For Maryna Futymska, simple things provide the greatest joy - GulfToday

For Maryna Futymska, simple things provide the greatest joy

Maryna Futymska 2

A composition by Maryna Futymska, A Middle East-inspired work from Maryna Futymska.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

“Ever since I first picked up a brush and dipped it into watercolour,” says Maryna Futymska, Ukrainian-born Emirates-based watercolour and sketch artist, art educator, architect and interior designer, “I found myself captivated by its magic. Painting in watercolour isn’t just about colour on paper; it’s about emotions flowing freely, each stroke telling a story.” But for her, love of art doesn’t stop only at the gates of watercolour. “My love for art,” she says, “has been a lifelong affair that’s taken me through the intricate lines of pencil sketches, the bold strokes of acrylics, oils, and the delicate details of architecture. Obtaining my artistic and architectural education in Ukraine only deepened my appreciation for beauty in all its forms.”

As she moved to the Middle East, she found new subjects and a new canvas to express herself. Amidst the rich cultural tapestry of the region, she continued to hone her skills as a watercolourist. Vibrant landscapes, bustling markets and stylish architecture, have motivated her to push the envelope of her creativity. In a world at times - or mostly - filled with chaos, art became a refuge. It taught her patience, perseverance and the ability to find beauty in simple things.

“Through art,” she says, “I’ve discovered a connection – to myself, to others, and to the world around me.” Watercolour painting is perhaps the most ancient form of art itself. In Chinese, Korean and Japanese painting, it has been the dominant medium.

India, Ethiopia and other countries have long watercolour painting traditions as well. Watercolour’s continuous history as an art medium begins with the Renaissance in Europe. In her work, Futymska is influenced by artists like Winslow Homer, the American landscape painter and illustrator, American expatriate artist John Singer Sargent who produced over 2,000 watercolour paintings covering places including the Middle East, and American visual artist Andrew Wyeth. Futymska uses the Gulf Today canvas to brush her answers

Maryna Futymska 3  Maryna Futymska is based in the Emirates.

Why do simple things — flowers, buildings, ordinary people — bring joy to you as an artist?

Simple things like flowers, buildings and ordinary people bring me joy as an artist because they inspire me with their beauty and uniqueness. Their simplicity allows me to see the world with a fresh perspective and find I find inspiration in the everyday.

Do you paint from memory, illustrations or from first hand observation?

I draw from a combination of memory, references and firsthand observations.

What are the qualities or features you look for in a subject?

When I start drawing, I look for qualities like form, texture, light and perspective in the subject to capture its essence and convey its unique character.

Who are the watercolourists who have inspired you? Why?

One of the watercolourists who has inspired me is Winslow Homer. Artists like John Singer Sargent and Andrew Wyeth too have influenced me. Their ability to capture the beauty and realism of their subjects using watercolour techniques, deeply resonates with me. Their attention to detail, mastery of light and shadow and emotive compositions, have all influenced my own approach to watercolour painting.

The ‘colour’ in watercolour motivates you more than the ‘water’. Why does colour affect you so much?

The colour in watercolour motivates me more than water itself since colour has a profound impact on me because it allows me to express emotions, set moods, and create atmosphere in my artwork. It adds vibrancy and life to my paintings, making them more engaging and expressive.

How different and similar are the Ukrainian and UAE art scenes?

Maryna Futymska 1  A rose as Maryna Futymska saw it,  A composition by Maryna Futymska.

The art scenes in Ukraine and the UAE are both diverse but differ significantly in their cultural influences and artistic styles. While Ukraine’s art scene often reflects its rich history, traditions and socio-political context, the UAE’s art scene is heavily influenced by its rapid modernisation, cultural diversity and investment in contemporary art. However, both countries share a growing interest in promoting local artists, fostering creative communities, and engaging with global artistic trends.

Does the smoothness of Ukrainian culture or the friction of many cultures of the Emirates, drive you more as an artist?

As an artist, I’m attracted to both the consistency of Ukrainian culture and the diversity of cultures in the Emirates. Ukrainian culture offers tradition and history, while the Emirates’ mix of cultures provides a dynamic landscape for artistic exploration.

As an expat artist with a European background, what more do you think can be done to further strengthen art in the Emirates?

The aspects of the UAE that awaken my artistic instincts include its cultural diversity, modern architecture, vibrant cityscapes, desert landscapes, and the fusion of traditional and contemporary elements. As an immigrant artist with European roots, I believe there are several avenues for further developing the arts in the Emirates. These include fostering more cultural exchanges, supporting emerging artists through residencies and grants, promoting art education in schools, establishing more galleries and art spaces, and encouraging collaboration between local and international artists to enrich the cultural landscape of the Emirates.

According to you, how will the art ecology of the UAE be by 2050?

In my opinion, by 2050, the art scene in the UAE will become more diverse, inclusive, and connected globally. There will likely be a stronger emphasis on sustainability and technology, supported by ongoing cultural development efforts, leading to a vibrant artistic community with a strong global presence.

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