Creativity in the Bay of Plenty – Natalya Doudell


Most of her life was spent in Uzbekistan (which was part of the Soviet Union at that time) but a move to New Zealand in 2003 expanded Natalya Doudell’s horizons and imagination. The new experiences and the dramatic change in her lifestyle came to be reflected in her paintings, giving them a unique perspective.

Natalya’s portfolio reflects different collections, from realistic watercolours through to abstracts, surrealistic paintings and drawings. Surrealism is her main focus as she feels there are no constraints on the rational mind, and no feeling of being compelled to use realistic techniques to recreate reality.

“I prefer not to discuss what my art is about,” she says, “but rather allow others to view the works and for them to take from my paintings what they themselves connect with. Some pictures scream with emotion, whereas others are very subtle.

“During one exhibition, a woman burst into tears looking at my drawing Feeding obsession. Her emotional interpretation of the piece was so different from my original idea, and encouraged me to see it from a totally different perspective. When I create a piece, I project my view and values on it, but I am always surprised to see how other people see it.”

What media do you work with?

I love the richness and workability of oils, the transparency of watercolours and the subtlety and precision of pencil.

How do you choose the subject of your artwork?

My creative process varies from spontaneous drawings to slowly planned and created studio pieces. Every painting of mine reflects a period of my life and what I was encountering at the time. Although these experiences are very personal, my close friends have remarked that they can visualise the effect my experiences have had on my work and recognise what I felt when creating them.

What is your process in developing your artwork? 

I generally formulate an idea in my mind, and then develop the initial sketch – which could look like mumbo jumbo to anyone who sees it, but my eyes see every little detail in this confusion. My intuition leads me through the process and the image slowly develops.

What is the most challenging part about creating new artwork?

Sometimes it feels like a roller-coaster ride! I can be excited about the new idea and while transferring it to canvas the ‘magic’ is lost. Then I have to go back to sketching and I may end up with a result that is the opposite of the original idea.

How has your style changed over time and what does your work aim to convey?

I feel my style has changed dramatically over time. For me though, the best aspect is versatility. Like most artists, I started out doing academic drawings and paintings, which provided a solid base. Now my portfolio reflects different styles, but one factor remains the same – artwork has to evoke a specific emotion. It has to provoke and challenge; has to be able to tell a story with a single image.

How do you revitalise yourself?

I have a little crush on Mount Maunganui. Going up or around is the quickest and most effective way I’ve found to re-energise myself. This is reflected in my watercolours, as most of them depict the Mount and local beaches, their ever-changing environment, colours and light.

Is artistic life lonely?

I would call it being alone, not lonely. Although I’m an extrovert by nature, at the time I create, it is vital for me to remove myself from people, as drawing and painting are generally solo experiences.

What is the best piece of advice you were given?

Art is not what you see, but what you make other people see.

Lost. Watercolour on canvas panel

Natalya is represented by three New Zealand galleries: MacandMor Art Space Gallery in Tauranga; Compose Gallery in Mount Maunganui and Artbay Gallery in Queenstown.