For some people, painting is as much part of their essence as breathing.
It just takes a while to realize it. That was certainly the case for local artist, Maria Petrov.
“I used to draw and paint a lot as a little kid. Then life happened,” said Petrov.
For 20 years, she put art aside and focused on “life.” She married, worked, had two children. Petrov was active and busy, but “I always felt something was missing,” she admitted.
Then two years ago, Petrov picked up a pencil again and started to draw – “and I never put it down again.”
Petrov had been going through a period of emotional difficulty and depression, and thought that taking up a hobby, especially one she used to enjoy, would help.
It did help, but “it’s more than a hobby,” she said. “Something inside of me needed to be put (it) out there. I had to express myself.”
Working in pastels and in oils, she paints mostly seascapes and still life. It’s the water that attracts her most, that fascinates.
“To me, each seascape is different,” Petrov said. “It’s always different, never the same. Stormy, calm – to me, trying to capture water using different techniques is important.”
“One of the goals for me as an artist," she added, "(is) I want people to feel something. It’s easiest to do it through water.”
Largely self-taught, Petrov has taken online art courses, and she is taking a weekly academic drawing class.
“But this,” she said, waving a hand around her light-filled home studio, where examples of her seascapes and still life paintings of flowers hang, “this is me.”
After only two years back in the arts, she has joined Society of York Region Artists and participated in a couple of group shows. She also sells her work online.
Her favourite paintings are “more expressionistic, not photorealistic,” Petrov said. “An artist’s job is not to show a photo. It is to use their artistic ability to show more than the eye can see.”
And she paints with passion: “There’s a lot of me inside each painting. You’ve given it all.”
That said, Petrov acknowledged her style is still evolving.
“I’m still at the beginning of my journey,” she said. “All artists, if you look at their first painting and their last painting, they’re so different!”
She said she is “intrigued” by still-life painting, and by the human body.
“I’m starting slowly to learn about the human body and human face – that’s a long-term goal of mine,” to move towards portraiture and the human form, she said.
Her favourite artists are the Old Masters of Holland and Russia.
“For me, that is artwork that survives centuries, and people are still in awe,” Petrov said. “That is a level of mastery that I don’t think we have in anyone living.”
As for modern artists, it is the individual pieces that speak to her.
“It can be an unknown someone,” she said. “Today, the world is fast-paced. Art is sometimes more about the artist than the art. It’s hard to be a painter that just paints.”
This is the first year Petrov has signed up for the BWG Passion Made studio tour. Her work will be on display in the group show at the Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library.
Although she paints alone in her studio, Petrov loves “the energy” of a group show and is looking forward to September’s tour.
“I’m just lucky to be able to do what I love to do,” she said.