Portrait of an emerging artist in Santiago

After relocating from Belgium to Chile, expat partner Elena Guryeva decided to hang up her architect’s hat and become a full-time professional artist.

The big move

“I met Matthijs in Russia, where I was working as an architect, and our first international assignment took us to Hasselt in Belgium. I was full of energy at that time. I learned to speak Flemish and found work as a draftsman with a Belgian company. But in a way that experience meant that I knew very well how hard it is to learn another language and re-establish a career in a new country,” says Elena, who speaks four languages.

Natural beauty

“I had begun to paint seriously in Belgium and decided that this was a new path I wanted to pursue in Santiago. Besides dedicating more time to painting, I took online courses with Sotheby’s Institute of Art – one in art history, and another in contemporary art gallery management as I wanted to have a greater understanding of the art industry,” says Elena, who found inspiration from her new surroundings. “The natural beauty of Chile is incredible and diverse with a desert in the north, glaciers to the south, the Andes running through the country, and so much sunshine all year around.”

Constantly learning

“With art, besides practising your craft, you always need to learn new techniques, so I regularly look for online master classes or tutorials that I can join,” says Elena, who is also a member of the ‘enterprising expats’, a group of Global Connection members and entrepreneurs that convenes for regular online meetings to share ideas and experiences of running a business. “I can learn a lot from business owners as I try to work towards my goal of becoming a professional artist. I usually paint just three times a week. The rest of the time, I might be working on my website, taking a class online, or researching,” says Elena, whose latest body of work is called ‘Energy’.

Growing self-belief

“I’m very proud of my recent creations and, of course, I would love to exhibit my work, so I am also networking and preparing my portfolio to show to galleries. Every artist wants to get their art into the world. But besides sharing my work, I also hope I can sell more paintings, too. After all, I need to make money to pay for all of the materials I use!”

Photo (top): Elena with one of her paintings

Below: video clip of Elena’s studio

This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.

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