" ...""Mineral Drawings" 



The main goal of the artist is not reproduction of reality, but its understanding

Zing Hao, 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 of Science

     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 understand unfamiliar.
     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 beauty.
     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 mysterious.  

      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 wasnt vain. And they will serve both for scientific benefit, and for consolidation of strengths of Good and Beauty.

     All 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.

Victor A. Slyotov

"Mineral Drawings..."

"The closer man to the Nature, the longer his Art will live".
-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 condolence.
     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 gleaming.
      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 (school Go-Si).
      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 practical utilization.
     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 minerals.
      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 approach.
      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-artists 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 others 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 and joy.

Vladimir S. Makarenko

"My road to the Mineral World"

"Nature is as tireless in its creation of new forms
as an artist who reproduces these".
-P.M. Bicilli-

  I began 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. Thats 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. Heres shape, heres 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 its 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. Fersmans 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 Victors 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. Its 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! Its 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 still life.    

The books were published at the authors expenses, 'Mineralogical Almanac' ('Ocean Pictures'), Moscow, 2001-2004 

 "Mineral Drawings". Issue I.    "Mineral Drawings". Issue II     "Mineral Drawings". Issue III.


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