Hannah Ostapjuk is a York based autobiographical figurative oil painter who focuses on a combination of traditional painting techniques and emotive responses to create beautifully detailed portraits. York Open Studios proudly represents a selection of the best artists and makers associated with York, each year providing an opportunity for the public to visit artists’ studios and exhibitions in a relaxed yet exuberant environment. Among the wide variety of painters, sculptors, carvers… (the list goes on) is Ostapjuk, showcasing her visually stunning pieces. She explains:

‘York Open Studios gives 50 emerging artists a chance to host an exhibition of their own while demonstrating and showcasing their existing work. It’s lovely to have this chance to share and talk about my craft, as it’s usually just me in my workshop – it can get lonely!’

As a way of honouring this event and finding more about Hannah herself, we interviewed her regarding to discover more about this woman of rare talent and artistic panache. As a dyspraxic and therefore fledgling drawer myself, I’m a moth to a flame for any sign of true talent involving artwork. It baffles and astounds me when pieces can look so aesthetically pleasing and geometrically sound. I wanted to learn more about the process involved in Ostapjuk’s craft.

‘It all depends on the size and the scale of the piece I’m working on. On average it takes around 180-200 hours to complete a single piece. My latest creation ‘Beautiful Mind’ took 200 hours of hard work and its first display will be at York Open Studios. I’ve never shown it on my Facebook page even, where I put most of my work. It will be an exclusive!’

Every artist is said to have a particular influence that is reflected in their work, along with the highly bourgeoisie question of ‘But what is your inspiration, darhling?’  With those two ponders in mind, I donned my fur coat and tilted beret and asked Ostapjuk how she makes her artwork appear so vibrant and lively…

Friends and family are definitely my main inspiration as well as the relationship with the sitter. I always take my clients for a coffee and a chat before painting them to make sure their personality is truly captured in my work. Colour and lighting effects enrich this. Chiaroscuro is a traditional Italian technique best represented by Caravaggio that I like to imitate, it brings a strong contrast between light and dark usually in order to create a third dimension – in my case the human figure. I really believe that this brings life to a piece.’

For the more impatient souls amongst us, painting such intricate and thought-provoking work would be a paint stroke away from insanity, or at the very least launching brushes back into the abyss of the attic and admitting a teary and consolatory pint defeat. Ostapjuk’s motivation, however, is seemingly unfaltering.

‘Ahh, that’s a deep question! I guess it’s the enjoyment I get from it, and the involvement. I’m always striving for life in a painting, something to be cherished as a frame of a memory. If my work is on the edge of a moment that is very much alive, then I’m happy.

‘The importance is not the money, although it would be lovely to create a living from my artwork. All I want is for the client to be as happy with my work as when I produced it.’

With such a well-balanced and empathetic view of art and her protégées, Ostapjuk is deserving of imminent future success.

Link to original article by Millie Douce: arts interview hannah ostapjuk

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