Russian school janitor’s ‘snow paintings’ make him an Instagram star

In the morning the janitor takes a broom and goes to draw his morning painting.

In the morning the janitor takes a broom and goes to draw his morning painting.

Source: Sergei Kuksin / RG
For several years now, Izhevsk school janitor Semyon Bukharin has been creating paintings in the snow, delighting pupils – who have now created an Instagram account for him. An RBTH correspondent met with the janitor-cum-artist and found out how children helped bring out the talents of “Uncle Senya.”

At six o’clock in the morning, while children across the country are still sleeping or getting ready to go to school, janitor Semyon Bukharin cleans the new-fallen snow from the grounds of Lyceum No. 25 in the city of Izhevsk, 800 miles east of Moscow.

But as the first lesson begins, the janitor takes a broom and goes to draw his morning painting – a portrait of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. For two hours, his effort adorns the ground under the school windows until it disappears under the soles of students and parents.

How it all began

According to Bukharin, a couple of years ago, after the end of his routine work, he took a broom and began to draw the first animals in the snow under the windows of the school. Children saw his drawings and opened an Instagram account, where they started to share the janitor's works.

As time passed, the followers grew in number, and Bukharin was noticed by the regional media.

Bukharin's characters are Russian authors, composers, and fairy-tale animals. As the janitor told RBTH, his works look best on the dark asphalt immediately after a snowfall, when the snow is soft and pliable.


A photo posted by @semenbukharin on

Bukharin works only on fresh snow – it is impossible to draw when it is trampled down. According to him, the drawings look best at night when you can see the penumbra, though unfortunately there is no one at school at that time to see them.

Jack of all trades

"Uncle Senya regularly draws something for us: in the winter – on the snow; in the summer – landscapes on the house opposite the school," one of the school’s pupils told RBTH.

"He also makes ice sculptures! Last year, Uncle Senya cut three sheep from ice: He threw in some snow, made it into a cube, poured it with water and carved on it!"

Children say that the "opposite house" is painted over every year but another landscape appears on the new "canvas" after a while.

"He also drew a giant poster with Tchaikovsky for his anniversary last year! Uncle Senya makes ice slides for us, cleans snow and keeps dogs out of the yard. He is very kind!" said a pupil.


A photo posted by @semenbukharin on

Bukharin enrolled in art school in the city of Tchaikovsky at the age of 17, but gave it up – he was from a big family, and there was a need to find work and help his parents.

A few years later, he moved to the Far East, where he first worked as a fisherman on the Kamchatka Peninsula, and then went on to serve in the Emergencies Ministry.

For many years he moved from place to place, until five years ago Bukharin took the job of janitor at Lyceum No. 25.


A photo posted by @semenbukharin on

In addition to his basic work, Bukharin helps repair furniture; he fixes chairs, desks and boards. He is also involved in school life – he helps prepare the school for celebrations and makes decorations together with the pupils and teachers.

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