While her full-time job consists of commissioned illustrations, interior paintings, and conducting weekend classes, Moscow-based artist Lisa Smirnova’s favorite “painting” medium is embroidery. Her post-impressionistic stitching is reminiscent of Van Gogh, but instead of chunky layered paint, her work draws its gorgeous texture from the interwoven threads of richly colored yarn.

“I like working with clothes, textures of fabric, and mixes of colors,” she says. “My work is more emotional than deeply meaningful. I’ve never tried to raise any problems — I try to make it in a way that satisfies me emotionally.”

Smirnova sketches some ideas on paper and chooses a favorite to scale appropriately as a template for embroidery. She transfers the image to fabric using a pencil, and sews the outline before filling it in. As with watercolor, Smirnova chooses a color palette and adds hues from dark to light.

It takes her anywhere from three days to three months to finish her embroideries, which have found homes on everything from high fashion to pillowcases and pullover sweaters.