February/March 2014 - Vol. 72

Spring Forward - an Artist's Sampler by Ros Yates


Title:  St Sophia, Greater Novgorod, Russia
Medium:  watercolour
Size: 40 x 30 cm (approx)

Our family lived in Moscow, Russia for 3 years 2005-8, and one of the delights for me as an artist was the ancient church architecture.   Much has been destroyed in the Communist years, but what remains is still wonderful and many have been recently restored.  We visited Greater Novgorod, an ancient capital of Russia in the North West of the country, on a lovely day of sunshine and showers and the light on the domes of the cathedral looking across from the belltower was beautiful.  Every historic city has a ‘Kremlin’, a walled, fortified centre. And there is always a church, cathedral or several of them inside the walls.  They are a reminder of the heavenly city.  The gold of the dome is hundreds of years old yet still untarnished.  One of the challenges I set myself was to learn how to paint reflections in gold domes – it takes a lot of careful observation of what is really there. Whilst painting another church in Moscow I was struck by how the gold domes reflect the busy life and pain of the city streets below but transforming and lifting them up into the reflection of the heavens above.

Smolenskaya Church, Moscow (detail)

Every aspect of the architecture in a Russian Orthodox church is symbolic, the domes pointing to heaven, the number and arrangement of dome, the shape of the groundplan etc.  I spent a lot of time photographing Russian churches and still would like to spend more time painting them. 

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