Dinara Mirtalipova fell in love with folk art because of how it made her feel. Growing up in Uzbekistan, she doodled constantly as a way to satisfy her creative mind. After moving to the United States, the 34-year-old worked as a designer and illustrator for American Greetings in Cleveland. But when she gave birth to her first child in 2014, she left to be with her daughter and focus on her blossoming freelance career that included a line of folk art hand towels, greeting cards and art prints. Soon other artists on social media became enthralled by her whimsical figures and richly detailed but organic designs and wanted to know more about her techniques. So Mirtalipova, who designed the 2016 holiday boxes and displays for Godiva chocolates, wrote the instructional art book, Imagine a Forest, which debuted in February. “It’s about finding what makes you happy and not being afraid to put it on paper,” she says. Here, Mirtalipova teaches us how to draw matryoshka dolls, something she grew up painting in her Uzbekistan culture.
The outline: Draw a circle as the head and a larger circle underneath as the body. Afterward, draw two lines that connect the two to make the figure’s form. “You can have fun and play with the circle [sizes],” says Mirtalipova. “Because it’s a restricted shape, your brain really works to figure out what she will look like.”
The face: One of Mirtalipova’s favorite parts of painting the figures is deciding on each woman’s expression. “I like to make them look mischievous or like they have a secret,” she says.
The design: Get creative by choosing what your figure will be wearing — an apron or a scarf — and then add details and designs. But Mirtalipova suggests sticking to just three colors. “The simplicity makes it attractive,” she explains. “As a small-scale artist, I really like to take time with my paintings and add as many decorations as I can.”