My name is Juliana Danilina and I live in Odessa, Ukraine (follow me on Instagram!). When Charlie contacted me asking me to be a part of Doodlewash, I was very flattered and surprised as it seems to me that my artistic level is still not up to the scale. However, deep inside, I understand that such self-criticism is very spread among painters.
I will start my story with a confession – I don’t have any degree in art studies. Yes, I learnt to paint without spending years at university, but spent years on a hard way of self-improvement. Of course, I wish I didn’t waste priceless time on a subject I didn’t like.
My family persuaded me to enter a local polytechnic university to study marketing as it is believed to be a high-prestige profession. I suffered through 5 years of studies and then another year working by occupation. My soul was suffering as I could not imagine doing what I don’t like for the rest of my life.
Along with this, I was working part-time as a dance instructor as I have been dancing since childhood. Once, one of my student dancers suggested entering an apprentice school she was teaching at to master a profession of florist-decorator. I gladly accepted this offer thinking that it is a wonderful chance to change my life! My artistic journey starts with this very moment.
When I started my studies, I could not paint or draw at all! But we needed to draw three sketches per every floral arrangement. I was just shocked. I had no idea about colors, proportions, material, structure and perspective. But as they say – all things are difficult before they are easy. Gradually, my skills improved, and my interest in art grew rapidly.
I started taking extra classes of watercolor painting that introduced me to the basics of watercolor. At that period of my life I didn’t have money for normal materials. I took my first steps in watercolor painting even without watercolor paper! I won’t even mention the watercolor itself. It was a cheap watercolor set for children and a brush costing about 20 cents. This brush was telling you: “ Do you want to paint? There is no way you are able to do this!” But I was eager to do it. So slowly, with an effort, I was approaching to what I can and have now! If you really want something you should strive for it no matter what.
In the beginning of my artistic journey, I paid more attention to handicraft and oil painting. I worked in various spheres and techniques such as painting (oil and acrylic painting), decoupage, decorating, furniture restoration, creation of interior pieces etc. I also had experience in decorating various small and bigger events. There was a period when I actively participated in local and Ukrainian exhibitions of handicraft as well as festivals and fairs.
Since 2011, I started initiating creative workshops as sharing knowledge and skills with other people is a great pleasure for me. Thus I created my project – a creative workshop/studio. Starting small, the first room me and my husband rented for my studio was in the sleeping area in the outskirts. It was a small room sized 18 square meters. But I was so happy even with this! Now my studio is in the very heart of the city. It is very light and spacious. And now I am not alone in it – some wonderful illustrators and painters are working along with me. They love their art as much as I do and share it with our students.
As for me, I started to spend more time on watercolor, falling in love with it more and more. I like watercolor for its ease and simplicity. I can place everything I need for painting into a small bag and go plein air painting spontaneously! Most of all, I like painting my surroundings, and paint it fast. That’s why watercolor sketching became a part of my life, a part of me. I am inspired by almost everything – nature, the city, flora and fauna, and even the most mundane things blend in picturesque still lifes!
During the warm season, I always carry a sketchbook, a portable set of watercolors and a water brush with me as I know that I will come across something I want to depict. Thus watercolors made my life brighter and more colorful even in the darkest moments of my life. It helped me to pass these times giving a chance to forget about the problems at least for some time.
Now I mostly work with Winsor & Newton water colors. I like its color purity while blending and fine grinding. I also use Van Gogh (Royal Talens) watercolors and Beliye Nochi (White Nights) of Saint-Petersburg’s artist colors. And recently, I discovered Ecoline (Royal Talens) liquid watercolors. Working with such watercolor is slightly different from usual techniques, but once you master it, the results are quite impressive. No matter how much you blend it – there is no dirt. You get bright, clear and rich colors which glow. I also want to mention that these watercolors are very transparent. I like this about them very much.
I believe that the main thing about painting is faith in yourself and your talents, desire, patience and persistency. And there is one more thing which I always mention to my students – you should not bother about trifles. Then, everything will come out better, easier and enjoyable.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!