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Today, from his studio, via video conferencing, a famous Moscow artist, a member of the International Association of Artists at UNESCO, Konstantin Miroshnik, held a master class for three convicts serving sentences in the penal institutions of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region. The master and his imprisoned students not only worked on the drawing in pencil, but also thought a lot about life, creativity, the ability to reveal, preserve and increase their talents even in the most difficult life circumstances.

This master class became a logical continuation of the first All-Russian exhibition of paintings by convicts “Save the Hope”, which was held in the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia in the fall, organized by the Public Relations Center of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia. Konstantin Miroshnik visited this exhibition, highly appreciated the presented works and gladly responded to the proposal to hold a lesson for aspiring artists serving sentences in prison.

It was decided to conduct the first video lesson with three St. Petersburg artists – Maria, Alexander and Yegor, who are serving their sentences in IK-2, IK-7 and SIZO-6.

Maria and Yegor are non-professional artists, they began to engage in creativity only after they got to correctional facilities. Maria has been learning artistic skills for 3.5 years and even got a job as an artist in a colonial club. She paints landscapes, portraits, is engaged in icon painting, works in the palette knife technique, paints reproductions of world famous artists, decorates stands of visual agitation on the territory of the institution.

Yegor has been serving his sentence for 15 years, in December 2020 he is released from the colony. His works are very individual, he created his own style, combining the tendencies of postmodernism and naive art. Basically, these are prison everyday life in an unusual interpretation, in most of the plots there are also mystical motives: on one, a hare sheepskin coat plays cards with a prison uniform, on the other, several dozen convicts march against the background of a purple sunset in a pre-trial detention center. In total, the artist’s arsenal contains more than 30 original paintings.

But Alexander is a professional artist, graduated from the St. Stieglitz. I discovered drawing abilities in my childhood. As he himself admits, as long as he can remember, he has been drawing so much. Works in a wide variety of styles. He got to places of imprisonment quite recently – in September 2020. Creativity, according to Alexander, helps him escape from routine and melancholy, not fall into depression, diversify his completely identical everyday life. He admits that there is not enough time for paintings: “If I had the opportunity, I would paint 24 hours a day.”

The master class began with a demonstration of the creative works of the convicts, the artists showed their paintings, told how they were created. Konstantin Miroshnik analyzed each of them in detail, noted successful solutions, suggested which details and how they need to be finalized, gave many examples and analogies with the works of famous Russian and foreign painters, enriched the interlocutors with new knowledge about the life and work of artists.

Konstantin shared with the students the main secrets of mastery, advising not to rush directly to the canvas, but more often to work with a drawing, make as many sketches from nature as possible, and capture everything that surrounds.

After studying all the creative works, the students, under the guidance of the Master, proceeded to the drawing. Konstantin constantly checked what they were doing, rejoiced from the bottom of his heart when everything turned out as needed, prompted if it was necessary to correct something. The communication was so kind, light, emotional and bright that it seemed that there were no more walls of colonies and pre-trial detention centers, there was only one creative space that destroys all barriers and unites like-minded people.

As the convicts themselves said, for them participation in such an event became a real event in a series of monotonous colonial everyday life, and the experience and knowledge that they gained from the famous artist are simply priceless.

Konstantin Miroshnik himself noted the high level of skill of the artists and emphasized that the main goal of such a master class is not so much to teach the children to write this or that work, but to give them an impetus to creativity, make them believe in themselves and never stop there, because that it is in places of imprisonment that all feelings are exacerbated, a person becomes who he really is, he learns to see the details and enjoy the little things, he looks for inspiration even from the good weather outside the window. It is precisely these properties – the ability to see beauty in small things – that are also characteristic of artists.

“You see, masterpieces of art are always created in between times,” says Konstantin. – You cannot take a canvas and say: “Now I will write a brilliant work!” No. You just need to learn how to get joy from the creative process, and then unique, inimitable pictures will appear and it is this idea that I wanted to share with the guys today.

Konstantin Miroshnik expressed a desire to continue to take part in such master classes, to transfer his knowledge and rich experience, and not only to convicts, but to employees of the penal system. Similar events, organized by the Public Relations Center of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia, will take place in the coming months in other regions.

Press bureau of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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