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Paper Art of Yulia Brodskaya

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When the words "paper" and "art" occur next to each other in a sentence, we often imagine a collage or origami. However, we can proceed with not too well-known art of paper quilling. All you need to use this technique is a flat surface, narrow strips of paper, and glue. Illustrator and "artist on paper" Yulia Brodskaya, who creates unique and really beautiful portraits with these simple materials, has shared the intricacies and complexities of her work to ArtHive readers.


Yulia resides just outside London. She started her career as a graphic designer and illustrator, but pretty soon she decided to abandon computer graphics to dedicated herself to paper art completely. Her technique is different from traditional quilling with its usage of just a few basic forms. Yulia`s work is more like drawing with paper. In college, she worked with a variety of medium, but neither paint, nor pencils did not not inspired her so much, "It just seems truly mine and I don’t get tired of it. When you find something that feels right, you know straight-away".

Working with paper is a painstaking and time-consuming process; Yulia dedicates 5 to 7 hours per day to her paper art. To have a clear idea of how an artwork will look like on a finished canvas, she makes the detailed sketch
A study is an exercise painting that helps the painter better understand the object he or she paints. It is simple and clear, like sample letters in a school student’s copybook. Rough and ready, not detailed, with every stroke being to the point, a study is a proven method of touching the world and making a catalogue of it. However, in art history, the status of the study is vague and open to interpretation. Despite its auxiliary role, a study is sometimes viewed as something far more significant than the finished piece. Then, within an impressive frame, it is placed on a museum wall.
So, when does a study remain a mere drill, and when can we call it an artwork in its own right, full of life and having artistic value? Read more
. One of the difficulties of this work is that the paper strips already attached are difficult to remove or replace without damaging the base. Yet another tough test to face is the search for the right colors and shades. Though, the main problem is the time, as "… it takes very long time: I have lots of ideas and I can get frustrated that I can’t bring them all to life fast enough. It is also common to get tired of the artwork some time in the middle, in this case I must take a break in order to look at the piece with 'fresh eyes'".
Yulia remarks that quilling can be mastered by anyone, but the outcome depends not only on regular practice: "I never studied this technique, I just cut some paper strips and started to make artworks. It is not about the technique — it is really something anyone can do, it is about colours, composition and time that must be spent on doing the work — these things are universal artistic skills, paper is just a medium of choice. I spend long hours working with it because I like it so much, I don’t set specific goals for practicing, the technique and style evolve over time".
It takes a couple of days to a couple of weeks to complete one artwork depending on its complexity, size and level of detail. "When I work on a large and intricate artwork (such as portraits) I try to distract myself with audiobooks, music, films on the background — anything that will stop me thinking the thought that should be avoided at all times, for instance: ‘I can’t see the end of it', ‘it is going so slow' and all the possible variations of it. So when I am asked ‘how long did it take exactly', my answer is often 'LUCKILY I don’t know'".

According to Yulia, the creation of portraits initially caused her some difficulties, because it was not easy to make the characters look like real people. It is pretty hard to believe when you see her stunning artworks, as even using unusual colors to depict faces, Yulia creates the portraits full of emotions. Most of her characters are imagined, although sometimes she depicts real people, though inventing new stories for each of them. Yulia dedicates most of her portraits to the elderly: "I'm fascinated by how person’s whole life gets written on his/her face. I’m looking for unusual ways to portray aging people with dignity by rendering them in brilliant color. There’s also an added bonus: quilled paper is an excellent medium for creating wrinkles".
Some of Yulia`s portraits are reminiscent of the paintings by Vincent van Gogh, however, the artist admits she had never used the paintings of the great Dutchman as a source of her inspiration. Yulia`s favorite artist is Gustav Klimt. Besides, now she’s really into traditional Japanese art.
Sources: artyulia.co.uk, the artist`s Facebook и Instagram pages.