation to my self-worth. Art defines me as an individual. Art is a huge aspect to my being. I began to do handiwork through designing and handcrafting jewelry pieces approximately three years ago in 2009. Personally speaking, I have gained a sufficient amount of artistic ability and experience through three years of extensive work. I decided I did not need to take classes or lessons. I learned by my own accord, my ambition, and by my passion.
TP: What mediums do you use for your art work? Which is your favorite and why?
AP: The use of polymer clay, gouache, and acrylic are the predominant ingredients to my unique handiwork, so to speak. However, I prefer to work with polymer clay in particular because it is a very pleasant material. The use of polymer clay is quite pliable and trouble-free. I can create any color in any intensity of shade as well as molding complementary and decorative patterns. During the process of working with polymer clay, the only instruments I use are a hobby-knife and a toothpick.
TP: What piece of your work is your favorite and why? Which one are you most proud of?
AP: From the several jewelry pieces or artworks I have created, I do not think I can choose a particular piece of art that I can be proud of the most. I believe that all of my artworks are what I can be proud of. I have several future creative pieces to mold and be proud of. Mastery only grows with gradual time and experience. It is too early in my “career” to call any piece the pinnacle of best work. Self-criticism is the source of advancing and developing my artistic abilities. I am the one to judge my handiwork. I find the negatives and the positives to my work. What am I lacking in a particular art piece? What can I add or modify to a particular art piece?
TP: You say that you are the one who finds the mistakes in your art or the areas where improvement is needed. How do you handle negative feedback or critique from others?
AP: To me, I find it normal to take constructive criticism from others, for example, from people who have more artistic experience. It is imperative to receive such reasonable, objective opinions from others and mold such critiques in an optimistic manner. By accepting criticism an individual seeks an alternative approach(s) to improve. I think it is very useful to hear from those who intend kindly to improve a particular area of someone’s work. Critique is significant in the work of an artist, which enables the ability for someone to make a comment on another, in turn, improving oneself towards future endeavors. Critique allows me to look at the picture from a different standpoint.
TP: When you first started did you ever hit any bumps in your art process. How did you overcome them?
AP: Yes, I have had some difficulties, from time to time, while working with my handiwork. The errors I stumbled across were related to the imperfection of artistic materials that I used since the beginning in 2009. When making a mistake during the handcrafting process, meticulously I removed bits and pieces and then modified the overall art piece. Gradually, I picked up more quality analogues. By making mistakes yet modifying the errors, with time and patience, I have gained artistic experience. I learned to avoid such errors that could dwindle my artistic ability. I yearned for quality and precision. When I work, I aim for striving excellence. I take time in my work.
TP: Who or what are your inspirations and why?
AP: Since my early childhood, I was immensely inspired and awed by the works of old grand-masters of art related to the different historical epochs. In the period of my studies in art school, Japanese decorative art and painting truly inspired me. In addition, Art Nouveau, became another bona fide discovery. I find virtually anything in nature as a grace for me in my artistic ability. Throughout nature, I find harmony – whimsical bends of tree branches, penetrating light from the sun, a graceful dragonfly sitting upon a thin leaf, decorative patterns, casual imprints of paint… What can be seen gives rise to abstract character in my mind, almost like a sketch. Subsequently, this abstract character becomes clearer than a sketch. The character becomes an imprint. Inspiration molds the sketch to the imprint or the final product. For instance, when I sit down before a blank sheet of paper to design a pattern or before a wood base for designing a bracelet, I see inspiration pour out almost immediately. The rest is a matter of technique and skill through the movements and strokes of my fingers.
TP: What artists would you consider working with to do a piece? Why, and what type of work do you think would come from this partnership?
AP: To me, it is difficult to find a man who has a spiritual affinity as I do. Working with someone would open opportunities, however, there may be differences in various ideologies and ways of thinking. There may be some problems along the way. However, compromise and coming to a mutual agreement is important. It would be interesting for me to do some work with a designer – for instance, painting on silk. To me, working in conjunction with a designer would be an immensely worthwhile and useful experience.
Image Courtesy of Anna Pankatrova