By Mike Baker
I first met Yulia Balobanova ‘digitally’ when I was interested in broadening my own artistic talent and decided to enroll in her watercolour class.
We soon spoke, and I knew immediately I would enjoy Yulia’s class. Her support as an instructor was invaluable as I entered into the world of painting.
Yulia Balobanova has immigrated twice in her life, first from her home country in Central Asia to Russia, and then from Russia to Canada. Early in her life, Yulia developed an ease and love for drawing and painting. While growing up in the Soviet Union, there was a stereotype that being an artist was not a serious vocation. Knowing this, she decided to pursue her studies in the field of math and science, a subject she also enjoyed. She graduated from university as a software engineer.
Yulia soon realized that working on a computer was not for her. She knew that her love for people and her passion to be creative was meant to be an integral part of her life. So at 30, Yulia began her creative work as a designer, first as a furniture designer and then as an interior designer. She recalls, “it was a great and creative!” time for her.
However, Yulia found she was working more than she wanted to in front of a computer and became determined to work more creatively with her hands. Drawing, silk painting, sewing, knitting, crocheting and working with leather soon became part of her ‘mix’.
While settling into Canada, Yulia started to feel more safe, stable, and peaceful. Canada’s outdoor landscape and its many wonderful natural spaces helped to develop her inner creativity and launch her own personal art ‘journey’.
Yulia began combining her passion for art and her love for engaging with her community. She learned to speak English by attending evening classes, volunteered at children’s camps, and taught art in her neighbourhood community.
Presently, Yulia teaches art with the City of Guelph and the Continuing Education Upper Grand School Board where she works with adults of all ages. Yulia also teaches weekly art classes for kids from her home studio.
As an artist and instructor Yulia believes everyone can benefit from art and has the ability to be creative because we all possess our own inner imagination and style.
In our modern ‘high speed’ world she feels creating art by hand is relaxing and enables us to slow down.
As an instructor Yulia’s mission is to show people the amazing world of visual art. She enjoys encouraging her students to explore their creativity while supporting them in finding their voice as they embark on their own artistic ‘journey’.
Her favourite part of teaching is the interaction with all of her students, young and old alike. Yulia says she finds ‘we actually teach each other’. She loves getting suggestions, feedback, and a variety of viewpoints, encouraging both conversations about life experiences as well as art-related themes in her class. Her students’ perspectives give her food for thought and help her to grow as a teacher, as an artist, and as a human being.
As an artist Yulia loves painting with soft pastel and watercolour, incorporating mixed media sketches, and experimenting with other mediums. Everywhere she looks she says she sees scenes that inspire her, from Guelph’s parks to other places she’s visited in Ontario and across Canada.
Yulia actively shows her pastel works in exhibitions and art festivals. She looks forward to further establishing her career as an instructor and as a practicing artist, and hopes to exhibit nationally.