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Olga Nikitina underwater artist

Olga Nikitina is a Russian artist and one of the new pioneers in the growing field of underwater painting. Olga also has a degree of Interior Design from Ulyanovsk State University (2006) – however her passion and calling is to the ocean – and more specifically, capturing the ocean’s art-forms on canvas – both above and below the ocean’ surface.

"Painting always was a big part of my life. But new work opportunities and environments gave me new inspiration – and a new direction for my paining.

In 2008 I became a scuba diver. In 2015 I became a scuba dive instructor and moved from Russia to live in Egypt.

The Red Sea is a very unique ocean - with its corals and amazing marine life. The empty monotonous desert landscape contrasts sharply with the bright colors and rich underwater life. But it’s not a secret that the marine environment is endangered nowadays, and we, as responsible citizens, need to care for and protect our ocean.

Scuba Divers witness the changes happening in the ocean – and can be among the first to raise the awareness of others to these growing problems. Nowadays most scuba divers have underwater cameras, to record the treasures and tragedies happening underwater – in this case evidence of the destruction of marine life. Art too, is a very effective tool and medium to communicate these messages.

The main focus of my painting is underwater marine life.

Underwater I have learnt not only about the many life-forms, but the shapes and colors of everything in that realm continue to blow my mind. After diving, when at home I work hard to remember what I have just seen underwater – and what I remember is not always exactly what I wish to show - this realization led me to underwater painting – taking a slow exposure photograph right next to my subject.

 I have been working as a dive instructor in Egypt for the last 5 years. I absolutely fell in love with the Red Sea, with its beautiful and colorful underwater life, spectacular drop-off views and magnificent coral reefs. I love to take underwater pictures but I feel as well that it is not enough to communicate my admiration for the Red Sea. I realize I can do it only through my soul – through my painting. And the best way to feel inspiration it is to be there, to be a part of marine life, to be immersed in the underwater environment.

The original pioneer of underwater painting was Andre Laban, the engineer of Cousteau’s team.

The first underwater boxes for cameras are his invention as well. He was a chemist, so he created a special cover for canvas and he found out what colors are possible to use underwater for painting, and that it is not toxic for the environment. He has been painting underwater for 20 years and his works are now all over the world. I can gratefully say that I am a follower of Andre Laban.

Painting underwater is completely different from traditional painting above the surface. When I am underwater I feel the ocean energy and unity with nature, silence around, only I can hear my breathing and sometimes fish rambling. It is easy to enter a trance state when painting underwater. Rays from the sun penetrating through the water are magical - you can see and feel that this is the point where two different worlds intersect and mix – and this is a favorite subject to reflect in my paintings.

I have been doing underwater painting for a few years. In Shams Safaga Diving Center we have a magnificent house reef – my underwater painting backyard. There is a big variety of shapes, colors, lights, and backgrounds to use as art subjects. Sometimes on a normal scuba dive I will see something really special – and look forward to recreating it on canvas with my colors, as soon as I can get to them.

I work at different depths below the surface, which affect the color spectrum you can see (as we know with depth we lose colors) and sometimes it is a big surprise on the surface seeing what I have painted below. One session takes anything from 30 minutes up to 2 hours – depending on air and decompression limits - and an assistant is necessary to help with equipment.

I believe that with my paintings more people will fall in love with the world of the sea, and become involved in the protection of our oceans for future generations to enjoy and wonder at. That is what I wish to come of these works and this experience in my life."

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