Τρίτη, 6 Σεπτεμβρίου 2016

The portrait of an artist: Natalie Pudalov

 A book of nonsense

Natalie Pudalov is a young illustrator who now splits her life between Israel and Germany. Her artistic universe is made up of  the main ingredients of childhood: plenty of imagination and a little bit of nonsense...
 

That's what I think, how about you
Tell us a bit about your life. When did you begin to paint, what made you decide to do illustration?

I am a children’s book illustrator, born in Russia. When I was a kid, my family immigrated to Israel and now I live and work partly in Israel and partly in Germany. I began to draw at a very early age, and have been drawing ever since – anywhere and everywhere. After finishing high school I was accepted to the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and to the Stuttgart Academy of Art & Design in Germany. I always liked to invent stories or to illustrate stories that I read or listen to. So it was not something that I knowingly decided to do, but rather something that came very natural to me.

What kind of illustrations do you do? Would you like to share with us a unique experience you had when illustrating a book? 

Actually I do all kinds of illustrations: for children and adults, books, covers, postcards, wooden dolls etc. Every project is a beginning of something new; it is about the discovery of new things. Since I use a lot of fantasy, details in my illustrations and some nonsense, it takes time to invent something interesting, something that adults or children will stop and think about. 
 
White Hydrangea Tea
Is there a text, a book, a fairy tale, a song you would like to illustrate but haven't yet?

Actually, there are lots of stories and tales that I would like to illustrate, but the thing that I want to do the most now is to focus on illustrating my own texts. I have recently written a few texts and it seems to me that it’s time to try to illustrate my own stories. That would be very interesting, in my opinion.

What materials do you usually use?

That’s an interesting question, because usually I use everything what I find suitable for painting, acrylic, pencils, collages, pens, stamps, ink.
 
Are you currently working on something?

I have just finished working on two books: "Turtle, bird and fish" written by I. Chlaki was published this summer in Spanish and Italian.  The other one will be published in September, also in Spain. I’m currently working on some self-promotional projects and will soon begin working on my own book.

 Turtle, bird and a fish
Is illustration a profession for you or a hobby? Is it possible to make a living through illustration in your country?

Illustration is a profession for me, a full-time job. It takes a lot of time to work on a project, much more than one thinks. Even before I actually start drawing, I have to do a lot of thinking and planning – creative ideas are slow to come by. Yes, it’s hard to make a living only through illustrations. I believe it’s the same for all illustrators.

Herbal tea
Which illustrators (classical or contemporary) have inspired you?

I have been inspired by many illustrations, most of them come from old painters such as Bosch, Bruegel, Rembrandt, Modigliani, Netherlands painters, naive art etc.

Images form imagination. When you paint do you think that images will come alive in the imagination of children?

When I create, I show my inner world, in the hope that people, especially children, would find it interesting. I think that most children are very imaginative and very creative. Sometimes you think that you need to explain things to them, but they can actually teach you much more, so I try to make my work interesting for me, first of all, and then, I hope that it would be interesting for them as well.

What in an illustrator's relationship with childhood? How much do your childhood memories define your work? 

I think childhood always remains with every person, especially for those who create. The most important thing for the illustrator is not to lose interest in the things around him or her - to always enjoy the little things in life and to discover everything all over again, the same way they discovered them as kids. Of course, there are many precious moments that I carry with me from my own childhood and now influence the most important aspects of my work, like the big affection I have to animals and nature.  

Alice in wonderland

You have illustrated popular fairy tales, such as “Alice in wonderland”, “The sleeping beauty”, “Cinderella”, “Puss in boots”. Is it easy to create a new concept of a “classical” story through illustration? To imagine, propose or conceive a different dimension of it?

Actually, no. I find it very hard to create something new and modern to classical stories. These are stories I grew up with, and I remember the images from the old illustrated books and the old animated cartoons. It’s quite challenging to create something new and fresh to these stories that is free from the old images I have in my mind. But I see it as a personal challenge to show your opinion and your interpretation of a story that you were exposed to as a child; I think this is part of the magic of being an illustrator. The only thing I have to do in any story or book that I illustrate is to be myself and simply try to explain, illustrate and show my point of view of the story. 

 Raven
The main characteristic of your illustrations is their surrealistic atmosphere. Has surrealism influenced your style? Do you believe that it's easier for a child to understand a surrealistic picture?

I don’t think surrealism has influenced my style, and I don’t refer my illustrations to surrealism, but rather to imaginative or some kind of nonsense. Perhaps the only influence that I could associate with surrealism is the possibility to think and analyze the things that I’ve viewed before as being regular and now they are in the different context in the picture.
I can’t honestly talk about what is easy for children, because children are very different: with some you can discuss philosophy and with others you need to talk in very simple terms. However, I am sure that all of them without exception have great imagination, and that if you develop it from a young age, you will not need to explain to them anything – they will create their own world from every image they see. Even if they don’t understand the things as they are, their imagination will help them create their own interpretation of the scene, and that is just wonderful, in my opinion. 

In your world the boundaries between land and sea are fluid. Strange creatures with pointy noses inhabit both sides. Your paintings give a different, sometimes cruel, but still peaceful, conception of nature. How is that?

That’s my world, the world of creatures, animals and nature. I know it may appear sometime to be mysterious, and I find it hard to explain it myself, but I think it’s just a reflection of how I feel about the world around me.

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[1] For any information concerning Natalie's work, have a look here.

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