Montse |PAINTING IS A WAY OF LIFE by Montse Valdés

“It is important to have talent, but talent is worthless without freedom of thought, ambition, bravery, passion and the desire to achieve your aim.
For the first twenty years of my artistic evolution, I passionately chased ‘that’ painting: every work that I started was destined to be ‘the one’ until the piece was half finished and started to slip away from what I wanted. However, there was no time to lose heart, as I would immediately start work on another piece with the same zeal and enthusiasm.
For twelve hours a day, every day of the year, for twenty years there was only room in my life for painting. During the first ten years,I concentrated on my technique. Nothing was more important to me than working on the piece I was painting at that moment. While I was studying in the school of Fine Art in Paris, even speaking to people was an effort. I was only interested in the studio, the models and a few conferences. The most important thing was painting and more painting, expressing myself and life drawing. When I started a piece, on the one hand I didn’t want any outside influences of any kind because I felt that I was creating something wonderful. On the other, when I was finishing the piece I felt like it was “slipping out of my hands”.
At that time, I exclusively made my living painting portraits in the summer months in Marbella (Spain), The Algarve (Portugal), Santorini (Greece) and the Riviera (France).
From those days, I mainly remember the faces in front of me, silent and still, and a row of spectators silently watching me wide eyed as the face and soul of the model quickly appeared on the paper.
Spending summers by the sea, surrounded by people from all over the world was a fascinating way for me to finance my work for the rest of the year and completely dedicate myself to my artistic process. One year, following a trip to Greece, instead of returning to Spain, I set off for Thailand and India, spending almost a year travelling between the two countries. That trip gave me a more spiritual understanding of my both personal and professional life.
I then returned to Barcelona and over the next ten years I focused on expressing myself as genuinely as possible. I remember I used to go for lunch at a vegetarian restaurant near my house on Las Ramblas, where I always got chatting to people. We would, of course, talk about painting, and afterwards I would rush back to the studio to continue working. As such, I had the opportunity to see people that inspired me to paint and I often asked them to pose for me. I wasn’t so worried about my technique at that time: I was more interested in discerning the inner self and then expressing it in my work. I was still infatuated with ‘that’ painting Then, about thirteen years ago, all my hard work started to pay off.Slowly but surely, the spirit of my work started to manifest itself more and more. Something had changed, and my art became more established and focused. I liked my paintings, they were in line with what I wanted to achieve. Some actually exceeded my expectations. I even surprised myself and wondered how I had managed to paint them.
Now I was no longer actively searching, I was finding what I was looking for.
I have been following my artistic path for thirty-three years now, a wonderful age! My work follows a certain process, which is also my process, however I often see it as a separate entity. When I manage to let myself go and surrender myself completely to the piece, becoming so small that I almost disappear, the work reveals and creates itself. As the paint brush was once for me, I am a tool made to create. I sometimes look at a my work and feel that the piece wanted to exist, had to exist and even existed beforehand, but has only revealed itself now.
This work is no easy task and it can elude me at any given moment, and often does: by interfering too much, the inspiration (or creative process) disappears, leaving me alone with my technique and those paintings do not survive.
As Toni Facundo stated in his poetry, dedicating yourself to any kind of artistic expression is not merely an artistic act, it is a way of life, a way of facing life. It means revealing oneself when faced with injustice, the abuse of power. It is the fever of society’s ills, the conscience of the disinherited. We are the desperate cries of the sensitive souls.”

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