‘It’s never too late’: Carmel artist Galina Alkhutova discovers passion for painting miniatures in retirement

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Artist Galina Alkhutova works on a painting in her Carmel home. (Photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh)

By Desiree Williams

Galina Alkhutova grew up in an artistic family. Her brother is a tattoo artist, her sister creates jewelry and her mom was a painter. Since childhood, Alkhutova dreamed of painting, but it wasn’t until she moved to the U.S. that her dream came true.

“I moved here because the Soviet Union was broken, and it was, especially in Ukraine, very bad,” she said.

Alkhutova, 62, came to the U.S. with her mother in 1996. But it wasn’t until 2010 that she began devoting time to art. She participated in her first art exhibition in 2012 and has been part of several other events and festivals throughout the Midwest, which she said would not have been possible without support from her husband, Rich, and the rest of her family, which includes three daughters and four grandchildren.

This month, she will present and discuss her unique miniature paintings during the Celebrations of Creativity and Craftsmanship series at noon March 28 at the Museum of Miniature Houses in Carmel.

“I feel excited,” she said. “I was very glad that they are interested.”

Just a dream

Because she didn’t havea  formal art education and didn’t feel she could keep up with her talented siblings, Alkhutova decided to pursue physics. She graduated from Simferopol State University in Ukraine in 1980 with a master’s degree in physics and began working in computer programming.

When she moved to the U.S. at age 41, she couldn’t continue her career without first learning English. Alkhutova worked in alterations to support her family while taking language classes. She returned to computer programming in 1999 and later began a 14-year career with IU Health as a web developer.

Painting became a priority for her in 2010 when a friend invited her to a Wine and Canvas party and she fell in love with acrylics.

“The next day, I went to the art supply store, and I bought paint and brushes and paper and whatever I needed,” Alkhutova said. “From that moment, I started painting every day.”

Alkhutova wanted to have some formal art education, so she attended classes at the Indianapolis Art Center for the basics and then taught herself the rest.

“I really appreciate the opportunity that this country gave to me so I can learn to do something that I dreamt about, even when I was 55 years old,” she said.

A passionate profession

Alkhutova is an abstract expressionist and contemporary artist. Her pieces vary in size from several feet to mere inches and include gels, modeling pastes and natural materials for texture.

She said painting is a therapeutic process, and she is inspired by memories, emotions and mood. Some days, the pieces will be light and airy while others will be a bit darker.

“I start and I just feel I need to use one color, and then I feel I need to use another color,” she said. “The painting (tells) me what to do. It comes from inside.”

Alkhutova ventured into miniature art because she loves to execute detail. She said she often uses toothpicks as brushes and barely takes breaths as she paints because it is so challenging.

“It takes more time to do small details, but it’s an exciting process when you see how it looks,” she said.

Elaine Mancini, executive director of the Museum of Miniature Houses, sought out Alkhutova because of her work in miniature, which Mancini said is beautifully done.

Mancini developed the museum’s creative series three years ago to showcase local talent and draw attention to the unique work of miniature art. She has invited poets, musicians, writers, oral historians and more to present their work audiences.

“We’re giving opportunities to a lot of artists who never had this kind of opportunity before,” Mancini said. “They’ve been in shows, but this is a whole different thing.”

Alkhutova will bring miniature abstract and contemporary paintings to her showcase at the museum. The paintings, which will be for sale,  range from 1 by 1 inch to 4 by 4 inches.

Carmel artist Galina Alkhutova displays a small and large version of one of her paintings. (Photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh)

Tips for aspiring artists

Galina Alkhutova offers the following advice for aspiring artisans:

1. If it’s your dream, it’s never too late to start.

2. You don’t need a formal education. You just have to work on it every day.

3. When you create something, be sure it’s for your happiness.

SERIES SCHEDULE

Remaining events in the Celebrations of Creativity and Craftsmanship series are:

  • March 28 – Galina Alkhutova, miniature paintings
  • April 11 – Kristina Oliver, experimental abstract artist
  • April 25 – Lee Ellis, woodwork
  • May 9 – Lucy Newton and MaryAnne Mathews present a program of songs
  • May 23 – Debra Achgill presents fused glass pieces
  • June 13 – Andrew Moore, steel drums
  • June 27 – Marie Diebolt, singer-songwriter
  • July 11 – Create Your Own Mini Art
  • July 25 – Create Your Own Mini Art
  • Aug. 8 – Create Your Own Mini Art
  • Aug. 22 – Michael Janosky, landscape paintings
  • Sept. 12 – Adrian Matejka, poet laureate of Indiana
  • Sept. 26 – Sylvia Gray, textile artist
  • Oct. 10 – Charlene Brown, paintings and drawings
  • Oct. 24, Nov. 14, 28, Dec. 12 – Artist TBA
  • Dec. 26 – Create Your Own Mini Art

*All events begin at noon


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