Ras Al Khaimah Fine Art Festival

Ras Al Khaimah Fine Art Festival & my first live painting abroad

The main reason for our last month’s travels to the Arab Emirates was my participation in the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Art Festival, which generously invited me to take part as an honorary guest artist. The concept of this festival is quite different from the sea-of-art-tents kind of event that I am so familiar with in the States. This show consisted of 3 days of activities – Opening Day, Film Screening, and Garden Party, all involving wonderfully-dressed people (artists, actors, designers, filmmakers, foundation crew) with a daily red carper to boot (hey, it’s the Emirates, baby!)

Ras Al Khaimah Fine Art Festival

The RAK Fine Art Festival took place in the northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. It is safe to say that Ras Al Khaimah (or RAK) is not well known in the western world, because most of the Emirates fame and tourism gets filtered into Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Northern emirates don’t get as much recognition on the world stage yet – and that is perfectly fine with me as I find it more interesting to explore the lesser known lands.

RAK Fine Art Festival

The Fine Art Festival is organized by Al Qasimi Foundation, which is headed by Sheikh Saud bin Saqr, and was established to aid in the social, cultural, and economic development of RAK. While I did not get to meet His Highness (lets just get this out of the way: nope, I did not meet any sheikhs while on this trip) – the crew of the foundation welcomed us with open arms and showed us incredible hospitality (and by “us” I mean myself and Kurt – of course he talked me into letting him come along on this trip, so I assigned him the job of a “social photographer”, ha!) Al Qasimi Foundation works closely with the U.S. Embassy, who contacted me with an invitation to this adventure.

RAK Fine Art Festival

UAE is a young country with a very diverse population, which mostly consists of expats (Dubai, for example, has only about 15% UAE nationals). However, Ras Al Khaimah has the highest Emirati population rate – at about 45% – so in that sense it is, perhaps, the most authentic.

RAK Fine Art Festival

RAK Fine Art Festival was great fun. First day of the festival, Thursday, consisted of the opening party, with beautifully dressed people of many professions and backgrounds. I think the most challenging aspect of this for me was the search for a long dress to wear – turns out, it isn’t easy to find a non-tacky evening gown in the States that fits well and is not designed to be a bridal dress or a prom dress, especially for someone like myself who quickly gets nauseous from shopping. And here, in the Emirates, gorgeous long dresses of all styles are sold everywhere, but there wasn’t much time to shop. Anyway – the opening party was lovely and the most enjoyable part of it was meeting people from many corners of the world.

RAK Fine Art Festival

Second day of the festival, Friday, consisted of film screening. We watched quite a selection of Emirati and regional indie short films, some created by students and some by career filmmakers. The films offered an opportunity to take a closer look at the local culture. After the film screening, there was an award ceremony, and somehow I even got trusted to present visual art awards (my big “official” job of the evening).

Ras Al Khaimah Fine Art Festival

RAK Fine Art Festival

Day three of RAK Fine Art Festival was scheduled for Saturday and was supposed to include a visual arts exhibition along with my international “live painting debut”.  But instead, it got wiped out by a massive sand storm that reduced visibility and made it practically impossible to go outside without a face mask! Supposedly, sand storm of this scale are not very common in the Emirates, so it was very kind of Mother Nature to present this special treat just for us!

United Arab Emirates sand storm

We spent the day on “lock-down” in our hotel room – but that that gave me a chance  to dedicate a few hours to preparing the painting. Live painting is a challenging task due to time constraint – it isn’t easy to create a nice piece from start to finish in a mere 2-3 hours. So I was happy to get all the “boring parts” – i.e. dark underpainting – out of the way, while sitting on the hotel room floor, trying not to splatter paint on the carpet. (By the way, I do not recommend painting in this position unless there is a necessity – it makes for a very sore back, oy). Sand storm calmed down in the evening, and was followed by rain, which was followed by a gorgeous starry night.

Hotel during sand storm

Day three of RAK Fine Art Festival, Take 2 was rescheduled for Sunday. And the crowd actually showed up – because this is the right-knit community of Ras Al-Khaimah, and everybody knows each other, and they still wanted to enjoy and support this event despite Sunday being a work day in the UAE.

Ras Al Khaimah art festival

The visual art exhibition along with the “Garden Party” took place on the gorgeous grounds of RAK National Museum. The museum is housed in a 18th-century fort that, until 1964, served as the residence of the Qawasim rulers.

RAK Fine Art Festival

My live painting area, as well as the party, were set up in the museum’s courtyard – and this was, hands down, the nicest setting that I have ever painted in!

RAK Fine Art Festival

Aside from my painting, I brought 2 canvas prints (which were framed and displayed) to show the public examples of my completed work.

RAK Fine Art Festival

As for my painting subject matter – of course, the plan was to depict a local landmark. There are many shiny new ones around here, but I really like old buildings and decay. So, I chose the historic ghost village of Al Jazirat Al-Hamra – which we visited and photographed two days prior (more on that fascinating place later!). From my photographs, I created a composition of 2 structures – the village fort and an ancient mosque.  The sky / background I filled with pattern loosely inspired by Arabic texture and designs that I have noticed in this area. Here are the beginning stages of the painting:

RAK Fine Art Festival

…and the underpainting – darker, more boring part – which I completed in the hotel:

RAK Fine Art Festival

Live painting at the RAK Museum Garden Party was so enjoyable, and having conversations about my painting process and art while working was quite interesting too.

RAK Fine Art Festival

I love answering public’s questions which help them understand how time-consuming painting process actually is. For example: “Why does the piece you are working on contain so much less detail than this one?” (pointing to the canvas print on my left). Me: “Well, that original paining took about 50 hours of work. This one, so far, have taken about 4 and I only have maybe another hour to complete it!”

RAK Fine Art Festival

RAK Fine Art Festival

Visual exhibition by other artists consisted of painting, mixed media, sculpture, fashion design, and photography.

RAK Fine Art Festival

Here is Jess, she works for Al Qasimi Foundation, and this girl is the main connection to my invitation to UAE. She is from Louisville, and she spotted my artwork there at St. James Court Art Show. I’ve always loved Louisville and its people, but now I love it even more. Thank you Jess!

RAK Fine Art Festival

In the end of the evening, as the party and my painting session were winding down, it was a special pleasure to meet the RAK National Museum Director.

RAK Fine Art Festival

RAK Fine Art Festival

I took the painting back to the hotel, and after a few more tweaks and highlights and brush strokes, I deem it completed. I gifted this piece to Al Qasimi Foundation – I thought it should stay in Ras Al Khaimah, and it was the least I could do to give them my thanks for such a fantastic experience!

Al Jazirah Al Hamra Historic Village painting

I think I left some paint marks in UAE!

So, we just returned from the United Arab Emirates where I was invited, via a grant through the American Embassy, to come participate in Ras Al Khaimah Fine Art Festival and do some youth art outreach programs. The trip was an unbelievable unique opportunity to create art abroad and engage with a new (to me) culture. Al Qasimi Foundation, who were in charge of organizing the festival and the programs, hosted us in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah and treated us so well that I thought I may have entered an Arabian fairytale for a week. Now that I am home and going though all of my photos and memories, I will be posting a few stories here. For the time being, here is my program page from the festival (hey, I was just fascinated to see my artist profile in Arabic – my first!).

Anastasia Mak Ras Al Khaimah Art Festival program

And here a press release, kindly written by Al Qasimi Foundation after my visit, describing what art shenanigans I ended up getting into while in UAE:

http://www.alqasimifoundation.com/en/newsandevents/news/DestinationPainterLeavesMarkoRasAlKhaimah.aspx

(Full text here in case of future link failure):

March 04, 2015

Destination Painter Leaves Mark on Ras Al Khaimah

Al Qasimi Foundation

In the international art world, Anastasia Mak is known for her expressionist paintings of some of the world’s most notable destinations, including Rome, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, and Istanbul. Thanks to a collaboration between the Al Qasimi Foundation and the U.S. Mission in the United Arab Emirates, Ms. Mak can now add a painting of Ras Al Khaimah to her portfolio after spending a week promoting arts and culture throughout the emirate and neighboring Fujairah.

“My art is influenced by my explorations of unfamiliar places, so I was thrilled to be invited to the northern emirates. After only a few days in this community, I can see why people visit Ras Al Khaimah and end up staying for years,” says Ms. Mak.

Ms. Mak was a featured guest artist for the 2015 Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival and also spent several days participating in outreach programs at local schools. Her visit embodied the Al Qasimi Foundation’s mission to support the social and cultural development of the emirate. It also highlighted the important role artistic expression plays in community development by bringing people from diverse cultural backgrounds together.

“Ras Al Khaimah is home to people from all over the globe and continues to be a center of Emirati heritage. The Al Qasimi Foundation wanted to host someone who could appreciate and represent our emirate through her art,” says Mr. Suqrat bin Bisher, Events Manager at the Foundation. “Anastasia’s unique background makes her a great ambassador for cultural exchange and artistic appreciation.”

A native of Ukraine, Anastasia Mak moved to the United States as an exchange student at the age of 14. She has traveled throughout the States and abroad, striving to expand her knowledge of different places and build on her appreciation of the world’s diversity. It was this spirit of adventure and curiosity that led Ms. Mak to jump on the opportunity to experience Ras Al Khaimah.

Ms. Mak began her time in the UAE at the weekend-long Fine Arts Festival where she had the chance to encourage and network with local and international artists. She also found time to explore the historic village of Al Jazeera Al Hamra, which she channeled into one of her distinctive destination paintings. In her signature geometric style, she brought an abandoned guard tower and one of the oldest mosques in the emirate to life in front of guests at the festival’s visual arts exhibition, which was held at the Ras Al Khaimah National Museum.

Ms. Mak’s success as a professional artist offered tangible inspiration to individuals in Ras Al Khaimah who sometimes struggle to find outlets for their creative interests.

“Ras Al Khaimah is growing as a hub of cultural activity and arts, and that is important to the community,” comments Ms. Jenny Reeves Manley, who brought her children and parents to the art exhibition. “I think it’s important for artists to know each other and to showcase their art so that they have something to be proud of.”

Ms. Mak did not only focus on the artistic crowd, however. Her time in the UAE included delivering messages of encouragement and a drawing lesson to undergraduates at the Higher Colleges of Technology Women’s Campus in Fujairah.

She also spent time cultivating technical skills and confidence among students who are part of the Foundation’s Hands on Learning (HOL) program, which works to engage local secondary students who are at risk of dropping out of school.

Visiting two Ras Al Khaimah boys’ schools, Ms. Mak worked alongside students as they constructed murals on their campuses. As students painted mosques, mountains, and palm trees, they learned first hand of the technical demands of art and experienced the planning and patience often required by creative endeavors.

Opportunities to work with professional craftsmen like Ms. Mak have been uncommon for most of these students, and Mr. Caleb Wilson, the Foundation associate heading up the HOL program, appreciated the chance for his students to build self-discipline and self-confidence.

“Anastasia was wonderful to work with. It was great seeing her teach our students how to add dimension to paintings through their brush strokes, to mix colors, and to work thoughtfully. I hope that she is able to visit again and collaborate on another project for HOL in the future,” says Mr. Wilson.

In addition to contributing to these murals, Ms. Mak donated three of her pieces, including portraits of Chicago, Istanbul, and Al Jazeera Al Hamra, to the Ras Al Khaimah community.

According to Ms. Mak, she came to the northern emirates as a representative of the artistic community and will leave as an admirer of Ras Al Khaimah and its people. For Dr. Natasha Ridge, Executive Director of the Al Qasimi Foundation, the feeling is mutual.

“Anastasia was an inspiration to our students, the artistic community in Ras Al Khaimah, and everyone at the Al Qasimi Foundation. Spending time with her and the other talented artists from Ras Al Khaimah and the broader region reminds us that life without art is no life at all: it really brings the community together.”

Exploring Paris

Top of Notre Dame

After our fantastic bike trip through Southern France, it was time to spend a few days exploring Paris and London. Mostly, I just wanted to get a series of inspirational shots for future paintings. The weather was unseasonably warm (60s and 70s in late October and early November) which made strolling especially pleasant. (And by strolling, I mean about 10-miles-per-day kind of strolling).

Eiffel Tower looks its absolute best when it’s glowing orange from setting sun.

Eiffel Tower sunset

The buildings across the river from Notre Dame have already inspired….

Paris roofs

…this painting. (Titled “Paris Roofs” and sized 12×12. Many more to come, by the way!)

Paris Roofs painting by Anastasia Mak

Sacré-Cœur will be by next piece. Maybe a little cliché, as it is a very popular painting subject – but I have always been fascinated by this easily recognizable white majestic structure, and I tend to have affinity for basilicas that are perched on top of hills, anyway.

Sacre Coeur

Speaking of basilicas – it is hard to get enough of Notre Dame (another overly popular painting subject, and yep, I plan on creating more pieces inspired by it!).

Notre Dame Lock bridge

For the first time ever, we agreed to wait in an hour-long line of tourists to access its rooftop. We actually waited until a colder gloomy day to get up on that roof, because it sets the mood properly. Most of all, I wanted to see this guy – my favorite gargoyle. There he is, thoughtfully observing the city. …as he has done for a few hundred years now!

Notra Dame gargoyle

The views from here really are majestic. It is the gloomy, gothic, monochromatic autumn Europe I love and miss (sometimes).

Views from top of Notre Dame

Late night street views surrounding our hotel (in the 7th arrondissement) were exceptionally charming…

Night Paris

….but staying in a hotel right above a fromagerie (cheese shop) was severely drool-inducing. The smell of that pungent, stinky cheese, made its way up the stairs into our nostrils daily, resulting in our frequent purchases of various cheesy servings as “appetizers”. I am so glad that our stay here was only 3 days, as this cheese shop addition eventually started to get a little out of hand. Any possible calories lost during those 6 days of biking were coming back with a vengeance.

paris Fromagerie

Narrow streets like these are my favorite parts of this city. We overheard a tour guide calling these narrow buildings “pregnant” – because they stick out in the center, overhanging above sidewalk.

Paris walking

Being in Paris only 3 days with nearly perfect weather, it was hard to find the time to visit many museums – but the art collection in Centre Pompidou was beyond impressive. We spent nearly 4 hours in that building, and that was in a rushed fashion.

Centre Pompidou

Here is my old long-distance friend: Duchamp’s “Woman Descending a Staircase”. Very nice to meet her in person.

marcel duchamp woman descending

And it’s always lovely to see some Basquiat in the mix. (Yes, photography in the Pompidou is allowed, sans flash – with the exception of certain specific clearly-marked off-limits pieces).

Basquiat painting Paris

But our best Paris treat was in the end. Right at time of our arrival, the brand new Louis Vuitton Foundation, housed in a shiny glass building by Frank Gehry, opened to public. We were there, in line to get in, only 2 days after its opening. I expected mobs of people, but the ticket line was actually just about half-hour long – not bad at all for such a brand new famous landmark. Louis Vuitton Foundation is a cultural center and a contemporary art gallery (and no, it does not exhibit Louis Vuitton bags) housed in a ship-shaped architectural marvel. You either love Gehry’s architecture or hate it – and to me it is very awe-worthy.

Louis Vuitton Foundation

The collection inside was interesting and diverse. Again, I wish we had more time to spend here. I loved watching the documentary about this building’s construction, and learning about all the immigrant workers who put their efforts into making this thing rise. Contemporary art rooms were cool and cohesive. Every corner of this brand new gallery smelled like fresh wood and paint. But most of my attention, of course, was focused on the outside.

Louis Vuitton Foundation

We lucked out and got a warm sunny day for this visit (because I wanted to see the glass glisten!) and it felt like we were in a labyrinth for adults. Everywhere you look, you get a “photogenic salad” of glass, metal and concrete, sometimes enhanced by funky lights. Makes it a little hard not to constantly click the shutter.

Louis Vuitton Foundation

Louis Vuitton Foundation

Louis Vuitton Foundation

Yep, as far as I’m concerned, Frank Gehry can do no wrong. This was simply stunning.

Louis Vuitton Foundation

Louis Vuitton Foundation

And here are a couple of shots of views (and graffiti) along Paris canal to close out this post. See you later, Paris!

Paris Canal

Paris Canal

Biking in Southern France

St Emilion

So, in October we went on one of the most memorable trips – 6 days of independent biking in Southern France! For the longest time, Kurt wanted to ride a bike through Bordeaux, but we were both always put off by the idea of being on a “tour”. Typically, when you are a part of a bike tour, you are only going as fast as the slowest person in the group. Plus, you may have to negotiate stops and breaks and places to eat with the rest of the crowd, which, well, takes the adventure edge off just a little bit. On the other hand, group tours are easy…. and pre-planned, without the hassle of finding bike rentals, or accommodations….. and, most importantly, they transport your luggage! ….and are there for you in case of emergency. So we were somewhat torn on how to handle this.

…Until, that is, we found a SELF-GUIDED bike tour option (organized by Discover France). You get all the perks of being on a group bike tour – yes, yes, luggage transfer too! – minus the super steep price, and, well, a group. It was simply perfect, and our 6 days of biking were fun and gorgeous beyond belief.

Bordeax

The starting point was the city of Bordeaux, where, after sleeping off the jet lag, we got our bikes and helmets and got ready for the morning departure.

Bordeaux biking

(But not before some surprising spontaneous carnival action which was taking place just outside of our hotel!)

Bordeaux carnival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the morning we headed across the river to a bike trail, pedaling 30 miles towards St Emilion. Here is a great stop along the way: L’Abbaye de La Sauve-Majeure, a former monastery which is now in ruins.

L'Abbaye de La Sauve-Majeure

L'Abbaye de La Sauve-Majeure

The town of St Emilion is a UNESCO world heritage site with gorgeous ruins, churches, steep streets and stacked houses. It is also one of the main red wine areas in the region of Bordeax, so it has wine stores. And more wine stores. And right next to all those wine store are… other wine stores. It just so happens that Bordeax wine is my favorite, so I was in a happy place!

St Emilion houses

The following day the route was about 20 miles to Sainte Radegonde. Stunning views, biking though endless vineyards – and because this was the end of their harvest season, air was filled with the smell of ripe red grapes.

Biking through France

By the way, we had no guide, and all of our routes were pre-programmed in a little GPS that did a wonderful job keeping us on the small scenic country roads. Not a lot of traffic, and lots of bonjour’s, friendly honks and waves from locals. The French love cyclists!

Bordeaux biking

Here is the views from our chateau in St Radegonde – which is actually in the middle of fields and farms, surrounded by cows, geese, ducks, tractors – and of course, more vineyards.

St Radegonde

St Radegonde

St Radegonde

From there, it was a 30 mile ride to Bergerac. It was fall, and while the days were perfectly mild and sunny, mornings were brisk and full of fog. But what fog it was! These trees made me think that were were riding through a fairy tale.

Foggy France biking

Our route – thanks, trusty GPS! – took us through many quiet, old, picturesque villages. On this route we crossed from Bordeaux into Dordogne region.

Biking Bordeaux and Dordogne

Bergerac is a charming ancient city (aren’t they all here?!), sitting on Dordogne River, full of historic renaissance buildings.

Bergerac

From Bergerac it was 25 miles to Tremolat. The terrain difficulty of our rides has been increasing day by day, and this one was hilliest yet. This region has less vineyards, and limestone cliffs rise along the banks of the river.

Dordogne biking

Dordogne biking

Dordogne biking

Our chateau room, 5 kilometers outside of the Tremolat village, was the cutest.

tremolat chateau

From Tremolat – 30 miles to Les Eyzies. With a lunch stop in Le Bugue (another prehistoric charming town on the river? Well, okay. If you insist!).

Le Bugue biking

exploring Le Bugue

Hilly, hilly ride! I’m using all of my gears, constantly, now. Some hills were so steep that it was much easier to walk, but the payoff, aside from gorgeous views, was all the downhill flying. Wow, was the flying fun.

Hilly France biking

Did I also mention that my butt hurt? Yeah, the “normal” bike seat was too rough for me (my own bike at home is outfitted with a super cushy one) so I should have invested in some gel pads. Lesson for the future! But lets get back to that scenery….

Dordogne biking

Dordogne biking

The bales of hay, which were everywhere, made me imagine that we were biking through Van Gogh paintings:

French bales of hay

Meanwhile, Kurt clearly was popular with the French ladies:

French cows

Les Eyzeis is another UNESCO site – a village which seems to grow out of a cliff. It contains some important archeological sights, which unfortunately we didn’t get to explore because we had another full day of pedaling ahead.

Les Eyzeis

Les Eyzeis

The last ride was to Sarlat. It was shortest in distance, but for some reason hardest in endurance for me. Another giant steep hill and then, more flying. What a great feeling it was to descend, at 30mph, onto a medieval town lined with cobblestone streets. Sarlat is very prehistoric and representative of 14th century France, full of buildings with very steep roofs. It was a bittersweet time, too, as this is  where we surrendered our bikes, and the following day – hopped on a train to Paris.

Sarlat, France

This post was only intended to give a brief overview of our tour and show some photos. Neither words nor photographs, though, can fully describe that giddy feeling of hopping on a bike every morning knowing that yet another unique adventure awaits. I also can’t quite translate how good it feels to have fresh french country air hit your face, or how delicious each wine glass was after a daily long ride. I did not even get into describing the food we ate, which was so amazing it would bring you to tears. And I did not yet mention how nice all the people were – everywhere we went (or rode) the locals gave us fantastic treatment. This was, simply put, the BEST way to discover France. I have gathered a ton of inspiration for some new paintings, and can’t wait to a similar bike adventure again!

French mushrooms

Blue Floral commissioned painting

This commissioned piece is a 24×36 acrylic on canvas. I got contacted by a customer who requested an original similar to my (older) Blue December piece. I got very excited at the opportunity to relive the process of painting a grouping of flowers! However, I made the plants and colors a little bit different because I wanted this new piece to be unique. I enjoy creating these floral compositions just as much as I enjoy working on cityscapes. Actually, painting tangled organic forms provides a nice compliment to painting linear, rigid buildings – so these two opposites work quite well in balancing out my “painting brain”.

Here are the progress shots of Blue Floral commission:

Blue Flowers painting sketch

Blue Flowers painting progress

Blue Flowers painting progress

Blue Flowers painting progress

Blue Flowers painting progress

…And, after a request to change a few stem colors to be more muted – here it the completed piece along with some detail shots! I am quite happy with the result, and the piece was a pleasure to work on.

Blue Floral painting by Anastasia Mak

Blue Floral painting by Anastasia Mak

Blue Floral painting by Anastasia Mak

Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting commission

This 24×30 acrylic on canvas – Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting – was commissioned by a couple who has ties to British Columbia. The first commissioned painting I created for them – Cherry Blossoms – went in the room of their then-newborn baby girl. Fast-forward a couple of years, the baby is now an adorable toddler, and her little baby sister has just arrived! Baby #2 needs a painting  to adorn her room as well, of course! (…And Anastasia Mak is happy to come to the rescue). The idea behind these paintings is for each child to have a special piece that is “soft” and “pretty” enough to serve as baby / toddler decor, but also unique and with mature subject matter for them to appreciate as they grow older. What a great concept!

Point Atkinson Lighthouse is located in West Vancouver, Canada.  While I have not (yet) been there in person, I created this piece from various photos emailed to me by the customer. The Lighthouse sits on some large granite boulders, and I had so much fun using acrylic paint to play with the texture of these rocks. I feel lucky to get such fun assignments, and hope that little girl enjoys growing up with this original in her room.

Below are some shots of the painting’s progress, with the completed result at the bottom.

Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting prigress

Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting prigress 2

Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting prigress 3Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting prigress 4

Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting by Anastasia Mak

And detail:

Point Atkinson Lighthouse painting by Anastasia Mak

“I Like Illinois” feature and interview

Humbled to be featured, as Artist Of The Month on a lovely new website called “I Like Illinois“. It was especially fun to answer their interview questions! Please take a look: http://www.ilikeillinois.com/index.php/living/arts-a-culture/165-illinois-artist-of-the-month-anastasia-mak

Below are screen shots of the interview, in case of a broken link:

I Like Illinois Anastasia Mak

I Like Illinois Anastasia Mak

I Like Illinois Anastasia Mak

AIDS Run & Walk t-shirt project

This summer, I was honored to have been approached by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. They requested to have my artwork on a t-shirt, which will be gifted to the top fundraisers participating in the 2014 Run & Walk event on September 14th. Together, we collaborated on this image idea. I went on to create a piece representing our city, with my typical patterned background, and included the symbol of a fight against AIDS – a red ribbon – in the sky. Horizontal lines along the lake represent diverse crowds of people that will participate by running or walking during this event.

My painting, Chicago Skyline With Red Ribbon, was then silk screened onto AIDS Run & Walk t-shirts this week. I have known several people who have been affected by this disease and am very happy to contribute towards its fight in such a unique way!

AIDS walk t-shirt by Anastasia Mak

Here is the screenshot of interview posted on the AIDS Foundation of Chicago website, (which can also be found here):

AIDS Foundation Anastasia Mak

DestinAsian magazine feature

DestinAsian magazine feature: AMak Art is going global! …Well, sort of. Excited to announce that my “Angkor Wat” painting has been featured in the August issue of DestinAsian – a luxury travel & lifestyle magazine published in Indonesia. The magazine interviewed me about my trip to Cambodia and wrote a lovely, eloquent copy to go with the painting. Just read this description – doesn’t it sound like poetry?!

DestinAsian featuring Anastasia Mak

DestinAsian magazine featuring Anastasia Mak

destinasian

“Patagonia” commissioned painting

I have not been there yet, but when this customer sent me their photos of the Patagonia commissioned painting subject matter, I instantly recognized them as at Fitz Roy Mountains – because they have such distinct sharp shapes. The photos, of course, made me instantly excited about the possibilities of capturing the majestic beauties of canvas.

Fitz Roy Mountains

We discussed painting colors, and the combination of warm fall hues in the foreground with white snow and bright blue skies emerged in my head, which I then worked to bring out in the painting. Photos below show the painting’s progress, from an initial sketch to the final close-ups.

Patagonia Sketch

Patagonia painting progress by Anastasia Mak

Patagonia painting progress by Anastasia Mak

Patagonia painting progress by Anastasia Mak

Patagonia painting progress by Anastasia Mak

And now, for the final painting round – time to ease up on the clouds and let the mountains draw all the attention:

Patagonia painting by Anastasia Mak

Patagonia painting by Anastasia Mak

Fitz Roy mountains painting by Anastasia Mak

That was so much fun to work on. Needless to say, a Patagonia hiking trip will be happening for me eventually!