My name is Ilya Ratay. I live in Moscow, Russia (follow me on Instagram and Facebook!). First of all,  I’d like to thank Charlie here at Doodlewash for inviting me to be featured on this website! I drew a lot in childhood, but rarely used color. I did not like watercolor at the time, because the figures obtained were not accurate. However, I was very fond of drawing in pencil and ballpoint pen. Both adults and my peers told me that I was very good at drawing, but after 12 years I gave up painting for 30 years.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Ilya Ratay - #doodlewash

Once, when I was 42, I helped paint my son with a gouache drawing. Everyone really enjoyed it and I decided to take up drawing again. It was in the time of the Internet and I saw the modern artists working with watercolor. I thought it was very simple, the water and the pigment do it all automatically.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Ilya Ratay - #doodlewashAt first, I tried to study according to videos, then was engaged with teachers.  I have not been systematically trained, but have given a lot of thought to the acquired knowledge. Many times, I felt disappointed, but I could not stop drawing. It has been almost seven years, and I saw other artists that are like me, and that they were not ashamed to show their work on Instagram. Instagram made me draw a regular basis.

Now I use the watercolor (“White Nights”), a pencil, a ballpoint pen Pilot, Uniball micro or pen Rotring Tikky Graphic. I draw in line & wash style. My favorite artists are Aleksndr Shumtsov (Alex Votsmush), Konstantin Kuzema, Charles Reid, Bernhad Vogel, Felix Schainberger, Aksinya Semenova, and  Ruslan Gonchar.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Ilya Ratay - #doodlewash

In conclusion, I want to tell one story, that is significant for me. Artists often spoke to me about the importance of drawing by spots. And also that we see spots, not lines. But we all begin to draw lines and circuits. I began to peer at the world around me and to look for these spots, but the understanding wasn’t there. I had knowledge, but couldn’t confirm it in practice.

And once, approximately in the second half of September, I stopped the car and went into a shop. It was an evening and when I left the shop, it had already considerably darkened, though everything was still visible without flashlights. To the car, there were 10-15 meters walk and suddenly, I saw that the side panel was rumpled. I wondered how this could have occurred? Especially in a rather quiet place.

I peered more attentively and was more and more convinced that I could see an indent. I thought that it was most likely caused by a child on a bicycle. And here, I approached more closely, sat down and gave a hand to feel an indent when at last understood that it was absent!

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Ilya Ratay - #doodlewash

After that, I realized that we really do see spots. Light from a street lamp had created a patch. Patches of light from the sky had caused a shadow to be imposed. And such lighting created the illusion of an indent on a car side panel. All this is remarkable, but there was still a question as to why it is so hard to learn to draw as they say “from spots”?

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Ilya Ratay - #doodlewash

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Ilya Ratay - #doodlewashThe explanation is covered in the principles of how our brains work. The matter is that already by the time we learned to speak, in our memory, there is information on a huge number of objects which we saw and accumulated. We not only saw, but also got acquainted with these objects by means of other sense organs.

Therefore, the image on a retina of an eye is instantly compared to the mass of information of already known objects in the world. And consciously we perceive objects. Thus we already know that leaves and grass are green, snow is white, a tree trunk brown, asphalt gray, the figure of the person became more than straight lines, etc. And all this because the main task put by nature – to remain alive. An object is defined instantly to estimate its danger, usefulness, delicacy, etc. Otherwise we would die.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor painting by Ilya Ratay - #doodlewash

And when we begin to draw, it is necessary to think differently.  We have to learn to represent not our knowledge of objects, but a set of visible spots of light and shadow. And in it all, complexity.

Ilya Ratay
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Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

9 replies on “GUEST DOODLEWASH: The Way To Myself

  1. Ilya, it’s been wonderful to witness your journey as an artist and to learn how you developed an understanding of learning to paint by seeing spots. I think I might phrase this by telling someone to learn how to look accurately so that they are genuinely aware of what is in front of them and not deceived by what they think they are seeing. At this point the spots become interconnected with each other and, as you say, by one’s personal experience and background. Brain and creativity coalesce.

    You express a wonderful view of your world, not daunted by the challenges of angles, perspective, and form but obviously excited by the complexity of the city. You paint mundane objects, even what others might see as ugly, with dignity, honoring every image with an exciting range of color and detail. I’m not sure many other artists could make a pipe fitting lovely to look at.

    Liked by 1 person

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