Sketches

Variations in life drawing by Michele Del Campo

My weekly life drawings in my studio are becoming quite varied, and variation is an element that inspires change and development, important things that nurture creativity.

Professional ballet or salsa dancers, performing twins, comparisons between the clothed and the nude bodies, costumed recitals of great literature pieces and belly dancing performances are among the treats that I am introducing in every new session.

At the end of every session sometimes we have normally one or two longer poses of 20 minutes each and I take the chance to sketch with oils on scrap canvases or watercolour sketchbooks. Here you can see some of them:

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.

Journey of no Return: work in progress by Michele Del Campo

It is a delicate moment of my project: after so many sketched ideas, some photo shootings and further studies with more complex compositions, I start to paint what will be the final images. Now is when six months of gestation for my new project will see the final shape and now is when the result has to match my expectations and convey the message that I want to give.

I am now involved with one of my biggest paintings ever: a diptych of 160x400cm. Even so, because of the small scale of the characters, this new painting doesn't look that big to me, certainly it will be enjoyable to work more physically from one side to another of the canvases with big brushes.

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.

"The Intruding Light" by Michele Del Campo

There are many studies behind a single piece of work. I have selected only a few here to show the process, the constant adaptation of an idea that originally is only just a scribble. I made that first scribble on a train, when I had too much time to kill, and this is how it developed some month later, when I decided to use it.

I do not do many linocuts but it is a big passion of mine, I enjoy engaging with this technique when I want to rest from painting. It gives me another way of thinking, I have to adapt my subjects to another type of imagery, with a different  scenario, composition, scale, lighting, contrast, in comparison with my paintings. Creating forms, giving the illusion of depth by just cutting white lines against a black surface is also a very different challenge from painting with colours.

At the end all comes together, although they are quite different techniques, I notice how my printmaking feeds and enriches my painting as well as my painting feeds my printmaking.

This is the final drawing