Some might say Eugene Rubuls was born an artist.
Influenced from an early age by the beauty of the natural world around him, these surroundings became the base for Eugene’s artistic wonderland as his passion grew.
“As a kid, I was forever drawing or playing around with art on any media I could get a hold of,” he says. “I wanted to explore and learn everything I could.”
“I have always felt like a bit of an old soul, very connected to the world around me, and when I immerse myself in nature, my imagination and creativity just flow. The colours and hues mix, shapes appear in my head and my process begins. Then I start sketching and designing, getting the ideas in a sketchbook ready to be transferred to a canvas.
“My father was a sculptor and had a fine eye for details, which in turn had a big effect on my perception of the world. My parents supported me a lot and encouraged my love for drawing and painting and I attribute my devotion to interpreting nature in a creative manner to them.”
Eugene creates an array of artwork, and his distinct style bridges the gap between the traditional academic approach and modern abstract art. Internationally recognised and award-winning, he has become quite well known for his incredible visual depiction of the natural world, especially the ocean and its inhabitants.
“Pencils and watercolour paints were my favourite toys as a child. As I got older, I studied art in Russia before moving to England, where I spent 10 years building my career as a tattoo artist. It was always going to be art,” he laughs.
“I decided during my career that I wanted to focus on something meaningful, and I felt that as a human being, I should somehow contribute to the planet.
“It was in about 2014 that one of my customers came to my UK-based studio to get an underwater-inspired leg sleeve tattoo. It turned out he was a marine biologist and, because colour tattoos take time, we got to talking for hours about the coral reef and all the challenges it’s facing. At that point, I just knew this was it… nature was calling my name loud and clear.
“From then, I wanted my art to share my love and connection with the ocean, to capture her beauty, to bring the beach indoors for all ocean lovers and give a piece of underwater wonderland to enjoy year-round. Because what we fall in love with, we protect.”
One year after this encounter, Eugene found himself on the Sunshine Coast staring out into the water, hypnotised by her vastness and a pulse that he had to explore through his art. While you can still find Eugene in the tattoo studio bringing his work to life, his fine art is where his passion shines.
“I showcase the dazzling textures and diverse forms of coral, tropical fish, the underwater playground where each captured element plays a vital part in the overall picture, just like every habitat of marine species depend on one another to survive. The ocean is an oasis of life that is under severe threat and needs our urgent attention, and art can subtly send a message without appearing to do so.”
These days, Eugene says he eats, breathes and lives his art.
“It’s an absolute necessity rather than a pastime, and I paint so prolifically that it feels as though it defines my very existence. It allows me to process emotions that I would otherwise struggle to articulate in words.
“I believe that art is a tool for educating and healing because it speaks to us of important issues beyond the scope of words and into the spirit. Everything is connected. I enjoy exploring themes of the natural world and the complex relationships within. With representations of flora and fauna, I hope to raise a greater appreciation and respect for our diverse planet.
“I want viewers to feel an emotion, to touch on the raw, to vibrate through the body, get into their hearts, bones and soul. To make a time and place for contemplation and reflection. To me, this is the real magic of art and what makes it an exceptionally promising tool for conservation. This is what I identify with. Social activism through art.”
As far as his medium, just as his art ebbs and flows, so does his way of expressing it.
“My artistic perception has gone through countless phases over the years, and I don’t limit myself to one style or medium. Colour and form take an open-ended journey which allows a sense of freedom and expression in my work,” Eugene tells salt.
“But, through the process of exploration, I discovered fairly quickly that oil paints are the medium I like to work with the most. They can create depth through different layers of pigment applied over time. This gives oil paintings a sense of dimension that’s otherwise virtually impossible to achieve. They make an artwork look fabulous, stand out and pass the test of time.
“To me, oil paints are impressive, versatile and forgiving. They allow you to make mistakes, scrape the layer off, repaint and take long pauses between the sessions, hence longer time to work on the paintings.”
When looking at Eugene’s artwork, it is immediately evident that each and every stroke or mark is filled with soul.
“There are three things that bring me endless joy: being with my loved ones, nature and painting. I understood that I have been given the opportunity to combine my passion for painting with nature, in particular, the ocean, and I decided to dive in deep.”