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Goodacity – Dare to be Good

Olha Sahal
Written by
Olha Sahal
Written by
Technical Writer at United Thinkers

I am the author of the Goodacity blog, a journalist, and a translator. For 16 years, I have worked in professional journalism, contributing to regional and national publications, both in print and online media. I have written reports, conducted interviews, reviews, articles on cultural, social, and charitable topics, as well as materials in the style of "solution journalism" and communication materials.
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Yulia Didyk
Reviewed by
Yulia Didyk
Reviewed by
Culture Manager at United Thinkers

I am a manager of cultural affairs and a project manager with over 14 years of experience at United Thinkers. I have participated in the organization of numerous successful social and charitable projects and have implemented informational campaigns and communication cases.
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Oleh Kiriashchuk - about egg painting and the war, special works, and how to paint an Easter egg!

how to paint an easter egg

Hands that have held a painting tool for 30 years now hold a rifle. We browse through photos of the master: here he is in an embroidered shirt, smiling and inspired, creating incredible, intricate, fantastic Easter eggs… Here are his exhibitions around the world – America, Canada, Japan, and here are victories in numerous competitions. Then comes the everyday life at the front, trenches, dugouts, positions on the front lines, and tough battles… Oleh Kiriashchuk, one of the most famous Ukrainian egg painters, participated in the Anti-Terrorist Operation (to liberate Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine from Russian hybrid forces, which started in the spring of 2014) in 2014 – he volunteered, and now he also stands in defense of Ukraine.

“I just couldn’t sit at home when my country was attacked,” says the man we speak with during brief moments of silence at the front. “Right after the Maidan (the protest movement in Ukraine from November 30, 2013, to February 2014 in support of Ukraine’s European choice), in 2014, I volunteered to go to war. At first, they didn’t really want to take me – I was already not so young, and my rank was private… Initially, I was with the Right Sector, later I joined the 128th Mountain Assault Brigade of Ukraine, along with my brothers-in-arms, I went through the hardest and most terrifying battles.”

Popasna, Debaltseve, Vuhlehirsk, Ukraine – it was frightening, difficult, and “hot,” but he did not retreat.

how to paint an Easter egg

The Guardian Angel from an Easter Egg… Saved a Life!

“Holding the defense alongside the Chernihiv Battalion, I remember how the guys were astonished that an egg painter — gray-haired and aged — had swapped his painting tool for a rifle… Together, we endured a lot. There must have been a guardian angel over me there,” the man smiles modestly. “Several times, it was nothing short of a miracle that saved my life — I was a hair’s breadth from death on several occasions…

I couldn’t how to paint an Easter egg during the war, but I brought a sketchbook with me, and in my spare moments, I made sketches to distract myself and relieve stress. I drew a sketch of an Easter egg with a Guardian Angel. That guardian angel saved me during fierce battles — an explosion occurred just 3 cm from my temple… That notebook remained in the dugout — we had no time to retreat, as the enemy was storming our positions, breaking through, and I was retreating wounded. After the injury, I recreated that Easter egg from the notebook from memory — with the Guardian Angel, as a memento of my salvation. I made several copies of it — selling them and donating the proceeds to the children of fallen comrades or to soldiers in need of medical treatment and prosthetics.”

Not only does the master himself serve Ukraine, but his Easter eggs do too!

“My Easter eggs have been sold at charity auctions more than once, with the proceeds going to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine: one was sold for 19 thousand, another for as much as 80! And in 2022, my ostrich egg Easter egg was sold for 2,500 dollars at the National Ukrainian Museum in Chicago. The museum director noted that it was a record! These funds also went to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine — I am pleased that both through action and creativity, I can help my fellow soldiers.”

In the spring of 2016, there was an exhibition of Oleh Kiriashchuk’s works at the Kolomyia Museum of Easter Eggs — it was supposed to last a month, but lasted… three years! People from all over the world came for tours and heard about the history of the Easter eggs’ creation, that their author, the egg painter, stood in defense of Ukraine, was wounded. It turned out that not only the master was fighting, but his works as well. In the conditions of the hybrid war at the time, this exhibition became another means of conveying information to the entire world.

how to paint an Easter egg
how to paint an Easter egg

How to Paint an Easter Egg I Learned from Childhood!

“How did I get into egg painting? Being from Kolomyia, Ukraine, and not painting eggs — where does that happen?!” laughs the man. “Especially since my whole family did it — my mother and grandmother painted eggs…

To tell the truth, I never thought I would spend my life painting eggs. It all started with helping my mom — I was still a schoolboy painting eggs and we sold them at the market, because life was very poor and difficult then. I was happy that I could support my family with my work. Then I went into the army and thought that when I returned, I would do something else, something more ‘manly’… I came back — and it was the ’90s, there were no jobs, and I was forced back into painting eggs. And I developed such a taste for it, I painted day and night! My mother even started to worry — all the guys my age were going out, dating, and here I was sitting at home with my eggs!” he laughs.

how to paint an easter egg-02

“But fate arranged everything: egg painting turned out to be my lifetime calling, and I found my loving wife—my support! She’s also a craftswoman, very talented and creative — she makes bead necklaces, embroiders with beads. I’m lucky with her — she helps and inspires me a lot. There were tough times when I was ready to give up and go abroad to earn money because it was impossible to feed the family with egg painting, but my wife supported and inspired me, and thanks to her I didn’t give up and kept chipping away at this rock.”

The count of eggs he has created is not just in the thousands, but in the tens of thousands! Before the Maidan, Oleh counted them — there were 15,000, and then he lost count…

He paints eggs on quail, goose, chicken, and even ostrich eggs. There is a certain energy, an atmosphere in creating an Easter egg… There was a time when he spent more than two weeks painting an Easter egg on an ostrich egg — such a complex story, many fine details, very intricate and delicate work. At a competition in New York, where there were masters from all over the world, Oleh’s work made it into the top ten.

“I kept painting eggs, and over time, I started having personal exhibitions — in Ukraine, and then beyond its borders. Europe, Canada, America, Japan — my Easter egg rolled all over the world…”

how to paint an Easter egg

"Gucci in My Liver" and the Most Memorable Easter Egg

Easter eggs crafted by a master from Kolomyia have rolled around the world and even made it to the fashion runways! “Motifs from the Ukrainian master’s Easter eggs were used in his collections by the fashion house ‘Gucci’,” screamed the newspaper headlines. And that master is none other than Oleh Kiriashchuk!

“Oh, I’m so tired of questions about Gucci,” laughs Mr. Oleh. “That story caused quite a stir at the time — I couldn’t get away from journalists… I don’t consider it something extraordinary… I was initially shocked when I recognized the motifs of my works in the collection: a friend showed me a photo, and there it was — the ornament of one of the dresses, the symbols, and the color palette — everything matched my Easter egg perfectly. People urged me to sue for copyright infringement, but these are our national symbols and ornaments, and I’m actually pleased that designers are inspired by Easter eggs!”

Let it be, let people see that our Ukrainian, authentic art is valued everywhere…

Another story about the fate of my Easter egg really touched me deeply — brought me to tears…

Once, an acquaintance approached me — his little niece Kira was 15 years old and she was very ill. They asked me to paint an Easter egg for her. I decided not to make a usual geometric one, but rather wanted to cheer the child up a bit with this Easter egg, so I painted a bear stealing a honey pot with bees chasing him. I gave them the Easter egg as a gift, didn’t take any money for it. Six months later, the girl’s relatives wrote to me, sharing tragic news — Kira had passed away. After the funeral, they found the Easter egg wrapped in a towel in her bed — the one I had painted for her. The girl even held it in her hands in her final moments… I consider this Easter egg to be one of my most important works.”

how to paint an Easter egg
how to paint an Easter egg

"Where There Are Easter Eggs, There Is Life"

“Among the thousands of Easter eggs I have painted in my life, there are some that are very special to me. While defending the Maidan, I wondered if I could depict these events on an Easter egg. That’s how the ‘Maidan Easter egg’ came to be, depicting little white birds — students — flying into the open gates of St. Michael’s Cathedral, fleeing from the eagle-‘Berkut’ (referring to the violent dispersal of the peaceful protest at Independence Square in Kyiv by Ukrainian security forces, conducted by the Berkut special police units on the night of November 30, 2013, intended to clear the square of spontaneous protest participants, known as Euromaidan).”

Before the full-scale Russian invasion, Oleh created an Easter egg on commission — a history of Ukraine on an ostrich egg, featuring 12 sections from ancient times to today.

When he went to war again in the spring of ’22, he didn’t even think he’d be creating Easter eggs there…

“But last year, just before Easter, my comrades began to ask: ‘Please, paint an Easter egg, for memory’s sake and for the holiday…’. And so I did paint a few. War and Easter eggs seem incompatible, as an Easter egg is a sacred object… But I remembered seeing in a book Easter eggs with arrowhead motifs — our ancestors used them to ask God for help in defeating the enemy, so I painted a few like that for the guys. Give us, God, the strength to win!”

how to paint an Easter egg

When I went to the Maidan, my son painted me an Easter egg — to keep me safe there… And once, my wife created an Easter egg for me — a declaration of love. These are the Easter eggs painted by my loved ones, which are the most important to me.

Today, there are numerous ‘factory’ methods for decorating Easter eggs. You can buy colorful stickers, dip an egg into bright synthetic dyes, you can even buy ready-made wooden or plastic ‘Easter eggs’… It’s simpler and faster. But will you experience the solemn mood that accompanied our ancestors on their way to the church with the Easter basket? Will you feel the power of the symbols passed down from our ancestors? After all, creating an Easter egg is a unique emotion and sensation. It’s like a prayer… So try taking an ordinary white egg, add a little candle flame, a bit of beeswax, some patience, God’s blessing, and create your own handmade miracle — an Easter egg…”

“Write your own Easter egg — however it turns out, it will be the best! And when you sit down for the Easter feast, remember those who are currently on the front, holding our sky and giving us the opportunity to celebrate. After all, we are fighting not just for land, but primarily for human souls — for our culture, for Easter eggs, to have the chance to preserve and nurture our traditions. And where there are Easter eggs, there is life!”