As part of our recurring series of interviews, The Power of Her, featuring remarkable women, we are proud to present to you an interview with Maria Fondler-Grossbaum, an artist and owner of Abyssimo Studio.
Coming from an artistic background, Maria has been painting for as long as she remembers herself. A successful painter and graphic artist, she found Abyssimo Studio last year, when she turned 42 and realized that she wanted to teach and pass on the knowledge of a special artistic technique she developed. Her project was met with instant success, but shortly after, Maria has discovered a lump and was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. The nightmare that followed, months of intense chemo have depleted her of energy and health, but creativity flowed and during short breaks between chemo sessions she kept on creating, teaching and keeping Abyssimо studio going. Maria is one of the most upbeat, positive and optimistic human beings we’ve ever met. An artistic and rebellious soul, she inspired us with her courage and power to continue her craft despite all odds. Maria’s current motto? “Fuck Cancer!”.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR ART AND A UNIQUE STYLE OF PAINTING
I have an academic background and I love classical ways in art, although I never saw myself following this direction. I always wanted to go beyond rules and borders and create something between painting and sculpting, something like a sculpted wall art or sculpted painting with a rich texture. Also, in my creations I like incorporating various elements and materials that attract light and intensify colours and texture. For example, I like using pieces of glass, rhinestones, natural amethysts and quartz and other decorative elements.
I truly hope that my style is unique. What can I say about my art? It is simple. Art and creativity is just another approach to becoming happier. Since childhood I’ve noticed that colours, forms and shapes hypnotized me and when I create, the quality of my life gets richer and more interesting and, as a result, I’m happier. I don’t know exactly how it happens and I am not the only one who experiences it – many other people testify that creativity in any form makes them happier. I think it happens because at the moment of creating something it is necessary to focus on yourself in order to understand what exactly you want to express. This element of self-knowledge is essential and very important in art process because when you understand yourself you become self-sufficient and don’t depend on circumstances anymore. You are a source of joy and that is this sacred self-fulfilment. Here is my divine formula of happiness:
self-understanding + self-expression = self-sufficiency = happiness! And no rules or limits, of course!
WHAT ARE YOUR SOURCES OF INSPIRATION?
Nature, Nature and Nature. My studio is filled with interesting natural objects. Porcupine quills, fossils, stones, feathers, wood and shells are incorporated into art pieces, enriching the visual and intellectual experience.
Another great source of inspiration is my students. Some time ago I opened an online school because many people who wanted to learn from me live far away and, luckily, with internet I now have access to anyone in the world! Teaching has given me a sense of purpose and an experience of joy and fulfillment.
I believe we all have innate gifts and talents that, when unlocked, can truly impact the quality of life for others… and there’s nothing more rewarding or fulfilling than that.
BATTLING CANCER IS A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE. HOW DID IT AFFECT YOU AND YOUR ART?
True. When I discovered that I’m diagnosed with breast cancer I was shocked. The only thing that really helped me to stay positive and emotionally balanced is creating. I also have a great support from my family, friends and my students, I’m very lucky this way! Thank you guys!
I didn’t find that my art style significantly changed since I’m having my cancer treatments, but I think it became more dramatic in colours. I also really enjoy experimenting with new materials now. What really changed though after discovering that I have cancer, is a desire to be more connected to my students. I want to create more online courses for them and share everything that I know.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TELL PEOPLE GOING THROUGH A SIMILAR EXPERIENCE?
Stick to what you like to do the most and stay productive. Work is the best therapy. Also surround yourself with people you love.
HOW DID YOU LIKE WORKING WITH Daria @ Kissed by Light studio?
Ohhh I did enjoy it a lot. Daria is an amazing friend with a talent. She is my inspiration and support. I gave her a total creative freedom knowing that she knows what she is doing. Et Voila, look how beautiful she made me!
I believe that a true photographer needs to be a little bit of a psychologist and must understand people’s nature. Daria is very gifted that way! She is a true photographer!
Our darling Maria, thank you for being our muse. Your inner power and creativity have inspired us. We wish you all the strength in the world to go through the next steps and have a fast recovery.
Maria believes that anyone can learn art and become an artists. Many of her classes are available here: Abyssimo School.
Follow her art and join her army of devoted students here: Abyssimo Open Studio.
Maria’s art is also available for purchase: Abyssimo Store.
Photography by Daria Perev, Kissed by Light Photo Studio
Model Maria Fondler-Grossbaum
Styling & Make-Up Collaboration of model and photographer
As part of our recurring series of interviews, The Power of Her, featuring remarkable women, we are proud to present to you an interview with Irene Khristoforova, a founder of her own line of natural skincare, Gaia Secrets.
One day, dissatisfied with commercial skincare products available on the market, Irene decided to start her own line of natural and ethical skincare with the help of her mother, Elena, a professional skincare formulator. The journey of starting your own business with your own philosophy, especially in such a competitive market as skincare, wasn’t easy, but Irene’s lifelong passion for everything natural and her mother’s technical knowledge made them a perfect team.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
Ever since I remember myself I used to be a nature freak – reading labels and choosing products for consumption with greatest attention – making sure they are organic, not tested on animals and sustainably sourced. As it comes to skincare – I could literally live on coconut oil, I was 100% devoted fan. I used it as a moisturizer, and was completely happy with it, until one day I noticed that things started changing.
WHAT HAS CHANGED AND HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
When I turned thirty and started noticing the first signs of aging I realized why my mom, who is a skincare formulator, always made her own products with more advanced ingredients then just oils and butters. She simply wanted skincare to really work – that is why she formulated her products with vitamins, concentrated extracts and complexes. And that’s when this brilliant idea came up!
I said “There are all these companies that sell advanced skincare and don’t really care about how natural and truly safe their stuff is! Let’s combine natural ingredients and advanced actives to make it happen!”. She loved the idea.
After tons of experimentations and collaboration with formulations, we found formulas that both of us were truly in tune with. Now I am able to bring out to the world a line that truly shines and it is an achievement that has become my true passion.
WHAT DOES “GAIA” MEAN?
Gaia is the personification of the Earth in Greek Mythology (Gaea), an ancestral mother of all life and the primal Mother Earth goddess, so Gaia Secrets literally translates as “Secrets of Earth” or “Secrets of Nature”.
WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY?
My philosophy is very simple – it is not about the beautification, it’s about nourishing and treating yourself with the greatest love and care. That’s why I created a line that carries skincare products one can be sure are non-toxic, natural and professionally formulated for the true action.
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THE PHOTOSHOOT IN KISSED BY LIGHT PHOTO STUDIO WITH LORA VERTUE AND HOW WAS IT SPECIAL FOR YOU?
Least to say it was fantastic. Lora Vertue and her team never stop impressing me with their ability to see and highlight their subject’s personality through photography. I am very happy how they captured my strong connection and love for the power of Gaia.
PLEASE TELL US WHAT’S NEXT IN STORE FOR YOU AND WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
I am constantly searching for new ideas and discovering what women really need in order to feel beautiful and confident. My mission is to stay committed to this craft with honesty to nature and true effectiveness of every product I create. Whatever else I come up with next, I want this to be an amazing tool for every woman’s beauty and wellness ritual.
Styling by Ameri Ozigis, Kissed by Light Photo Studio
Photography by Lora Vertue, Kissed by Light Photo Studio
Model Irene Khristoforova, founder of Gaia Secrets
Note: No make-up was used during this photoshoot
As part of our recurring series of interviews, The Power of Her, featuring remarkable women, we are proud to present to you an interview with Elizaveta Bulokhova. Elizaveta, a renowned young fashion model, lost 95% of her jaw to cancer while being pregnant with her son. Her story is that of strength, determination and all-powerful motherly love.
Elizaveta Bulokhova is from Ontario, Canada. When she was 24-years-old and pregnant with her son, Valentin, she received a shocking diagnosis – an osteosarcoma, a cancerous tumor in her jawbone. Following a 16-hour long surgery to remove the tumor, she was told to terminate her pregnancy before undergoing chemotherapy. However, complications in post-surgery wound healing delayed chemotherapy and allowed her enough time – she safely delivered her son 10 weeks early via cesarean section.
Prior to the diagnosis, Elizaveta worked as a fashion model for over 7 years. We were honoured to photograph her in our studio and ask her a few questions about her views for the future, goals in life and what gave her the strength to go through this life-changing experience.
WHAT ARE YOU FOCUSING ON RIGHT NOW?
Right now my main focus is to raise Valentin, shower him with family love and attention. Show him how wonderful this world can be.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AND ASPIRATIONS FOR THE FUTURE?
For now is just to take it day by day, take care of my health, my wellbeing. I am preparing myself mentally and physically for upcoming reconstructive surgeries possibly scheduled next year. Hopefully by than medicine will come up with creative, less complicated way to fix my jaw. It takes lots of energy, strength and patience to recover after surgeries. Post-surgery can have lots of complications and recovery process is not a fun ride.
Usually everything in my life happens spontaneously, quickly and last minute. One day I’m pregnant and the next I am diagnosed with bone cancer. My life is full of surprises. I accept my present and all the challenges life has to offer. I prefer not to make plans for future, I do dream a lot though & set short-term goals.
YOUR STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS INSPIRED THE WORLD AND ESPECIALLY THOSE BATTLING CANCER. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TELL PEOPLE GOING THROUGH THIS EXPERIENCE?
- Have something to look forward each day, something that keeps you going and gives you reasons to wake up every morning with a smile.
- Everyday do things that make you happy. It can be anything (eating your favourite food, watching favourite show, take a bubble bath) something for you, that would bring joy.
- Write everyday on a piece of paper or personal notebook ten things that you love about yourself.
- Write down all the positive things you can think of that happened to you same day.
- Remember tough time doesn’t last forever. If you have done everything that is in your power let universe take care of the rest.
- Try to stay focus on your next step.
- Problems always have solutions. Find solutions that make your life easier, even if it will be just a tiny fix.
- Speak up! Ask lots of questions!
- next time you are feeling shitty challenge yourself to come up with ten things which are awesome that you like thinking about, that makes you happy and you look forward to.
- No matter how hopeless and painful and difficult choices you have to make, you have to keep going because things can change very quickly
- If something is not going the way it is planned, it’s not always a bad thing.
- Believe in yourself
- You are stronger than you know
- Take it easy on yourself
- You are not alone
That’s what cancer does – it takes away parts of you, gives you crazy number of challenges to handle, tests your patience, breaks you apart. But at the end how I feel bout myself is my choice. Today I choose to feel happy, beautiful, to love myself and to accept myself the way I am and that’s all what matters.
HOW DID YOU LIKE WORKING WITH Lora @ Kissed by Light studio?
I had an amazing experience working with Lora at Kissed by light studio. It was really easy to work with her and the team. Lots of light and positive energy. The attitude and professionalism made me feel comfortable and confident in myself. I didn’t even notice how time flew by.
Thank you for being our muse, Elizaveta. We wish you many many years of love, beauty, health and happiness and hope to see you again in our studio!
Styling by Ameri Ozigis, Kissed by Light Photo Studio
Photography by Lora Vertue, Kissed by Light Photo Studio
As part of our recurring series of interviews, The Power of Her, featuring female artists we love, we want to present to you an interview with a founder and owner of Anouk Jewelry, Anat Kaplan. Enjoy her story and breathtaking photographs featuring her latest collection photographed by Lora Vertue.
Please tell us about your jewelry and unique style that defines your current designs.
I create fine jewelry inspired by nature and the ancient world. The bohemian and rustic look of my creations is achieved by hand carving, which results in highly sculptural and textured designs. I love working in all shades of gold, incorporating natural gemstones, especially raw diamonds and green sapphires.
What are your sources of inspiration?
I draw inspiration from the organic elements, especially water, its colours, flow and shimmer, and the textures that compliment it, like sand and rocks. I’d like my pieces to echo the raw beauty of nature, and to evoke that serene feeling of timelessness.
How did you decide to become a jewelry artist, tell us about your background?
I come from visual arts background; I fell in love with ancient jewellery during my university years studying art history. I took a course on ancient Greece and Rome and they showed us some jewellery pieces that blew me away. These treasures had so much character and personality, they really spoke to me. Still today ancient jewellery is endless source of inspiration.
Who are your clients, what kind of people come to you?
My clients are those who look for something different than the traditional wedding jewelry. They are often nature lovers, or creative folk, who appreciate local, artisanal pieces.
Often people come to me in search of a unique piece that would reflect their personality and those are my favourite clients to work with. Together we translate their story into gems and metals, creating a one of a kind, bespoke piece of jewelry.
Please tell us about your recent collection.
My most recent collection is the Golden Leafs line (http://anoukjewelry.com/product-category/collections/golden-leaves/), it was born in anticipation of spring after a long winter, and it’s all about growth, renewal and awakening.
How did you feel about working with KBL’s Lora Vertue on the recent photoshoot?
Shooting with Lora is always a big treat for me. I’ve worked with many photographers, but Lora’s impeccable style, great attention to detail and professionalism truly stand out.
But most of all, she’s a true artist with a unique creative vision and an amazing talent for capturing beauty. I can’t wait to work with her again!
Where can we find your jewellery?
My line is also available at:
Made You Look, 1338 Queen Street West, Toronto, Canada
Magpie Jewellery Westboro, 430 Richmond Road, Ottawa, Canada
Magpie Jewellery Glebe, 799 Bank Street, Ottawa, Canada
FireWorks Gallery, 1569 Barrington Street, Halifax, Canada
Gallery of Jewels, 4089 24th Street, San Francisco, USA
Photography: Lora Vertue of Kissed by Light Studio
Model: Fredau Wallace
Styling: Ameri Ozigis of Kissed by Light Studio
MUA: Irene Sy
We are excited to present to you the first in our series of interviews with exceptional women we have met in our photo studio.
Every day we meet different women from all walks of life and we fall in love with each and every one of them! Talented, unique, beautiful and powerful – each woman we photograph wins our hearts and provides a glimpse into a new, exciting world. That is how we decided to hold a series of interviews with some of our clients – to share their thoughts, talents and passions in life with you.
Below is a short interview with a talented (and gorgeous looking!) Toronto based artist and professional painter, Nelly Tsyrlin, who talked to us about her creative journey.
Early in her twenties, Nelly launched a successful modelling career. Being exposed to high fashion industry’s aesthetic, Nelly developed her own unique taste and artistic vision, which she then applied in a role of a stylist and later on in her paintings. Nelly is currently completing her MFA at the Royal Art Academy in St.-Petersburg, Russia.
KBL: Nelly, we are absolutely in love with your work! Please tell us about your art and a unique technique that defines your current paintings.
Nelly: My recent artworks are created by painting on glass and transferring the imprint to paper using the technique called monotype. Each artwork is original and a one-off. Each mark placed on glass is permanent, leaving no room for error and creating a sense of immediacy and exploration.
For an artist who spent years deciphering the “how to” secrets of classical realism, to diverge into a more experimental and spontaneous direction was a big surprise, first of all, for myself. It is hard to say what exactly pushed me to try out something new, but it could be the simple fact that I had no access to life models and my easel was broken at the time and all I had in my studio was a glass table I inherited from a friend of mine, Lora Vertue.
KBL: What about the subject matter of your artwork, what inspires your choice of a subject?
Nelly: The subject matter originates from body language observations. Our body language goes further then words in portraying our subconscious intentions, primal desires, feelings and thoughts. And it is those intentions that inspire me and that I strive to capture on paper.
KBL: What did you think about the photoshoot in our studio with Lora Vertue and how was it special for you?
Nelly: I’ve enjoyed every minute of it! The girls managed to fuse my past career with my present passion, which made the images very special and dear to me. The photographs turned out fantastic, the best I could hope for and much more.
KBL: Please tell us what is next in store for you and what are your plans for the future as an artist.
Nelly: Looking into the future, I plan to explore my aesthetic through brand collaborations. I want to share my art with wider audience, while devoting myself to continuously push the boundaries creatively.
To view Nelly’s current portfolio please visit nellytsyrlin.com