Photography

My creative process in Artists And Illustrators magazine by Michele Del Campo

January issue A&I 2 ENGLISH: A few months ago Artists and Illustrators, one of the most popular art magazines in UK, commissioned me to write two articles about my whole creative process, from the development of the ideas through sketches and photos to the painting work on canvas. It was not an easy task, as my creative process can be quite complex, but I liked the idea of putting my experience into words and images for the readers. From there these two articles were born, published in the January and February issues. Both issues are now available.

February issue A&I

ESPAÑOL: Have algunos meses la revista Artists and Illustrators, una de las más populares revistas de arte en Reino Unido, me encargó la redacción de dos artículos para explicar mi completo proceso creativo, desde el desarrollo de la idea a través de bocetos y fotos, hasta la realización de la pintura en el lienzo. No era tarea fácil, ya que mi proceso creativo puede ser muy intricado, pero me gustó la idea de ponerlo en palabras e imágenes para los lectores. De allí surgieron estos dos artículos, publicados en los meses de enero y febrero, y ambos ya están disponibles en quioscos y librerías de arte.

The creative process, 4 by Michele Del Campo

ENGLISH: Another complicated and long elaboration of an idea through various stages, sketches, research for places and models and finally the painting. The idea in "One of Them", which is the title of this painting, was to portray a common girl from the middle class, who would represent a generation of young people who have been deprived of their future in the wake of the crisis in the past few years, and I see this situation of anger and impotence in my frequent travels to Spain, for example. The models are friends of mine that kindly offered to pose for me, some of them in a separate session. I found the building after a long search wandering around old industrial London and through internet, and I discovered this jewel of factory architecture in East Tilbury, it's the old Bata Factory, which I went to visit. Curiously, the same day that I was taking pictures of my friends pretending to through stones, in a North London District, Tottenham, many young people started to actually through stones and bottles to the police, and the situation soon degenerated in what is now famously remembered as the 2011 "London Riots", that spread across the UK main cities...  

ESPAÑOL: Otra complicada y larga elaboración de una idea a través de bocetos primero, luego búsqueda de modelos y ambiente, fotos y finalmente la pintura. La idea en el cuadro "Una de ellos" fue de retratar a una chica muy normal y corriente que representara a toda una generación de jóvenes que se ha visto de un día a otro privada de su futuro por el estallar de la crisis, y esta situación de rabia e impotencia la veo mucho en España por ejemplo, donde viajo frecuentemente. Los modelos son amigos que se han prestado a posar con mucha amabilidad, algunos de ellos en sesiones separadas. Encontré el edificio tras una larga búsqueda por el viejo Londres industrial y a través de internet, donde descubrí la existencia de esta joya de la arquitectura moderna, la vieja fábrica de zapatos "Bata", que fui a visitar en tren en East Tilbury. Curiosamente, el mismo día en que tomé las fotos a mis amigos fingiendo de tirar piedras, en el barrio pobre de Tottenham, en el norte de Londres, estallaron los famosos "Motines de Londres", el 6 de agosto de 2011, donde los jóvenes emarginados se rebelaron contra la policía y el órden social, y el levantamiento se extendió por las ciudades principales del Reino Unido...

 

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"Una de ellos" (One of Them), oil on linen, 140x200cm

 

The creative process, 2 by Michele Del Campo

ENGLISH: After showing my reference photographs and my sketches, in the previous post, now I should show you the painting process, from the white canvas to the finished piece. However I thought that a video would show better the complete stage-by-stage process of creation of a painting, so you can see everything about the painting "The Other Side" in it. I hope that you enjoy the video!  

ESPAÑOL: Después de mostrar mis referencias fotográficas y bocetos en el post anterior, ahora tendría que mostrarte el proceso pictórico, desde el lienzo en blanco al cuadro acabado. De todas maneras he pensado que un video podría explicar mejor todas las fases de la creación de un cuadro mio, desde los primeros bocetos desde la imaginación, hasta las fases de mi pintura. ¡Espero que disfrutes del video!

 

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yO9Zodazeo[/embed]

 

The creative process, 1 by Michele Del Campo

ENGLISH: The other week, while I was painting in Art in Action (see the previous post), many people were fascinated by the fact that the image that I was painting was made-up, a collage from various pictures, although it looked convincing. Noticing that many are not aware of the complexities of the creative process, I would like to  publish a series of posts in the next few days where I show the original references that I used to ensemble the image that I painted on the canvas. In my painting you will see that I am looking for something more than a simple representation of something, I want to create a story, to give a message, to suggest a mood or an emotion, but I have to do it with intention. The simple reality doesn't always give me all that I need, so I have to create a reality of my own, but that looks convincing. I will start from "The Other Side", a 190x300cm oil painting which I did in 2011.

 

ESPAÑOL: La otra semana, mientras pintaba en Art in Action, (mira el post anterior) mucha gente se quedó fascinada viendo que la imágen que estaba pintando era en realidad una escena ficticia construida a partir de varias fotos. Notando que muchos no son conscientes de la complejidad del proceso creativo, me gustaría publicar, en una serie de posts en estos días, mi material original desde el cual he ensamblado la imágen que he plasmado al final en el lienzo. En mi pintura busco que haya algo más que la simple representación de algo, quiero crear una historia, dar un mensaje, sugerir una emoción o un estado de ánimo, cargar una imagen con intención. La simple realidad no siempre me da todo lo que necesito, así que tengo que crear una realidad propia, pero que sea creible.

Empiezo por un cuadro especial, "El Otro Lado", un óleo de 190x300cm de 2011.

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    These are some of the sketches that I used to develop the idea of "The Other Side". Research for locations, props and models came soon afterwards.

 

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"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.

"Los restos" by Michele Del Campo

"Los Restos" (The Remains), oil on linen, 140x180cm

I had this idea in my mind of a stray dog walking through rubbles, with a tall building standing behind and I sketched it a few months ago. I wanted to show desolation after distruction.

We are not used to see distruction and displacement in our cities of plenty, as well as we are not used to see death. Death is always there but we don't see it, if it's not by accident or in fiction, we only see life flowing. Destruction, displacement and greedy appropriation of land also is censored and made behind curtains. The drama is confined to the inner experience of whom is directly affected. In "The Remains" I have depicted a desolated environment where destruction has taken place. I have painted the skinny dog, lost among a big pile of rubble, as a symbol of life and horror at the events.

I didn't know where to find the right environment to take reference from but in art chance always plays a big part. In my last journey to Madrid, in fact, I went to see an interesting peripheral complex of buildings where people live in poor conditions. i took some pictures and, just when I was entering the tube to go back to the city center, I saw a cloud of dust raising from a nearby area. They were demolishing a building and I rushed to take some pictures (see below the real scene).

ESPAÑOL:

No estamos acostumbrados a ver destrucción y desalojo en nuestras ciudades de la “abundancia”, al igual que no estamos acostumbrados a contemplar la muerte. Ésta siempre está ahí pero no la vemos. Si no es por accidente o en la ficción sólo vemos la vida que trascurre. La destrucción, el desalojo y la apropiación avariciosa de suelo son censurados y suceden tras bambalinas. El drama queda confinado a la experiencia interior de aquellos directamente afectados.

En “Los restos” he representado un entorno desolado donde ha habido destrucción. El perro famélico, perdido entre los montones de escombros, simboliza la vida y el horror ante lo ocurrido.

No sabía dónde hubiera podido encontrar el escenario adecuado para tomar referencia, pero en el arte el azar y la suerte siempre juegan un papel importante. En mi reciente visita a Madrid fui a ver un interesante complejo residencial en la periferia de la ciudad donde vive gente pobre. Tomé algunas fotos y, justo cuando iba a entrar en el metro para volver al centro, ví una nube de polvo que se levantaba en un lugar cercano. Estaban demoliendo un edificio y me aprisuré para tomar las fotos que luego me sirvieron para construir la imágen del cuadro.

"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

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.

I start my project "Journey of no Return" by Michele Del Campo

Finally I have begun to convert my sketches and ideas into photos that will be my main reference for my next painting project which, with many probabilities, is going to be named "Journey of no Return". After several months of thinking, doubting, processing raw ideas on paper, reading, looking at new references, experiencing real-life situations, I have come up with this new solo exhibition project which will show a darker side of the reality, in comparison with my previous paintings.

For a couple of paintings I had to look for a disused rail tunnel to use as background and, after a long research, I found just what I was looking for. It was a challenge to overcome the bourocratic obstacles that I found on my way everywhere I asked for information, help or permissions. I understood that I had to do it all by myself and try my luck. I researched, traveled, spotted the railway tunnels and found the prohibited way in: it was impressive, a tunnel filtered by the light through a series of magnificent arches.

It requiered a dose of courage and daring to organise the shooting there. I arranged everything the same day (and night...) that I found the tunnels, also thanks to the help and availability of four good friends who would be my models the next day. It was a greatly enjoyable experience for all of us and I was amazed at how they all took the shooting so seriously, also challenging the weather in one of the coldest days of the year. Three of them had no previous experience before a camera but I could not have found better "actors" to stage what my sketches only vaguely suggested.