Painting process

Painting "alla prima" demonstration by Michele Del Campo

Painting alla prima "Rubbish", 105x160cm, 2013  

ENGLISH: It's only 10 days away the Patchings Art Festival (5-8 June), where I'm going to exhibit new work and set up a studio to create a big size painting in front of the public to demonstrate my technique "alla prima". Please come along to see me and other very talented artists in action!

ESPAÑOL: Quedan solamente 10 días para el Patchings Art Festival (5-8 junio), donde expondré nueva obra y pintaré un cuadro de gran formato en público para demonstrar mi técnica "alla prima". ¡Vente si puedes y mira también otros artistas muy talentosos en acción!

ITALIANO: Mancano solo 10 giorni al Patchings Art Festival (5-8 giugno), dove esporrò nuove opere e dipingerò un quadro di gran formato davanti al pubblico per dimostrare la mia tecnica "alla prima". Vieni se puoi e guarda anche altri artisti di gran talento in azione!

Patchings Art Festival by Michele Del Campo

c ENGLISH: In just 3 week's time, from 5 to 8 June, I am going to take part to a big and exciting event near Nottingham, called Patchings Art Festival. There I will be leaving my shyness apart to demonstrate my painting, during all four days, in front of the numerous visitors, and I will also exhibit some new works. If you have the chance to see the event, you will know that you can ask me anything about my technique, my inspiration and all that you can think abut. This fair, as well as the fair Art in Action, to which also I am participating as a demonstrator later on in July, is a unique opportunity to witness the making of works of art by excellent artists from many disciplines, and learn some tips and "secrets" that normally are confined to the four walls of an artist studio. Among the VIP artists are personalities like David Curtis and Ken Howard, it will be a very enriching experience to see them at work, although they will only demonstrate one day each.


ESPAÑOL: En tan solo tres semanas, edsde el 5 al 8 de junio, participaré a un grande e importante evento cerca de Nottingham, el Patchings Art Festival. Allí dejaré a un lado mi timidez para pintar y demonstrar mi técnica a lo largo de todos los cuatro días, frente al numeroso público del evento. Si tienes la posibilidad de ir, tienes que saber que podrás preguntarme todo lo que quieras sobre técnica o cualquier otra cosa, al igual que podrás hacerlo con todos los artistas que demonstrarán en el festival. Esta feria, junto a Art in Action, a la cual también participaré en julio, son oportunidades únicas de presenciar la creación de obras de arte en directo, de la mano de artistas de mucha calidad, y de aprender consejos y descubrir "secretos" que normalmente quedan relegados entre los muros del estudio del artista.  Entre los artistas VIP que también demonstrarán, aunque un solo día, estarán personalidades del cálibre de David Curtis y Ken Howard.



"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 painting in process

"The Ageing Dancer" by Michele Del Campo

When I first met Susie, in September 2012, she told me that when she was young she wanted to be a ballet dancer, but a short career was curtailed through catching a terrible fever and being ill for an extended time. Normally I use models as actors for scenes that I have created in my imagination, but since I started to work more from life, especially for portraits, I have started to incorporate pieces of their real life in my paintings, to take inspiration directly from them. When Susie offered to pose for me, I thought that I could do something special with her, because I had very seldom worked with  models of middle age and because of her enthusiasm, a quality that is very valuable when you start a project that can potentially last several months. I thought about beauty and strength that changes with the ageing, and I wanted to relate these facts a little with her personal story. I painted her as a mature dancer holding on to her past and memories. I made the painting completely from life and it was a challenge to paint her from right above, and I had to be careful with my tools not to let anything drop on her.

My sketch for the painting, done from imagination.

susie 1

ESPAÑOL: Cuando encontré por primera vez a Susie, en septiembre de 2012, me contó que de joven quería ser bailarina y que tuvo que parar porque le diagnosticaron una enfermedad. Normalmente yo utilizo los modelos como actores de una escena que yo he creado en mi imaginación, pero desde cuando he empezado a trabajar más del natural para retratos, he empezado también a incorporar pedazos de las historias reales de los modelos en mis cuadros, a tomar inspiración directamente de ellos. Cuando Susie se ofreció para posar para un cuadro mio, pensé que podía hacer algo especial con ella, ya que nunca había trabajado con modelos de su edad. Pensé en la belleza y en la fuerza del cuerpo que va cambiando con la edad y quise relacionar estos hechos un poco con su historia personal. La pinté como una bailarina de mediana edad que se agarra a su pasado y a sus recuerdos. El cuadro está pintado completamente del natural y fue un reto dada la pose en picado. Tuve que asegurarme además de no dejar que nada cayese encima de la modelo mientras la pintaba.

"The Ageing Dancer, oil on linen, 110x80cm

Consuming Desire in detail... by Michele Del Campo


Here I post some high-resolution close-ups of my painting "Consuming Desire" for those people that, like myself, love to see things in detail and to find out some "secrets" of the technique at a closer look.

You can click on the pictures to see them in full detail.



Aquí pongo unos detalles en alta resolución del cuadro "Consuming Desire" para aquellos que, igual que yo, tienen curiosidad por ver las cosas de cerca e intentar descubrir algunos "secretos" técnicos.

Puedes clicar en las fotos para verlas en alta resolución.


The dump (part 1) by Michele Del Campo

This is one of the sketches for my next painting, which will be part of an important exhibition about Globalization. It will feature a massive dump in front of an opulent city with skyscrapers. The setting will not be a real city but an imaginary one with a symbolic function. In the dump, among the rubbish, various people will thrash around naked carried away in frenzy and lust. It is a methaphor of the excesses of consumerism on which is based the economy in our society.


Éste es uno de los bocetos para el cuadro que estoy estudiando en este momento, el cual formará parte de una importante exposición sobre la Globalización. Representará un enorme vertedero frente a una opulenta ciudad de rascacielos, un lugar no reconocible, sino más bien imaginario y simbólico. En el vertedero, varios cuerpos desnudos dan vueltas entre la basura, transportados por un frenesí de éxtasis, en una metáfora de los excesos del consumismo sobre el que se basa la economía en nuestra sociedad.

Video animation after "Viaje de no retorno" by Michele Del Campo

[youtube=] I did not know what had been of that idea that lit up Antonio's eyes when he saw my sketchbooks for the "Viaje de no retorno" exhibition.  He asked me to scan some of my sketchbook pages and to give him all the material related to my exhibition in order to make a video animation. Antonio Dinapoli is a video editor and motion graphics artist and also a very good friend of mine. I met him in London but we share the same origin in Puglia, a southern Italian region.

He told me with enthusiasm about contemporary techniques of creative videos called "Motion Graphics", but I did not understand how it would look like with my work until several weeks later, when he showed me this video. The sketches, texts and photos overlap, fluctuate and merge to tell the creative process and generate the final paintings, while the sounds, sampled from the real world, accompany the images and help the narration. I think it is a wonderful work.


Ya no sabía qué había sido de esa idea que tuvo Antonio y que le hizo brillar los ojos cuando, al ver mis cuadernos de dibujo para la exposición "Viaje de no retorno", me los pidió escaneados para animarlos en un video. Antonio Dinapoli es un editor de videos muy buen amigo mio, nos conocimos hace unos años en Londres pero compartimos un origen común en las mismas tierras de Apulia, en el sur de Italia.

Me habló de técnicas de video creativo llamadas "motion graphics", yo no sabía qué eran y tampoco me ayudaba a hacerme la idea lo que él con entusiasmo me decía que haría con esas imágenes extraidas de mis cuadernos, hasta que, tras alguna semana, me mostró este vídeo. Los bocetos, los textos y las fotos se sobreponen, flotan y se funden para generar los cuadros, mientras los sonidos extraidos directamente de la realidad acompañan las imágenes y favorecen la narración. Me parece un trabajo maravilloso.

"Al otro lado" (The Other Side) by Michele Del Campo

The meaning of my new painting lays in the wall as symbol of divide and confinement. The key figure here is the guy who has climbed onto the wall, defying the danger of incrusted broken glasses, to contemplate the fascinating cityscape with skyscrapers, symbol of the economic power. He is a dreamer, who moves away from the desolated and tense environment of this side of the wall to indulge in what is beyond but cannot be reached but by the sight.

I have to thank my models Ángel, Víctor, Marta and, in particular, Jordi, who gathered his friends to pose for me. All of them posed with great enthusiasm and Ángel even decided with no doubts that he wanted to pose on the actual wall, no matter that he got a small cut on the hand from the broken glasses.



El significado de mi nuevo cuadron se encuentra en el muro como símbolo de división y confinamiento. La figura clave aquí es el chico que, desafiando el peligro del muro, lleno de cristales rotos incrustados, ha subido a lo más alto para contemplar mejor esa ciudad fascinante de rascacielos. Su figura es la del soñador, que se aparta del ambiente tenso y desolado de esta parte del muro para recrearse en lo que hay más allá pero que no se puede alcanzar salvo que con la mirada.

Tengo que agradecer a Ángel, Víctor, Marta y en particular a Jordi, que reunió al grupo, para posar para mi. Todos lo hicieron con mucho entusiasmo y Ángel incluso decidió subirse al verdadero muro para posar y lo hizo sin dudar aun tras hacerse un pequeño corte en la mano con los cristales.

"Una de ellos" by Michele Del Campo

"Una de ellos" (One of Them) is the portrait of a component of a group of young people that is throwing stones towards the windows of an old, abandoned factory. I wanted this portrait to bring us closer to a girl who represents many young people who are angry at a system which, they feel, is abandoning and sacrificing them in benefit of the big players in the global economic game. The idle youths are directing their anger to a building, which is symbolic because it is an emblem of an old economic system that in Western countries has declined, and which can also represent their lost jobs and lack of perspectives.

I searched for a long time a location that could provide me with a good background, similar to what I imagined in my first sketch. I ended up traveling outside of London and visited, in East Tilbury, the amazing giant buildings that were part of the old Bata shoe factory. This is a big modern complex of buildings, residence housing, schools, cinema, swimming pool and other entertainment facilities created in 1932 to accomodate in a pleasant environment its 5.000 workers. East Tilbury, a town created around the factory, is now in decline after the production of Bata shoes closed down its English branch in 2005 and the factories and the surrounding land now are only a ghost of what used to be when it was in function.

As an anecdote, I should tell that just at the same hour that I was taking pictures to a group of friends posing for me while pretending to throw stones in front of a wall, in a poor district North of us in London, thousands of young people started to throw stones and bottles to the police, to smash shop windows and burn buildings and cars. The London riots, which started with a pacific protest of black people after a young black guy from their community was shot dead by the police, soon took a different turn and thousands of young people of all ethnicities and generally from deprived areas of the city, and later also of other cities in England, started to loot and vandalize shops.

I cannot help thinking that if we had taken the pictures just a few hours later it would have looked dangerous and suspicious to passers-by, in the general clime of fear. The reality showed itself more violent and crude than the feeling of helplessness that I wanted to represent in youth of not only lower but also middle class. In fact, with my election of models I intended to confront the viewer with young people who are apparently not rebellious or dangerous, so all of us can somehow identify with them and their problems.


“Una de ellos” es el retrato de una componente de un grupo de jóvenes que tira piedras a las ventanas de una vieja fábrica abandonada. Mi intención con este retrato era acercar al espectador una figura que representa a muchos jóvenes, furiosos con un sistema que sienten que les ha abandonado y sacrificado en beneficio de los grandes especuladores globales. Los jóvenes se aburren sin nada que hacer y dirigen su rabia contra un edificio que resulta simbólico porque es el emblema de un viejo sistema económico en declive en los países occidentales y que, a su vez, puede también representar el trabajo que los jóvenes han perdido y su falta de perspectivas.

Durante muchos días busqué un lugar que pudiera funcionar como fondo para la escena, con un edificio industrial parecido al que había imaginado en mi primer boceto. Al final encontré justo lo que buscaba en East Tilbury, un pueblo a 50km al este de Londres creado alrededor de la fábrica de zapatos Bata. Allí tuve la oportunidad de visitar el grandioso complejo de edificios que forma parte de la vieja fábrica. Éste, muy moderno y casi utópico para los parámetros de la época de su creación, en 1932, incluía casas con jardín para los empleados, piscina, escuelas, cine y otras instalaciones para la comunidad de trabajadores. Desde que en 2005 cerró la fábrica, el complejo, tan grandioso en sus días de actividad, se ha convertido en un fantasma de lo que fue.

Como anécdota debería contar también que, justo a la misma hora a la cual estaba tomando fotos a unos amigos que simulaban tirar piedras contra un muro, en un barrio pobre más hacia el norte de Londres, miles de jóvenes empezaron a tirar botellas y piedras a la policía, a romper escaparates de tiendas y a quemar coches y edificios. Los disturbios de Londres empezaron con una protesta pacífica de gente de color tras la muerte de un joven de su comunidad a manos de la policía, pero pronto tomaron otro rumbo y miles de jóvenes de todas las razas y principalmente provenientes de barrios pobres empezaron a saquear y a destrozar tiendas.

No puedo dejar de pensar que si hubiera tomado fotos a mis amigos solamente unas horas más tarde hubiera resultado sospechoso para los que pasaban cerca y quizás peligroso debido al clima general de miedo. La realidad se demostró mucho más cruda y violenta del sentimiento de impotencia de la juventud en general, de clases baja y media, que yo quería representar. De hecho, al elegir los modelos, mi intención era poner de frente al espectador unos jóvenes que en apariencia no son revoltosos ni peligrosos, para que un poco todos nos pudieramos identificar con ellos y sus problemas.

Sketching and wandering about... by Michele Del Campo

I'm working on a new painting which will portray one of the components of a group of people that is throwing stones towards the windows of a building which could be an old factory. I am still sketching new composition possibilities and studying locations, visiting peculiar places around London where I have never been and where I try to find inspiration for the setting.


Estoy trabajando para mi próximo cuadro, el retrato de uno de los componentes de un grupo de jóvenes que tira piedras contra las enormes ventanas de un edificio que podría ser una vieja fábrica. Todavía estoy desarrollando la idea a través de bocetos y visitando lugares particulares alrededor de Londres donde nunca he estado y donde intento encontrar inspiración para el escenario.

"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.


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.

"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.


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.

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.

"The Way to Darkness" by Michele Del Campo

I have been gathering many ideas in form of sketches and texts for my new exhibition during many months. Now I am picking up a selection of them and, after many re-considerations and re-elaborations, one by one is taking shape on canvases.

One of the images that occurred to me for my "Journey of no Return" exhibition was a naked girl who has just stripped her clothes off and walks dangerously on a railway, defying death in front of her friends. After a few months, where I had been working on other paintings, I retook this scene and reconsidered it under a new light Read more… / Versión española…. I wanted to give the scene the power to evoke solitude and abandonment, so I finally portrayed the girl alone.

The painting deserved a big surface to be contemplated in a scale that would benefit the perception of its dramatic beauty, so I made it into a challenging triptych of 170x400cm.


A lo largo de varios meses he ido acumulando muchas ideas en forma de bocetos y textos para mi próxima exposición "Viaje de no retorno". Ahora estoy seleccionando algunos de esos bocetos, reconsiderándolos y reelaborándolos y uno tras otros, se van convirtriendo en cuadros.

Una de las ideas que se me ocurrió para mi exposición “Viaje sin retorno” fue la de una chica desnuda que se acaba de desprender de su ropa y camina peligrosamente sobre la vía del tren desafiando a la muerte frente a sus amigos. Después de varios meses, en los que trabajé en otros cuadros, retomé esta idea y la reconsideré bajo otra luz. Quería que la escena evocase la soledad y el abandono así que, finalmente, pinté a la chica sola.

El cuadro necesitaba una superficie grande para que se pudiera percibir la escena en toda su dramática belleza, así que la he pintado en un tríptico de 170x400cm.

"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).


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

"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.