The Miles Davis Online Interview: Nina Mikhailenko

(Artist Series II, Volume 2)

I recently discovered the artwork of Russian-born painter Nina Mikhailenko. Her official website features what is a sensational collection of her artwork – from landscapes and flowers, to famous locations, corporate art, and portraits.

And then we have two oil paintings of Miles Davis. One of the two is featured above. The other can be viewed here.

I’ll forgo any novice art criticism and just say that both are terrific. Like all of her exceptional work, the paintings are accentuated with a vibrant mix of color, texture and movement.

I recently had a chance to ask Nina a few questions about her Miles Davis paintings.

Miles Davis Online: What is the creative process behind your paintings “Miles” and “Miles Davis”?
Nina Mikhailenko: I spent a lot of time on research, looking at all available material, reading Miles biographies, searching for the right image. In this case I found a torso photo and then asked several trumpet players to stand in for Miles, so I can draw the rest of the figure.

But since everyone’s temperament is different, I was not satisfied with the results. Their legs did not belong to Miles. Finally I asked my artist girlfriend to pretend to hold the trumpet and I thought that her pose was the closest to what I was looking for. Since it was a commission I knew that I needed a piano player and a bass. I did a lot of comps before I found the one I liked. Then I had to decide on the colors. Again a lot of sketches. As you can see the most time was spent on preliminary work. “Miles” was the final sketch for “Miles Davis”.

The painting itself was easy: I have a lot of musicians friends and they came with their instruments and posed for me. Chris Clark brought his 100 year old bass. I used color clear plastics to filter the light. You can see there was a lot of work that went into those paintings.

Miles Davis Online: Who are some artists of the past and present that have inspired you?
Nina Mikhailenko: Spanish artist Sorolla, Russians Korovin, Serov, Repin, my teacher Sergey Bongart, American John Singer Sargent and many others. I cannot forget to mention Caravaggio and Fechin – two of my favorites!

Miles Davis Online: Are you working on anything special at the moment?
Nina Mikhailenko: I have a few portrait commissions. I am also working on a painting for Equine Art Juried Show.

Miles Davis Online: Is there possibly another Miles Davis painting down the road for you?
Nina Mikhailenko: I have not thought about it, but I might one of these days.

Miles Davis Online: Favorite Miles Davis album?
Nina Mikhailenko: I prefer his earlier work and that is why I chose that particular image, and not the later more flamboyant and recognizable look.

© Nina Mikhailenko. All artwork, and images of artwork are property of Nina Mikhailenko. All rights reserved.


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