He was born in 1881 in Kazan. He trained in his father’s gilding and joinery workshop, which produced iconostases. In 1901–8 he studied at the Higher Artistic School of the Academy of Arts, St Petersburg; the last two years were spent in the studio of Il’ya Repin. The figure composition of his diploma painting Woman Cutting Cabbages, which depicts the preparation of cabbages for the winter, is of a lively folkloric nature. After graduation in 1909 he moved back to Kazan where he began teaching at a local art school. From 1910 to the early 1920s Feshin revealed himself as a master of psychologically sensitive portraits saturated with colour, such as those of Varya Adoratskaya (1914) and T. A. Popova (1917; both Kazan’, Mus. F.A. Tatarstan). He was an accomplished colourist: he used bold, bright colours that seemed to be lit from within, and at the same time he knew how to extract enchanting effects from the harmonious combination of subdued tones in a restrained golden-ochre of silver-lilac range. In a series of genre pictures, which remained in sketch form, he produced memorable depictions of the drama of the revolutionary period.
In 1983 he moved to USA, built a house-studio in Taos, New Mexico, decorated with elements carved in "new folklore" style. Traveled in Mexica and Japan in 1930ties. He made a number of ethnographic sketches which he transformed into lithography. Moved to Los-Angeles. Became very popular as a portraitist. Died in Santa-Monica. In 1981 the Feshin Institute with a museum and an educational centre was set up in his house.