Inspiration Anastasia Shimshilashvili: Realism and the #ShimaMethod

Ardak Kassenova

A life full of love and art inspiration plus a career that is equally successful and fulfilling, let’s shine the spotlight on our ZenARTist of January 2021. Let’s take a look at the personal and professional life of Anastasia Shimshilashvili, also known in the art world as Shima.  

Early Life in Moscow
Art Inspiration from an Early Age
Art Inspiration and Life in London
Collaboration with ZenART – Proudly our Brand Ambassador
Latest Book “Pencil Portrait – Drawing Techniques A-to-Z”
Select Pieces from Shima’s Body of Work

Anastasia Romanovna Shimshilashvili is a London-based artist, author and teacher who creates realistic paintings whilst running her own successful YouTube Art channel ART Shima. Shima developed a comprehensive teaching method called the #shimamethod that has helped many aspiring artists all over the world create beautiful art. She has published her first art textbook in Russia based on her acclaimed teaching methods and her latest book “PENCIL PORTRAIT: Drawing Techniques A to Z” published in Russian through the support of ZenART Supplies has just been released and available on Amazon UK and Germany this February.  We are now working on an English version of the book and it will be available towards the end of 2021, which we’ll be happy to offer through our website.

Early Life in Moscow

Shima was born on the 31st of August 1987 in Moscow, Russia to a lovely family of four. Her parents Tatiana Kurasova and Roman Shimshilashvili are both professionals who fully supported Shima’s artistic development. Tatiana is a scholar, a graduate of the Philosophy Faculty at Moscow State University and currently doing academic research on rare plants. Her father Roman, a graduate from Plekhanov Institute of Economics and Trade currently works in trade and commerce. Shima’s sister, Hristina Nikiforova, completed a PhD in Genetics from the Biology Faculty of Moscow State University and later established her very own artisan leather goods business.

art inspiration - Moscow State University by I.s.kopytov CC BY-SA 4.0, commons.wikimedia.org
Moscow State University by I.s.kopytov CC BY-SA 4.0, commons.wikimedia.org

Born and raised in the country’s center of historic transformation, Shima grew up surrounded by the sophisticated culture of contemporary Moscow. She received all the encouragement and art inspiration needed as a child from her family. From a young age she attended the local drawing club. On top of all her fine art studies, Shima completed music school specializing in piano and for 7 years was a soloist in a choir. Not only was she excelling in music, Shima was also engaged in professional ballroom dancing for 7 years simultaneously.

Art inspiration - Anastasia Shimshilashvili childhood photo
Shima’s photo from childhood

Shima’s earliest exposure to fine art came through a very unlikely source—her love for sports. Her grandmother, Alla Mihailenko who is a professional athlete has greatly influenced her granddaughter’s passion in sports.

Art inspiration - Anastasia Shimshilashvili from childhood
Shima is a great swimmer, and since childhood loves sports

Coincidentally, the prestigious Art Lyceum — under the auspices of the Russian National Academy of Arts — had an exceptional sports complex complete with a swimming pool and Olympic gold medalists for coaches. Shima simply had to get admitted. Through the help of her grandmother Alla, Shima endeavoured to learn how to draw remarkably well in six months to be able to utilise the benefits of the lyceum’s sports complex. In 1998, Shima got accepted into the Moscow State Academy Art Lyceum of The Russian Academy of Arts.

Moscow State Academy Art Lyceum of the Russian Academy of Arts
Exhibition of works of the students of Moscow State Academy Art Lyceum of The Russian Academy of Arts

Art Inspiration from an Early Age

A large part of Shima’s knowledge and skill, dedication and work discipline, as well as her painting style, was formed in her years at the Art Lyceum. It was a whole family effort, as well. Her father, Roman would drive her to school for an hour every morning and her mother Tatiana would pick her up everyday after school.

Art inspiration - Anastasia Shimshilashvili self portrait from 2001
Self-portrait in Red. 2001. Oil on canvas. 55 x 75 cm.

Thanks to her hard work and art inspiration under the supervision of her teachers and the extensive curriculum at the Art Lyceum, Shima effectively expanded her artistic skills in preparation for her professional development as a painter — from painting, art history, anatomy, academic drawing, composition to sculpture. Shima also learnt that anatomy is a key factor to a painter’s freedom in visual form and style, an important component of the #shimamethod.

Art inspiration - Anastasia Shimshilashvili self portrait detail shot from 2001
Detail shot. Self-portrait in Red. 2001. Oil on canvas. 55 x 75 cm.

She grasped the significance of educating oneself with the works of the great masters but above all, it is where she discovered the importance of learning from friends and colleagues.

As part of the Lyceum’s curriculum, the students travel to different cities for field trips and art inspiration which culminates into exhibitions of art related to the previous trip. This enabled Shima to regularly showcase her art, and on her final exhibition at 11th grade, her artwork got selected for admission into the prestigious Surikov Art Institute, Russian Academy of Arts exempting her from the rigorous selection process of the institute.

Art inspiration - Anastasia Shimshilashvili painting from 2003
Solovetsky Islands. 2003, currently in London UK. Oil on wood. 50 х 75 cm.

Shima started attending the Faculty of Painting at the Surikov Art Institute in 2005 as a logical progression of her education from the Art Lyceum and in 2006, Shima earned admission into the Department of Monumental Art at the institute. It’s in this department that she learnt various material technologies like making mosaics, stained glass and church frescoes as well as a deeper understanding of oil painting and techniques. In 2009, Shima completed her bachelor’s degree in Monumental Art and earned her master’s degree in 2011.

Boats. 2005, currently in London, UK. Oil on wood. 40 x 75 cm.

Art Inspiration and Life in London

Life after school was colourful and full of opportunities for Shima. She began teaching online even before it was a popular channel for learning. Soon after graduating from the institute, Shima started developing her very own method of teaching academic drawing and painting online through video communication. Her method allows for teaching any technique through drawing in Photoshop, where the student can see even closer the whole process and explanations in more detail. Shima established her YouTube art channel in 2012 to help aspiring artists learn everything about drawing, painting, where she generously shares art inspiration, her tutorials and best art practices.

Art inspiration - Anastasia Shimshilashvili YouTube channel Art Shima
Shima’s YouTube channel with drawing and painting tutorials has over 262K raving fans at the time of writing, plus many more on IG

At the same time, Shima accepted commissioned portrait works on pieces where she has the complete trust of the collector and the freedom of artistic expression. Portraits have always been a big part of Shima’s Art practice. When asked about this matter, she shared that what she loves about working on portraits is the diversity of people and their character as well as the details and texture of their clothing which are usually intricately tied to their cultural background.

Art inspiration - Anastasia Shimshilashvili with husband Darshan
Anastasia with her husband Darshan during the reception of her personal exhibition in London “Colour & Tone,” 2019

Moving to London, meant being in one of the biggest centers of contemporary art in the world. Shima was selected and invited to join major art groups and exhibitions in the city like the Royal Society of British Artists where she won multiple times, The Biennial Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize, The Other Art Fair, New English Art Club Annual Exhibition, the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition, The Pastel Society and the Society of Women Artists amongst others. Shima also participated in the Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2017 and Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 TV shows.

Art inspiration - Anastasia Shimshilashvili painting Mark Grattis portrait during Sky Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 show
Anastasia painting Mark Gattis portrait (which he chose) during the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 Show;

Collaboration with ZenART – Proudly our Brand Ambassador

We’re thrilled to share that Shima is ZenART Brand Ambassador and is collaborating with us on several long-term projects. Throughout 2020 she was closely working with me, in testing and giving her expert advice for our latest Virtuoso line of Artist Watercolour products. Expect to see more of Shima’s artwork in the coming months as she’s created the featured artworks for this upcoming collection of watercolour paints and paper pads. 

We are currently working together to open to the public a brand-new Art Shima School – with lots of art inspiration, amazing video courses based on #shimamethod – in different mediums, first in Russian, and later translated into English.

Art inspiration - Anastasia Shimshilashvili with ZenART founder Ardak Kassenova
After the meeting discussing the collaboration – Anastasia and Ardak at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2020
Art inspiration - Anastasia Shimshilashvili with ZenART Renoir and Artist's Choice brushes
Shima loves our Renoir Collection and Artist’s Choice brush sets for her oil painting.
Art inspiration - Anastasia Shimshilashvili used ZenART Infinity Series oil paints
Recently, Shima started using our Infinity Series oil paints and we are in a process of creating new master-classes on Materials and Oil painting for beginners based on #shimamethod, including amazing portrait courses

Pencil Portrait – Drawing Techniques A to Z

In 2015 a Russian publisher “AST” published Shima’s self-instruction art book How to Learn to Draw: A simple guide to all techniques (ISBN 9785171003692) – based on her teaching methods. It was a great success, with 3000 copies sold out in the first three days. 

This February we’re excited to launch together her second book, Pencil Portrait – Drawing Techniques A to Z — a result of fifteen fruitful years of teaching art. When asked as to what inspired her to publish a more comprehensive art textbook, Shima shared that in writing each of her books, she was motivated by the successes of her students. The books are also influenced by her students’ questions. A decade and a half of teaching made it possible to thoroughly study which exercises are most effective, and which knowledge and skills are prerequisites and priorities. Fifteen years of weighing and weeding out lessons and activities. This significantly helped speed up the learning timeline to move up to more complex lessons like drawing a portrait.

Art inspiration - Anastasia Shimshilashvili book Pencil Portrait Drawing Techniques A to Z
“Pencil Portrait – Drawing Techniques A to Z” Russian original is published through the support of ZenART Supplies. Available on Amazon UK and Germany, February 2021.

In Pencil Portrait – Drawing Techniques A to Z, Shima put together all of her findings, art inspiration, all the necessary stages of work and anatomical moments so that after studying the book, even a novice artist would be able to draw a portrait. The book not only contains the descriptions of each level but also includes specific exercises designed to be performed prior to starting a stage. To help artists further, Shima included detailed analyses of all the equally important parts of the portrait—eyes, nose, mouth, as well as the ears, hair, neck, and shoulder girdle. The book is published to the highest standards, hardcover with over 200 original illustrations by Shima with very detailed step-by-step instructions – a truly amazing content and pleasure for the eyes. We are sure this long-awaited book will be a great gift for yourself or an artist you know.

“Pencil Portrait – Drawing Techniques A to Z” – hot off the press – first copy signed by Anastasia for ZenART founders Roberto & Ardak – just before the third lock-down  

The book will also tackle necessary knowledge and understanding of the laws of chiaroscuro, composition, shading in form, and sketching. As I mentioned above, Pencil Portrait – Drawing Techniques A to Z is available in Russian original copy and published with the support of ZenART Supplies. And of course, for the English speakers in our community, an English version is in the works and will be available towards the end of 2021 so don’t miss that!

Selected Pieces from Shima’s Body of Work

Indeed having the knowledge and skill to create art in various forms using a multitude of mediums allowed Shima to produce professional art that is not only beautifully and correctly composed, but also loved by collectors and arts enthusiasts. Now that we learnt much about this amazing artist, teacher and author, let’s take a look at some recent pieces from Anastasia Shimshilashvili’s body of work.

Reflection. 2017. Watercolour on paper. 67 x 40 cm.
Aspiration. 2018. Oil on canvas. 70 x 70 + 120 x 70 + 70 x 70 cm triptych

City. 2018. Watercolour on paper. 70 x 52 cm.
Magic Light. 2019. Oil on canvas. 120 x 70 cm.
Adam & Eve. 2021. Oil on canvas. 100 x 100 cm.

Say hello to our ZenARTist for January 2021, our Brand Ambassador – Anastasia Shimshilashvili! What questions do you have for Shima? Don’t forget to leave them below. We’d love to hear your questions and thoughts!

Ardak Kassenova, ZenART Supplies co-founder, @ardak_zenart

Ardak Kassenova is a London based contemporary artist, co-founder and creative director of ZenART Supplies. Her visual style—contemporary impressionism—share similar aesthetic qualities with those by the French Impressionists. After 20 years of a successful corporate career, becoming a mother to two wonderful girls, and with the continuous development of her practice by taking private lessons from the best artists she could find; Ardak decided it’s time to align her life with her true passion, Art. Driven by this passion and her corporate leadership background, she co-founded ZenART.

My heart and soul were always with Art, and since my childhood as long as I remember myself, I was dreaming to be an artist. I was painting after work, when I had time, and teaching myself through the books, videos, visiting art galleries and museums. I’ve been very curious about different techniques and styles, and therefore accumulated knowledge and experience on a variety of mediums.” 

Read more about Ardak Kassenova in this feature. Say hello to @ardak_zenart on Instagram!


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