// Russian plein-air pastel painter Sergei Oussik was
moved by the spirit of the times to embrace his face as an artist


International Artist, June/ July 2003


How Sergeui Oussik creates personally meaningful paintings

Every artist tries to discover their own sense of themselves, their individuality and their harmony. How successful my results are should be judged by spectators like you. There are two rules I follow in my creative work, and I suppose they are common for the majority of artists.

My first rule

My first rule is to believe in myself, in my gift, and never lose heart. Sometimes it’s hard, but the aitlSI should perceive and remember the feeling that beauty arouses beauty. You know the way it happens Ñ a spring puddle suddenly astonishes you by its blueness. Or the sun’s rays fall down onto the street that you have seen a thousand times before, and you will all of a sudden, like a flash recognise the quintessence, spirit and beauty of that place. That, just that, is.

Rocks and Stones, Seaside
, pastel, 46 x 66cm (18 x 26)
Ordinary picture of the seaside. I tried to discern the ^tive quality of the coastal stones, especially their colours, fled decorativeness leads to the alteration of all the pe’s atmosphere. It seems a bit celestial, but that is m I tried to reach.


Shadows, Snow, pastel, 61 x 66cm (24 x 26)
One sunny winter day while out walking the dog. I saw an ornamental arrangement of dark-blue shadows. By intentionally exaggerating its colour, I achieved a kind of decorativeness in this winter picture. I hope I succeeded to preserve a part of the fairy-tale in a winter day, using exaggerated, bright colours.


Pond, Helsinki, pasti 38 x 58cm (15 x 23) Inside the garden of a country house, everythir is arranged with great loÈ I tried to find harmony between the multitude o decorative plants, reeds, the evening sun reflectio and the artificial aspect c the pond’s arrangement

The artist’.* creativity because it was the artist who saw it. It was discovered by jusi one. a precious gift belonging only to the artist. I The rest of an artist’s activity is the aspiration to transfer the image fixed in his soul, and to be sure that the emotional flash is recorded on the canvas or paper. So, the more receptive my soul is. the less ordinary and more complicated ny flash will be. I strive not to be o lazy to watch, to admire.

My second rule

To be convincing in the transferring Mocess of my feeling, hard work is necessary, which is my second rule. It must l>c done with care. I cannot just draw the subject as it is. Russian writer Chekhov wrote, “The soul should work”. That is why I draw from life regularly. It disciplines my hand and eye. It arms me with technique and develops my sense of colour harmony.


Lake Finland, pastel, 61 x 71cm (24 x 28) I visit Finland regularly. The country has has about 20,000 lakes, which is why an image of Finland is permanently connected with a lake’s smooth, mirror-like surface, water and stones. It looks like wilderness, in spite of the rather high density of population. The beauty of the country is what I have tried to depict.

Working with pastels

When 1 work with pastels I usually sketch on location for one to two hours. I try to lead the drawing evenly all over the paper, and 1 inÂto avoid detailed drawing. Details will appear themselves during further work. I continually check colour relations, and never work for long at the same place in the drawing. I always remember that my time is limited before the light and shadows change completely, so 1 have learned to block out the distractions of passersby and focus entirely on the sketch.

Then I finish the painting in my studio, usually working for the same amount of time there. This is the stage for drawing details and making accents. This is the time to emphasise the most important parts by the means of colour, tone and highlights.

I limit myself to 50 to 70 colour for sketching from life, but in my studio I have about 200 to 300 colours. It is possible to vary the softness of pastels depending on the task. Choice of paper depends on the duration of work. For lengthy work that needs multiple pastel layers, I choose thick and high rekief paper with a smooth surface, so as not to spend too much time filling in the coarse surface of the paper.

Experience brings skill, and sensitivity brings emotional connection. By pursuing my two simple rules, I create paintings that satisfy my need for self-understanding.

The rest of an artist’s activity is the aspiration to transfer the image fixed in his soul, and to be sure that the emotional flash is recorded on the canvas or paper.

“To be convincing in the transferring process of my feeling, hard work is necessary, which is my second rule. It must be done with care. I cannot just draw in the subject as it is.”


Island Lake, pastel, 6 I x 66cm (24 x 26)
I painted from nature most of the time while staying in Finland, and I especially painted water. How incomprehensibly water changes colour, depending on sun or cloudiness! Water can be infinitely changeable. Try to paint it in the same place several times. In different weather conditions and you’ll see in your palette how different the water can be.

Art In the making Translation beauty of a moment in time

I like to show everyday details of nature in good weath I or bad. I painted this scene near my home on a beauti sunny day. The cast shadows of the trees caught my eye


1 Sketching in the field
Using my field set of about 70 pieces of pastel sticks, I complete this large sketch in about two hours, I then brought it back to my studio and hung it where I could work from it easily. Worl from memory. I made a few notes on the sketch about things I wanted to remember in the final painting.


2 Starting loose
On a gray-green surface. I began my studio painting by loosely sketching In the main objects, avoiding details. Then I quickly scribbled and stroked colours throughout the entire painting.


3 Refining the drawing
Using a wider variety of colours. I continued building up image. I became more careful, trying to refine the drawing. Some details emerged, but mostly I was paying attention to colour relationships.

4 Introducing emotion
nally. I added more detail to the work. This was where I put all : my emotion and feeling into the painting to make it come alive. :ried to combine the realistic, convincing sketch done from life ith the emotional Irregularity of my memory of the scene.


5 Capturing the mood
I was quite happy with Griboedova Channel II (78 x 105cm or 31 x 41) when it was finished. I think the colours and strokes communicate my feeling about this place.