Inspiration Ayna Paisley: Encaustic Art and Contemporary Impressionism

Ardak Kassenova

Ayna Paisley and her creative journey. What is encaustic painting? Then we take a look at Ayna’s body of work.

A life full of love from her family and friends, a growing patronage by her supportive audience, and an emerging career that is as colorful and vibrant as her artworks, let’s shine the spotlight on our ZenARTist of March 2021. Let’s take a look at the personal and professional life of contemporary artist Ayna Paisley.

Early Life in Africa and Russia
Life of Art in Moscow
Encaustic Art: What is it?
The Shift to London
Selected Paintings from Ayna’s Body of Work

Ayna Paisley is a self-taught London-based artist who is noted for her dream-like mixed media paintings. Growing up in Moscow with artist parents, Ayna started her journey with a very traditional approach to art. However, she set aside traditional techniques to experiment with fresh ideas and explore the possibilities of mixed media.

Ayna also teaches her techniques and creative approach to art and inspires many artists. Her body of work comprises peculiar contemporary pieces created with gouache, watercolor, acrylic, encaustic medium, and oil, juxtaposed with paper collages and vintage imagery. Ayna has exhibited her artworks in London, UK, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, Russia.

Photo of Ayna working from her website aynapaisley.com

“I remember going to the Louvre in Paris and seeing Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, I realized how absolutely tiny she is, sitting in her glass box. So many people standing around her, trying to get a glance above everyone’s head, trying to take a photo of her. I remember being so fascinated, not exactly with the painting, but with what it does to people—how powerful art can be.”
—Ayna Paisley

Early Life in Africa and Russia

Ayna Paisley was born on the 1st of December 1989 in Moscow, Russia to artistic parents Magomed Magomedov and Elmira Magomedova, who persistently encouraged their daughter’s creative pursuits. Her mother, Elmira, is a fashion designer and runs her own clothing brand; her father, Magomed, is an artist and a photo editor for a big publishing house in Moscow. 

Ayna’s drawing from when she was 6 years old. Felt pen, and regular ballpoint pen on A4 paper (1996)

Leaving Moscow only at the age of two, Ayna spent the majority of the first decade of her life with her grandparents in Tunisia, North Africa. Both her grandparents worked as doctors in the 90s and lived in Nefta, an oasis town situated in the southwestern area of the country. Ayna lived there until she was 7 years old. It is here that she discovered her natural inclination to making art. 

In 1997, Ayna moved back to Moscow, a 7-year old child who spent her formative years in a totally different country. She had some difficulty fitting in with her new classmates and would often prefer to be in her own company. Later, she was transferred to an art-centric primary school where she made friends and finally felt she belonged. 

Ayna had an artful childhood as her parents encouraged her to pursue art throughout her early life. In the 90s, both her parents made a considerable income as street artists—right at the turning point of Moscow’s contemporary art scene—painting portraits of tourists.

A traditional intricately brick-decorated structure along a cobbled and narrow street inside the medina in Nefta, Tunisia.

She had been drawing and painting as early as her tender years in Tunisia until after she was 15 when she stopped painting altogether. After failing her final exams, her confidence took a bad hit prompting her to eventually drop out to pursue a different career.

“I was 14 and got my hands on a book with reproductions of great masters of the past. In it, I saw the Madonna Sistina (ca. 1513-14)by Raphael and thought this is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. I remember sitting down and meticulously trying to copy the beauty of her face and posture because the book was not mine and I couldn’t bear the thought of parting with her when the book has to be given back.”
—Ayna Paisley 

Much as the exact opposite of most early life stories of successful, self-taught artists like Ayna, her parents urged her to take up an arts-related degree, however, because she hadn’t yet developed her confidence to pursue art at that time, she took up Journalism instead. 

Life of Art in Moscow

Ayna completed her degree in Journalism at the Moscow State University in 2012 and worked as a junior assistant in a magazine shortly after graduating. Ayna hadn’t held a brush until 2016, just 5 years ago, when she left her job as an editor in Glamour Russia magazine. It is then that she decided to start painting again as a form of therapy. And couldn’t stop anymore.

Ayna Paisley with the Glamour Russia team during her journalism days.

Ayna’s career as a financially sustainable contemporary artist began blooming online through social media. She calls herself a “good example” of how social media can help shape one’s future and open doors for endless possibilities. She started sharing her art and her story through Instagram and slowly but steadily, people began subscribing to her content. Today, her Instagram @littlepeanutdraws has 25,100 very engaged followers.

Ayna Paisley’s Instagram account @littlepeanutdraws where she shares her art practice.

Her approach? Just be the real you. Ayna loves to share her practice, she entertains questions by aspiring artists and also shares a glimpse of her life including her travels to different cities and sneak peeks into work in progress collections for new exhibitions.

She emphasizes the importance of focusing on your art and practice more than just the number of followers or the creation of content. For her, social media is only a tool to share her art with a broader audience and we couldn’t agree more.

Ayna doing plein air painting in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Such a supportive community inspired Ayna to keep going even amidst times of creativity blocks. Ayna developed her art practice continuously experimenting on a varied range of mediums from gouache, watercolor, acrylics, pastels, pencils, crayons and paper. All this she shared with her audience through social media and she is grateful for her background in journalism as it became instrumental in expressing herself well with her art audience, skills that made it easier to communicate her story in engaging ways.

Ayna in one of her encaustic classes in Moscow.

Ayna’s desire to share her knowledge and help aspiring artists eventually grew into a passion for teaching. She started teaching through her YouTube channel and later tried doing live demos and workshops for big groups of students.

Because of her success and the genuine passion to teach, Ayna was invited to film her first online masterclass  through a big art school in Russia on encaustic painting, a technique she is notable for. 

Encaustic Art: What is it?

Ayna is known for her encaustic art. So what exactly is encaustic art? Encaustic art is a piece created by encaustic painting or hot wax painting. It is a mixed media technique that includes using heated wax combined with colored pigments. The pigmented melted wax, either in liquid or paste form is then applied to a surface like paint—usually on primed wood or canvas.

Untitled (2019) encaustic painting by Ayna Paisley

The Shift to London

In early 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic, Ayna decided to move from Moscow to London. She admitted that it was very difficult to relocate in the middle of a global crisis, to start a new chapter in another big city, far from the comfort of familiarities in Moscow that she’s known for most of her life.

It is worth the journey as London, being one of the major art capitals in the world, would open endless possibilities and offer good opportunities for Ayna to network and level-up her practice..

Ayna Paisley uses  ZenART Renoir Collection brushes for her oil and acrylic paintings.  We’re happy to mention that Ayna Paisley is also a ZenART Supplies Ambassador.

London by far has been a good decision. Ayna began feeling subtle positive shifts in her career. She started reaching a broader audience coming from different countries, she’s been selected to exhibit her art in several commercial galleries around the city, and she feels more accepted and appreciated by the London art scene despite the lockdowns and quarantines in place. Here, she sees a vast and supportive community of creators that she’s proud to be part of. 

Ayna with her encaustic pieces up on exhibitions in Moscow and London respectively.

Today in her new home, Ayna continues to create a diverse range of pieces including large format canvases, smaller formats on paper, collages with peculiar and quirky narratives using vintage imagery of people, animals, birds, and plants.

On top of that, Ayna creates monoprints, textured landscape, and floral pieces with unique mark-making—mastering all these mediums and techniques while maintaining her distinct contemporary impressionist visual style. She teaches regularly through different online platforms like YouTube, and Skillshare and plans to get back into teaching in actual offline classes once the situation permits.

Ayna also runs a subscription-based blog where she shares her experiences and art practice in a more detailed yet laid-back format.

 Parting (2020) by Ayna Paisley, 70 x 150 cm mixed media piece on the cover The Society of Women Artists 159th Annual Open Exhibition in 2020.

Selected Pieces from Ayna’s Body of Work

Living a life full of art and encouragement from the people around her gave Ayna the courage to just be whatever she wanted to be. Today, her collection of encaustic art exudes the dream-like qualities of the French Impressionists’ paintings, injected  with the right amount of nostalgic air, rendered with remarkable colors vibrating with energy. Let’s take a look at some recent pieces from Ayna Paisley’s body of work.

Seeing Me Seeing You (2021) Encaustic painting,  40 x 40 cm
White Butterfly (2020) Encaustic painting, 30 x 40 cm
Sel De Mer (2021) Mixed Media, 30 x 30 cm
Pimlico (2020) Gouache, 30 x 42 cm
Pink Bouquet (2021) Mixed Media 30 x 35 cm
South Kensington (2020) Mixed media, 56 x 32 cm

Say hello to our ZenARTist for March 2021, Ayna Paisley! Do you have questions for Ayna? Seeing all the rich colors and the encaustic artworks in this article makes me want to paint more. Tell us what you’ll be painting next in the comment section below! Let’s start a conversation!

Inspired by this feature story? Then you will like our toolkit article: Rainbow Colors of the Impressionists.


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!

Ayna Paisley bio, on her website, https://www.aynapaisley.com/bio
Parting (2020) by Ayna Paisley on the cover The Society of Women Artists 159th Annual Open Exhibition, https://onlinegalleryswa.oess1.uk/