The Pastel Society Young Artist Award Winner 2022 – Tanya Avchinnikova

Unison Colour has had a long history with The Pastel Society and we have sponsored the Young Artist Award for some years now. Last year we changed the way in which we sponsored the category by working with the artist for a whole year, providing them with soft pastels and having one of our Associate Artists be a mentor.

Tanya Avchinnikova profile photo.
Tanya Avchinnikova

This year we chose Tanya Avchinnikova’s painting ‘Crosby beach. Hiding in the dunes” – an eye catching, expressive painting with fantastic mark making. Helen Bullock (our Associate Artist Account Manager) caught up with Tanya during a recent Zoom to ask her a couple of questions.

Have you always been a pastel artist? And why did you choose pastel as a medium as opposed to other mediums such as oil?

I’ve been painting for a little more than 4 years. And almost all this time I’ve been working with soft pastels, when my hobby, which I actually always took very serious, grows into something bigger, something essential and I’d say vitally important. 

There was a very short time when I tried oil and watercolour which I brought with me from China, where I lived and worked for two years before I came to the UK. 

Four years ago, before moving to the UK, I found a box of pastels at home. I still don’t know where they came from. I’ve tried them and I loved it them. They have such a beautiful velvety texture; I also love the fragile nature of the pastel which makes them very special. I started to research more about this medium by watching reviews, tutorials and learning about different brands. And that’s how I discovered Unison Colour soft pastels. Purchasing two soft pastel sticks was the first thing I did when came here. That’s how my adventure started. 

Crosby beach, by Tanya Avchinnikova.
Crosby Beach, by Tanya Avchinnikova

Can you tell us about your winning artwork – Crosby Beach. Hiding in the Dunes?

It was inspired by my recent discovery of Crosby beach in Liverpool. Those gorgeous dunes have left a big impression! Dunes, covered by fluffy airy-grass and beautiful sea is a perfect tandem which always inspires and brings calmness. I wanted to capture a sunny day, taste of salty wind and that wonderful grass, casting long purple shadows on warm sand. 

Usually in my works I try to make an illusion of ‘presence right there in the moment’ when you look at the picture. When I am creating, I like to take an object, or detail of an object, and I try to look at it closer to find the main feature of it. That’s what I also wanted to do in this work.

Why did you choose Unison Colour soft pastels?

They are amazing! Because they are very versatile in terms of hardness/softness, and in most cases, you can paint entire picture using only them. The palette is vibrant, yet so natural with complex tonal values. As they are handmade, you know that you are holding a stick which was entirely rolled and individually wrapped by a real person, who has put their soul into it, makes the pastels so special and filled with energy, which is so important in art. 

Where do you find your inspiration?

It’s very interesting to think about it. Since I was 6 years old, I’ve been playing the piano, graduated from conservatoire. And practicing a lot – this is what I used to do. And the more you practice, the more often the inspiration comes to you. 

I think the same laws work in painting. I find inspiration in daily practicing, sketching, observing nature around, listening to its sounds and listening to the colours. I particularly love abandoned places, where you feel a deep unity with nature and where you can feel vibrations. I think being a musician plays a big role as music and art are those two things in life which are in dialog all of the time. Sometimes I see a place and it reflects some harmonies in my head, as well as when I hear harmonies, I see colours. The colour of the key – most important thing is that your interpretations will depend on – this definition is the most important in art too. Making music all your life makes you spiritualize things. So, in everything you see a soul, and it’s very motivating. Also reading scientific books about physics and quantum mechanics, I also find very exciting and inspiring in terms of many laws which explain why we artists actually do what we are doing. 

What are your plans for the future?

To keep learning and creating. I could have called myself a self-taught artist, but it’s not true.  I read books written by talented people, I do meet wonderful artists in exhibitions, and all this inspires to generate new ideas.  I would like to continue working on combining painting and music. I am currently involved in an interesting project with my good friend who is also pianist. We will be exploring the nature and its influences on music, poetry, and painting. 

Find Tanya on Instagram at

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4 Responses

  1. Her work is so lovely and I already follow her on Instagram. I’m also in the north west UK and know these dunes and beaches, they are my one of my favourite places too. I also love Unison pastels!

  2. (Translated)Beautiful painting! Now I wish I was in that quiet place!
    Congratulations Tanya, you do an amazing job!
    Greetings from Santiago de Chile.
    (Original)Bello cuadro! Ahora yo desearía estar en ese tranquilo lugar!
    Muchas felicidades Tanya, hace un increíble trabajo!
    Un saludo desde Santiago de Chile.

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