LaGrange Park artist loves capturing nature
Bethlehem Woods Retirement Community resident and artist Alla Jablokow looks at one of her pieces on display at the facility in La Grange. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
More on the artist
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from the University of Chicago; night classes in art
Awards: Best of Show 2010 at Graue Mill Fine Art Fest and numerous awards from the La Grange Art League, Danada Nature Art Show and the Transparent Watercolor Society of America
Favorite locales to paint: Arizone, near Tucson, the Grand Canyon, Door County, the Morton Arboretum, the glaciers in Alaska and the bicycle path bridge over Salt Creek in LaGrange Park.
Updated: May 6, 2013 2:12AM
LAGRANGE PARK — Watercolorist and teacher Alla Jablokow still sees the world through the eyes of an artist after 83 years and creating more than 2,280 paintings. A member of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America, Jablokow, a resident of the Bethlehem Woods retirement center, began teaching classes at the La Grange Art League in 1987 and plans to teach this summer.
Q. What inspires you to paint?
A. Nature. I grew up near a forest in Russia. Trees are what I admire most. I’m so impressed by their majesty. But I also love daffodils and fall leaves, big limestone rocks and cedars.
A lot of our ills are because we separate ourselves from nature. When I feel depressed, I put on my coat and go for a walk outdoors, and the endorphins kick in.
Q. How did you come to the United States?
A. I was born in Leningrad, which became St. Petersburg. At 14, I left Russia, because of the war, for Germany with my parents in 1943. I left for the United States in 1951. I was 22 and arrived in Philadelphia right before Christmas. I met my husband there, Victor, who became a doctor. We later bought a house in LaGrange Park.
Q. When did you consider yourself an artist?
A. I joined the La Grange Art League in 1973, once I thought I was good enough in watercolors. I’ve been a working artist since 1975. I enjoyed spending time with my kids, Alexander, Natalie and Peter. I took art classes when they went to school, and I liked watercolors best. I did a lot of outdoor shows, and my family helped me set up. My husband was very supportive; he encouraged me every step of the way.
Q. What’s your artistic process like?
A. I can’t really paint outdoors. The watercolors dry up, or they don’t dry, or there are bugs. I like to take my own photographs. Sometimes, I would lie on the ground. That’s how I captured this mayapple, which is underneath with big leaves protecting it.
Q. What have you found challenging in capturing nature with watercolors?
A. When I took a cruise to Alaska, the glaciers were magnificent. The ice slowly flows, and pieces break off. At the bottom, there was a huge lake with pieces of floating ice sculptures. There were rainbows all over and the colors were translucent. I remember one cloudy day when the clouds parted over the top of a mountain. I felt the presence of God, that that’s where he should be standing on top of that mountain.
Q. What tips do you share with students?
A. You can’t work too long at a watercolor, or you’ll kill it. It has to look spontaneous. I also tell them I’m always available for critiques, to help with their work.