A winter with illustrator Nastia Sleptsova (Part 2)

A great softness emerges from your illustrations which feature tiny houses in the middle of landscapes softened by snow, cozy and simple interiors where we find everyday objects and which evoke artisanal creation. Does this universe evoke for you an ideal, some memories?

– I think it combines different aspects of my personality. Since school, I was deeply inspired by the North. This aesthetics of wooden houses and immense, incomprehensible nature with big water and woods around. I think there is something magical in combination with the cozy inner space, filled with beautifully crafted elements that make you feel warm and safe, with the surrounding world with that feeling of nature with its miraculous beauty and strength.

Simple living, feeling safe and calm. Now I feel like more other things came into my world and made it richer, but I think the general spirit stays somewhere in between. I hope one day I will travel all the places that I was dreaming of. And maybe live somewhere like that. To wake up early and hear the seagulls and then take long walks by the seashore, then go back home, make breakfast, and go to my quiet studio to work on something. And on evenings to sit by the fireplace with a book. *Sometimes I think that I am 100 years old:) 

Is there a place that particularly inspires you?

– I love to be by the sea. I don’t mind spending a hot summer day somewhere on the wild shore, but mostly I prefer the low season when it’s unpopular to visit. And I love to explore Google Maps and look at the pictures of small towns by the shore, for example, somewhere in England and imagine myself visiting them one day. And I keep in my memory the feeling when spending late summer vacation in Finland. I think nature, the air, and the weather there makes me feel a wanderlust very often to repeat it again. 

What do you want your images to inspire in those who hang them in their homes? Do you think art can change or influence our lives?

– Yes, I believe that some particular artist, or a moviemaker, or a particular book, if it comes at the right time for you, can evoke something from the depth of your soul and you will just know you belong there. It makes you discover yourself and know a little bit more and basically, it may change your life in a way.

Looking at myself, everything that surrounds me at home is important to me, I am sensitive to all objects and general aesthetics around me. Speaking about my work, then, according to the reviews that come to me from people, they find in my works an atmosphere of comfort, solitude and silence, nostalgia and warm memories. I like to be involved in this and to feel connected with other people through my work. 

Are there other artists whose work you particularly like or feel close to?

– For sure! There are many amazing artists whose works touch me deeply, and I can dive into their worlds. Here are a few: Andrew Wyeth, Rockwell Kent (both his paintings and books), Edward Hopper, Gary Bunt, Kiki Smith, and of course Tove Jansson with her art, books, and lifestyle. And also there are so many other things that inspire me, it’s not even necessarily a person, it may be a movie or a song or some design/craft item or just a place in general that feels close to me. 

Many of your illustrations evoke a dream winter. What does winter mean to you?

– I was born in winter, maybe it has something to do with it. I remember a lot of beautiful snowy days from my childhood, but nowadays they are not as strong anymore. I cannot say that winter is my favorite time of the year, on the contrary, I think all my life I was learning to accept it. Maybe it’s because winter weather feels uneasy and uncomfortable, I try to think that it is a wonderful time to spend much warm and cozy time inside.

Do you have perfumes, colors, music, emotions that are particularly linked to this season for you?

– Mmmm, I like the Christmas vibe that appears at the end of the year. I like the smell of the frosty air when it’s a snowy day and then how your clothes smell right after a cold walk, they smell like winter:)

I like to notice how music playlists change in the coffeeshops. It’s always a jazzy or classic vibe all around. I know, it’s very predictable, but it makes me feel warm because everything seems so familiar. I like the green color of the pine tree combined with golden lights, delicate white and light wooden or straw ornaments, or the vintage metal decorations from the past, found on the flea market. I like the color combinations to be delicate, both at home and in the winter decorations. I am a big fan of candles! I love to brighten up dark mornings and early evenings with candlelights. This little warm fire makes me feel so much nicer. 

For some, winter is a difficult period to go through because of the lack of light, the cold, the sleepy nature, the feeling of withdrawing into oneself, and this feeling will undoubtedly be accentuated this year because of the pandemic and measures taken to curb it. Do you have any tips or rituals to share with us to better live this period? A favorite recipe?

– Yes, for sure, I understand what you mean. This is exactly because of this feeling of closeness and tightness that spending so much time at home sometimes gives you, I need to feel comfortable, nice, and balanced. What helps me is a couple of comfortable sweaters and nice warm socks (my special home clothes, I prefer light tones for home), keeping the apartment clean and tidy, lighting candles while eating, having beautiful ceramics around (because the amount of hot coffee and tea has increased significantly haha), always having something to read, and my cozy corner for it.

Oh, and the lighting: I don’t like to use big lights, I prefer to create a lot of small light corners at home. Also, I like to have new smells of my beauty products: a shower gel, a hand soap, a hand cream. I love them to be my winter mood boosters with more ”winter” flavors.

And of course, if it’s possible, I really enjoy the weekend gathering with friends at home: when we can spend the whole day together: starting from coffee and babbling, then cooking dinner together, beautifully set a table covered with a tablecloth, making mulled wine and ending with playing board games all evening long. I mean, summer is for picnics and winter is for cozy indoor time, why not celebrate it and play around!

But when it’s a silent morning after the snowy night – isn’t that lovely to take a quiet walk with a hot thermos somewhere in the park or go outside the city in all your warmest clothes.

My favorite winter recipe changes from year to year, but this winter I cooked a decent vegan banana bread using this recipe: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_kYZDDFOjl/? igshid=py5irtskw774 

Where can people find you and your works?

My photo diary is here: @nastiasleptsova (Instagram)

My Etsy shop is here: nastiasleptsova.etsy.com

If you want to find more of my works, please just google me or check it on Pinterest.

Thank you very much Nastia for this rich and inspiring interview!

I hope this meeting will have inspired you, help you love winter and make you want to bring more art into your life!

Credits photos and illustration : Nastia Sleptsova

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