Arts / Galleries

The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival’s New Featured Artist Is an International Tale of Perseverance — Regina Lyubovnaya Falls For Texas

The 19th Annual Arts Fest Promises More Artists, More Music and More Fun

BY // 02.24.24

Painter Regina Lyubovnaya, a first-time Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival artist in 2023, has been selected to be the featured artist for the beloved and prestigious arts bonanza in 2024.

Every year during The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival, staff and board members navigate their way through the festival to present The Best of Show awards. One of the coveted accolades includes an invitation to return the following year as the featured artist. The Arts Council asks the featured artist to generously donate original artwork that serves as the basis for the festival’s posters, T-shirts, children’s activities and more.

Ultimately, the featured artist’s work is also auctioned off at the Art Dash Party.

“We were inspired to feature an artist new to our festival, and Regina’s work resonated with so many people we spoke to,” Woodlands Arts Council executive director Jenny Carattini-Wright says. ” ‘Water Break’ has encouraged us all to contemplate what can be discovered when we stop and take the time to look around.

Lyubovnaya’s donated painting titled “Water Break” shows a young girl in a red dress pausing with her horse in a shallow waterway. The girl stares strikingly out at the viewer, arms resting on a tree branch and feet in the water.  

“I feel lucky every day to be painting, learning and discovering new things,” Lyubovnaya, who is based in Los Angeles, tells PaperCity The Woodlands. “When I was in The Woodlands, I just thought it was so beautiful. I love nature. I love animals. And I really connected with how it was almost the city hidden in the forest.

Elizabeth Anthony

Swipe
ASSAEL
OLYMPIA LE-TAN
EMILY P. WHEELER
EMILY P. WHEELER
MARIA OLIVER
KATHERINE JETTER
MEREDITH YOUNG
LEIGH MAXWELL
MEREDITH YOUNG
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1
  • Elizabeth Anthony Card Deck April 2024 1

“It was just so wonderfully designed and so clean and beautiful, almost manicured. So well taken care of. I really wanted to paint a piece that has nature, water and animals. It was my whole hearted intention to make this as beautiful as possible.”  

"Water Break" by Regina Lyubovnay
“Water Break” by Regina Lyubovnay

Before last year’s appearance at The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival, Lyubovnaya had only done shows on the West Coast. Now she is headlining the 19th annual festival that will showcase more than 200 artists and feature more than a dozen music acts.

“I just really started spreading my wings in the last two years after COVID,” Lyubovnaya says. “In the beginning, it was just really three shows very locally. And then the people I met at the shows kept saying, ‘Oh, it’s so nice in Texas.’ And then a really nice friend moved from Utah to Texas, and I actually got to stay with her and she just kept saying that I should come out and see it and visit her and do the show.”

Lyubovnaya began painting in her native Russia, and continued after coming to the United States 33 years ago.

“In Russia, art was used as propaganda and they needed artists to be very well trained — very realistic — to fulfill that purpose, Lyubovnaya notes. “We were surrounded by realism. And we were surrounded by teachers who were very skill oriented. And when I started my training in Russia, that’s what I saw.

“People start practicing art in preparation for schools from very early age, just like ice skating,  gymnastic, or music.” 

A Fateful Art Meetings

In the United States, Lyubovnaya studied art in a variety of schools but “with great stubbornness I painted a few hundreds bad paintings before something started to shift,” she says. “I was extremely lucky to meet David Leffel, who is an extraordinary teacher.”

While she was a student at the Art Center College of Design, her second school, somebody passed along Leffel’s book.

“I went with my friend to the LA art show, which at that time was at UCLA,” Lyubovnaya says. “And all of a sudden on the wall I see a painting that I recognized. And I said, ‘This is David Leffel.’ And I recognized him from his self portrait.” 

Two weeks later, she and her friend were at his workshop in Carmel, California.

“I would be very shy about asking questions, because in Russia, the way education is done, you’re not supposed to ask questions, because that shows what you don’t know,” Lyubovnaya says. “So it’s not encouraged. So you wait with a teacher to give you answers, or you find the answers yourself. When I started I was in complete puzzlement, when he was just telling me. The first three years I came to do his workshops, he just would come to me and say, ‘You still drawing with the brush? ‘ 

“I wasn’t asking him why, and how I can get better. But I just kept going back to my studio. Years of practicing, practicing, then taking another workshop and hearing his comment again. And finally, years later, he said ‘Ah, now you paint it with your brush.’ “

And where does Lyubovnaya  think her uncommon dedication comes from?

“I think painting is an addiction,” she tells PaperCity. “It’s addicting because you actually can see improvement. That if you do this, if you learn more and you keep practicing and you deepen your understanding, then the results will show.”

The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival ranks among the top arts festivals in the country. Set along the banks of The Woodlands Waterway and in Town Green Park, festival goers get to enjoy a vibrant outdoor gallery with authors, music, food and kids’ activities while shopping for art.  Jury selected artists display unique, original artwork ranging across a variety of mediums. 

The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival is set for Friday, April 12 through Sunday April 14, and tickets are available now. Single day tickets run $15 with entire weekend passes costing $33. Kids under 12 get in free.

Visit Dallas' premier open-air shopping and dining destination.

Highland Park Village Shop Now

Curated Collection

Swipe
X
X