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The creative process, 1

July 28, 2014

ENGLISH: The other week, while I was painting in Art in Action (see the previous post), many people were fascinated by the fact that the image that I was painting was made-up, a collage from various pictures, although it looked convincing. Noticing that many are not aware of the complexities of the creative process, I would like to  publish a series of posts in the next few days where I show the original references that I used to ensemble the image that I painted on the canvas. In my painting you will see that I am looking for something more than a simple representation of something, I want to create a story, to give a message, to suggest a mood or an emotion, but I have to do it with intention. The simple reality doesn’t always give me all that I need, so I have to create a reality of my own, but that looks convincing.

I will start from “The Other Side”, a 190x300cm oil painting which I did in 2011.


ESPAÑOL: La otra semana, mientras pintaba en Art in Action, (mira el post anterior) mucha gente se quedó fascinada viendo que la imágen que estaba pintando era en realidad una escena ficticia construida a partir de varias fotos. Notando que muchos no son conscientes de la complejidad del proceso creativo, me gustaría publicar, en una serie de posts en estos días, mi material original desde el cual he ensamblado la imágen que he plasmado al final en el lienzo. En mi pintura busco que haya algo más que la simple representación de algo, quiero crear una historia, dar un mensaje, sugerir una emoción o un estado de ánimo, cargar una imagen con intención. La simple realidad no siempre me da todo lo que necesito, así que tengo que crear una realidad propia, pero que sea creible.

Empiezo por un cuadro especial, “El Otro Lado”, un óleo de 190x300cm de 2011.



All the pictures that I used to create “The Other Side” painting. There are pictures from New York, London and Valencia. It took me several months to research and find all the references that I needed, and they are all photos of mine. I worked out the final composition doing a collage in Photoshop.



These are only some of the sketches that I used to develop the idea of “The Other Side”. Research for locations, props and models came soon afterwards.



The Other Side, oil on linen, 190x300cm


The most special of UK art fairs

July 24, 2014

ENGLISH: After my 2008 and 2009 participation, this year I had yet another wonderful experience at Art in Action. I am not amazed that so many people who spoke with me said that they saw me so far back as 5 or 6 years ago, in fact the public of this fair is very faithful and for sure people who come the first time are thinking about returning to repeat the experience. I found old friends artists or organizers from my previous participations, and i have met new great artists that now are new friends, with whom I have shared these beautiful and inspiring four-days of work in public, dinners and parties. Among the public I have to thank so much everyone who has had the patience to spend hours watching me painting, and especially someone that have bought a 4-days pass just to watch my demonstration each hour and each day, I was very flattered and I tried to give my best to pay it back showing all the aspects of my painting.


ESPAÑOL: Ha sido otra experiencia maravillosa mi participación en Art in Action este año. Ya había participado en 2008 y 2009, pero no me extraña que este año que he vuelto he encontrado muchísima gente que se acordaba de mi tras tantos años, de hecho los que han visitado la feria una vez es muy difícil que no quieran repetir al año siguiente. He vuelto a encontrar viejos amigos artistas o de la organización, y he conocido amigos nuevos con los cuales he compartido estos cuatro días muy bonitos e inspiradores trabajando en público. Entre los visitantes tengo que agradecer a todos los que con mucha paciencia pasaron muchas horas viéndome trabajar en directo, y alguien hasta compró un pase para los cuatro dias de la feria para verme trabajar todos los días, eso me alagó muchísimo.



A big number of voluntary people are helping in just all the aspects of running the fair, from transporting artists tools and materials, to transporting demonstrators, to cooking, cleaning and setting things up. Here some voluntary girls are washing a sculpture before the event.



I take a break from painting in the beginning of the third day. Only Three days ago this was a blank canvas!


My stand, beginning of fourth day


One of my paintings, “The Pier”, in the Best of the Best marquee

I had the privilege of being the first to do a drawing on Nathan Ford's participative artwork. Many people intervened on his painting and at the end he finished it in his unmistakeble and beautiful style.

I had the privilege of being the first to do a drawing on Nathan Ford’s participative artwork. Many people intervened on his painting and at the end he finished it in his unmistakeble and beautiful style.


My drawing on Nathan Ford’s painting


Nathan’s painting, full of drawings made by the public, in the fourth day was almost finished


The printmaking marquee


A demonstrator in Printmaking





The demonstrator’s dinner, some of the painters, from down left: Daniel Shadbolt, his father, Nathan Ford, David Parfitt RI and his wife, Cheryl CulverPPS RBA, Justine Lois Thorpe, Sarah Spackman and her partner

Me in the dinner table with other painting demonstrators

Me in the dinner table with other painting demonstrators

Demonstrator's dinner: we were delighted not only by the food but also by beautiful exotic music and dance

Demonstrator’s dinner: we were delighted not only by the food but also by beautiful exotic music and dance

Girl and Dog

July 15, 2014

ENGLISH: This is the painting that came out of a chance encounter with Maisey and her dog Dopey, in the park close to my studio. I saw them walking by and I soon envisioned the possibility of a painting. I asked her and she agreed to pose for me with her dog another day, so we could get organized and i could sketch some ideas. Yesterday she came to my studio to see the finished piece and was really happy with the result, and Dopey seemed happy too, until he spotted another dog passing by and started to agitate furiously, not caring anymore for the delicate work on canvas just beside him…

ESPAÑOL: Este es el cuadro que ha surgido de un encuentro casual con Masey y su perro Dopey, en el parque a lado de mi estudio. Los ví pasar y en seguida concebí la posibilidad de pintarlos. Le pregunté si posaría para mi con su perro y aceptó, as´y que quedamos par otro día para organizarnos y preparar unos bocetos. Ayer vino a mi estudio para ver el cuadro acabado y se quedó muy contenta con el resultado, y Dopey pareció contento también, hasta que vio pasar a otro perro y empezó a agitarse furiosamente sin preocuparse del trabajo delicado en lienzo justo a su lado…


“Girl and Dog”, oil on canvas, 114x146cm


My models for the painting, Dopey and Maisey.


This is the original setting for the painting, just outside my studio, but now with less flowers.

Interview about the cadmium debate

July 14, 2014

ENGLISH: I was interviewed by Liquitex Artists Materials, together with artists Stuart Semple, Liz Elton, Dale Adcock and Alexander Heaton, about the possible cadmium ban in Europe. This is the video:


After watching the video, you can participate in a useful survey to express your opinion in favour or against the ban:

ESPAÑOL: He sido entrevistado por Liquitex, junto a los artistas Stuart Semple, Liz Elton, Dale Adcock and Alexander Heaton, sobre el posible bando de cadmios en Europa. Esto es el video. Después de ver el video, puedes participar a un sondeo y expresar tu opinión en favor o en contra del bando haciendo clic aquí.



Studios in different cities: ideal, but where is the problem?

July 12, 2014

Back in my London studio, now I have to re-stretch the canvas, which I transported rolled-up into a 16cm diameter plastic pipe with its original stretcher bars.


ENGLISH: I love working in my new studio in Valencia, even though I continue living, working and exhibiting in London. But there is a problem when one is working in two cities, how do you plan your painting in the second city in order to finish it in time and take it back with you in your main city? This puts some pressure on me, as I never like to be forced by the events to leave a painting unfinished and then go back to it after several weeks. In fact I have abandoned various promising paintings because i did not finish them when i had the inspiration for them. Therefore my paintings in Valencia must be planned according to the time that I have available, but here is the problem: art is not a science, and I find it impossible to predict how much time I need to finish a painting! In fact my efficiency is very variable and I am amazed at my speed in rendering certain things that in the beginning looked difficult, and, in contrast, my slowness in painting other things that looked quite easy to do (and many times it depends on the day…).

Said this, I am proud of how I managed my time in this occasion in Valencia, as I finished a quite laborious painting and managed to bring it back with me yesterday, in the flight to London. I owe a big part of the achievement to the “Liquin” medium (Winsor and Newton), which speeds up the drying process of oils, so I could roll up the canvas into a tube without problem. This painting will be exhibited in Art in Action, Oxford next week, during my four-days painting demonstration. I hope that you will find the time to come along and enjoy the fair!


ESPAÑOL: Me encanta trabajar en mi nuevo estudio de Valencia, aunque siga viviendo y exponiendo en Londres. Pero hay un problema cuando se trabaja en dos ciudades, y es cómo planificar la pintura para que, durante los días de estancia en una ciudad, puedas terminar la obra que hayas empezado para podértela llevar luego contigo en la otra ciudad. Esto me pone un poco de presión, porque nunca me gusta dejar un cuadro a medio acabar y luego volver a ponerme tras una pausa de varias semanas. De hecho, he abandonado varios cuadros que prometían bien, por no haberlos acabado cuando tenía la inspiración para esa pieza. De esta manera, mis cuadros en Valencia tienen que ser planificados según el tiempo que tengo a disposición, pero el arte no es una ciencia y encuentro imposible predecir cuánto tiempo necesito para acabar una obra, de hecho mi rendimiento es muy variable y me asombra mi velocidad en pintar ciertas cosas que parecían difíciles y, en contraste, mi lentitud para pintar otras que parecían faciles (y muchas veces depende de cómo me siento cada día…).

Dicho esto, estoy orgulloso de cómo he sabido gestionar esta vez mi tiempo en Valencia para acabar a tiempo mi última obra y poderme llevar el lienzo, ya parcialmente seco (gracias al milagroso medium de secado rápido “Liquin“, de Winsor and Newton), conmigo en el avión para Inglaterra, donde lo expondré en Oxford la próxima semana durante la feria Art in Action.



Demonstrating at Art in Action

July 8, 2014
    My demonstration at Art in Action in 2009

My demonstration at Art in Action in 2009

Art in Action, Thursday 17 – Sunday 20 July, Waterperry, Oxford


In just over one week time, I will be painting in the beautiful settings of Waterperry, Oxford, at one of the most enjoyable and inspiring art fair in the UK, Art in Action. I will be very pleased to discuss my work with visitors, and there will be several great artists in all disciplines doing the same. This art fair has a wonderful concept: a group of selected artists will set-up a temporary studio in several marquees dedicated to all disciplines of art, so visitors can enjoy a day or several days out scrutinizing at close distance how artists make their artworks. I hope that you will come along too!

ESPAÑOL: En poco más de una semana estaré pintando en público y demostrando mi técnica en el maravilloso escenario de Waterperry, en Oxford, en una de las ferias más bonitas e inspiradoras del Reino Unido, Art in Action. Al igual que los otros artistas, estaré encantado de conversar sobre mi trabajo y mi técnica con los visitantes. Esta feria tiene un concepto estupendo: unos artistas muy selectos montarán un estudio temporal dentro de varias carpas dedicadas a todas las disciplinas del arte, y los visitantes podrán disfrutar de uno o varios días estudiando de cerca cómo los artistas crean sus trabajos. ¡Espero que tu también vengas!


michele del campo art in action 2

Another shot during my demonstration


Demonstration in the printmaking marquee


The beautiful Waterperry Gardens and House are the setting of Art in Action.


Exotic music, dances and songs in the Art in Action theatre during the event


Glass artists at work

The cadmium colours ban possibility

July 7, 2014

While painting these flowers (a detail of a bigger painting) with cadmium yellow pale over the still wet dark green in the background I was thinking that only cadmiums can keep the full brightness over the green because of their natural opacity. Alternative pigments are more transparent and weaker, so they would let the blacks and greens come through and deaden the colour. In order to keep the brightness of the yellow colour using cadmium substitutes I should either paint the flowers in white over the green first, and wait for it to dry before painting with yellow, or draw exactly where each flower should go on the canvas before painting around with the greens, but this process would make me lose completely the freshness of the improvisation!

I should say that I am in favour of finding an alternative to all poisonous pigments. However, are there valid alternatives? Not at the moment, this is why it is daunting the possibility of a ban of the cadmium pigments in Europe, leaving us artists without a comparable choice, at least until some researchers will find better quality substitutes (will it be possible?)
Read more on cadmiums compared with the best available substitutes here:


Detail of “Girl and Dog”

ESPAÑOL: Mientras pintaba estas flores con amarillo de cadmio claro y medio encima del verde oscuro todavía mojado, estaba pensando que solo  los colores de cadmio pueden mantener su plena luminosidad encima de los verdes gracias a su natural opacidad. Los pigmentos alternativos son más transparentes y débiles, así que el verde se manifestaría a través del amarillo y éste se sofocaría! Para mantener la luminosidad del amarillo utilizando los mejores colores substitutos de cadmio actualmente disponibles tendría que pintar las flores primero en blanco sobre el verde y esperar un largo tiempo para que este se seque, o bien dibujar exactamente las formas de cada flor en el lienzo antes de pintar los verdes, pero este proceso me haría perder completamente la frescura de la improvisación!

Tendría que decir que estoy totalmente en favor de encontrar una alternativa a todos los pigmentos venenosos, y a todas las substancias tóxicas que estamos obligados a utilizar los que pintamos al óleo. Sin embargo, hay una alternativa válida a los pigmentos de cadmio? De momento no, así que es abrumadora la posibilidad de un bando de los colores de cadmio en Europa, dejando a los artistas sin una elección comparable, por lo menos hasta que algunos investigadores encuentren sustitutos válidos (¿será posible encontrarlos?)

Lée más sobre las diferencias entre los cadmios y los pigmentos alternativos actualmente disponibles aquí:

cadmiums opac

cadmiums strength


I have a full-range of cadmium colours, and I use all of them in almost every painting.

I have a full-range of cadmium colours, and I use each and all of them (a third of my whole palette)



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