While some artists carefully plan and execute every element within their work, others prefer a more organic creative process — like the flowing method by which ascending egg tempera painter Anastasia Elena Baranoff creates a unique fantastical world in which her emotions and experiences are shared with the viewer.
Fifth-generation fine artist Anastasia Elena Baranoff has undoubtedly had some incredible moments in her life, as evidenced by her fantastical and beautifully executed egg tempera paintings. Having experienced inspiration in many forms, whether moved by an idea, vision, emotion, music, or another art form, Baranoff sees herself charged with the artistic task of using her creative power to communicate her own unique world and muses.
“I truly believe that as an artist you have to be constantly open to going in new directions, exploring different themes, genres, yourself and always evolving,” she says. “When I begin, I like to put down the idea on paper and form a preparatory drawing of a composition, orchestrating my characters and developing their story and world. Once I feel I have reached what I imagined, I proceed to celebrate that idea in color. I always savor the painting process, making up the color palette as I go along. There is so much freedom of expression involved in that. The creative process, I find, is an unexplainable wonder, and the birth of a work of art is really an event. Just to think, as an artist I am bringing to life something that was not in existence before.”

Anastasia Elena Baranoff, “The Magic Flute (detail),” egg tempera on paper, (c) Anastasia Baranoff 2016

“The Magic Flute” is but one particularly stunning example within Baranoff’s oeuvre and demonstrates well the artist’s fascinating process — and finished products. Through the captivating composition and colorful palette, Baranoff communicates her unique understanding and appreciation of Mozart’s genius through his 1791 opera. Baranoff writes, “From very early childhood I have been a fiery admirer of Mozart and his unsurpassed music, and constantly listen to his brilliant compositions while painting. His opera The Magic Flute has always fascinated me, its exotic, out of this world setting, full of interlaced symbols and meaning.

Anastasia Elena Baranoff, “The Magic Flute (detail),” egg tempera on paper, (c) Anastasia Baranoff 2016

“The composition focuses on the just rescued Tamino, vibrant Papageno, supernatural Three Ladies, and commanding Queen of the Night, introducing a portrait of the captured Pamina. The unusual Egyptian flavor is engaged throughout the painting. Before taking to the brush, I listened to Mozart’s score to get a feeling from the music, looked at the story line, and researched into ancient Egypt and its motifs.

Anastasia Elena Baranoff, “St. Martin in the Fields, London,” egg tempera on paper, (c) Anastasia Baranoff 2016

“Then the imagination began to shape and compose the painting. All the elements that you see in the completed artwork came together, piece by piece, to form a unique image. How a creative composition comes together is beyond explanation, it’s a magic moment that’s somehow born.
“The painting was created in the age-old technique of egg tempera, a method when all the paints are hand-prepared, following an exclusive recipe passed down through the generations. It is a very meditative process and truly adds a special, organic facet to the creative art process. Curiously, egg tempera was a medium used during the time of ancient Egypt, so there is a unique connection in that sense.

Ms. Anastasia Elena Baranoff at work; image courtesy the artist

“During the painting process I continued to listen to Mozart and be fueled by his music. The color palette came naturally, flowing out of me on instinct. When I am creating a painting from imagination, the process gives so much exciting independence, where anything is possible.”
Working much like a director composing a film, Baranoff orchestrates her characters on the two-dimensional stage, choosing decorations and costumes to create her imaginative works. This element ultimately touches the core of Baranoff’s artistic philosophies and goals: to be known as a storyteller, “creating imaginative worlds and taking the audience with me on exciting journeys to new, never-before-seen places,” as she asserts. “I want the viewer to be transported into a dream, a captivating realm, as far from reality as possible. An artwork should be expressive and visually compelling through the color palette, composition, and meaning; every single element of the painting has a special role, and all are connected to form a perfectly harmonious union. Ultimately, I am a traveler, an explorer in my approach to the creative process, and in my art I present my discoveries.”

Anastasia Elena Baranoff, “Madama Butterfly, Cio-Cio San,” egg tempera on paper, (c) Anastasia Baranoff 2016

Anastasia Baranoff’s journey to art seems to have been predestined. As a fifth-generation fine artist in a dynasty of Russian fine artists and icon writers, Baranoff has been exposed since birth to a fine art world few get to experience, and even into adulthood. Anastasia’s mother, Elena, is one of the preeminent portraitists working today and the undisputed master of the often-forgotten egg tempera medium.

Anastasia Elena Baranoff, “Madama Butterfly, Cio-Cio San (detail),” egg tempera on paper,
(c) Anastasia Baranoff 2016

Anastasia writes, “My mother Elena has been the greatest and most generous mentor. Growing up with her, being part of her unique art world, definitely was and continues to be a profound experience. She has taught me all the secrets and shares her knowledge, such as the ancient and unique recipe of hand-prepared genuine egg tempera paint, with its precious pigments as lapis lazuli and malachite.”
In 2013, the mother-daughter tandem founded the Egg Tempera Movement — an organization that seeks to promote new and original artworks in this traditional medium. Their hope is to reignite interest in and use of this specialized medium rarely encountered in the fine art world today.

Anastasia Elena Baranoff, “Afternoon Waltz,” egg tempera on paper, (c) Anastasia Baranoff 2016

Continuing, Baranoff suggests, “When I first began exhibiting my work, I felt that I was sharing something personal with people whom I had never met, and somehow was connecting with them through my creations. And the feeling continues to this day, my artwork is my messenger. I may not even be present in the exhibition hall, but the painting is there, an independent part of me, communicating with the audience.
“I think the journey to becoming an artist is an ongoing one, we are such sensitive beings, seeing and experiencing the world through the special eyes of creators, and with every new step we transform to become the artists we were destined to become.”
To learn more, visit the Egg Tempera Movement and Anastasia Elena Baranoff.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.


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