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Artist Craig Srebnik returns full force from sabbatical

Artist, teacher, dancer and author Craig Srebnik returns after sebatical


The best art gallery in Lake Oswego just might be in Craig Srebnik’s home.

This outstanding artist is searching for a warehouse to hold his collection of paintings, but for now, he’s stashed them in just about every nook, cranny or corner he can find in his house.

On display are many of his nude figure paintings, which are mainly responsible for his eminence in the art world. Then there the Impressionist-style paintings of landscapes and street scenes. Then there are the simple portraits. These paintings can make you believe you are truly appreciating the beauty of the human face for the first time.

Srebnik may need more than an entire warehouse after all — he’s decided to become a full-time artist again. The task, he said, sounds a bit daunting.

“Getting back to the limelight is going to take a lot of work,” Srebnik said, slightly shaking his head.

A couple years ago, Srebnik gave up the limelight of his thriving artistic career because he wanted to be the caregiver for Ed Srebnik, his ailing father who recently died at age 84. Now, he is helping his mother, Roslyn, adjust to a new time in her life.

“I wanted to give back to the people who have given the most to me,” Srebnik said.

Even though he got off the fast track of the art world for a time, it seems he will come back stronger than ever. Art has always had a greater pull on Srebnik than he could ever resist. Srebnikc has been an artist, teacher and has even developed a side career as a ballet dancer. Whenever Srebnik got away from art — art would come looking for him.

As a child, Srebnik liked every kind of artistic endeavor that he encountered, music, literature writing — and he was good at them. However, “for practical reasons,” he went into a career of business and advertising.

“Coke, Pepsi, I did all that kind of stuff,” Srebnik said. “I was like those guys on ‘Mad Men.’ But I still had this strange drive to do art.”

The strange drive proved fruitful. Srebnik has received 28 national awards. His work has appeared in the most prestigious art publications. His paintings have been shown in 60 national juried and five museum exhibitions and in galleries throughout the United States and Europe.

Sinuous, romantic, classic, masterful: These are the words critics have used to describe Srebnik’s work. Still, the story behind all of these honors and achievements is much richer than a mere listing. Ironically, it was Srebnik’s experience as a “Mad Man” that helped lift him to such unique success as an artist.

“I developed my career by advertising in all of the art magazines,” he said. “I was one of the first artists to go on the Internet to market my work. I built a lot of my own clientele. I cultivated my own clients and my own students.

“I went against the advice I got and advertised my nudes in magazines. Now I am mainly known as a figure painter. Eighty percent of my sales are of nudes. I kind of homesteaded in that marketplace.”

Where Srebnik led, other artists followed. But while establishing his reputation as an artist, he was also branched out as a teacher and even a dancer. Srebnik has the happy knack for turning coincidences into excellent career moves.

“When I was in New York I met these great French people,” he said. “I ended up going to Paris.” He now goes to Paris every September to teach in the Louvre.

A former gymnast at Portland State University, Srebnik originally wanted to find a good place to work out. Luckily, he joined a gym where the instructor had previously been the lead dancer in “A Chorus Line,” and one of the members was a prima ballerina. Through circumstance — and talent — Srebnik ended up in the Pacific Festival Ballet Company.

Today Srebnik is also busy as a teacher.

“I work on projects with my students,” Srebnik said. “I want them to learn doing the real thing. Otherwise they just are good at art exercises. I have them do the real thing from day one.”

Srebnik paints with his students three to five days a week, and he does even more with students who plan to become professional artists. He has also written many instructional books for aspiring artists on subjects ranging from how to paint to how to build their careers. Srebnik now is planning another book, something completely different.

“No one has given an art history from a real artist’s point of view,” he said. “I’m looking at doing a book that is in terms of what is an artist’s view and what is an artist’s goal.”

His sabbatical from the art world only made him more ambitious.

“I have a drive to do art that never stops,” he said. “That drive has been pent up for a little while.”

For more information about Srebnik and to view his work, visit http://csfineart.com.

REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE




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