The Rome Workshops
I absolutely loved the academic year 2019-20, but fair to say it was also a pretty busy one, filled with challenges: the joint exhibition A Painted Touch of Life, the In The Studio project and learning how to balance studying with work.
As we were approaching the last push for our joint exhibition, Inma and I decided to reward our efforts with some painting holidays ~
We booked a week-long workshop in Rome under the tuition of Nicolàs Uribe. You might remember that he, through a podcast, had been a symbolic reason of why I decided to dare/keep painting in April 2018 :)
After a year of pushing myself to paint medium and big formats through my Diploma and for our exhibition, I was very happy to reconnect with my instinctive scale and pace: I do paint fairly small, and ‘quickly’.
I like the physicality of small objects, something you can hold in your hands, look after; I enjoy painting with one smallish brush and do my mixes with it; I love feeling the urgency of a painting that wants to be resolved in a few hours or a day, as beyond that my concentration tends to fade.
I ended up paintings nine pictures in a week, and through quantity I started to find a process and a pace to rely on.
First a quick drawing to find big shapes and relations, then placing the most obvious notes of colour (most saturated / darkest) to establish the scale I’ll be working with, and from there covering as soon as possible the whole canvas to allow myself time to revisit my decisions.
Within a set framework it was also wonderful to see how everything could change from one perception to the next. Cristina was the model for the whole week, the black drapery in the background and lights did not change, however everything was always a rediscovery.
Alternating between two different palettes positively prevented me from relying on previous observations to mechanically paint the following painting, but in the contrary it encouraged me to enjoy the limitations and possibilities of each set of colours.
Unsurprisingly, I learned so much! The first days showed me opportunities to perceive my flaws as strengths. My ‘messy palette’ and small quantity of paint were my way to find colour relationships and luminosity through the canvas. Working on weirdly shaped leftover of canvas encouraged me to find unusual composition which responded to the pose. My short concentration span translated in upping my pace to make the most of each sitting.
Next steps might be learning how to be more intentional in what excites me and how to render it on canvas. Especially working on rhythm across the canvas: to emphasise points of contrasts and element of similarities, to play with degrees of focus. If anything, it’ll be an opportunity to be more fluid in my decisions, less binary.
For example, with the painting of the left, I was fascinated by the visual connections the feet was making with the ladder, which translated in my mind through abstract shapes and tangents. Usually I might have felt contrived to follow a similar painting language throughout the whole canvas, here I was pleased to paint everything without such plan to respect, which hopefully offered some welcomed nuances.
If this week has been such a joy it is definitely thanks to the amazing environment. Rome for being an endless inspiration and people for being great people!
At the end of each day, David, the organiser, took us to wonderful visits where he would share his love for the city and insights from his sculptor viewpoint.
Nicolàs created an environment where we could all dig a personal way of painting, and everyone is the group shared the same eagerness to do so.
Lots of 'sketching each other' also happened and they are memories I can now treasure in my sketchbook ↓
Guess what? I loved it!