Born in Novokuznetsk, Siberia, Russia, and raised in Kharkov, Ukraine, Elena embodies much of that which is classic pre-Soviet Russia and Ukraine in her art. Steeped in the best in classical literature, arts and music, Elena derives her inspiration from nature, music and dance and brings them all to life in her paintings in new, imaginative and magical ways.
It has been said that viewing Elena’s art awakens positive emotions.
Elena has been awarded top medals in the juried Germany-based International Competition de Reshelie in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Her paintings have been used for book covers, illustrations for published poetry and children’s books, and music festival advertising posters. After the 2014 competition, she was featured in an article in the July-September 2014 issue of Russians in America magazine, published in New York City.
November 2017 through January 2018, Elena had a solo exhibit in the Kentucky Gateway Museum, located in Maysville, Kentucky.
Elena has had solo annual exhibits of her art in such places as the Motorists Insurance Headquarters Gallery, the Bexley Ohio Library, as well as having had exhibits in the Copious Restaurant, Evangelia Gallery and the Catarina Gallery in Columbus, Ohio, and the Blue Cottage Gallery in Put-In-Bay, Ohio. She has also exhibited in Florida and Kentucky. Elena’s art is featured in homes and professional offices in central Ohio, as well as private collections across America and in Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Israel, Canada, Mexico, Taiwan and Japan.
Music and drawing have always gone side by side in the life of Elena. In childhood, she drew from reproductions of Rafael and Leonardo da Vinci. She was infatuated with drawing portraits in particular. At age 13 she finished music school for piano and continued to take private piano lessons. At age 17, Elena was admitted to Kharov Engineering Institute in Kharkov, Ukraine. While studying at the Institute, she also intensively studied piano, preparing for entrance to music college. After completing her engineering degree, Elena was admitted to music college on the last grade by examination and completed her diploma one year later.
After graduating, she was able to put her artistic talents to work in primary schools as both a music leader and as a school artist. Also, Elena spent years guiding the education and music studies of her son, Illya. All the while her pencils and paints were close at hand.
In 2000, Elena immigrated to the United States with her then 13 year old son, Illya. At this point Illya was already seriously playing piano. “My ears continued to listen to Illya, but my presence by his side was not necessary anymore.” Elena said. “And at this time my passion for drawing grew even stronger.”
Elena began painting on trays and plates in Russian folk style, but she gave them her own attitude. Her passion expanded, and canvases became her primary focus. Themes for her works are taken from everything that is beauty and from what her soul feels, including still life, landscapes, fairytale themes, her own imagination and abstract. Elena draws a lot of dancers and ballerinas. As Elena says, “Dance as a means of expressing emotions through movements always was a huge inspiration for me.” She brings together nature and dance in a new way, and when you see her paintings you feel music.
Elena’s works have flourished in various styles and mediums, including oil, watercolor, pastel and acrylic. She was first noticed for her use of the colorful and detailed Russian Palekh and Zhostovo styles on trays, plates and boxes.
Elena’s canvases speak by color and bring her fresh point of view to life. Her paintings give breath to a feeling of movement, emotion and expression.
Elena, who became a United States citizen in 2005, makes her home in Columbus, Ohio with her husband David Burwell, who has been extremely supportive of her and her son from their first days in the country. She is the proud mother of Illya Filshtinskiy, an accomplished pianist and graduate of The Juilliard School and with advanced music degrees from The Manhattan School of Music and the Mannes School of Music. Elena, still a fine pianist, teaches piano lessons, as well as teaching art classes in her home when she is not busy with brush in hand.