The main goal of the artist is not reproduction of reality, but its
China, 10-th century
This site is made
owing to moral and technical support of Faculty of
Geology (the major divisions of Moscow State University)
and Fersman Mineralogical Museum of the Russian Academy
There is the new site of the project "Mineral
Drawings" before you, Dear friend. The best of
the our works drawn during last five years are
gathered here. We shall note frankly, our
project is absolutely noncommercial. It is
addressed to those, who in the bustling rhythm
of the modern life reminding an arena of the
struggle for surviving with prizes to winner in
the form of fatty degeneration of the spirit, to
those, who among all this deafening crash of
rattles did not lose the sacred gifts giving to
the man: the ability to wonder at novel, to feel
the beautiful, to reflect, and to attempt
Which strength does move us in the
stubborn aspiration to continue the work? Most
likely this something is akin to insuperable
desire of traveler visited the remote lands to
tell with delight about seen and suffered.
Thus, as Michael Bulgakov wrote,
"Follow me, reader!" (in our case, spectator).
And you will see such things! But, possibly,
will not see. And perhaps, you already saw much
of that or even more interesting... But then
there is a possibility to compare your
impressions with that we have seen and shown.
There is the theme for discussion and dispute.
The attempt to combine together the
science and the art put us in rather ambivalent
situation. And indeed, we constantly feel
ourselves struggling on two fronts, for two
different audiences. Sometimes we address to the
researcher-mineralogist, sometimes to the person
of quite different mentality, who is far from
actuality of scientific problems, but
inquisitive and refined, connoisseur of the
Perhaps, the mentioned ambivalence
comes to the end on that. And there is the
comprehension that, however hard you may turn,
but the images created by us are, above all, the
art, which is unusual, unwonted. In the infancy
of quite recent its birth it beats its difficult
way to be both understandable, and realized.
And realized above all in the
aspect that the moment of contemplation of
nature images by spectator is a self- valuable
thing. The act of such contemplation is helpful
for soul, especially when some sorrows get
through it. Also it is useful for mind, giving
it the healthy alive ground to work, to analyze
the things, hitherto unknown and in some
According to the mind state, at one moment these things excite the fantastic
association from the sub consciousness, at another one they stimulate the
aspiration to comprehend the reasons of so regular artful design of details
and elements coming out from chaos, but jointing themselves in countless ness of harmonious combination. On the other hand, representing our work as
scientific art, we give an account of high degree of responsibility
following from that. This is the responsibility for reliability of
information put in the drawing, for accuracy of detail representation, for
coincidence of art technique to reality, which we aspire to show. We
deliberately leave the photographic alikeness, brought up a task of
understanding of natural phenomena essence via creation of their images.
We shall explain why we so
attached to invariably white background. The answer is simple: that is
dictated by our attitude to specimen as to quite self-sufficient object,
which does not need the additional embellishments or something else.
"Each breath exalts the Lord",
the Bible said. But even the breathless stone is sometimes amazing and
beautiful that, as the stiffened prayer, reminds about its Creator.
Therefore, we sincerely hope that our work wasn’t vain. And they will serve
both for scientific benefit, and for consolidation of strengths of Good and
black-and-white drawings are made with pen on the white Whatman paper
with Indian ink. Sometimes, when necessary, Indian ink is diluted by
water. The volume is by point and stroke. The color drawings are made with a watercolor technique, and some
drawings is made by color Indian ink. At first a pencil sketch is made. Sometimes several alternative
sketches are made, and the additional sketches of details drawn for
complicated objects. Usually we give the time for the sketch to "ripen" near the
represented object. That gives the possibility to notice and to correct
mistakes and to add the omitted details in time. The longer the work "ripens", the better it turns out finally.
Nothing is more harmful for final result then. All work is handmade; the computer never used.
closer man to the Nature, the longer his Art
-Leonardo da Vinci-
I started to draw minerals long ago,
when I was a schoolboy and had to prepare documentary
illustrations for my papers on ontogeny of minerals. I remember,
making these drawings was much more interesting to me than work
on the text of the papers. After years of work in the
field of mineralogy I am now deeply convinced that true
scientific work (I mostly mean ontogeny) should be based first
of all on the high-quality and clear visual representation of
the subject. The best option is a good drawing, in which the
specimen speaks for itself. Furthermore I was attracted by
purely artistic aspect in specimen drawing. Apart from
scientific details, the drawings merely show one amazing side of
the nature or can even reflect artists mood, which in turn
reflects the specimen itself. In some sense, specimens are like
living things. As you learn to communicate with them, they can
cause a burst of emotions in your heart, from delight to
My personal attitude to minerals is almost religious.
There is a reason, and I will explain it in a moment. In the
Orthodox Christian life conception, every human has three
temples: the first is his soul, the second is church, place for
worship and prayer, and the third is nature. The harmony of
nature shows people the wisdom of God through the beauty and
internal consistency of the world.
For this reason, I think mineral drawing requires
responsibility and delicate consideration to the subject, which
should be treated as a miracle of Creation. With such attitude,
mineral drawing is close to icon painting.
And the means and tools are the same as those
traditionally used in ancient icon painting. To show a specimen
in its full value and to express its volume, I use the methods
of "reverse perspective". This approach gives an object a
binocular view with some extension. The principle of
"shining object", when external lighting is ignored, makes the
image "phosphoresce" and creates the impression of internal
This is the way to avoid reflections and shadows,
to trace plenty of fine but important details, and thus to
perform the object in the most real and expressive manner. By
the way, Dao painters used similar techniques in ancient China
I always have a feeling (sometimes subconscious)
that mineral drawing reflects some more than just a specimen as
a physical object. What do I mean? The history of art and
culture is closely related to the mineral world. Alexander E.
Fersman wrote a whole book on this subject. But I have a
different view. For instance, consider architecture. Vizantian
temples and quartz druses how do they happen to have so much in
common? Southeastern Asia - massive calcite! Architecture of
Japan and Korea - blocked dolomite. Indian and Chinese pagodas
take so much after the rhombohedral - scalenohedral epytaxic
calcite intergrowths. And staurolite twins?
- the most ancient
cross on the Earth. Before the life began, the cross had already
existed in stone!
To draw a mineral object, one should first learn
to observe it with unceasing desire to understand its internal
nature: why did it grow this way and what was its history or,
speaking scientifically, ontogenesis? But you will be unable to
understand anything if you do not fall in love with the
specimen. When you love it, it reveals its mysteries, and you
learn to draw it and see it.
By the way, the ability to contemplate was always regarded as
most important in ancient eastern arts. The ancient wisdom says:
"Contemplation is the highest knowledge".
According to Dostoevsky, the beauty will save the
world. We mean the beauty of a man, nature, and... mineral as a
par of nature? In our time, minerals, which are particles of the
nature and natural beauty, are somewhere in the shade o
The fantasy of the nature is so rich compared to humans
fantasy. And although this Gods fantasy is incredibly versatile
it is always connected to the fundamental laws of nature. That
is why unchanged nature is always beautiful! And the bear to of
all things in nature is in their purposefulness and their
aspiration to equilibrium, both mutual and internal. However the
way to equilibrium is a never-ending movement, and I believe the
mission of art in natural sciences is to see and I show the
moments of this movement.
The art is one of the ways of understanding the world.
This is a general thought, but while drawing minerals, I was
seeing how it gained a very practical meaning.
For me, the work on a mineral drawing became the
method of study. While I was drawing a crystal or an aggregate,
I had to get into every little detail of its structure and to
understand the internal relationships between these details.
Have you detached yourself from the object and followed the way
of "extrapolation" or adlibbing, you soon start to see that the
specimen on the paper is losing its real appearance, something
is wrong about it... Then you have to go back and seek that
little shade or regularity in its structure which was missed or
distorted. You find it, you correct it, and finally bring the
drawing in correspondence with the nature.
I draw a specimen as if I re-create it according
to its own laws, and that is how my understanding of these laws
is formed. At first, intuitively, then through thinking and
analysis, this under-standing logically transforms into
scientific knowledge. Having mastered this process, I began to
intentionally use drawing as a methodological approach to study
Sometimes I avoid calling my work "a drawing". In
my opinion, this term implies something quite subjective and
simple: you have found it, you have seen it, and you have drawn
it. In this case, the simplest way is to draw from a photo. But
I doubt if it makes any sense at all. For me as a mineralogist,
my professional curiosity is the main source of motivation and
creativity And the professionalism requires a much more complex
The first step is to know as much as possible
about the specimen, to investigate it, to understand all
features of its morphology and, if possible, genesis, and to
compare it with as many specimens of the same type as possible.
In brief, this step involves a preliminary scientific study.
Only when the mineral specimen is clear for me, I have the right
to proceed to the second step
- search of optimal artistic
tools. The next thing is to determine the optimal angle and
position of the specimen. In some cases, I think of the
tolerable degree of "restoration" of the specimen. Sometimes,
for example, it is necessary to "revive" a knocked-off head of a
crystal or, vice versa, to dismiss distractive and noisy details
around the main object.
Once a plot selected, this choice controls all
further work, its style, and techniques used. I feel lucky to
get a clear and harmonious, "self-sufficient" stone as an
object. To portray it bringing nothing into its image is both an
easy task and a must.
Having encountered something transient, one
should evolve all the randomness, having preserved intact only
the features innate in this phenomenon. The heart of the
mineralogist-artist’s work is a search for the essence of the
phenomena and an intention to display both the phenomena
observed and their versatile kinship.
The image should bear the maximum information and
clearly illustrate a phenomenon, regularity, or tendency in the
structure. A successful drawing should excite the imagination of
a dilettante and make a professional to think.
How do we collaborate in drawing? We work
together when it is necessary. Capabilities of each of us are
limited to some extent. There are difficult tasks, which can be
accomplished only through collaborative effort, by supplementing
and correcting each other’s work. Moreover, one can succeed in
learning only in the process of joint work.
The moving force of creation and inspiration lies in an
intention to perceive the laws of Nature and, through these, one
own self as a part of His purpose. An absolutely perfect image
in Art is inaccessible in principle. It rests eternally in some
space of higher and all-embracing Mind. A true master creates
nothing new from his mind and with his hands. However, his
mysterious skill extracts some image from this space to make
something material from it. Thus, no piece of Art is perfect,
never mind how wonderful it is. It could be better! No
satisfaction exists for a master. Creation is an endless
ascending way to inaccessible; to be aware of that is a torture
Vladimir S. Makarenko
"My road to
the Mineral World"
"Nature is as tireless in its creation of new
as an artist who reproduces these".
drawing when a schoolboy. First in pencil.
Did my best to grasp things as they are.
Liked to draw anything that pleased my eyes.
Schoolteachers in Art Lycee no. 12, Tver,
where I studied, encouraged their students
in their fantasies, eclectics, and
stylization. Prestige was the motto. My
seeking turned out to be exhausting. My
sight of Nature got blurred. Boredom. Being
an optimist, kept on seeking. And found.
Once been to CLIO, sort of the decorative
stone sale and get-together of folks. Had my
girlfriend about. She was busy looking for a
present to buy. And I got caught by a quartz
druze. Produced a pen and a notebook,
started sketching. - Look, the facets are so
different, but the angles between them are
the same - a bystander told. Got acquainted
to Victor Slyotov. Am visiting Slyotov. Another world
around. A standard apartment, a museum
squeezed into it. Specimens, specimens, big
and small. Colors, tones, shapes. Specimens
as drawings and pictures on the walls. Am
enchanted. That’s it: fineness and
liveliness, emotion and excellent touch.
Astonishing, but Victor got no artistic
background. How come? - The Specimen taught
me, the images arise by themselves, - was
the answer. First sketches. First Specimens. Am
starting with scholarly schemes and stuff.
Am trying to use basic artistic tricks found
when in school. Some caricatures as a
result. Here’s shape, here’s volume, but no
Specimen at all. I see it when holding
samples in my hand. Why so? - Going to size
the Specimen into your technical skills? Try
opposite, - answered Victor. - The closer
you are to Nature, the longer its images you
reproduce will live, - he quoted Leonardo da
Vinci. When observing specimens, many
thoughts and images come. Am recalling the
first Specimen that let me draw it. Morion.
The one I managed to understand and feel
after turning it here and there, bringing it
to the window and to electric lamp, stroking
and pushing. Here - my attempts were
thoughtless, my eyes wandered elsewhere but
not on specimen when drawing. Hence, no
understanding, no feeling. Once I took a morion crystal in my
hand and wordlessly asked it for help. The
crystal was in my right hand. Closed my
eyes. Asked again, and... it responded! That
was a blowup. An image arisen in all detail.
It was huge. Opened my eyes and started
drawing, the crystal still in hand. Contours
developing as if protruding from a fog.
Certainly, the image on paper differed from
that in my mind. But it’s been a
breakthrough. I learned to feel it. The
crystal disclosed to me a new vision. Victor
recognized the original specimen. It was
specimen of Morion. The further the more. More attraction
to the Specimen. Victor supplied me with
books about the minerals, Alexander E.
Fersman’s the best. Told me about our
mineralogists, Victor I. Stepanov and Yuri
M. Dymkov. - Draw to perceive and perceive
to draw. Try to embed your vision and
feeling in what you draw. You want it, you
get it! - these were Victor’s words. My
follow-up works pleased him more and more,
and the day came he offered a series of
joint works. Mineral specimen found me a
friend, and the friend made mineral amiable
to me. This series proved to be something
new and special. We understood that working
together it is possible to acquire a new
level inaccessible to each of us separately.
More, we both believe this is not the limit.
We are sure we are right, on a due course,
and our work is needed. This gives us more
vigor in work and search for knowledge. Drawing the Specimen is a tough job.
It’s like a portrait - one should know
plastic anatomy, find a characteristic
motion, seize a character. Mineralogical
textbooks offer data: names, properties,
crystallographic schemes. Is it enough to
draw the Specimen? No! It’s like drawing a
portrait of a person from a statue. Yes,
there will be something human in it, but how
to recognize the person? No again! Only
personal contacts and personality features
known give a recognizable image. Some
painter can spend a quarter of an hour to do
a portrait. Look at it, at other works of
the same painter. These are averaged faces
with customary eyes resembling each other.
Portraying specimen is the same job - no
instant success! Every Specimen has an individuality
of its own. Luck comes if a special clue to
it is found, then it talks. It lets you to
draw it as a clear adequate image. I want to
show you the image of the Specimen as I feel
it owing to support of Viktor Slyotov - as
music of patterns and a live essence of
The books were
published at the authors’ expenses,
'Mineralogical Almanac' ('Ocean Pictures'),