The Girl With Umbrella Oil Painting
THE GIRL WITH UMBRELLA OIL PAINTING
I acquired this original oil painting called “Girl with Umbrella” in August last year and it’s lived lovingly on my wall since. It came from an online auction site based in the Netherlands which sells modern and vintage art, antiques and other collectables. It was painted in 2020 by Ukrainian artist, Larissa Alpatova-Fedchenko, who was born in Kiev on 19th April 1961. She went to the Crimean Art College, Samokish, in the city of Simferopol, Ukraine and graduated in 1985. Larissa’s been living and working on her art in Kiev ever since. The picture was listed by gallery that represents her and it felt like a crime how little I paid for it, as it cost the equivalent of just a few hours work as a graphic designer.
Larissa Alpatova-Fedchenko’s other works include; paintings of flowers in vases, children in the street and boats on water. These are all good, but as soon as I saw this painting, I knew I had to have it. The canvas itself is 20cm x 30cm in size, large enough to be read from a distance but not so large it dominates a wall.
I found the icy blue tones of the dress and umbrella gave a Parisian feel, reminding me of the French impressionist artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 – 1919). Renoir painted women with blue garments in the rain too and used a lot of blue and green tones in his work, much like Monet (1840 – 1926) who painted the “Woman with Parasol”.
I love the blue tones Fedchenko uses in the subjects dress and umbrella. She even uses it for the woman’s eyes and earrings. Her pallet-knife painting style really lends itself to the theme of rainfall, as the sharp, harsh strokes add to the hazy, light refracting effect that rain causes. The thick nature of the oil paint means getting the translucent looking sleeve must have acquired a lot of skill. Mixing the colour just right to make it look as though her arm is slightly visible through the damp fabric shows great artistic ability in my opinion.
The flow of her sleeves and dress is so elegant and the angle of her head, turned towards the sky is such a positive, hopeful and strong position. Historically in art women were painted looking horizontally, or more often, down, as men thought looking calm and coy was how the ideal feminine woman should behave. I love the fact in this image, Fedchenko painted her woman strongly looking up. As quite an empathetic person, I’m all about people when it comes to art and I love to imagine what the subject is feeling. This subject’s positive attitude always gets me in a positive frame of mind too when I look at it.
I hung this painting by my window, which adds an extra dynamic to it because the weather outside changes the meaning. When it’s raining, it looks like the woman is putting her umbrella up and when it’s sunny, it looks like she’s bringing her umbrella down to bask in the sunlight. This is enhanced by the white highlights around her clothes, which can make her dress look wet, as if it’s just started raining, or like light is shining off it because the sun has come out. It’s a painting for all weathers (except perhaps snow).
Another great aspect of this picture is the dark background, which consists of browns, greys and purples. This complements the woman’s hair and overall helps the vibrant blue of the dress, pop. There is some detail behind the figure, such as a window below the umbrella, Fedchenko could have just left the background plain brown and flat, but that extra little bit of detail adds to the story and leaves us wondering where the woman is now, where she came from, and where she’s going. This is all left open to interpretation and the imagination of the viewer.
Finally, the natural wooden frame the painting came in looks and feels as if it’s been rained on but now dried out, leaving a mottled texture which fits the painting’s theme perfectly. The piece is finished by Fedchenko’s signature which is very artistic, with incredible flourishes and an intricacy that as a graphic designer, I’ve got to admire. When looking for information about Larissa Alpatova-Fedchenko, I couldn’t find much out there and she doesn’t have a website, but I am very glad this hangs on my wall and I think it will do so for a very long time indeed.