In China and Japan, silk painting has an age-old history. This exquisite craft requires the artist's careful precision to render works on the smooth textile, and, when mastered, results in soft and luminescent pieces. Artist Olga Belova carries on this tradition by creating hyperrealistic portraits of animals on pure silk fabric.
From tigers and leopards to wolves, these wildlife portraits appear to glow against the sinuous backdrop. Unlike working with traditional cotton or linen canvases, silk is not as forgiving to mistakes like erasing preliminary drawing sketches. So, Belova takes her time with each piece to ensure that she works with the fabric to produce the desired painting.
Belova gravitated towards silk as a way of learning traditional Japanese techniques. “After working with this unique fabric, I realized that only pure silk—so warm and pleasant to the touch—can convey the true beauty of nature itself,” she says. “Silk brings out detail that almost makes the animals look and feel alive.” Many of Belova's pieces are based on photos submitted by her followers. She ends up choosing the preferred subject matter, which is usually flora or fauna, and paints the image onto silk fabric.