This year of the Sheep is all about community and creativity, it is a year for trying new things, healing and regrouping, and sharing with family and friends. All around I am appreciating the power of collective movements, partnerships, friendships, global movements… like herds of perseverant sheep changing the world!
For my process of “becoming an artist”, this year is about finding my own voice through exploring and developing, daring to be original and pushing my own boundaries. In other words, finding my “painting joy”! In this purpose I am taking my time to play and also I joined the group of Lilla Rogers‘ -MATS Creative Bootcamp- an inspiring community of illustrators. It is organised around a framework of challenges and tasks developed by Lilla and her experienced team of agents, artists and trend-spotters.
It works as a sort of “mystery-magical-tour”. During the first week of the month, we are given a “mini”, this can be a topic to explore; for instance, in January we were working about “Edwardian Brooches”; and in the second week, we get the “assignment” which was to produce a Journal cover using the elements of the mini and the brooches. there are some instructions, but basically the idea is “dive in and enjoy yourself“! For my mini I drew this:
I discovered that Edwardian Brooches actually used a lot of insect shapes in the form of stones adorned with fine filigree, so I decided to use my own “beetles” and work around them. Before completing the task, I played around the beetles in the style of my “back to black” collage/iCut/gouache illustrations:
For the journal I decided to use my own words as I am quite used to keep notes about my day or to write letters to few loyal pen pals. I felt it was a decent effort, but I realised that I need to improve my game: I want to learn “Illustrator” and understand the current language or prints, imagery and iconography as presented in stationery, textiles, children’s books, etc. There are a lot of talented people out there, and the MATS Bootcamp is a nice community of information and support.
For the second month, the “mini” was about “vintage scene plates”. That week I had the beautiful encounter with a flying heron, and I decided to find out more about them in the plates pinned in my Pinterest. Herons are symbols of longevity, patience and good luck, so it was very nice to draw them for the mini!
Scanned drawings intervened digitally. Herons. Be.a.Art
After that I thought on using my own rich mine of drawings of landscapes. I took my latest sketchbook of our holidays in the Cotswolds: the linear impressions of those beautiful rolling hills, the idyllic villages and the architecture. It was very nice to transform the drawings into “plates” and I discovered how the circular shape actually contains, enhances and give coherence to the landscapes.
Sketchbook Mini-MATS. 2015. Ink on Paper
For the assignment we were asked to paint an “artwork” on a piece of circular wood based on the idea of the mini. I could not find any of these rough wood shapes, just some plywood and a selection of circular canvasses. The latter suited me better and I started my magical mystery journey with the challenge of transforming the “graphic” language of the line into shapes and colours of an oil painting. The process was not easy and I struggled a lot! I started with a basic idea of the colours using acrylic paints, that also gave me some ‘solidity’ with the materials, and then I used the vibrant oil paints, which definitively offer a different quality and brilliance.
Cotswolds World. w.i.p. BAcevedo (oil on canvas)
I wanted to use the three different sizes of the canvasses to convey the notion of “Zooming”… so I thought it would be nice to focus on different parts of the scene. This was also a way of “zooming out” from the main plate, as it was getting increasingly complex, so, the other plates were bridges and opportunities to develop parts of the larger scene: I chose to work on snowdrops, as at this time of the year they are spurting here and there, little jewels of intense white. I found myself learning a lot about these beauties and I definitively joined the club of “galanthophiles” or “snowdrop connoisseurs/lovers”.
After that I zoom on the “little bird”, which also coincided with the explosion of crocuses in the garden, a real riot of lilac and orange flames, announcing the imminent arrival of the spring. Seeing them “dancing in the wind” gave me so much happiness hence I decided to celebrate their jives on the medium sized canvas, surrounding the little blue bird.
Zoom – Cotswolds Circular painting. Work in Progress.
Oil on canvas. 2015.
I am happy with the result. I feel that albeit it looks a bit “naive” these paintings are an original development of my drawings and they express my own way of seeing and living in the world. Indeed, the inclusion of the blue bird has an important resonance in my life: When I was a child, one of my favorite tales was the one of the Blue Bird. It was about a group of children who wanted to find the “blue bird” of happiness. They travel to luxurious palaces and exotic gardens, where surely, there must be that elusive blue bird, but every time they discover that the birds are not blue, only chimeras of this impressive hue. After many efforts they come back home empty handed, only to find that the blue bird has been always there, in their own home, waiting to be “discovered”.
It is a wonderful metaphor for coming back to what we are, living in the present, and draw upon our own original joy and imagination!