Katya Held‘s painting studio at 915 Spring Garden Street displays a number or works in transition to a realist completion. The painter’s studio was open to the public for the art studio building’s Spring open studio tour, a rare opportunity to visit artists in their work space. Katya is an alumni of Studio Incamminati, the portraits are based in the proven methods the Nelson Shanks school teaches, with strong grounds of color fields layered with considered gradients of hue and impeccable brushwork. DoN asked Katya what her experiences at the prestigious art school was like for her? ”I studied at Studio Incamminati for four years and I’m a Fellow now. I studied with the instructors that Nelson Shanks taught directly… but I do get critiques from him when he’s available.”
How did you come to study at Studio Incamminati? “I was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and I saw his work. I didn’t understand who was capable of painting, utilizing techniques of old masters, and making it look like contemporary realist work.” Rather than study in Italy at the Florence Academy, Katya discovered the art school in Philadelphia, her studies in Steiglitz St. Petersburg Academy of Art prepared her to study the high level of technique she desired to master. ”A lot of the work you see here on the wall is due to the vigorous program.” After the artist discovered the school through their open studios she never left.
Many of the painting are alla prima, portraits that are developed within time constraints, often as preliminary works for more formal portraits. “It’s indirect, multi-layered, more depth, more information that you’re after and that’s a long process.” A five hour sitting can turn into a painting that takes months to complete. ”Something that’s fast and spontaneous, there’s more emotion. For example all these construction workers, I recruited them. I saw them smoking on their break and I thought, ‘I have to make a painting ot them.’ Which I’m still working on it, I showed it to the public for the first time today.”
Katya Held explained how she coaxed the models to pose. ”I saw there was an ocean there, so much interesting color, the flashing of the light off the ocean on the flesh that I wanted to see them by the water. So, every one of them posed for me for about two to two and half hours. So those are the studies I did and I brought them to my Philadelphia studio and then recreated the atmosphere. These are guys that came to St. Petersburg, Russia, from very far away, from the middle of the country, to make a living. They all have high education but they abandoned their families because they needed to feed them. So, here is sort of their lunch break or a smoke break and everybody’s thinking about that part of life they are from. They are resting in that mode of connecting with their memories.”
Written and photographed by DoN Brewer
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