Monday, April 23, 2018

Birth of a New Art Series

I wanted to stay on track with posting to this blog, but then life happened and I had to reconsider my priorities. With a baby on the way I've had to try to work more, exercise more, make music and vacation with my husband before life changes forever. So I did all the other things to prepare, but now I'm in my final stretch, just under three weeks left before the due date, and my will power to be active has depleted. I just stay home as much as I can, move as little as I can get away with, leaving me with some time to write a blog entry.

So the most recent new series I've come up with is actually not that new. The concept was born in 2008. I was doing stop motion animation internships in LA for that summer and I can't remember why, but for some reason I started drawing these creatures that I called the gipsy pirate octopi. Most of them were musicians wearing pirate and gipsy attire holding instruments, pirate flags, dancing with tambourines and other such nonsense. I ended up painting a couple of my friends as the creatures and doing one banner painting that I used to use for my blog. I've lost most of the old sketches I did but I do still have a few so here's how it began:

The image above was the very first, original gipsy pirate octopus. The story started with him. 

After some sketches, I used markers and some minimal painting to create pictures like the one above. Sadly I have lost them all, this image of one of my friends as an octopus is the only one that survives, and only as a low-rez file. In 2008 I had visions of painting entire cityscapes with these creatures and I imagined animations of them and day dreamt about them following me around in LA as I travelled through the metropolitan area daily to find my way to the studios I worked at using the public transportation system. But then life took a sharp turn in a different direction and my day dreams came to a halt.

Around 2012 I was already in UC Davis studying for my Master in Education and for Valentine's day I made the guy above using Adobe Illustrator and handed out the cards to the children in the classroom where I student taught.

Finally, in 2017, Tony and I started our band which was the name sake of my original branding concept (in fact I never did relinquish that title and have used it for my art related internet presence rather consistently). Above is the first sketch I did for our very first gig, using pencil and marker.

In 2018 we planned and executed our very last gig before the coming of the new baby. For that event I painted the above image.

Next I decided I needed to do a sister painting for our very favorite friend and fan of the band, Heather Guido. In her honor I did the piece above. 

I think the progression of these images shows a growth in the development of this concept as a series. I'm envisioning a series of paintings along the lines of my matryoshkas, where I'd use people I know as inspiration for the character development of individual octopi paintings. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


I've been getting behind on this blog again, but fortunately I have not been behind on making art. I started reading some interviews of artists I admire lately and it has really made me re-evaluate the way I've approached making art in my own practice. I often come up with a project for myself and feel confined in its parameters. I think "I started working on this project and I should not move onto any other new projects that I'm thinking of until I finish this one."

The problem with thinking this way is that often, when I've worked on something for a while I loose enthusiasm for it and end up wanting a change because I simply want something new to look at with my eyes. An example would be my matryoshkas. I've worked on them for a while and painted ten paintings of them. While each painting was very different from the one that came before, and they were getting more and more complex each time it still felt repetitive to my brain because the overall concept and style of execution were very similar. But because I did not permit myself to switch into a new concept and body of work I simply slowed down in making any art at all.

While I was working on that series I have had MANY new ideas come up for new projects I'd like to work on, but each time I'd backlog them, thinking they're good, but I must paint everyone I ever wanted to paint as a matryoshka first. But there are SO many amazing, talented, lovely, beautiful and kind people that I want to paint that it seems like getting them all down may take a lifetime and I may never complete the project absolutely.

In the two interviews I read recently, one of Mab Graves and the other of Ray Caesar, both artists mentioned that some projects took them years to complete. I think one of the artists referred to a whole body of work as a project, while another artist referred to single pieces of work as projects. Reading this made me realize that I'm being too rigid and need to loosen up because I'm denying myself the opportunity to expand and play with my art and become more versatile in my repertoire. I also think that finding my own, cohesive voice as an artist will come to me faster if I will allow myself to play with my many works of art.

I think I've developed a self discipline that is so strong that I don't really need to fear the possibility of starting too many things and not finishing any of them, which I think was a major fear I used to have. I have great expectations for my new approach.

I work as a substitute at a high school and often times I've found myself reading for up to six hours of my day because in higher grades there's not such a need for constant interaction with the kids like there is with elementary schools. I've finally came to the realization that I can also be drawing in my sketchbook during that time rather than just reading. Coupled with my new desire to explore multiple projects simultaneously this should be a great breakthrough in the motion of my progress.

Here's something I started yesterday and finished today...

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

My Etsy Shop

Today I'd like to put to record that I finally made my first sale on my Etsy Shop yesterday! About a year ago I was commissioned to paint one of Tucson's talented bassoonists as a matryoshka by her husband for her birthday. Yesterday her husband also bought three of my cards. Thank you!

I strive to succeed as an artist and that is why I utilize several online platforms to make my art available for viewing to as wide an audience as possible. Here's a list of them all:

Facebook Page: Gipsy Pirate Octopi or Margaritabrosovaart
Instagram: @margaritabrosova
Online Portfolio:
Etsy Shop:

While two stores in Tucson do carry my art cards, Old Paint Records Shop at the Old Town Artisan's and Petroglyphs in the Lost Barrio, I prefer to sell my own product because I do make more money that way. I found out last year that selling my cards to a retailer has almost no profit for me if you take into account the travel time it takes me to go a drop the product off as well as the time it takes to package the cards before bringing them to the stores. But I do it anyways because the goal is to have as many people see my art as possible, so if they see it in the store that's great too.

I think about how I'm going to make it in this art business/career dream I have, and I try to imagine what my end goal is and I must admit, I actually have no idea what will get me there because I don't yet have a very clear vision of what I'd like to do exactly. It's hard to go after something if you don't know what it is. I remember in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies Captain Jack Sparrows has a compass that will only take you where you want to go if you know exactly where that is. I feel like in life having a clear vision or a dream is like that. It's impossible to attain a dream if you do not know exactly what it is.

So I am now very aware of my challenge to really take the time and decide what I want to do. I know I want to illustrate books, but I'm often not sure if I want to illustrate books for other authors, or if I want to attempt writing myself. I also often question weather illustrating books is something that I will be happy doing, because it seems constricting to work on one story for several illustrations, right now I just paint whatever I want, but if my job is to illustrate then I have an assignment I must do which is very different from doing whatever I want.

I do know that selling my own art on Etsy is something that I'd like to be successful at, although I don't think it's my ultimate goal. I think of it as a step in achieving success artistically and also it's a challenge to run as a business and I like challenges.

I will conclude with posting the three cards that were purchased:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Baron Munchausen and his Stories

I am hopeful that by next Sunday I will finish my last two blank ornaments that are still left over. I'm a bit perplexed as to who I will give them away to. I think I have given all the gifts that I can think of for this year's holidays and can think of no one else to give an ornament to. The one I'm posting today is a gift to one of my favorite people in the world and I'm glad it will be decking her walls along with her other beautiful art collection.

This past week I have also made some significant progress with finally getting some of my greeting cards printed for my Etsy shop and for the two stores in town that carry them. Old Town Records shop at the Old Town Artisans and Petroglyph in the Lost Barrio both have my cards for sale and I'm told that they sell pretty well and that a replenishment of the stock is needed. I'm hoping that someday I'll have that problem on the Etsy shop. So far I've had it for longer than a year and NEVER sold anything. This time I picked some of my most liked art work and got prints of that for greeting cards and I hope that someday soon I'll make my first sale.

This time I'm posting the first of the new series of ornaments that are black with white art painted on top. The image was inspired by one of Baron Munchausen's tall tales where he was out hunting but didn't have any bullets. He decided to use a cherry pit for a bullet and shot a deer in the forehead. The deer ran away and a year later he saw a deer with a tree of cherry blossoms growing between its antlers.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Today I'm posting the final of my ornaments from the series I did for Christmas. After this I have just a few more that are painted post holidays and are of a different style. I'm still planning to take up illustrating Gogol's story "The Terrible Revenge" after I finish this project, so I'm really excited that it's finally coming to an end.

For today's slavic mythological creature we have the Gamayun (or Gamaun). She is prominent in Slavic folklore and is said to possess a lovely singing voice and a beautiful complexion. Symbolizing wisdom, harmony, and knowledge, she also knows a thing or two about the secrets of humanity and the creation of the world. Unfortunately, though, she won't let any of the secrets slip.

Not only is Gamayun extremely beautiful and wise, she is also capable of predicting the future and telling fortunes.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Firebird

I am happy to say that I finally started painting again today. In my last blog entry I confessed that it was almost two weeks since I've drawn or painted anything. Having put that down in writing made me feel accountable, like I have to make sure and paint before the next time I write. So I did. Today I finished two more ornaments, just one more to go!

Today I'm posting one of the older ones. It is of the firebird. According to Wikipedia the firebird "is a magical glowing bird from a faraway land, which is both a blessing and a bringer of doom to its captor. Some believe it can see the future. It is described as a large bird with majestic plumage that glows brightly emitting red, orange, and yellow light, like a bonfire that is just past the turbulent flame. The feathers do not cease glowing if removed, and one feather can light a large room if not concealed. It is beautiful but dangerous showing no sign of friendliness."

I knew all that myself, but it's easier to copy and paste what's already been written rather than recreate the wheel every time. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Chicken Foot House

I'm ashamed to say that I have not painted or drawn anything for about a week now, maybe even two! It's partially because I got really burnt out on panting all those ornaments, it took a lot out of me because I had to come up with so many different ideas AND execute them all in such a short span of time. Another reason is the performance with my band, Gipsy Pirate Octopi. I took a few days to prepare myself mentally and musically for it, but also it really got me off on a track of practicing music everyday. I've actually been learning a lot on the piano and finally figured out how to make any chord I want now, using the piano keys. Something that I didn't really have to know for the accordion, because if I want to press a chord I just have to press the button that's that chord and I don't ever need to know which notes make it so.

Anyways...Today I came across an old post on this blog that spoke of an illustration I did back when I was in Russia, this summer, for one of my favorite fairytales ever, "The Terrible Revenge", by Gogol. The post reminded me of the fact that there's that other project I started working on quite a while ago and that there's no reason not to get back to it even though I'm still in the midst of the matryoshkas. Working on the ornaments in the saturated way that I did made me see how being stuck in one mode really stifles me, and I think it's a good idea to distract myself and my imagination for a short while by investing myself in a different project and then simply coming back to the matryoshkas refreshed and hopefully inspired with some new perspective.

For now, I'm posting another of the ornaments. This one is of the famous house on chicken feet that the equally famous baba-yaga lives in. There is more than one Baba Yaga and more than one house on chicken feet in the Russian fairy world. On Wikipedia I read that the reason the chicken foot house came about is that back in the day houses in Russia were often stood up on stilts or stumps because of the watery and boggy nature of the land, so that the house won't rot. I also have a memory of either being told or reading somewhere (although I don't remember where or by who) that the house is representative of coffins where people were buried in ancient Russia, also on stilts, because in pagan times it was considered bad to bury the dead in watery graves. So since the terrain was so watery, they buried the dead on stilts.

In the fairy tales Baba Yaga is often described as sitting in her house with her nose grown into the ceiling. This is a connotation of being in a tight space where you're on your back and your nose touching the ceiling is like a coffin...She and her house are representative of the other world, the dead world. It is also often said that the house is without windows or doors. Also coffin-like...

In this image in particular her house is also surrounded by the bones and sculls of people she'd eaten. A scene from one of my favorite childhood fairytales, Vasilisa the Beautiful.