I always have that very organized system, but as soon as I start painting, that’s out of the window. I work very long hours and become so absorbed in the process I kind of forget I exist as a person, and I have a body to take care of.
And what draws you to specific fabrics? You mentioned that you also play around with
the colors, so how does that work?
In the past I would always try to mimic the color of the fabrics I chose, and I would spend a lot of time finding something that matched exactly with what I had in mind. For some reason, I used to be convinced that it wouldn’t be possible to deviate from reality significantly when painting. But then I started trying it out, and I saw that I could actually change the colors entirely. I just need to do some experiments beforehand, to see if it will work out properly.
Shades of yellow are very different from shades of red or blue, so I always do try-outs of all the shades on strips of canvas to test whether they look good together. I can’t mix a color without seeing it in relation to all the others. I have a good example of a painting I’ve made where I changed the colors significantly: Laminaria and Pahoehoe. The paintings are blue & yellow and red & yellow, but the original fabric was just entirely black with silver lines. That’s it. It didn’t have any bright colors whatsoever. I liked the pattern it had, and the fact it was quite shiny, but thought it would be better with color.
Sometimes I change up the look of the texture as well, but really depends on the kind of painting I’m trying to make. If I make a really big painting I don’t want to add too many little details because it becomes too busy. So usually when I make a big painting I tend to use large patterns, because they cover a lot of the composition without overwhelming the viewer. Whereas in smaller paintings, I focus more on textures or light, because it’s more manageable within a small canvas. But it’s interesting that you ask, because I am looking into making my own fabrics. Sometimes I have ideas for patterns and then I will look for a fabric that is similar, but if I don’t end up finding anything that matches it I kind of have to let go of that idea. And I think that’s such a waste. Because why wouldn’t I still try to do it? I just need to look into ways I could make those fabrics myself.
How important is it for you to have a studio?
It’s really important because I really need to focus when I’m working. At the art academy we had shared studios, and it’s great that we had a place to work there. It was not ideal though because it could get busy and noisy, and I get really easily distracted. On the one hand it’s nice if you can drop by other people’s studios when you’re not busy, but when you are busy people will be dropping by your place! And that’s when I need to focus. That’s why I really value having my own studio, where I can focus and work whenever I want to. I tried working from my bedroom when living with my parents for a few months after graduating, and it was not really great. There was just too little space and, you know, I couldn’t really do the things I wanted to do at the times I wanted to. So that felt very limiting, and I think it made me realize how valuable having a proper studio is.
If you could visit an artist’s studio, who would you choose?
That’s a difficult question. There are multiple people I’d like to visit. Well, recently, I’ve done a painting inspired by Daan van Golden, who was a Dutch painter. I read this interview with him in his studio a while back. I can relate to his works in a way because he also used fabric patterns for some of his paintings. He would copy them very precisely, and paint them in a flat position without any folds. This is of course very different from what I do, because I want to achieve a transformation when I use a fabric.
I still feel a connection though, because we used similar source materials. Even though I don’t work in that same way I really appreciate the focus and craftsmanship, and the fact that he was so precise. He would use these wooden ‘bridges’ whilst he worked. His painting would be on the ground, and the bridge was there for him to sit on so he could reach anywhere on the painting without accidentally touching it. In some other works he would look into existing paintings, like one’s by Pollock or Matisse, and he would find or choose a shape from those works and reproduce it very precisely. Then that isolated, recreated shape became a new artwork. That also plays with the question of authorship, and what is owned by whom. If he paints it again, in such a precise manner, is it a new work? Who determines that? To me he’s a great artist.
What keeps you motivated as an artist?
I thought about this recently, as well. And I think it’s a very intrinsic motivation. I’m just very fascinated by the subjects and by the medium of painting itself. It’s just ideas and problems that kind of keep popping up in my head: “How can I solve this? How can I create this?” It’s a constant quest for the next painting, it just keeps coming back and nagging me: “Are you going to make this painting?” I just noticed myself getting really down recently because I’ve moved and I haven’t really been able to make any work yet. Right now, I’m mostly working on getting my studio ready, but at the same time everything in me is screaming “When are you going to paint?!”
I feel like I don’t really have a choice.
When I don’t paint, I just don’t feel very good. I could not be happy if I weren’t an artist. It has forced itself upon me.
So yeah, that’s really the biggest part of the motivation. Another part is seeing other artists making really great things, because as soon as I see someone else making something that is really great that will inspire me to go and make something great as well.
Interview & transcript: Carolina Castilho
Get in touch with Carolina: firstname.lastname@example.org
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