The Artist Alex El

Portraits - it's not what I do,
it's who I am.

I've been this way since I finished Art School of Russian Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. During my school years I learned how to use watercolors, oils, acrylics and dry media. I mastered portraiture, human figure drawing, landscape and still-life painting. Most of my skills I owe to this classical education I was so fortunate to be given.

Portraits became my specialty since I used to be a street artist for number of years after the graduation. I was drawing live portraits in the crowd for festivals, art shows, in malls and other events. This forced me to develop my own unique technique that allows me to create realistic, true-to-life portraits very fast. My clients were always happy with the results, especially kids who thought it was like magic. It excites me to draw live portraits. Nowadays most of my commissions I do from photos, but my approach remains exactly as when I draw from life.

After making Winnipeg my home in 2006, I integrated into vibrant art-life of the city and realized that my portrait skills are rare, almost unique in Canadian prairies. One year of studying at U of M School of Art convinced me to continue my portraiture journey with even more enthusiasm. I started to teach portrait workshops in Winnipeg and the area. Every workshop inspires me, just as I inspire my students, who appreciate my skills, my experience and my unique technique very much.

Some say gifted people have many talents. This is true and the best example would be Leonardo da Vinci, who was not only a great painter but also an architect, an engineer, an inventor and much more. Along my artistic journey I traveled different roads, but they all were in the field of visual arts. I studied graphic design and worked in this area for many years, I illustrated children's books, I did pop art, desktop publishing and web design. I got inspired by different opportunities to express my creativity. I do have this demand for self-realization in any possible way, but portraits always have been and always will be my greatest passion. If you would like to read more about my artistic career and about the workshop I teach, please follow the link to CBC article "Russian born painter teaches Winnipeggers about portraits".