Cristina Vlas and A New Fascination with Drawing on Wood (Interview)

Cristina Vlas is a young artist born in Republic of Moldova, whose works I first saw on Facebook. I guess there’s no need for a longer introduction, we kinda asked her everything we were curious about. You can visit her page WoodPortrait for more images or for orders.

Hi, Cristina! First thing off, tell us more about yourself! When did you first consider about drawing on wood?

Hola! Well, I was born in Republic of Moldova and I started to study Arts when I was 11. Furthermore, I was passionate of arts since I was in kindergarten and I remember that I was in loved with a boy who could draw really awesome for his age. You know, artist are pretty odd since they are little kids. Now I’m 19 and I’m studying for 3 years at School of Arts (CNAOB) in Iasi.
My main source of inspiration is nature. It’s like a visual satisfaction every time I see an amazing landscape, I literally can’t speak or even breath, it’s like a drug. You want more and more. When I first found a piece of wood at an art supplies store, I said to myself I don’t know what I will do with this, but I MUST buy it. So, my first painting was a raccoon and is not finished… yet.

Your work seem so close to reality. If I had to find the right description, I would have said it’s hyper-realistic. How would you describe your paintings?

Yes, my works are realistic but also, I’m trying to paint something original and unique and not just classical and boring portraits. I really love academic art and Russian and Italian traditional works, but you will be remembered as an artist only if you will paint something new that will inspire someone else to create. I guess, it’s my main life goal: to be remembered and admired as a cool painter from Moldova who died in Sri Lanka. (laughs) 

What tools do you use in order to complete such works?

I use Russian tempera colors and brushes (Nevskaya Palitra ), wood, varnish and sometimes gold leaves. Nothing special.

Is there a specific type of wood you’re using or it’s just anything in particular?

No, I just choose the color, size and shape of wood that I like more and that’s it.

I’m not an expert on wood paintings, so I will limit in asking you to explain us the steps you’re following while drawing.

Oh. Actually, I’m not an expert myself. I just do everything intuitively. First of all I polish the wood and after that I put a thin layer of varnish. It’s a must, to varnish because wood have a property to absorb colors, especially oil colors. When the wood is dry I polish it again and only then the wood is smooth and shiny like baby’s skin. After I finish the painting, I varnish the wood again to fix the colors and done . 


Do you get any support of your friends or family? How opened up where they to your project?

Sure, my family and friends are my best supporting team! I started to think about this project when I first painted a portrait as a gift for my best friend (she’s crazy in love in handmade stuff). Everybody were shocked, in a good way and suggested me to continue to paint this kind of portraits so here I am.

Who are your favorite artists? Can you tell us a reason why?

Maybe it wouldn’t be a surprise but one of my favorite artists is Carravagio . All his emotional works, dramatic use of light (tenebrism), the cruel murdering scenes in ” Judith Beheading Holofernes” or “The crucifixion of Saint Peter”, seems to be so beautiful and sensual to me. I mean, the way body looks on the strength of the light and the emotional tension is dominating in these work is absolutely fantastic. You just don’t know what to do, you want to touch these perfect bodies, to help, to cry or to scream. Finally, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is an extraordinary baroque artist! 
My second favorite artist is Frida Kahlo. Maybe because of her dramatic life story, of the pain that she shows us in her autobiographical paintings. I feel her as a lyrical artist or it is because I want to see her like this. Anyway, she’s my model, my icon of a woman and artist. Here are some of my favorite works:

(c) Titus Kaphar

(c) Angela Fraleigh

What is something we do not know about you?

Well, there are many things you don’t know about me so it’s hard to say something. Let’s say that people think I’m a rational and calm person but I’m not like this at all! Craziness, traveling and good wine – that’s about me. 

If you were to exhibit in the most unconventional place, where “art has no rules”, where would this place be located?

I was thinking about this many times and there are two ideas of exhibitions that I want to apply. I’m obsessed with the night sky and the view of night city so I was thinking about an exhibition on the rooftop. Something casual and domestic, laying and enjoying good artworks. The second idea was about nature, as I said I really love that. A forest , with all his sounds and smells, to get in a nice mood and to forget about city noises and about the life routine. That will be quite amazing I guess. 

Is drawing on paper already a mainstream thing? How do you see the evolution of drawing and what to you think about contemporary art, after all?

Paper? It’s a good way to start your artistic career and a good way to retune to this if you need. Paper is not a mainstream, but your ideas that will be put on a paper may be. What about contemporary art, I love it, I really do. You could think that I’m bipolar because of my passion for academic art but contemporary is absolutely amazing! You can see how art is growing and is so different from one artist to another. I can’t remember all contemporary artists because they are too many now but I love what they create, they visually discuss social problems as wars, politics, hypocrisy lies and so on. I want to be one of them. To find myself, my own style and to create something special. 

Is there one thing you would not draw? Why?

Each school year we have a contest and the theme sounds like “The circus”. Now I hate circuses. This is the only thing I don’t want to paint or draw.

All images than mentioned: (c) Cristina Vlas


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Still can't tell exactly my origins because of my Chinese eyes. Hate fish roe. From the bottom of my heart.

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