I was born in Germany, raised in Russia and currently live and work in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Beginning as a fine art still life and landscape photographer I moved to painting in order to overcome limitations of the camera and to be able to produce more personalized images. I am a passionate advocate of plein air painting (painting on location) and painting from life. I work in an impressionistic colourist manner mainly with a palette knife (oils) or pastels. My goal is to create vibrant and colourful paintings that bring light and joy into people`s lives. In photography I mainly work with light brush technique. My real name is Maria Ivanova. I changed it to Iva for simplicity.

It all started with a small digital point-and-shoot camera that I got for my birthday back in August 2005. I always wanted to learn photography, but the complication of working in a dark room was discouraging. Digital photography opened the world of visual art for me. Within a year I found that the small point-and-shoot camera did not satisfy my needs anymore and purchased an SLR camera. I also started taking photography classes in Humber College and joined the Richmond Hill Camera Club. During the first week of owning my Nikon I took at least 1,000 pictures. I was so excited! I photographed everything: people, buildings, street scenes, nature, landscapes and still lifes. However, pretty quickly I realised that my favourite subjects were still life and landscape. I loved still life because of the creativity it inspired in me: it needed to be built before photographing. I would start with 2-3 objects and spend a lot of time repositioning them and adding other objects until I was satisfied with the composition I created. I loved doing it. Working on still life I also discovered the light brush technique that allowed me to create sunlight in my still life images that I was shooting late in the evening after I came home from work. My still life images won many awards. For several years in a row I was awarded the trophy of the Top Photographer in the Pictorial category. I also won the title of the Photographer of the Year twice. I became a certified CAPA judge and have judged photography contests all across the GTA.

Although I enjoyed photography very much, I wanted to continue exploring visual art. I found a wonderful artist, Marina Feldman, who was teaching still life painting and decided to try. I loved it! Of course at the beginning I struggled, but I enjoyed the process of painting so much that I started taking classes every week and with persistence I started improving. Being a late bloomer I knew I had to work very hard in order to learn fast. I took classes with many amazing artists. One of them, Johannes Vloothuis, taught me almost everything I know about landscape painting. About this time I switched from acrylic to oil. Every summer I would take classes in the Halliburton School of Art and the Blue Mountain School of Landscape Painting. I also spent a lot of time painting on site by myself and with other plein air artists. I found a lot of pleasure in plein air painting. Being on location, seeing all the beautiful colors, smelling the fragrance of the plants, hearing the sound of the running water and voices of birds, all of this makes plein air painting a wonderful experience. It also urges the artist to paint fast and loose, as the light changes quickly. I joined the Ontario Plein Air Society and took part in many group painting outings, shows and plein air challenges. Painting filled my life with joy and added another meaning to it.

In November 2013 I read a book by the colorist Susan Sarback “Capturing Radiant Light and Color in Oils and Soft Pastels.” Susan studied with Henry Hensche in The Cape Cod School of Art. The Henry Hensche’s color theory described in the book fascinated me and changed the way I painted. I learned how to bring more light and sunshine into my paintings. Using Henry Henshe’s approach, I also started painting with the palette knife that gave me looseness that I could never reach with my brushes. During the same year I explored pastel painting, and soft pastels became my other favourite media. Pastels are great for plein air painting, as there is no need to mix colors and the painting process is much faster.