Today’s doodlewashes come to us from Natalie Rjedkin Lee (who goes by Natasha), in Manassas, Virginia (follow her on Instagram!). She currently works as a Museum Registrar for the Smithsonian Institution and began making art at a very young age. They say that genetics do not lie and in Natasha’s case this is definitely true.
Her great great great grandfather is Konstantine Karlovich Klodt, the famous Russian engraver who was the brother of Petr K. Klodt the sculptor and the father of Mikhail K. Klodt the famous landscape painter. Her grandfather George P. Rjedkin and father Igor G. Rjedkin were master wood carvers. An example of their woodwork is the Iconostasis from St Seraphim’s church, New York on exhibit at the Moscow State University.
Her family tree is littered with artists and artisans so it was no wonder that at an early age her parents recognized in her a talent for drawing. She was promptly enrolled in private art lessons at the age of eight. She continued with her teacher, Michael Lermontov, until the age of 24, at first studying and then later using the studio for independent driven work.
Interspersed in that period were studio classes in high school and college. She was classically trained in graphite, acrylic, oil, and pastel work, but it was the pastel and graphite that really appealed. By the age of seventeen, Natasha was taking commissions for portraits and by age 24 she had her first showing in New York as part of a group of promising Russian-American artists.
However, as they say, life gets in the way, and after moving to Virginia and starting the professional part of her life, making art seemed to fall by the wayside. Periodically between getting married and starting a family there were some guild art classes and projects, but they were few.
In 2013, she saw an inspirational quote that would change everything:
“You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.”
Newly inspired, Natasha decided to begin again and this time, make it stick. At first, it was drawing classes and then a watercolor class this summer and she has not looked back since.
Natasha says, “Watercolor was a new experience. I had no experience with the medium and it was a new challenge. I like the unpredictability of it. It can be highly detailed or very abstract. It’s portable and makes it easy to draw/paint on a daily basis. That’s my goal. To create something on a daily basis and practice, practice, practice. What I really want to explore further is mono print making with watercolors.”
Natasha is currently on Instagram taking part in #Inktober. Pen, brush, and ink are a new territory and she loves the challenge. On good weather days, she can be found drawing and painting in the gardens of the Smithsonian. On bad weather days, she can be found at her drawing desk working on new commissions. Her other hobbies include needlework and photography.
Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful art and story with us, Natasha! So happy to include you in the doodlewash family and we’ll all be watching to see what you’ll make next!