Originally from Moscow, Katya Minkina is an artist, animal and nature lover, and travel enthusiast living and working in Idaho.
Katya is one of those people who always wants to know more about every animal she meets. Several strong bonds with special furry and feathered companions have enriched her life and given her insight into their fascinating world.
She has explored many genres — like figure painting and drawing, landscapes and still life — but what has really captured her heart is painting animals, including custom pet portraits.
“When I paint something, I can feel a genuine connection to it,” she says. “Looking at a reference photo for the first time, I make a ‘pact’ with the pet that, with his or her permission and cooperation, I will do my best to capture his or her likeness and essence in my work.”
She loves painting cats because she finds their gaze so mesmerizing. Their other-worldliness is another popular point. “It’s hard to know what they really think or where you truly stand with them,” she says. “It sometimes seems like they don’t need our company, and yet they choose to let us into their world. I have seen how cats can magically work their way into the most hardened hearts of those who claim they don’t like cats or will never have one in their home.”
While Katya is unable to have her own pets right now, she never misses the chance to be in the presence of other peoples’ pets — both in real life and through painting. “I am grateful to have had a lot of inspiring painting sessions, and I’m looking forward to many more,” she says. “Years ago, before I felt confident to take commissions, I would get permission from various animal shelters to use their photos and offer them donations from my sales as a token of gratitude.” These portraits have now expanded beyond shelter animals and now count almost 400 paintings. Many of the portraits have found homes all over the United States, in Europe and in South America.
Katya says that being an artist doesn’t provide guarantees or even a sense of stability, but it offers a rare freedom to be in charge of your own life. “Any place along the way can become a temporary art studio,” she says. “I hope to be able to combine painting and traveling around the United States in the near future. My artist boyfriend and I recently purchased a decommissioned ambulance that has been converted into a camper. We can’t wait to take it on the road to travel to the most beautiful states and paint as we go.”
Learn more about Katya’s pet portraits at katyaminkina.com.
You can also check out her animal art on Instagram @fineart.katya.