Standing at her easel, junior Luba Liubvina stares at the still life she has carefully constructed. After a few moments of consideration and a deep breath, she puts brush to canvas and begins.
Double majoring in art and biology, Liubvina brings structure and creativity together. On her canvas she paints brand new worlds in brilliant watercolors.
“I want my work to be both deliberate and on some level even subconscious,” Liubvina said.
Liubvina will spend the next five to seven hours working on this singular piece until she feels it is complete, stopping only for snacks and bathroom breaks. This uninterrupted time is one of the key parts of her process, forcing her to make decisions based solely on instinct. Due to a desire for spontaneity, Liubvina chooses to work mostly with watercolors.
“I tend to doubt myself in other mediums, but in watercolor there is usually no going back. It makes my work more confident, as if I knew exactly what color everything was supposed to be,” Liubvina said.
In fact, she’s never quite sure until she’s filled the page with color.
This more structured style of painting comes from Liubvina’s formal art education at the Serov Art School in Moscow, Russia. Students at the school were given strict guidelines for their artwork. Previously, Liubvina did much of her work in still life, painting exactly what she saw. She didn’t always find these the most inspiring but they helped enhance her skills.
“Here, the professors are like, ‘Do what you want,’” Liubvina said.
After deciding what she wants to paint, she’ll first do a very detailed drawing on the paper to get an idea of what the finished product will look like. Some have compared this process to a more elaborate version of children’s color by number books, though she disagrees. In reality, the drawing exists to establish the structure and shapes she’s imagined. More often than not, she’ll end up painting outside of those preset lines.
“Although my work is indirect in its message, it doesn’t mean it lacks emotional or situational context. I believe my work is both relatable and has some element of the unknown,” Liubvina said.
She takes inspiration from her second love, biology. Liubvina is a unique art student in that one of her favorite places to work is actually the Umbeck Science-Mathematics Center (SMC). She feels most comfortable painting taxidermied beavers in peace there.
Liubvina plans on post-baccing after graduation working for the art department setting up exhibits and exhibitions. After, she plans on going to grad school and possibly pursuing Museum Studies with a focus in curating and display creation in the hopes she can bring her two passions together. Though she’s still open to other options, such as illustrating.
Her ultimate goal in any piece of work is to find the beauty in the ordinary and to give others an idea of why she chose a specific color or shape.
“Many have referred to my work as different ‘worlds.’ At first they were mostly my perspective on my surroundings,” Liubvina said.
Now that she has many years of experience under her belt she has grown to embrace this.
“I decided to sculpt my own objects and compose them in order to paint from them, placing them in an imaginary world of mine.”
Ultimately, the pieces she views as the most successful are the ones many wouldn’t immediately recognize as her work. Liubvina has displayed her work at both the Al Young and WVKS art shows, and hopes for opportunities to present her work at other shows in the future. Her work can also be found in Catch and Cellar Door.