Artist with a Spirit of Love


Svetlana Burinskaya lives, creates, & teaches out of her charming 1890s home in Ashland.

A Budding Artist

In Moldova, before Svetlana’s family moved to America, her mom was a geologist and geophysicist, and her dad was an engineer. Though neither one was artistic per se, her mom made sure that Svetlana, or Lana as she likes to be called, always had the best art supplies. She also brought Lana to as many museums and art shows as possible.  Her mother clearly supported the passion and talent she saw early on in her daughter. Lana started to be recognized for her art work when she was only 4 years old; she showed me an old newspaper clipping from her native city Chișinău, Moldova. 

Picture to the right: Winter, age 4 1/2

Painting with a mustard yellow background, a small yellow house with a red roof and white dots. There is a rough form of a tall tree beside the house with a white fence on either side of the house.

Inspiration Early On

Lana was influenced many artists, but her three favorites were: Vasily Kandinsky, M. K. Čiurlionis and Nikolai Rerikh. Kandinsky was a Russian painter and art theorist, and is generally credited as one of the pioneers of abstraction in western art. Lana considers him her “spiritual grandfather.” Čiurlionis was a Lithuanian composer and artist. When Lana was about 5, she remembers sitting on the floor for hours listening to Čiurlionis’ music while looking at a stack of prints of his art. By the way Lana described this experience, she music transported to a world beyond her own. Rerikh was a Russian painter who was also a writer, archaeologist, theosophist, philosopher, and public figure. Looking at his work, Lana felt that each picture had a story and she “read them” like a fairy tale. 

Lana was also inspired by two of her aunts. The first aunt was a journalist who had many artist friends; Lana often went with her to visit the artists’ studios. The other aunt was a sculptor who lived further away but came to Moldova for visits. Her aunts’ careers in the arts made it seem natural and unintimidating for Svetlana to become an artist.

Pictures to right, from top to bottom: Vasily Kandisky, M. K. Čiurlionis, Pilies Pasaka, 1909, M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum, Kaunas, Lithuania, and Nikolai Rerikh, Tibet, Himalayas, 1913, Nicholas Roerich Museum New York.

Current Practice

For inspiration these days, Lana is fortunate to live with an artist; her husband Kolya creates exquisite stained glass work. Lana also surrounds herself with other artist communities. Lana’s son and daughter-in-law live in nearby Franklin. Thankfully, Lana also has her mother and her aunt with her in this country — just down the road in Boston. 

Lana lives with a spirit of gratitude, joy and love. She creates with the same spirit using many different mediums. When we met she was wearing beautiful jewelry she had made, she showed me very fantastical, imaginative dioramas, relief collages, fashion design drawings, beautifully-painted murals on bathroom walls and hallways, but painting (with oil paint) is what she loves best!  

When I looked at Lana’s paintings around her home, I saw abstract art with small areas of representational art. Lana was surprised to hear me say this; she walked over to several paintings in her living room and immediately described exactly what all the shapes represented. “This is the bridge in my city in Moldova, this is the highway, this is where we used to play.” Can you see the bridge in the painting to the right?

Painting hanging in Lana’s living room: Summer Fell in the Dawn, oil on canvas 36″ x 36″

Teaching and Exhibiting

Lana loves teaching art too — adults and children. She excitedly showed me some her students’ work in her dining room/classroom. Lana, along with the fundamentals, teaches her students to paint and create from their heart and to be free in their process. 

Through her years in the states, she has exhibited her students’ work and her own work in shows. Currently, Svetlana does not advertise to sell her work and is not represented by a gallery. She sells her art by word of mouth and her students find her the same way. To Lana, the purpose of art is not about making lots of money; “art is not about money, it’s about soul.” 

Dreams, Memories, and Reality

When Lana talks about her art, she absolutely lights up! Her work is inspired by dreams, memories from her childhood in Moldova, and the beautiful landscape there. Although her paintings would never be considered realistic, they are grounded in what is real as she remembers it. For instance, the bridge in her home city in Moldova may look abstract or fantastical, but it is a real structure in a real place. It was a treat to view her art together and listen to Lana tell the story of what her painting represents.

Music is very important to Lana; she often hears songs in her mind that her mother sang to her growing up. When she is painting, she often has music playing in the room or simply in her head. Lana is a deeply spiritual person who is also very attuned with nature. Her galleries on her website are titled Between Heaven and Earth, In the Sky, and Moonshowers and she talks of being “of the moon” which she explains as “coming from the moon mentally.”

More than anything, what strikes me about Lana is the pure passion and love she pours into her work and exudes in her life. She wants people to feel love when they look at her paintings. Svetlana’s simple wish is to sit, drink tea and talk about art. And that is what we did together. What a beautiful way to spread love.

To see more of her work, click here.