Studio

Sketching a dancer's movement by Michele Del Campo

Last week's life drawing session in my studio was another wonderful experience. Gabriella, Brazilian dancer, poet and singer, delighted us with dancing performances that challenged our way of perceiving the forms in movement. She did three different performances, where sensuality met expressivity and theatrical interpretation. It is very difficult to capture body in continuous movement, here are some of my attempts...

ESPAÑOL:

La sesión de dibujo del natural de la pasada semana en mi estudio fue otra experiencia maravillosa. Gabriella, bailarina, poetisa y cantante brasileña, nos delició con una actuación de danza que desafió nuestra manera de percibir las formas en movimiento. Gabriella interpretó tres danzas muy distintas entre sí, algunas más sensuales, otras más expresivas y teatrales. Intentar capturar el cuerpo en continuo movimiento fue una experiencia nueva, aquí van mis intentos...

A life portrait (part 1) by Michele Del Campo

I do many sketches and drawings of people from life, but I usually do them in sketchbooks for the sheer pleasure or take them as exercises. In fact, the direction where my painting is heading towards lately, requires the use of photography as a reference, to enable me to structure an imaginary scene with the solidity of a plausible reality. If I painted portraits in the past, they were almost all based on reference pictures and I did not always care about the faithfulness of my painting to the sitters, I was not presenting that particular person but my idea of that person. Still, my training as a painter comes from a rigorous research from direct observation. I learned so much from my still-life paintings when I was younger, the perspective, the light, the textures, the reflection of the surfaces, the changeability of things with the passing of time, etc... All those discoveries are still with me and will always be. People, however, were another world, a too precarious one, material for sketchbooks, not canvases.

Now, while I still explore the possibilities of the imagination supported by the photography, I have taken the chance to confront the changeable and three-dimensional reality of a portrait on a big canvas. Jacqueline is posing for me, but I will talk about this portrait later on, when it is finished...

 

ESPAÑOL

Hago muchos bocetos y dibujos de personas del natural, pero lo hago simplemente por el placer de dibujar, dentro de mis cuadernos de dibujo, o por ejercicio. De hecho, la dirección que está tomando mi pintura últimamente requiere el uso de la fotografía como referencia, la cual me permite estructurar una escena imaginada con la solidez de la realidad plausible. Si en el pasado he pintado retratos, éstos eran casi siempre basados en referencias fotográficas, además no siempre me importaba la fealdad de mi pintura a la imagen del modelo, no intentaba hablar de esa persona en concreto, sino de mi idea de esa persona. Sin embargo, mi formación de pintor viene de un rigurosa investigación por observación directa. He aprendido muchísimo de mi pintura del natural de cuando era más joven, la perspectiva, la luz, la textura, el reflejo de las distintas superficies, el cambio de las cosas por el tiempo, etc... Todos esos descubrimientos todavía están bien grabados en mi y siempre lo estarán. Pero las personas eran otro mundo, demasiado precario, material de estudio para páginas de cuadernos, no lienzos.

Ahora, mientras sigo explorando las posibilidades de la imaginación unida a la fotografía, he aprovechado la ocasión para enfrentarme a la realidad para un retrato de gran formato. Jacqueline posa para este retrato, pero hablaré de ello cuando lo termine...

Life drawing in my studio by Michele Del Campo

A selection of quick sketches and drawings from the life drawings that I organize in my studio. The majority of them are on A3 papers:

Life drawing from dance by Michele Del Campo

Yesterday in my studio we had a wonderful life drawing session. I invited contemporary dancer Mara to dance while we drew her, sitting around. She put on her own music and danced, slowly and gracefully, stopping frequently for a few seconds to give us the possibility to quickly sketch her. Her poses lasted from 20 to 60 seconds, it was a challenging task for her and for us.

The session is part of a cycle of weekly gatherings with friends to share the experience of drawing. Every time I organize the session with a different model and a different purpose, to train our eyes and to explore the possibilities and the limits of different mediums. My sessions normally stop around June, when I usually get too involved in painting for the approaching of my solo exhibitions (which I tend to have towards the end of every year).

ESPAÑOL:

Ayer en mi estudio tuvimos una sesión de dibujo del natural estupenda. Invité a Mara, una bailarina de danza contemporánea, a bailar mientras nosotros, en círculo, la dibujábamos. Ella nos puso su música y danzó lentamente y con mucha gracia, quedándose parada con frecuencia por unos segundos para que la dibujáramos. Las poses variaban desde los 20 hasta los 60 segundos.

La sesión forma parte de mi ciclo semanal de encuentros para dibujo del natural que comparto con amigos. Cada vez organizo el evento con un modelo y un objetivo distintos, para entrenar la mirada y para explorar las posibilidades y los límites de medios diferentes para dibujo. Mis sesiones normalmente duran hasta junio, cuando empiezo a concentrarme exclusivamente en la pintura en vista de la exposición individual del año (que esta vez será en Lugano, Suiza, en la Imago Art Gallery).

"Cementerio de coches" by Michele Del Campo

Finally I can contemplate the realisation of an idea that I have developed through many studies and which result has been difficult to foresee  until the last brush strokes.

This piece will be part of my "Viaje de no retorno" (journey of no return) exhibition at Galería Enlace Arte Contemporáneo (Lima, Peru), from 3 November to 2 December.

The painting refers to the journey between life and death. The setting is a "cars cemetery" where vehicles are accumulated over time when too old or after being damaged or destroyed in accidents, as reminders of transience and loss. In one of the cars, vivid against the backdrop, a couple is having rough and dangerous sex, a sparkle of life in a scenario of abandonment, wreckage and destruction.

ESPAÑOL:

Por fin puedo contemplar la realización de una idea que he desarrollado a través de muchos bocetos y cuyo resultado ha sido difícil de prever hasta las últimas pinceladas.

Este cuadro forma parte de la exposición "Viaje de no retorno" en la Galería Enlace Arte Contemporáneo (Lima, Peru), desde el 4 de noviembre hasta el 2 de diciembre.

El cuadro se refiere al viaje entre la vida y la muerte. La escena se desarrolla en un lugar donde a lo largo del tiempo se han ido acumulando coches viejos, dañados o destruidos en accidentes, como testigos de pérdida y transitoriedad. En uno de los coches una pareja está teniendo sexo salvaje y peligroso, una chispa de vida en el medio de un escenario de abandono, ruinas y destrucción. No obstante la escena esté iluminada por el sol, he pintado un cielo siniestro con nubes grises.

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.

Life drawing in my new studio by Michele Del Campo

Since I came to London, in the beginning of 2008, I have been trying to go to places where I could draw the nude. Sometimes they were far from my house, sometimes the models were always the same and I would get bored, sometimes the classes were too full of people, sometimes too empty and they disappeared after a few weeks. But as soon as I decided to look for a bigger studio I started to cultivate the idea of using my space to host weekly life drawing sessions that I would organise myself.

That way I could not only be comfortable in my studio and have models coming over every week, but I also could create a social environment inviting friends artists and make the practice of drawing an enjoyable experience to share with them.

The idea worked out very well, also thanks to the help of my friends who continue bringing new artists. We gather every Wednesday night in my studio to draw all together, normally we are from 6 to 10 people. When we finish we go out to have a drink and talk, after all we are in Soho, there can be no better place to create a social meeting point.

My new studio in Soho by Michele Del Campo

The artist studio is a magical place, because it is where creativity runs free and takes shape. Diderot suggested that in order to grasp the profound meaning of an artwork one should see the studio where it has been created, spying on atmospheres, rituals, secrets. The size of a studio, the shape, the lighting, the location, the distance from home, all of these characteristics can have a big influence on the development of an artist's work. On the other hand, the artist intervenes on his working space to adapt it to his own creative needs, so, given a similar space, every artist will have a very different studio. Until few weeks ago I had always had my studio incorporated to my home, I could hardly think about living separated from my painting. I needed to have everything under control at all times, I could work at the times that I wanted, whether by day or by night, everything I needed was always there, at a door's distance.

Lately, however, I started to feel that a big room in my flat was not enough anymore for my needs and I decided to look for an even bigger space in London, although that meant that I would have to start commuting every day. I was also looking for a more socially stimulating environment, a place with other artists, where inspiration, experience and ideas circulate more easily.

Buildings dedicated to host artists studios normally are situated in more peripheral areas, often old factories converted into working spaces for artists. However my research coincided with the release, by an organization, of a great newly converted building in the middle of Soho, the sparkling heart of the city, to be wholly rented to fine artists. Among the big pile of applications from many artists there was mine, but I was lucky enough to be chosen to get one of the only thirteen available studios. Among my neighbours in the building are illustrious artists by the name of Neil Gall, Mark Wallinger, Laura Oldfield Ford, Nils Norman, Merlin Carpenter and Annie Kevans. It has taken a long time and effort to set up my new studio and now I look forward to start a new season with a new painting project.