In early August, Dominic Blake @dominicblakeartist and myself where interviewed by The Guardian on life modelling. It was a privilege to get to talk about this job that we love so much!
Dominic is a great friend and model and I can't thank him enough for his support and enthusiasm through the years. The following week, he delivered a wonderful talk at the Mall Galleries, opening a great conversation 'Are Life Models artists?'.
Mall Galleries catalogue - In The Studio group exhibition
The group exhibition In the Studio lasted for a week at Mall Galleries in August and received wonderful feedback. I personally felt really grateful to show work along talented peers whose work was as inspiring as it was diverse.
The catalogue stays available online and is the opportunity to get to know each artist and the way they approached this show.
Visiting Alex Hirtzel studio was such a treat. She gave her a lift from Royston station up to her little heaven she had transformed over they years: an old barn surrounded by beautifully wild gardens. She was incredibly generous, sharing with us everything from her journey and practice without holding back any secrets.
Through In The Studio we're taking a beautiful habit that I hope will stay with us as we develop our artistic career: the one of meeting peers, sharing openly our space and thoughts, struggles and solutions, realising how much we can learn and grow from each other and find company in what can be a daunting and solitary road.
In May, several of the In The Studio participants were keeping busy before the group exhibition to come later in the summer.
Alongside my friend Inma Garcia-Carrasco, I was just about to exhibit over 20 figurative paintings which delve into our immediate surrounding. A Painted Touch of Life looked at relationships, universal feelings, inner minds and memories: using the human figure as a device to explore life’s fascinating experiences.
The picture on the left shows the collaborative work we created, informed by our burgeoning friendship, and unveiled at the Private View on the 29th of May.
Half-way through my Portraiture Diploma, I felt quite emotional when I was asked to reflect on ‘my story’ at the Art Academy. In January 2017 I committed to 10 evenings, painting from life and using oils for the first time. And believe me, there was no way back! I fell in love with the medium, with how supportive everyone was and – I have to confess – with the building itself.
It rapidly became a second home and the Academy has something particularly precious in the way it connects people from very varied backgrounds. In many ways you learn as much from your peers as you do your tutors.
I had an amazing time sketching on the Circle line with Adebanji Alade and the group. I always carry my sketchbook around anyway, but doing in collectively was even more fun.
I absolutely loved one of Adebanji first advice "just smile!". He's so right, and in many ways this goes beyond drawing merely to practice skills, it's sketching for the joy of connecting with life, with the world around us. As we scribble, most importantly we look more intensely to what's in front of us; and can not be anywhere else but 'in the moment'.
That's why those two hours absolutely flew by. I'm really happy this moment is now fixed in my sketchbook, and will act as a beautiful reminder to do it again soon!
My three paintings have made it to the Royal Institute of Painter in Water Colours annual exhibition (the 207th!). It was a great surprise and I was incredibly happy for this opportunity to share those three little gouaches through the Mall Galleries' walls! An other surprise was selling one of the painting (top-right).
I realised only after the selection that they were actually all self-portraits, however quite different within the genre.
The exhibition opened to the public from Wednesday 3rd to Thursday 18th April 2019, at the Mall Galleries in London.
Visiting the studios of Tina Jenkins and Mark Nader in March was a lovely experience. During our visit, two musicians, Lucas Polo and PJ Ciarla, improvised beautiful soundscape that were directly in response to the artworks in the rooms, and it was a joy to then react to them through sketches.
It was incredibly interesting to get to know Jenkins and Nader’s work, which grows through layers, collage, editing in and out, various images and influences. Their various experience at the Mall Galleries was also particularly insightful.
Working at The Heatherley School of Fine Art as a model brought me a lot of joy this year and it was a pleasure to see them share my appearance on Sky Portrait Artist of the Year 2019.
Thanks to this TV program, more people have been able to connect a name to the face, and discover that I work on both sides of the easel. Through the years, various talented students from their classes have been feature on the show and it was a joy to ‘be among them’. This show came as a surprise and definitely played a role in my development, as it reinforced the thought that I absolutely love painting -even under pressure!
Katherine Tyrrell is known for detailed reviews of major art exhibitions and competitions, and mentioned me for my participation to Sky Portrait Artist of the Year 2019.
In this article she lists the participant profiles, methods and goes back to the judges decision.
I had a brilliant time participating in the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year; it was an incredible experience! A friend encouraged me to apply, so I happily gave it a go, but it was a real surprise when they invited me to be part of the show.
A couple of days before the episode aired, the Mall Galleries posted an article mentioning my participation to the TV program Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year. In my heat (episode 1) I was competing alongside Yevhen Nahirnyy who, a few months later, happened to be a fellow In The Studio as well.
We both got the wonderful opportunity to paint the brilliant British actor Geraldine James. The way she sat for us had something profoundly generous, and even though she and I didn't know each other, a special connection forged between us while I was painting. I felt so happy when Geraldine chose my portrait to take home with her.
I had the best time, sharing a studio with my great friend Andrew Szczech. He and I had answered Cass Art open call for their gallery space in the Islington flag store. We thought exhibition are great but what about a more interactive experience and a firsthand view of an art studio? So we raised the idea of a first Cass Art residency...and it was a success!
We've been able to produce varied work, sit for each other, share techniques and ideas...and we had some really great chat with visitors (some stayed for a bit and engaged in some drawing too). We also had a wonderful evening sharing our enthusiasm for portraiture in a drawing Workshop.
Tim Benson was incredibly generous, welcoming us in his studio for two inspiring hours. As President of the ROI he told us how important it was for them to open up to all artists. He encouraged us to enter competitions, while advising us to keep in mind that rejections always happen and not to take it personally, and rather channel the frustration through paint (and fair to say he's produced brilliant self portraits under this 'technique'!).
Once again, I felt very lucky to attend this visit. When we're talking about all the bricks that help us believe a bit more in our practice, what the Mall Galleries are creating here is undoubtedly precious. Being recognised as emerging artists, and meeting inspiring person like Tim Benson is incredibly valuable.
I had been particularly impressed by the amount of work done is such a short period of time. This, for example, helped me understand better the size/framing requirements that goes with a submission: there's already enough diversity and potential difficulties in everything that is to hang on the day, it would be simply not practical to open applications to less standard framing.
I think the curation was greatly done: if one artist had more than one work, they’d be space up a little but within a range that made you able to identify them and understand one’s style. The theme around community was a brilliant idea, and I'm looking forward to see if such initiative continues with the upcoming years.
Thanks to being part of the In The Studio project, the Mall Galleries asked us to put together an artist bio and other information about ourselves and our practice. They’re sharing it online through the ‘artist explorer’ menu.
Writing about my practice is not always the easiest thing but it is definitely a very interesting exercise that helps me reflect the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ I do what I do. Selecting a few paintings to share is also a challenge, trying to think about which ones are the more representative of who I am and where I want to go.
Reading back through my application, I realise I was pretty right about how much I would benefit from this wonderful project: ‘I'm a true believer that there's nothing more precious than interactions, and that one's practice grows faster, stronger and further when surrounded and supported by others.’
On the 31st of October, the 22 of us met for the first time, still unsure about what the project would be about. We were explained: ‘inspired by the model of our Art Societies, we are equipping emerging talent with the tools, ideas and experiences to form their own collaborative art group’. I could not be more grateful for this whole experience.
Winning the second prize was a wonderful surprise, even more so that it happened on my 24th birthday. Already very happy that my painting got selected, I went to the Private View without expecting anything.
My friend Anaïta -my muse for this portrait- came with me and it was a real joy to share this with her.
Robert Sheppard founded this vegan collection in April 2014. After acquiring two of my paintings through the animal rights exhibition Free the Voiceless, at Somerset House in March, he asked about my practice to create my profile through his website.
When becoming a vegan, I experienced how much we all perceive life through filters, which can sometimes be far away from reality, and play a big part in dividing us. That’s why these works strive to question, to encourage (ex)changing views, shifting perception, to look at what we have in common and how we could reconnect. I wanted the audience to be active, to connect the dots and look beyond smoke screens.