Hello, my name is Anya Kopotilova, I am a Russian-born freelance artist based in Denver, Colorado, USA (you can find me on Instagram, Pinterest and Society6!). I am excited to be here on Doodlewash, many thanks to Charlie for the opportunity.
I wasn’t an artist until I was. I grew up loving drawing, but wasn’t particularly good, not enough to consider an art school or an artist’s career anyway (I went on to study foreign languages instead). I loved art history, museums and art galleries though, and enjoyed leading art projects for children. No formal art education happened to me and a “short break” from drawing lasted for over a decade.
A couple of years ago I slowly started to draw again, buying a small sketchbook and slowly adding drawings to it from time to time. Over a year ago, these shy attempts transformed to the burning need to get better. I went for 21 days , then 100 days, then 300 days challenge which in turn merged into daily art practice in 2016.
Sketchbooks quickly got full with small things, big things, animals, landscapes. Any materials I could come across, I would use. Learning to draw again is incredibly challenging, but I also found it to be such a source of joy. So many firsts— first successful rendering of a face, first animal that looked alive, first flower… I am not sure when it happened exactly , I became an artist step by step coming to the point where I could confidently sell my work and that is what I’ve been doing for about 7 months now.
Watercolor was the first medium I picked up when I took up drawing again and it remains the material I am most delighted to work with. It offers so many opportunities. Easy to set up and mix, the softness of color in the final result is very pleasing. When I sit down to work, I have my 24 tube set, a porcelain plate to mix colors and a water brush aka the best invention ever, so convenient. I have within reach a small spiral-bound sketchbook especially for watercolor practice and a pad of 140 lb paper for larger works.
For outings I have a bag with my travel watercolor kit (small pans in a case) and a sketchbook to keep in my car, a small pouch with pencils, liners and another portable kit (Peerless watercolors that come in sheets of pigmented paper and can be mounted on cardboard) is always in my bag. At home I can afford to spread out a little bit more by keeping a cart of supplies in my kitchen and I have a small studio set up in my bedroom. I often pre-sketch in watercolor pencils, especially if I am in a hurry.
Art means so much to me— a meditation, a collection of memories and emotions. I enjoy drawing on location as an alternative to photographs. Water and its movements remains my favorite element to draw. I am a huge fan of children’s books illustration (which resulted in many an impulse purchase). So much inspiration can be found there!
My ultimate goal is to create my own children’s book and it’s something I’ve been working on for the past few months, developing characters, looking into possibilities… My own kids are my biggest supporters in this endeavor and often the best ideas come from their requests. I find that I enjoy drawing cute and funny animals the most.
The process of making art for me is based on one simple principle— draw every single day. Tired, crazy busy, I try to find time. Even if it’s just a tiny sketch done in a waiting room or on a margin of my journal before bed, it’s still practice.
I also have an “inspiration scrapbook” where I paste beautiful postcards and cut outs from magazines. I learn a lot from looking at other artists’ work as well. Getting feedback is important. I was incredibly shy sharing my work at first, but it was the best thing I could have ever done. I am lucky to have an artist friend and her gentle guidance gave me courage and support I needed. Forever thankful for that. I greatly appreciate the feedback that comes from the Instagram crowd. It is encouraging to receive positive comments and lots can be learned from the critique.
Finally, it’s important for me not only to be inspired, but to be an inspiration as well, doing my best, always learning and sharing what I’ve learned with others.