Suffice to say, most of the names of traditional Russian painting styles come from the villages where they originate. Khokhloma is no exception. Probably one of the most widely recognized traditional styles, it’s all about the regal combination of red, gold and black. Berries and flowers adorn wooden spoons and other tableware and furniture. One of my favorite pieces is a vessel shaped like a magical bird, with little dippers hanging from the sides – a perfect centerpiece at a holiday table.


This distinct style is blue cobalt paint on white porcelain. Dating back to the early 19th century, it comes from the town of Gzhel, famous for its clay, where artisans still produce and paint tableware and sculptures by hand. Watch for distinct flowers, winter scenes, as well as the plots that reveal themselves to a keen observer. 


See a black serving tray with lush, colorful flowers? Think Zhostovo. The traditional motifs here feature different types of bouquets and flowering plants. Artists use metallic powder, gold leaf and mother-of-pearl to add luster to these gorgeous trays. 


Forget the flowers and berries and borders worth doodling. Palekh style is as elaborate as it is artistic. Think lacquer boxes, brooches and jewelry featuring fairytale designs. Each box is oiled, primed, caulked and painted with black lacquer on the outside, red enamel on the inside, then dried and decorated using icon-painting techniques. 

Want to dig deeper? There’s now a new digital archive of Russian arts and crafts that includes ancient patterns, ornaments, and murals made with all kinds of materials. Might just be the right inspiration for your own artistic endeavours.