Hello, our names are Anya and Varya Kendel. We are twin sisters who work together on illustrations for children’s books.
2. How did you become an artist? Tell me your story.
We draw since childhood, as we remember. We never thought we would do anything other than drawing. In kindergarten, at school — in the drawing circle, then in a separate art school, art school and, finally, in the art academy. We have been drawing and learning to draw for about 20 years from our 26).
But what made us artists (because the artist is a little more than a person who can draw) is hiking and traveling. Unusually beautiful nature, especially if you bothered (to go with a heavy backpack over rocks and swamps is a lot of work) very much inspires us to draw.
3. What has changed in your life after you became an artist?
We can not answer this question exactly, because we draw since childhood and grow up with it. Drawing is inseparable from us, so we do not know who we are, without it.
4. What and where do you get inspiration?
Inspiration often comes very unexpectedly. Just enough to see something, think about something. But especially for creativity we take from traveling. When you go or go and everything changes around you, there are a lot of reasons for reflection. Traveling is taught to compare your life, the life of people you meet on the way, the nature around you.
5. Could you explain your creative process? From inspiration to works of art.
Sometimes you walk down the street and you see a piece of the fence, with cracked paint, a dried-up burdock bush and a dog under it — everything is finished work and you don’t even need to invent anything — you just saw it and painted it. It happens in a different way — you go on a hike with a heavy backpack, long enough (a week or two) you look around and remember. There are so many impressions that they all do not fit in my head at once, it’s necessary that time passed. In the campaigns we take a lot of pictures, sometimes we draw quick sketches, but the main work will be at home. When all thoughts come in order and you can think, and then draw. Even something big, like a travel book. On the diploma at the academy, we just made a book on our travels in the north of Russia, we went there three times and collected material, and then we drew a whole year.
6. What subjects or ideas do you want to express with your work?
We love nature very much (although we draw other things too), but nature has been loved to draw nature since childhood. We want to convey in her works her beauty and diversity. So far, we are more inspired by Russian nature. She is very different, but so dear and filled with content for us. Often we are interested in not just nature, but the landscape with a man (with traces of the activities of people in it). These are villages or a house in the forest, squinting fences — what a man leaves behind.
7. Describe your style, and how did your style become real?
We are still looking for our own style. Probably in our works there is something generalizing them, but for us they are all different. We draw with different materials — this is watercolor and gouache and acrylic and pencils, we often use collage and modify it on a computer. What they have in common for us is a striving for generalization, white approaches and large forms, and at the same time a large amount of detail and some subtlety in drawing. So while we are still on our way to our style.
8. What do you think is the most important thing in your life? Tell us about your outlook on life?
It is difficult to single out one thing that will be much more important than the rest. Like all of us, the health of loved ones and their well-being are important. When all is well, then you already think about work, about where to go and so on. For us, the ideal thing is to manage to build your life in such a way that you can do your favorite things: draw, make books and projects, meet your family and friends, earn money to provide for yourself and help your parents. Travel and learn something new.
9. What does art mean to you?
Art is a very broad concept. Of course, it’s easier for us to judge the visual arts. This is more than creativity, a hobby. It is difficult to say that simply by drawing something on paper, a person is engaged in art. But at the same time, it is not necessary to have an education so that your works have a “soul” in themselves. Probably, for us, art includes works in which this “soul” is felt. Maybe it is folk embroidery on a dress made by a village old woman or abstract spots on the canvases of a famous artist.You can see from the works whether the process of creativity is going on from the inside, whether the artist conveys what fills it or just copies someone’s fashionable style and wants to please and adapt to the viewer.
10. What interests you the most besides art activity lately?
We would very much like to visit Yamal, Ob Bay. This is a very harsh region in the north of Russia and it’s not so easy to get there for us. Our grandfather grew up in Yamal — he was born in a family of dispossessed Arkhangelsk fishermen, in a village at the mouth of the Ob. In his childhood, he told us a lot about the northern lights, deer and tundra. Therefore, this place means a lot to us.
11. Do you have any things that are special to you? Can you show us?
Special things … we value the works that gave us our beloved teacher. This is a very important person in our life. She showed us how love for her work affects a person. She is now 84 years old, until recently she taught the guys to love and understand art, to be partial. We visit her, but not often, because we live far away, and the works, though small, remind of her and delight us.
12. What is your favorite place in your village? And why?
Our favorite places are outside the city. And in St. Petersburg itself, we like to visit the Russian Museum, where there are works of our favorite masters. It is also good to climb onto the roof and look at the city from above, think about something, break away from the streets. But lately, the authorities have been struggling with such amateurs, and many «our» roofs have been closed. And yet, it may be strange for someone, but we like to walk around the old cemeteries, in Petersburg they look like a forest and there are many ancient monuments, many stories and destinies. Our love for nature often pulls us out of the city, but if there is no time, we visit parks that are arranged like forests, if you go deeper, you can’t hear cars, blueberries and even cloudberries grow, squirrels run.
13. Why do you like your village?
We moved to Petersburg when we were 19 years old. Peter is a special city, here you can feel the indifference of former builders to its external appearance. The center of the city has been preserved almost the same as 100 years ago, you follow the same routes as Pushkin, Levitan, Vasnetsov, Kuindzhi walked. There are amazing interiors of old theaters, museums. A rare photographer does not dream of getting into the academy where we studied — there are amazing halls and audiences. Even the “undressable” Petersburg is beautiful in its own way, it also includes well-yards, in which it is difficult to live and solid brick walls, transitions from the arches are very atmospheric, it is interesting to walk here.
14. Is there anything that you recommend that we try in your village or city?
If this is your first time in Petersburg, then it is good to walk in spring or summer, early in the morning, when it is already light, but there are few passers-by on the street. Just get lost and do not look at the map, go into the doorways, look into the entrances, so hours — two, three. We advise our friends so much, they thank us later. Because when you go on a guided tour, you look at something concrete, listen to dates, etc., and here you look at everything around, you choose, and everything new for you.