If it were not for the offer of a bite of an apple by a homeless French
painter on banks
of Paris” Seine River, Topanga
not have its newest art studio.
Shahin Mojtabai, instructor and owner of the new Shishkin Art Studio,
Realism on Topanga Canyon Boulevard,
said it was
a childhood encounter with
the painter that changed his life.
A self-admitted spoiled child, Mojtabai
said he would not finish
his meal if he thought what was
on his plate looked like
leftovers. He would never
accept a drink from anyone”s glass.
he knows something important happened that day
by the Seine.
“I stopped and watched a couple of painters at work. One of the painters,
had a long and almost scary face. He
and tall and when he approached
me, he was smiling. His teeth
are still fresh in my memory: long
and almost gum-less,” Mojtabai said. “Then, with a half-eaten
apple in his hand he
reached over and without saying
I felt him call for me to grab it. It was like voila,
the seed of my
love for critical realism was
Now Mojtabai would like to do the same for his students, although
perhaps he won”t
be using an apple. Named for the Russian
realist painter Ivan Shishkin, Shishkin
studio will be a place
where anyone can learn to paint the ordinary
world in a realistic and objective style, according to Mojtabai.
He said talent
is not a requirement.
“Talent doesn”t play such a role,” he said. “It”s the skill of life (that”s
is about becoming more sensitive to
our environment. Talent
means that someone
could already be more sensitive.”
Mojtabai, 43, has 14 years experience under his belt as a painter
and teacher, and is
accepting new students of almost all ages,
although anyone interested should be at
least 10 years old.
Sahel Javanshir of Tarzana is one of Mojtabai”s adult students. Although
she has had
other teachers, for the past three
has been coming to Mojtabai.
“He is very expressive and he”s very artistic . . . He teaches everything
he knows and
he keeps repeating so you get it. He explains
perfectly and he can nicely make his
point. And of course,
he”s a great painter. He”s very honest
and sometimes you
might not like his honesty,” she said with a laugh.
“I love teaching almost more than I love painting,” Mojtabai said. For
him, it”s all about
seeing the light go on in students”
they get it. “What if you make that
difference for a person that
one time” It makes me feel like my
Shishkin Art Studio, School of Realism
8830 Farralone av west hills 91304