Svetlana Orinko is an award winning artist based in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Drawing deeply from her Ukrainian roots and rigorous classical training, Svetlana crafts artwork that balances the charm of traditional techniques, with the intrigue of contemporary experimentation.

Svetlanas Story

Svetlana Orinko is a world-renowned artist who has established herself as a leading master of watercolour and oil mediums over her 30 year career in New Zealand. She has a growing reputation as one of the country’s top artists and tutors, winning numerous awards and gaining a strong national and international following. Her extraordinary journey as an artist has been fuelled by her resilience, tenacity and unfettered curiosity.

Svetlana is celebrated for her incredible collection of work and relentless pursuit for artistic growth, and willingness to push boundaries grants her work an authentic, timeless quality. She was always determined to find beauty, even in the most difficult of circumstances as a child in Ukraine. Faced with the outdated medical practises of the Soviet union, she was misdiagnosed with an illness at age seven, then placed in a Soviet institution where she was segregated from society, her family, and a normal upbringing.
During this period of her life, art became a creative retreat. After five years, a teacher recognised Svetlana's remarkable talents. Her parents were urged to take her out of the institution and enrol her in a prestigious Art School for children.
It was a dream come true – she was reunited with her family, and as well as attending regular school, she underwent rigorous artistic training in a classical ‘Old Masters’ art education programme.

This ten year programme was intensely demanding, requiring a staggering twenty watercolour pieces and sixty sketches each week as homework alone. At the end of each term, all work was confiscated and burnt in a bonfire as an archaic method to prevent students from presenting the same work twice. Though it was intensive, her talent was nurtured and she grew into an accomplished and disciplined artist. Upon completing the programme, Svetlana strived to make a living in her homeland, but opportunities were limited. With a young daughter, and expecting her second, she made the life-changing decision to emigrate to New  Zealand. With the promise of a brighter future for her children, Svetlana arrived in the rural Canterbury village of Waddington in 1992.
She embraced her new environment, and all the beauty that came with it. Painting part-time whilst bringing up her young family, she became known for her detailed compositions, florals, landscapes and portraits.

Today, Svetlana works from her home-based studio in Fendalton, Christchurch. Covering an infinite variety of subjects, her sensitive, lyrical and atmospheric paintings have captured people and galleries from around the world. An in-depth comprehension of form, composition, and colour empowers her to transform any subject into a visual poetic language. Her art captures the essence of timeless beauty, reflecting the layering of cultures and the landscapes of her adopted home, New Zealand. Her mastery over traditional techniques, complemented by her relentless pursuit for artistic growth, propels her to continually explore and redefine boundaries in art. Svetlana’s phenomenal collection of work is testament to her perseverance, and remarkable story of hope and resilience that continues to resonate with those who experience her work. 

"I see beauty in the simple things. I am attracted to any subject matter that contains a strong abstract pattern and display interesting beautiful colours. There is a poetry in simplicity. I look for how light transition across a form. I like to transform my chosen subject into visual poetic language. Subject matter sometimes dictates whether I choose to work in watercolour or in oil or even in drawing but often it simply a preference based on my mood. I am constantly striving to remain open to new possibilities and innovative ways and, if possible, not to remain stagnant at all the times. " - Svetlana Orinko

Art Awards

Watercolour Award & Peoples Choice Award - Ashburton - 2021
Gordon Harris Watercolour Award - 2021
Distinction Award, Artarama - 2020
People Choice Award, Ashburton - 2019
Dental Award & People Choice Award Winner, Darfield Artweek - 2018
Kath von Tunzelman Memorial Watercolour Award - 2015
Lysaght Watt Peoples Choice Award “Self-portrait” - 2015
Most Innovative Painting Award, Splash - 2015
Peoples Choice Award Winner, Chch Art Show - 2014
Finalist World Watercolour Competition - France, 2014
Finalist Salon International 2014 Art Award San Antonio, USA, 2013 - 2009
Watercolour NZ Supreme Award - 2013
Art2die4 Award - Ashburton, 2013
West Melton Art Exhibition, 2nd place - 2013
Peoples Choice Award Art in a Garden, 2nd place - 2012
West Melton Art Exhibition, 2nd place - 2010
Finalist North Shore City Art Award - 2010
North Otago Art Society Merit Award - 2009


“Pratique des Arts” HS Aquarelle - Watercolour issue
France, Oct/November

International Artist Magazine - issue 109 June/July Artsy Shark
Featured Artist article April

Colour in Your Life Featured Artist - AprilI 2015 - 2014