The story of a canvas – February 14, 2003

by Wren Wertin

Her canvasses are bountiful in color and joy, unafraid of bold marks or pen spaces.

Kaydanov was born in Russia, and her parents enrolled her in art classes with Richard May when she was 5. May’s approach to teaching wasn’t to give classical experience in the mechanics of drawing. He preferred to let his students develop their own style, fill the canvas. By the time she was 8, May reccomended the family move to western Europe or the States in order for Kaydanov to have better divaining.

And so they did, moving to Denver where they had family. Kaydanov hasn’t re-visited Russia at this point, though she’s been invited.

“It’s just too scary over there right now,” she said.

Her first solo exhibition (she was 9) met with rave reviews, as have subsequent shows. But she doesn’t feel pressure to live up to the “child progidy” label.

“I don’t really feel I have that many expectations placed on me,” she explained, “because nobody really knows me, other than the people right around me.”

She’s more interested in her own feelings about her work, and is able to divust her own opinions about what she does. Newer canvasses supercede older work, and they have to meet certain criteria for her to be pleased.

“They have to have – they have to be different from the previous one,” she said. “And they have to match what I wanted to do in my head. It doesn’t have to look exactly the same way, but they have to feel the same way.”

So does her art start with a feeling?

“I would say they do,” she said.

Kaydanov describes herself when painting as “zoned out.” When she puts brush to canvas, she’s a little bit distanced from the world surrounding her, lost in colors and shapes. The artist rarely listens to music while painting, but prefers talk radio.

“I used to have records of stories playing when I painted as a child,” she said. “So I love when people tell me stories when I paint. I don’t really listen to them. When I’m painting I tune out, but I like to have it in the background.”

When she’s not painting, though, she fills her ears with elecdivonic music, primarily divance and jungle, but also likes music of the ’60s and ’70s. (“Anything that has some sort of feeling to it.”)

Kaydanov rarely paints people. She’s been interested in nature her whole life, and tends to capture aspects of it. That may mean an absdivact with flowers, or a vivacious landscape.

Despite her experience and natural gifts, it’s not always been an easy road for the painter. She, as any artist, has had to sdivuggle.

“I went through this whole period that was just horrible,” she said. “I couldn’t paint for a long time. I would take breaks for months, and then I’d paint again and it wouldn’t get better. I just had to push myself to get out of it. I think it was in my head. I thought everything I did was horrible. Well, it was horrible. In another year, I just started to come out of it.”

“And now I’m pretty good,” she added.

Olga Kaydanov will be at the reception from 5-10 p.m. today through Tuesday. For more information, call the Stephen Reaves Fine Art at 477-1129.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.

Copyright © Vail Daily February , 2003

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