Valencia

My studios, London and Valencia - the importance of the light by Michele Del Campo

artist studio michele del campo london Home studio, London

artist studio michele del campo valencia

ENGLISH: In the last few months I have started to spend long periods of time in Valencia, close to my newborn daughter and to my wife, for that reason I have rented a small space where I have set-up a new studio for painting. Valencia always feels like a special place to me, the sun, the countryside, the sea, the buildings, the warmth and friendliness of the people, all bear a certain resemblance with the cities in my South Italian region Puglia. Waking up even in winter with the sunshine filtering through the shutters is to me a luxury that has no price, and for a painter it is a bliss, even if the economical, political and social situation in Spain lately is not as bright as the weather, and that is a perception that has darkened the mood of my paintings, as I am very attached to Spain and to its culture. However now my frequent travels to Valencia have sparkled in me the wish for a return to that brightness that was such an important feature in my earlier paintings, when I lived in Spain (Madrid) and in fact I am starting to re-introduce it in my new work, and there is nothing better than painting the light in a city of light. Practically speaking, a sunny and warm city has many advantages for a painter, for example, it allows me to keep the window of my studio open even in winter, lessening the harmful effects of the solvents for oil painting, it also allows me to paint outdoors at almost any time of the year with quite steady conditions of light, or to organize outdoor shoots with models in sunny settings almost at any time and well in advance (in London I cannot rely on having a steady sunny interval even in summer). Moreover, the light in winter lasts much longer in Valencia than in London, which is important when I work from life, and the sun makes it more pleasurable to go out in search of new inspiration outdoors, and to me there is nothing better than the direct sunlight to enhance the shapes of people, objects and spaces (if the light goes away suddenly behind some clouds, for example, a scene that was very interesting can lose completely appeal and become ordinary and dull). For now this is only a temporary solution of a studio in Valencia, but it is certainly giving back to me those practical advantages that were missing since I moved to London and that will certainly be reflected in my new work.

 

SPANISH: Hace varios meses he empezado a pasar largos períodos de tiempo en Valencia, cerca de mi recién nacida hija y de mi mujer, por eso mis suegros me han alquilado un espacio donde me he montado un pequeño estudio para pintar. Valencia siempre ha sido un sitio especial para mi, el campo, el mar, el sol, la arquitectura típica, el calor y la amabilidad de la gente me recuerdan un poco las ciudades de la Puglia, la región del sur de Italia de la que provengo. Despertarme incluso en invierno con los rayos del sol que se infiltran por las persianas medio cerradas para mi es un lujo que no tiene precio, y para un pintor es una dicha, aunque la situación económica, política y social en España no es tan luminosa como el tiempo, y esa es una percepción que ha oscurecido el humor de mi pintura, ya que estoy muy ligado a España y a su cultura. Sin embargo, últimamente mis frecuentes viajes a Valencia han propiciado en mi la voluntad de un retorno a esa iluminación que era una característica tan importante en mis pinturas anteriores, cuando vivía en Madrid, y de hecho he empezado a re-entroducirla en mis nuevos trabajos, y no hay nada mejor que pintar la luz en una ciudad de luz. Hablando de ventajas prácticas en el trabajo, una ciudad soleada y caliente te permite tener las ventanas del estudio abiertas incluso en invierno, atenuando los efectos dañinos de los disolventes de la pintura al óleo, y de pintar al aire libre durante todo el año en condiciones bastante estables de luz, o de organizar tomas fotográficas con modelos bajo el sol casi cada vez que quieres y con antelación (en Londres no puedes confiar en tener el sol, o el sol constante, ni siquiera en verano). Además, en invierno la luz en Valencia dura bastante más tiempo que en Londres, lo cual es importante a la hora de pintar del natural, y el sol hace que sea agradable salir en busca de nueva inspiración en el exterior, y para mi no hay nada más fascinante que los contrastes que crea la luz directa del sol en la gente, en los objetos y en los espacios (a la hora de tomar una foto, por ejemplo, a una escena con iluminación solar directa, si de repente desaparece el sol tras unas nubes todo se hace plano y pierde interés). De momento en Valencia este pequeño estudio es solamente una solución temporánea, pero ciertamente me devuelve esas ventajas prácticas que había perdido desde que me mudé a Londres, y que ciertamente se verán reflejados en mi nuevo trabajo.

 

 

 

 

"The Newborn" by Michele Del Campo

ENGLISH: It has been a long time since I have not been posting in my blog, but I have been very busy in various matters. Here I show a painting that I did in Valencia in January 2014, "The Newborn", for which I painted the environment from life and the 6-months old child from a picture. I am proud of saying that the child is my own daughter Irene, but she did not pose on the terrace, as the direct sun is dangerous for the skin of babies, she posed in an interior instead. For a painter who is based in London, Valencia's lavish sun in winter is such a treat and painting outdoors is a pleasure not to be missed.  

ESPAÑOL: Ha pasado mucho tiempo desde mi último post, y eso es porque he estado muy ocupado en varios asuntos. Esto es un cuadro que pinté en una terraza de Valencia en enero, se llama "Recién nacida". El paisaje lo pinté del natural, mientras la niña la añadí desde una foto mia. Estoy orgulloso de decir que la pequeña modelo de este cuadro es Irene, mi propia hija, de seis meses, pero ella no posó en la terraza, siendo el sol directo un peligro para la piel delicada de los bebés, sino en un interior. Para un pintor que trabaja en Londres, el generoso sol de Valencia en invierno es un regalo de tal valor que pintar al aire libre es un placer que no se puede desperdiciar.

the-newborn,-116x92cm-_MG_8

 

 

 

The painting in process

The forgotten side by Michele Del Campo

P1110163 The Forgotten Side, 116x162cm

ENGLISH: Valencia is a city that has always inspired me very much and which I have painted many times, even though it is not always recognizable in my work because I change the appearance of things. This summer, during my holidays in Valencia, I have found places very neglected and dirty but some of them had, under my point of view, a wonderful poetic, so I decided to go out and paint them. After several days searching, I found this waste ground in Calle Serpis, where a beautiful old sofa laid among broken furniture and rubbish. The sofa, still in good conditions, seemed to me an evocative presence among so much rubbish, it reminded

me of the human element and of intimate places, but here it was out of context. The image of the buildings behind and the rubbish in front seemed to me very powerful, symbolic of our times, of a degeneration of things. Above all, I found beautiful the strange play of lights and shadows over all those surfaces and I felt compelled to paint it. As I often do, I changed the scene and I placed a wall to separate the rubbish from the buildings, a symbolic suggestion, then I named the painting "The Forgotten Side".

I went all afternoons at the same time to paint the scene, starting from the rubbish to finish it as soon as possible, before the council sent collectors to clear the site. Nevertheless the city council, now very much in debt, and having cut public services, visits very sporadically places like this one, but it was the people who sometimes came to search through the rubbish, moving or breaking things that I was painting. In fact I have noticed that in Valencia, after so much politic corruption has impoverished the population, there are now so many people, especially immigrants, that rummage into the rubbish to recycle everything possible, without complex or shyness, and so it happened in this place many times, with people searching about also while I was painting.

The experience has been very enjoyable also for the contact with the neighbors, that passed by every day when the sun went down and it was less hot, to walk their dogs or just to come and see the progress of my work, which, in the beginning, seen from their balconies they had never imagined that it would be focused on the rubbish. They were astonished that they liked my painting as they had never thought that this rubbish would inspire anyone. It is such a good sensation to see that you can manage to transmit an idea of beauty where it is not so obvious!

The rubbish was cleared out the day after a newspaper covered the news of my painting. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but luckily I had already finished that part and I was painting the buildings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftdv_gfGaLg

 

ESPAÑOL: Valencia es una ciudad que me ha siempre inspirado mucho y que he pintado muchas veces, aunque en mis cuadros no sea siempre reconocible porque frecuentemente cambio la aparencia de las cosas. Este año de vacaciones en Valencia he encontrado lugares muy desatendidos y sucios, y algunos tenían, según mi punto de vista, una poética maravillosa, así que decidí salir a la calle a pintarlos. Tras buscar varios días para decidir, encontré este solar público, en la calle Serpis, donde un viejo sofa muy bonito yacía entre escombros y muebles rotos. El sofa, todavía en buenas condiciones, me pareció una presencia evocadora entre tanta basura, una presencia que hablaba de lo humano y de lugares íntimos, aquí sacado de contexto. La imagen de los edificios detrás y los escombros y la basura delante me pareció muy potente, simbólica de los tiempos que vivimos, de una degeneración de las cosas. Pero, sobre todo, me pareció que todo tenía una belleza extraña, inquietante, el juego de luces y sombras, las formas y los colores, sentí que tenía que plasmarlo. Cambié un poco la escena introduciendo un muro de separación entre los edificios y la basura, una sugerencia simbólica, de allí el título "El lado olvidado".

Todas las tardes, entonces, fui a pintar a la misma hora esa escena, empezando por la basura para acabarla lo más rápido posible antes de que el ayuntamiento la limpiara. Más que el ayuntamiento, el cual, tras las enormes deudas contraidas y los recortes a los servicios públicos hace pocas visitas a lugares como esto, era la gente corriente la que de vez en cuando removía las cosas o se llevaba piezas que yo estaba pintando. De hecho he notado en Valencia en los últimos años en los cuales la recesión y la corrupción política han sido responsables del empobrecimiento de una gran cantidad de población, que hay muchísima gente, sobre todo inmigrantes, escarbando en la basura, sin complejos y sin esconderse, y varias veces se han llevado piezas de muebles o han buscado otros materiales reutilizables delante de mi mientras pintaba.

La experiencia ha sido también muy bonita por el contacto con los vecinos, que pasaban cuando el sol ya estaba bajo y el calor disminuía, para pasear a sus perros o simplemente para ver qué estaba pintando yo, porque me veían de sus ventanas o balcones y no se imaginaban que era la basura el sujeto del cuadro. Algunos vecinos han vuelto regularmente simplemente para ver el progreso del cuadro.  Eso si, todos los vecinos desean que este solar, que hace algunos años era una típica "huerta", o tierra de cultivo, antes de ser expropiada para algún proyecto que nunca se ha llegado a realizar, sea cuidado con un mínimo de limpieza por el ayuntamiento.

"El viejo barco" by Michele Del Campo

My new painting "El viejo barco" (The Old Boat) was born almost casually from a day out exploration of the Valencian coastline and inner land. This time I did not sketch the idea first and then looked for real life reference material, as I normally do for the other paintings, but I got the input directly from reality and the "touristic" pictures that I took that day.

I first took pictures of a stretch of coast where tall new buildings are being built to host holiday housings, then, later on, I found this old rusty boat proudly standing in the middle of a roundabout in my way back to Valencia and I took more pictures of it. I found it poetic and I thought that I could use it in a painting. Later on, back in London, I decided to place the old boat in front of the newly built holiday city to produce a nostalgic, melancholic contrast. The boat, stranded in a sea of sand, is symbolic, works as a metaphor, bringing to mind feelings of inadequacy, abandonment, solitude and isolation.

ESPAÑOL:

Mi nuevo cuadro “El viejo barco” nació casi casualmente de un día ocioso de exploración de la costa valenciana y de su interior. Esta vez no he partido de una idea esbozada para luego buscar material de referencia visual en la realidad, como normalmente hago en los otros cuadros, sino que he recibido la inspiración directamente de la realidad y de las fotos “turísticas” que tomé ese día.

Primero tomé fotos de una extensión de costa donde en el horizonte se erigen altos edificios de nueva construcción para pisos de vacaciones, luego, en coche, encontré este barco oxidado y decrépito situado justo en el medio de una rotonda, lo encontré poético y me paré para tomarle fotos. De vuelta a Londres decidí pintar el viejo barco en frente a la ciudad de nueva construcción en la costa para producir un contraste nostálgico y melancólico. El barco, que yace encallado en un mar de arena, es para mí simbólico, funciona como metáfora y sugiere sentimientos de inadecuación, abandono, soledad y aislamiento.

My next painting by Michele Del Campo

I'm working on a new painting that has taken me many studies and a long research for reference material in scrapyards. I ended up finding what I needed in a visit to a scrapyard near Valencia, in Spain. Now the final sketch is almost definitive. I will start the painting next week and, after all the amount of work in sketches and research for this, I really look forward to enjoying the painting process.

"La pelea", the process by Michele Del Campo

My paintings have a complex construction most of the times and here I show an example of how I use my reference material to convey the visual idea that I originally have in mind. Sketches are the first and most important stage of the creative process, they are a dialectic research inside one's own resorces. Sketches do not only fix visual thoughts on a permanent support but also catalize their development from the stage of an abstract concept.

Photography is the following stage, the skecthes become now my guide towards a richer source of reference. Nevertheless, photography also contributes to develop further the initial idea, as they confront one with reality, which has to be tackled with a more adaptive approach.

The next stage is working out the composition through a rough elaboration of the photographic references, which can be many and from various sessions.

Finally I take the brushes for the real painting. Here I re-interpret and re-adjust the information that I extract from my rough photographic composition giving it the intention that comes from my original idea. I can also change completely the appearance of some character if I need (in this painting, for example, the central character, the guy that struggles to start the fight, appears also on the right hand side, leaning against the wall, but I changed his appearance).

This is the original reference material

"The Fight" by Michele Del Campo

This is how it looks like my big diptych, called "La pelea" ("The Fight"). It's part of my new exhibiting project "Viaje de no retorno" ("Journey of no Return") and now that I know the opening date I can also officially announce my 2011 solo exhibition: it will open in Lima (Peru) on 3rd November at the Galería Enlace Arte Contemporaneo and will end on 2nd December.

Work in progress... by Michele Del Campo

I'm enjoying painting this diptych, this is the stage when everything comes together and, with the image mostly defined, it's so pleasurable to build it all up with brushes on the canvas. Some of the figures are not recognizable anymore if compared with the reference pictures, I am adapting them to a more "rough" type of young people (I will show the original pictures after I finish it...)

The painting is flowing now very easily on the canvas and every day I see it growing fast. It's a real pleasure when painting comes so easy and spontaneous on a big surface.

New photos in Valencia by Michele Del Campo

I am an individual artist, I don't have a team work and a big budget so I have to rely on friends, improvisation and creativity to find what I need as a visual reference.

Only one month after my previous journey, I went back to Valencia in the middle of February, as I still had in mind some good ideas and locations for a photo shooting with Carles and friends.

I went well prepared with a precise idea of what I needed, after my previous visit to Valencia and many sketches studying the scenes. The chosen location was a bridge on the peculiar Turia old river bed, which now is a park that stretches along the old city walls (the water has been diverted from the city after the Big Flood of 1957). The dried bed of the river has left large, imposing bridges under which pedestrians can go by. If I give these bridges the right atmosphere in my paintings, it can be ideal to host scenes of dark, gritty and desolated urban environment, which will be a common feature in my next solo exhibition "Journey of no Return".

I needed several male and female characters with a fairly rough look idling about under the bridge, a couple of nice looking girls with an upper class appearance and a scooter, possibly an old Italian Vespa. Sometimes the air had to be tense and the anger tangible among some of the characters, creating a sharp contrast with the two upper class girls passing by. Carles and friends had to play the role of the rougher young people, while the beautiful sisters Carla and Alejandra had to be the more elegant girls.

The difficult bit was to find an old Vespa, in fact, looking around in Valencia, I realised that this is a very rare scooter nowadays. However often I have inexplicable strokes of luck and just the day before the shooting, in front of my flat's door, while I was entering after my unsuccessful search, a guy with a beautiful and curvy red Vespa from the Sixties came to stop just beside the door. Javi is his name and he is the owner of "La Oveja Negra", a quality restaurant and tapas bar near Plaza Xúquer. He at first liked the idea, so very kindly accepted to take the Vespa to the shooting and even to pose with the others.

Trip to Valencia by Michele Del Campo

For my new project "Journey of no Return" I had a particular scene in my mind, inspired by a dunes beach near Valencia and I flew all the way to there to gather reference material. In the beginning of January the sun was quite bright and the temperature higher than 20º! What a treat for someone coming from freezing  London! However pleasurable, what I needed was actually a grey, wintery setting, but luckily, towards the end of the day, colourful dark clouds would float about in the sky, giving it a little of that dramatic appearance that I was after.

In the following days I took several walks in the city to find interesting locations for some shoots. I saw a bridge and I halted to fantasise about a group of young people under it, half visible in the shadow and some of them disappearing under the beams. I soon phoned Carles, a very nice friend of mine who has loads of friends in Valencia. He was very pleased to help me and assumed all the weight of the organisation for me, phoning friends to check immediate availability and telling them what was needed for the shooting. I wanted at least four people to pose but at the end seven people turned up and were very happy to pose. It was not that easy and nice for some of them, who had to climb up to the beams by a ladder which was not long enough to make the task easy. Big thanks to all of them, particularly to Carles, for giving me their time.