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Maria Zhalnina

Maria Zhalnina

Founder, Creative Director, Teacher

San Jose & Mountain View studios

Maria Zhalnina grew up in Moscow, Russia. She has received her Masters degree from Surikov Academy of Fine Arts, worked as a fine artist, illustrator and designer, participated in various international exhibitions and finally moved to the US in 2010. Since then, she has developed an art program with an emphasis on classical art, but taught in a more flexible and fun (though no less effective) way.

Her method focuses on traditional disciplines, techniques and tools necessary to release the essence and expansion of fully realized self expression. 

Maria is a founder and a creative director of Art School of SF Bay, and an author of the Art History Applied, Beginner & Advanced Teens, Key Elements of Fine Arts, Oil & Acrylic Painting curriculums.

Instructional videos by Maria

Elizabeth B.

Last year, I started to look for adult painting classes in the Bay Area and stumbled upon the art school of SF Bay. I had no prior experience and didn't know what to expect going in. Our instructor Maria surpassed all of my expectations. While Maria definitely taught us some painting techniques, she more importantly gave us overarching concepts for how to create beautiful art (teaching us perspective, shapes, colors, composition, etc). I definitely have a better understanding of art from both an artist and viewer standpoint.

On a side note, at the end of the class, you get to pick what you would like to do as your final project. I had just gotten married and wanted to paint a family portrait from my wedding day (a total of 7 ppl). Maria told me this would be quite the undertaking as a beginner, and she was right! However, she stuck with me throughout the whole process and 6 months later, I came out with a beautiful piece! I am so grateful for Maria's help on this project and also very glad I chose to take a class at this Art School.

Wei Bing K.

Maria is awesome.Everything I ever learnt in painting basically came from here.

The basic adult class is structured based on fundamental concepts like mixing color, silhouetting, proportions, composition, perspectives, anatomy and so forth.

So cool. You should try it out.

Russell J.

For years I had been putting off attending an art school to learn how to draw, sketch and/or paint at a novice level. The Art School of SF Bay in Mountain View was the perfect class for me. The instructor Masha is great at explaining technique, color and perspective. Her encouragement along with my fellow students made coming to class an enjoyable experience. Although I have quite a ways to go, this class has given me a starting point on my artistic journey. I will definitely be signing up for more classes here!

Adelie P.

My 6 year old daughter attended the San Francisco camp, and loved it!

Maria and Julia are the two teachers, and at the end of the camp my daughter made them "i love you" notes, and was sad to leave.

The works my daughter brought back are more sophisticated than anything she has done on her own. I could not believe she has done them without help. The teachers explain how to draw, and then stay out of the kids ways, providing encouragement and helping them to correct mistakes. At the same time the camp is "fun" for little kids, where they learn in a playful environment.

I hope that our schedule permits us to continue with classes in the fall and I will try to find some time to take adult classes myself.

Olga Tarasova

I've just finished the 12 week Advanced Art Course for adults with Maria and highly recommend it. Most of the classes we were sketching, drawing and painting models. It was a great experience. Maria was always helpful - monitoring the process, explaining mistakes, showing how to fix them or just encouraging you to move further.

Besides this we tried various art materials like watercolor, pastels and so on. The last two classes were devoted to the "final project" where you could choose your own theme and use everything you learned.

Kaumudi Bhawe

We came across this studio because my friend gifted me a painting session for my 40th birthday.

How lucky we were, because I then enrolled my teenage daughter who does painting and art, and she simply loves this place!

Maria is an amazing teacher with clear mastery and the ability to get the best out of students.

Highly recommend this place whether it be as a gift or for yourself!!

Maria Teplova

The portrait and figure drawing classes hosted at Art School of SF Bay were hugely beneficial to me both in technical training and in portfolio building. The instructors provided many helpful and individualized comments throughout each session, and having a live model to learn from helped me develop a much more thorough understanding of anatomy, light, and shadow. I found the Old Master’s portrait workshop (taught by Maria Z) especially helpful in learning about different coloring techniques. At the end of these workshops, I had lots of material to use in my portfolio when applying to art schools.

Zachariah H.

San Francisco, CA

Awesome art classes! My daughter enjoyed her classes here tremendously. Maria is a terrific teacher, and my daughter has learned a lot. Maria customizes the class for each child. She offers tips and suggestions that are specific to whatever art project each child is working on at the time, even when they are working on completely different projects. Maria teaches many different styles and techniques. My daughter enjoyed the variety and loved making each art project she worked on in class.

Marina H.

My 10 yo son loves this place! He first did it week of summer camp with teacher Maria, and it was fantastic. The camp (Art History Applied) is a very clever method of combining exposure to art styles and art history with hands on practice of various artistic methods. Given the success with camp, we signed up for classes during the year and 7 months in, it's one of my son's favorite activities. The artwork he brings home is pretty stunning (or at least our family thinks so!). Teacher Maria really gets to know the kids and it's lovely to have such a wonderful passionate adult in my son's life.

Jia Dailey

My two daughters have been taking art lessons from Maria for almost five years. Art School of SF Bay organizes their curriculum in a way that the students have opportunities to use a variety of media and materials, and to learn about different artists and styles from all over the world. Of course, they learn about art history as well. During the class, each student will work on a subject matter of their choice, but under a pre-designated theme. So you will not see all the kids are drawing the same apple, but rather each kid has their own still life set. This requires a lot more attention and guidance from the teachers, but really frees up the kids' mind when they create their own art. Art School of SF Bay is truly a hidden gem and we are delighted to learn that Maria is now teaching at their San Jose site (near Santana Row), which is much closer to us. If you are looking for some high quality art classes for young kids, I strongly recommend Art School of SF Bay.

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