Artists in Our Town

Larisa Aukon, Latvian Artist

By Margaret Roberts | Mar 15, 2017
Photo by: Donated photo Larisa Aukon

If this artist’s name isn’t familiar to you, it is because she is definitely not a Haywood County artist.

She hails from Riga, Latvia, but is now a U.S. citizen. I first saw her work when I was on a camping trip in Utah. We were visiting a National Park that was sponsoring a plein air art competition. She was the first place winner and it was easy to see why. I have admired her work online for years and when I saw that she was conducting a workshop, I was able to coerce two friends to go with me to her class. I highly recommend taking a painting workshop away from home and with friends if possible. Our five days of classes involved talking about or creating art from morning until night each day.

Larisa Aukon is a totally engaging and unique artist and teacher. Her paintings and techniques are quite different from anything we had experienced before.  Growing up in the USSR offered opportunities and restrictions for a budding artist.

At the age of 12, Larisa was chosen to attend the prestigious Latvian Art School for Children after passing a stringent series of tests to judge her artistic capabilities. The school was free and stressed a classical art curriculum six days a week with homework for her Sunday off. From the sixth-grade, the students were taught the basics of drawing, composition, and all the elements of fine art until these principles became ingrained.

For the last 18 years, Larisa has called Arizona her home. After she became an established artist in Latvia, she came to visit relatives in Phoenix. She fell in love with the vibrant colors of the Southwest and has lived in the United States ever since.

She spends her time painting and teaching.  Her Latvian education and her creativity allow her to create masterfully mixed and layered colors.  She uses truly unique color combinations. This is why so many students are drawn to her classes.  She covers her canvasses with bold strokes of rich pigment, catching the natural light of her subject.  The original colors seep through the later paint additions which create a depth and brilliance.

It is difficult to explain and I encourage you to do a computer search for Larisa to see the full spectrum of her work.  She is represented by galleries all across the U.S. and is in many art publications.  She is frequently featured in Southwest Art, one of my favorite magazines.

What a wonderful opportunity this class was for me and even though I didn’t grasp the complexity of all of the information, she has inspired me to “paint more and paint more colorfully!”