Back home in Siberia, Russia, Margarita Burns studied bookkeeping and worked as the assistant to the president of British Petroleum’s Siberia branch. But after meeting online the American who is now her husband, she left her career behind when she moved to the U.S. 12 years ago. The couple settled in Anderson two years ago for her husband’s job.
That’s also when Burns started to explore a new art form: rock painting. “It’s like a mini-canvas,” she said. “If you don’t like it, you can wash it away and start over.”
And the subject she chose to focus on grew out of her heritage. “Russian dolls were stuck in my mind all the time,” she said. “I had all this knowledge of Russian culture and folk dress and everything connected with it. And nobody else was painting Russian dolls on rock in detail like I do.”
Her main supply is a bag of smooth rocks from Home Depot, which she dumps on the grass to sort by color (white and gray) and shape. “I try to choose round or pearlike or egg shapes, close to a doll shape,” she said.
While she sells the individual rocks at Christmas and spring craft markets, she also likes to construct tableaus that call to mind Russian fairy tales, adding tiny gazebos, houses, animals, and flowers.
“I’m surprised how many people love this Russian doll,” she said. “They travel in Russia and purchase nesting dolls. Or some in Anderson have Russian roots. Or some people just simply love them.”
Margarita Burns, an AAG member, will share information about her process of creating these paintings at the next Anderson Artists Guild meeting on Monday, May 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the Anderson Arts Center.