Our new Olena’s Garden journal series features the vibrant and captivating work of Olena Skytsiuk, a celebrated Petrykivka artist.

Since the 17th century, Petrykivka painting has been a common sight in the Cossack settlements of the Dnyepr River region of Ukraine. One unique element of this artistic tradition is the use of fine brushes made of cat hair, which create the characteristic profusion of ever-so-delicate brush strokes you can see in these covers.

For a long time, Petrykivka painting remained a local folk craft, passed down from generation to generation without receiving much acknowledgment as an art form. The genre was on the verge of disappearing when, in 1936, a Petrykivka schoolteacher opened a school of decorative arts and invited one of the few remaining practitioners to train future artists. Gradually, qualified professionals became the guardians of this manner of painting.

Olena Skytsiuk’s background as a Petrykivka painter combines formal training received from the Lviv National Academy of Arts with her own family tradition. Her mother came from Petrykivka and was a distinguished painter whose artworks would be presented as state gifts to foreign dignitaries. Now Olena is working in the same genre, creating ornamental pictures bursting with colour and swirls of lively detail. Compared to traditional paintings, dominated by red, yellow and green, Olena’s colour scheme can be described as more sophisticated due to the abundance of shades employed in her compositions.


In this Moonlight cover design, Skytsiuk’s colour tones appear as if the night has cast a shroud of shade over a lush floral ornament.


In this Dayspring cover design, the lush floral ornament looks drenched in sunlight, as if each colour was transformed into a brighter, more fantastic version of its usual self.

No artistic tradition can remain fully unchanged over time, but an artist can honour its essence even in a contemporary setting. Owing to the talents of masters such as Olena Skytsiuk, the Petrykivka style of painting continues to be a living, distinct form of folk art inspired by a guileless cherishing of the bountiful Ukrainian nature.

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About Paperblanks: 25 years ago, we created Paperblanks to help keep book heritage alive and vital in our modern age, and to offer an inspiring space for people to express themselves. Thanks for joining us on this journey! For more about Paperblanks, go to our website at paperblanks.com.


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