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Interview with Irina Cawton

Irina Cawton_winner_of_Strathmore_Artist_Papers_competition_on_FacebookWe run regular competitions on our Facebook page, and Irina was one of our winners. Irina caught our eye before this, with her magnificent coloured pencil drawings of cats. Truly stunning images. We caught up with her and asked her a little about her work, where she started and what her process is. Fascinating replies.

The winning image "Winter" by Irina Cawton

How long have you been an artist, and what got you started?

As far as I can remember back to my early years I have always been drawing and painting. I always wanted to express myself not from words but through images. The most common medium to use at that time were colour pencils so I have been using them for around 50 years. I have used many other materials since. After a number of art schools I eventually studied in the Academy of Baron Alexander von Stieglitz in St Petersburg. At that time and to this day it is the best academy of fine arts in Russia.

Border CollieWhere do you paint mostly, and why do you choose that location?
Mostly I am painting at home in my studio as my technique requires the finest detail and so I need to work in a quiet studio setting, especially when working in colour pencil as I need a lot of space around to setup all my materials. I rarely do art directly outside. 

Do you sketch every day? What is your inspiration?
I do not sketch often as the majority of the time I am hunting for my references with a camera. After I have my photos I begin to build my actual composition on the paper. I transfer it to tracing paper and then onto the paper I will be working on.
My biggest inspiration is the world around me as I like to draw and paint such a wide range of subjects so anything can be inspirational for me. Say from seeing the sunlight going through a cup of tea, beautiful flowers or just a fantasy composition my mind creates.

Missed The_ButterflyWe totally love your cats. Have you always painted cats?
I have not always painted cats in fact for 10 years of my life I painted on silk and yes cats are a big part of what I do as it is a subject close to my heart. I am also painting other animals and pets.

You paint a variety of sizes? From miniature to larger. What are the different challenges?
The minimum size I paint is the ACEO [like our Artist Trading Cards, Ed.] to very large pictures. When I work on a miniature it important to find the balance between the final results you have in mind and the actual details you can fit into that size canvas. I feel happier doing larger pictures as I love to add details into details and I feel free to do this in the larger works I do.

A Cup_Of_Tea

What paints do you use for drawing and painting, which pens, pencils, brushes, paints, etc you prefer?
I am using a huge variety of materials. To start from pencils it will be Derwent Coloursoft , Carand’Ache Supracolor and Neocolor II, Faber Castell Polychromos, Prismacolor but still the top of them all is Karisma (sadly no longer made). I also use various watercolours and my favourite is Schmincke. I am using as well acrylic inks and Rembrandt Oils. As for brushes there is no specific ones I use as I choose in the shop what I feel I need at the present time.

AmourWhat are you working on at the moment?
I completed a number of commissions before Christmas and after the short break I will continue to work a book for an American publisher. I also need to prepare some works for the coming season particularly for the UK Colour Pencil Society and The Society Of Feline Artists.

One thing in your studio what means the most, if there was a fire what would you grab first?
This is simple the Karisma pencil I have and my PC with all my works on. These cannot be replaced.

A bit of fun we always ask, if you were a Strathmore paper, which would you be?   
My astrology sign is the Twins and consequently my nature is quite double so I cannot choose just one I always need two to be happy so one would be Bristol Vellum surface as it would be perfect for colour pencil projects and the second would be not surprisingly would be 500 Series Gemini Watercolour paper as it is perfect for my non-pencil work.

Take A_Pick

How can people view your work and get hold of you? 

Irina Garmashova-Cawton UKCPS, SOFA, Facebook:


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