Sunday, March 13, 2011

Special guest Sketchbook Profile: Natalya Aikens

Natalya Aikens is an artist living in New York.  Her work is rich with color, imagery and texture.

My art is an exploration of my heritage. The Russian fairytales, folklore and decorative traditions infuse my work with their fanciful spirit. St. Petersburg, my birth city inspires me with its elegance, grace and grittiness.

My current work focuses on my fascination with sheer, translucent effects and creative recycling. I love to work with the cloud-like softness of chiffon, the crisp lightness of silk organza, and the intriguing texture of a dryer sheet. I paint or dye my materials and then freehand machine-embroider them. I add hand stitching to further enhance the piece. Layering sheers with muslin, velvet or a recycled element, I tear and manipulate until I have found the most satisfying way to display the delicacy, fragility and textures of the materials and bring forth the beauty of the image
.  Read more..

Why do you keep a sketchbook and how often do you work in it?

I keep several sketchbooks and for different reasons. I have a sturdy simple hardcover Moleskin notebook currently that travels in my purse. I doodle in it, jot down notes in it, sketch ideas, collage, any thing and everything, fast and easy. I do not seek perfection and occasionally even let my daughters doodle in it. In my studio I keep several sketchbooks of slightly larger size and more involved sketching. These I turn to when I need to jump start my creativity in the studio or if I just happen to be in the mood to create with regular art supplies and not needle and thread. In general I work in my various sketchbooks almost everyday.

Do you work in just one at a time or do you have several going at once?

Ooops! I guess I just answered that question above! LOL Yes! several at a time so that whatever mood I am it can be fulfilled.

What's your preferred format (sketchbook size, type of paper, single sheet,spiral bound etc?) and preferred medium for using in your sketchbook? watercolor, pen, pencil, crayon, collage etc?

For my studio sketchbooks I usually prefer spiral bound with heavier paper, and for my purse sketchbook a heavy duty cover is a must as it really gets banged around. But that said - anything goes. I can make any type of sketchbook fit my needs. Glue pages together, prep with gesso, reinforce with fabric. And supplies...well....yep. Again anything goes! I can be in the mood to stick with markers for several days and then I'll switch to watercolors. Then the collage muse will visit and my fingers are covered in matte medium....

What advice do you have for someone who wants to keep a sketchbook but doesn't know how to begin?

Get yourself a couple of different sketchbooks, let them sit on your desk until one speaks to you. Then take that one everywhere with you and just start with a few doodle lines, a grocery list, stick a fruit sticker in it, don't worry about the outcome and eventually you'll get the hang of it and your own way of keeping a sketchbook will emerge.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Until you start keeping a regular sketchbook you will not understand the benefits of it. So once you start a sketchbook, try to make into a habit, whether it's first thing in the morning or the last thing at night, make it part of the routine and see how much you'll gain from it!

Visit Natalya's website here to see more of her work

Learn more about the Sketchbook Challenge here


  1. Thanks for the interview with Natalya. I have been a huge fan of hers since I saw her work in Quilting Arts.

  2. Making it a habit ... that's some good advice (that I should listen to!)

  3. Wonderful interview, Natalya. Your work about Russia is haunting and ethereal. I love looking at your art.

  4. I love your work Natalya! I stand in front looking deeper and deeper, seeing a delicate yet passionate nature coming though your art.


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