Artist's Statement Liena Dieck
Education: Summa Cum Laude Graduate of Moscow State University, Russia
Graduate of Paier College of Art, Inc., Hamden, CT
(Sharp Focus/Trompe l'Oeil Painting)
Member of: The American Artists Professional League (Salmagundi Club, NY),
Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club (New York, NY),
Silk Painters International, Inc. (Riverdale, MD)
Born in Moscow, Russia, I received education in the highest ranking school in my country - Moscow State University. After my family moved to the United States I also attended the Paier College of Art (Hamden, CT) where I studied trompe l'oeil and portrait painting, and from which I graduated with an Award of Excellence. Since then I've participated in local, national and international shows and won numerous awards.
In my work, using different techniques and media, I always strive to stay true to realism in art, which, I think, comes naturally with my background, because realism for many decades has been revered and flourished in Russia. I started my artistic career specializing in sharp focus, or trompe l'oeil still life painting.
Trompe l'oeil translated from French means "fool the eye" - i.e. if viewed from a certain distance at an eye level the objects in a painting will look real to a viewer. When placed in specific surroundings the painting stops being a painting, but becomes, say, a window, or a non-existing door handle, etc. As one of the best American contemporary trompe l'oeil painters Ken Davies put it, ":by its very nature trompe l'oeil has never been entirely serious, and has always been seen as artistic sleight-of-hand and therefore lighthearted, frivolous and even humorous, as many tricks should be". But at the same time sharp focus realism needs more time, practice, hard work, and endurance than many other kinds of painting. Two of my paintings were selected by Mr. Davies for a trompe l'oeil show in Connecticut, with one of them appearing on the invitation to the show. Another trompe won me a prestigious award in Manhattan during American Artists Professional League National Fine Art Exhibition, and since than I've been exhibiting my trompe l'oeil paintings there on a regular basis.
Realism in art alone is not the only thing that interests me. I try to combine it with romanticism: my childhood years were filled with the magic of fairy tales, legends and myths, and all this influences my painting today. Currently I work a lot in a new, very demanding and unforgiving medium - silk painting with dyes.
Ancient colorants and resist techniques go as far back as 2nd century AD and were first developed in India and China. In the modern world there are several centers of silk painting, and it is very popular in Europe, and especially France, England and Russia. Contemporary silk painters from France and Hungary report that their teachers acquired the skills and techniques of this art in France from members of the Russian czar's family. During the 1917 Revolution, Russian nobility dispersed. Many fled to Paris, bringing with them the secrets of silk painting using a substance called gutta, and introduced the process to Western Europe. Gutta is one of several linear barrier resists used in the process of painting on silk.
While there are craftsmen who use silk painting techniques in making beautiful clothes, scarves and different accessories, there are fewer people who do serious, fine art painting on silk. The main reason for this, besides silk painting being extremely time consuming and costly (one simply must use the best dyes and silks there are to obtain the best results), is that an artist is not allowed to make any mistakes while working with dyes as there are no ways of painting over or erasing the mishaps.
For the most part I taught myself painting on silk using American, German and French books, as well as instruction manuals created in Moscow Institute of Textile Industry, and recently, because of the Internet, I started communicating with some of the best silk painters from different countries of the world and learned a lot of new interesting techniques from them. It takes time and effort to acquire the necessary skills and there is always a lot more to learn. My goal is to make silk painting accepted in the fine art world as an equal with oils, watercolours or pastels. In the spring of the year 2000 one of my paintings on silk has won an award in an international fine art competition and was published in a New York art magazine - Manhattan Arts International. However many clubs and organizations of artists in America still look down on silk painting considering it a craft. This attitude can only be changed through a lot of work, significant improvement of technical skills and fine art rendering of compelling imagery.
I work hard on establishing my own style in silk painting and would like to think of myself as an artist of the Russian school, who got a chance to discover true calling and start growing artistically on the American soil.
To summarize it all, silk painting with dyes remains my absolute favourite, though I work with different media and on various subject matters (sharp focus still life painting, landscapes, portraits of people and animals, floral compositions, illustrations in watercolour, colour pencils and ink). Some of my paintings are traditional for New England and some are influenced by my Russian heritage and upbringing, which I'm very proud of.