- Virginia Johnson
There’s something about folk art that brings a touch of warmth and whimsy to a home. The elements of designs are simple yet used imaginatively, and the overall effect is extremely pleasing. In Imagine a Forest: Designs and Inspirations for Enchanting Folk Art, Dinara Mirtalipova shares her creative methods and designs with you.
Dinara never studied at an art school but instead became a successful self-taught artist. Having emigrated from Uzebekistan, she had been trained in computers in her home country, but found it hard to get a job in America, and ended up taking whatever jobs she could, mostly in housekeeping.
She eventually found work at the American Greetings card company and realized she wanted to work in creative arts. With no money to go back to school to study art formally, she learned as much as she could from library books and also watched YouTube videos to learn how to manipulate design software programs. After she grew her portfolio, American Greetings took her on in a salaried position, and there she stayed until after her daughter Sabrina was born, and she began to work from home as a freelance artist, with Sabrina inspiring much of her work.
Reading Imagine a Forest… is rather like visiting her home studio and being given a private lesson. Beginning with choosing paints, brushes, and so on, she writes about the personal choices of your color palette. Then come examples of her folk-styled floral designs, along with designs for birds, insects, and other animals. After that, you’ll enter the realm of fairy tales and mythical creatures where charm takes on two meanings. Sections on houses, everyday objects, and decorative lettering follow, but somewhere along the way the instruction is greatly reduced so that the primary function is surely to inspire an artist’s own imagination.
At the book’s end, you’ll see some uses for her folk designs. Like Dinara, you can create your own rubber stamps to decorate envelopes, wallpaper, wooden bracelets, fabric, plain chairs, or plates.
Dinara inspires crafting artists to add homespun charm to their living spaces and to create designs to share with others and possibly sell. Among her lucrative freelance projects are illustrations for books, including the board book The Princess and the Pea, which is available for check-out from the library.
The video below shows a bit of the artist at her work: