Painters 2017

Irina Melikhowa

Irina describes herself as a ‘happy person’ because she always knew that she wanted to become an artist. Fascinated by the world around her, it seemed natural for her to express her love of nature and animals through her art. She found all her favourite subjects in abundance during her participation in the Painter’s Festival.

She was born in the small military city of Penza in Russia where she had little exposure to other artists. Her mother, however, was a colligraph-decorator and encouraged her daughter’s artistic talent. A serious illness as a young girl, where she almost died, meant many months recuperating in bed. On her wall hung a copy of a Russian painting, which she credits with her decision to become a full time artist. On her recovery she moved to Leningrad to study at the I.E. Repin School of Art.

A regular participant on Russian plein-air painting trips, Irina is a well-travelled artist. However, nothing prepared her for her first sight of the Indian Ocean, which she says, “awakened her creative inspiration.” She was entranced by the Lamu’s leisurely rhythm enhanced by the lack of cars and the friendly local people. The island’s bright exotic colours were a wonder to her. She found herself re-assessing her palette and mixing colours that she had never used in Russia.

The sense of living in an artistic community enhanced Irina’s stay and she delighted in the sharing of ideas among the participants. She says, “I experienced real happiness during my trip and it was a real pleasure to paint the sea, landscapes, house interiors and, of course, the people.” She cites her visits to Anidan Orphanage as one of the many highlights.

Grateful to be included in the Painter’s Festival, Irina believes that her stay on Lamu has had a profound effect on her development as an artist. On her return to Russia, she plans to use her new colour palette to create a collection of her impressions of Lamu. She says “I take back a lot of warm memories of this amazing place.”

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