I’m back!


I know it’s been ages since I last posted anything here. I’ve been very busy with real life, and I feel like that’s the understatement of the year. I moved to Chicago for work at the beginning of the year, and a few months ago I moved back to Spain to finish some studies that I still had to put an end to. I’ve met a lot of new people, some of them have impacted me in ways I didn’t expect and can’t even possibly explain, as I’m still trying to understand myself. I’ve seen beautiful places and landscapes, I’ve spoken different languages with people from all over the world and, sadly, I’ve also taken a break from painting. I never meant for it to happen, but I guess sometimes we get caught on routines and feelings that don’t let us fully evolve. I was stuck for a long time, and then I was just extremely busy. Either way, my need to create never fully stopped as I did some sketches here and there when I was traveling, but nothing too special or worth sharing.

But now I’m back. What moved me to paint again? I have no idea. A pile of things, I guess. New feelings, new living arrangements… but still the same coping mechanism: art. It’s comforting to know that there’s a blank canvas there waiting for you to bring it to life, depending solely on you to be something.

So, to familiarize myself again with watercolors I started by playing around with this little woman figure study.

Girl Study

 After I got a little braver -and messed up some other paintings- I decided to go hard or go home, so I brought out the biggest watercolor paper that I had and started painting on it. I began feeling utterly insecure (shocker) and at first the monsters in my head were impelling me to quit, to stop trying because there was no helping it; I was miserably failing. I talked about talent in the last post and how I have to fight my insecurities into submission while creating something. I think I forgot about this part of the process because I wasn’t ready for it, I wasn’t ready to put up a fight. But I guess my stubbornness won the battle anyway, because I did push through and, eventhough it’s not finished yet, it’s definitely moving forward. (Sorry about the quality of the pictures, they were taken with my phone. I’ll try to steal my brother’s camera next time)

I still have a lot to work on, but I’m happy about having my inspiration – and the time to take advantage of it- back.

I hope it lasts!

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What’s talent, anyway?

I was kidnapped by a friend several times last week. Said friend mistreated me with ice creams, delicious lunchs, trips to Tarifa, dinners and beers. Somehow, I managed to go camping to the beach side with my best friends too. And along the way, I’ve been working out, reading like a mad woman, and unfortunately, I’ve been (I am) ill too.

Translation: I haven’t painted a thing. 

Do not fret, my friends. I made myself sit down this morning to start a new piece. However,  I am not happy at all with the sketch (thus, the lack of picture of it) and I was so incredibly frustrated after a few attempts that I decided to leave it until I was in a better frame of mind. See? This happens constantly to me. Insecurity takes a hold of me every time I start something new, because I believe I will never be able to transform my thoughts into something worth looking at. It’s only when I’m stubborn enough to overcome those initial doubts that I end up finishing what I’ve started.

For those of you who believe that painting is just second nature to some of us, that it doesn’t require dedication, patience and hard work, you’re completely and utterly wrong. Talent without a backup is wasted talent. Talent will get you nowhere if you rely exclusively on that, if you wait for it to give you the best of you. Talent is volatile and unstable. Haruki Murakami expressed what I’m trying to say brilliantly in Norwegian Wood, one of my favorite books:

“I know I have a pretty good sense for music, but she was better than me. I used to think it was such a waste! I thought, ‘If only she had started out with a good teacher and gotten the proper training, she’d be so much further along!’ But I was wrong about that. She was not the kind of child who could stand proper training. There just happen to be people like that. They’re blessed with this marvelous talent, but they can’t make the effort to systematize it. They end up squandering it in little bits and pieces. I’ve seen my share of people like that. At first you think they’re amazing. Like, they can sight-read some terrifically difficult piece and do a damn good job playing it all the way through. You see them do it, and you’re overwhelmed. you think, ‘I could never do that in a million years.’ But that’s as far as they go. They can’t take it any further. And why not? Because they won’t put in the effort. Because they haven’t had the discipline pounded into them. They’ve been spoiled. They have just enough talent so they’ve been able to play things well without any effort and they’ve had people telling them how great they are from the time they’re little, so hard work looks stupid to them. They’ll take some piece another kid has to work on for three weeks and polish it off in half the time, so the teacher figures they’ve put enough into it and lets them go to the next thing. And they do that in half the time and go on to the next piece. They never find out what it means to be hammered by the teacher; they lose out on a certain element required or character building. It’s a tragedy.”

So yes, I am not one of the talented kids that gets the easy approval by doing what feels good to them. I am a firm believer of the trial- error method and a constant participant of it. In truth, I haven’t studied anything related to art, I only went to painting classes when I was 10 years old (and didn’t last long in them) and I hadn’t had any contact with watercolors until 6 months ago. However, whatever comes out of this insanity of mine is not the result of talent. While painting, I have to fight my insecurities into submission. I have to do ad re-do sketches a hundred times. I spend hours just looking at what I’ve drawn or painted to decide if I actually like what I’ve created. It doesn’t come easy to me. I make it come.

I’ll leave you some pictures of the places I’ve been to lately. Hopefully, next time I’ll be sharing pictures of new paintings!

Summertime!

Finally, I finished lawschool! Well, I have to wait for some results, but still, the summertime season was oficially opened last friday!

Since then, I’ve been fully enjoying the lack of responsabilities and the relaxation that the holidays bring; which basically means that I’ve been sleeping like there’s no tomorrow, going out, indulging in some frivolous activities such as shopping or pampering up and, most importantly, painting and sketching!

This is what I’ve been busying myself with:

Tomorrow I’ll be travelling to my hometown in the south of Spain, and once I’m settled there my hectic holiday plans are going to start unravelling. I expect to be on the move for a while! For instance, I’m heading to Seville to visit one of my best friends on Friday! I also have everything booked for one special trip in August and I’m currently looking for flights and accomodation in a few more places that probably will suffer my presence in the near future. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to be overly distracted to paint or create, on the contrary, it will inspire me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things on that matter. Free time and new experiences help the experimentation process, and I’m planning to have a hell of a lot of both things.

I’ll keep you posted!

Happy summertime, everyone!

New paintings available!

I just uploaded these pieces to the Paintings section!

"As we make history..."

“As we make history…”

"I think I'm losing where you end and I begin"

“I think I’m losing where you end and I begin”

If you’re interested in any of them, you can purchase them at Society6, or if you want the original artwork just let me know! You can reach me at artdiarrhea@gmail.com. I’ll be open to any commission you might want to throw my way too, so don’t be shy!

Self Portrait Trial

It’s been way too long since the last time I had a paintbrush in my hands, and today I wasn’t strong enough to hold back my withdrawal symptoms…

I. HAD. TO. PAINT.

So as soon as I finished reviewing one of my favorite Commerce Law lessons (I personally believe that the industrial property area of law is incredibly sexy) I got my watercolors and started painting.  I couldn’t think fast enough of anything interesting to paint in very little time – after all I was only on my break – so I decided to make a self portrait… well, something that looks like a self portrait, really.

I’m not extremely happy with the result, but oh well, there’s only so much you can do in less than an hour.

By the way, Tax Law exam went incredibly well. Maybe, and it’s a big maybe taking into account that at Icade (the Law School I go to) you can NEVER be sure of how you did in an exam, I have a good/very good mark. I passed for sure. And that is why my friend and I decided to go wild and celebrate with our exam hangover remedy!

-Insert sarcasm- Quite a celebration, isn't it?

-Insert sarcasm- Quite a celebration, isn’t it?

Juan Francisco Casas: where trivia meets transcendence

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Spanish:

Al contemplar el trabajo de este joven artista, enseguida advertimos que su modelo directo no han sido los individuos, amigos y colegas, novias y demás presencias ocasionales, que aparecen en sus cuadros y dibujos -siempre en actitudes graciosas o descaradas, en situaciones hilarantes o divertidas, todas enmarcables dentro de la más estricta banalidad- sino las instantáneas que de ellos tiene por costumbre realizar; según propia confesión, siempre va acompañado de una cámara. Su aproximación al entorno es, por tanto, mediada; lo reconoce, con fines artísticos –y quién sabe si también existenciales-, a través de la sensibilidad fotográfica. Esta interpretación de la realidad cotidiana es la que ha decidido imprimir en su obra, pero buscando o aprovechando algo más que la simple información puntual que la fotografía le ofrece; no se trata sólo –acaso cabría decir mejor ni siquiera- de facilitar una tarea de análisis y observación, más bien de incorporar unos códigos visuales que, por sernos fácilmente reconocibles , le proporcionan un soporte icónico muy pertinente para el carácter de sus imágenes. Un modelo de dicción que adquiere así el rango de ambiental, determinando el tono de la obra y, en consecuencia, su estilo, su manera de pintar y dibujar e incluso el procedimiento empleado (…)

Si Gerhard Richter había optado por emplear la fotografía como coartada para ahuyentar una subjetividad indeseada (trasladando así la realidad a un segundo plano, hiperbáticamente, convirtiéndola en un reflejo de segunda generación) Casas, por su parte, mucho más irónico y desenfadado que el alemán y, por supuesto, menos programático, ha cifrado en la definición que aquella le ofrece toda la temperatura expresiva que, a nivel de tratamiento, puede o quiere permitirse. Su realismo se deriva, precisamente, de esta decisión. Ni corrige ni altera la oferta fotográfica. Su pintura es un ejercicio claro de reproducción, de camuflaje retórico, como así lo constata su estilo; un estilo inaparente, que precisa de la invisibilidad para resultar efectivo. Viendo sus cuadros advertimos que las calidades pictóricas son mínimas, formularias, planas, escuetamente nominales . No hay un tratamiento pictórico que se sobreponga a la mera función representativa; ni una huella, ni un gesto, ni una carga o énfasis matérico que denuncie algo más que la pertinaz constancia de la instantánea.  
Podría afirmarse que Juan Francisco Casas fotografía cuando pinta, pero sólo si tenemos en cuenta que su trabajo lo comienza con la cámara en la mano; es decir, que la suya no es la obra de alguien que simplemente copia, ya que sus pinturas y dibujos están realizados con absoluta premeditación. Una operación deliberada que arranca desde el momento en el que sale a buscar las fotos (o a provocarlas) y que alcanza, de modo todavía más determinante, hasta aquel otro en el cual lleva a cabo su trabajo en el estudio, al trasladar las imágenes fotográficas al lienzo o al papel; todo ello motivado por una decisión que, apoyándome en las palabras del propio artista, no dudaré en calificar de irónica. (…)

(…) Lejos de presentársenos como la prueba definitiva de su aptitud –y sólo como simple aptitud- constituye la clave dialéctica de un planteamiento que se desliza, con gran desenvoltura, por los pliegues de esa lógica de lo real con cuya textura tan familiarizados estamos. Todo, para llevarnos a su terreno, es decir, para certificar lo bien que se lo pasa con sus amigos, ligues y demás personal con el cual se junta, mientras logra convencernos, una vez más, de que la banalidad (algo más que lo cotidiano, ese resto que nos ha legado la liquidación de les grands récits) es acaso el más concluyente santo y seña de nuestra época, sólo inteligible a partir de múltiples microrrelatos.”

Victor Zarza (Crítico de ABC cultural)

¿Quieres saber más de él? ¡Visita su página web!

English:

“Contemplating this young artist’s work, we soon realise that he is not using as his direct model the individuals, friends, mates, girlfriends and other occasional beings shown in his paintings and drawings -always with a cheerful and cheeky attitude, in funny or hilarious situations, all of them strictly banal-. He is rather using the snapshots he takes of them. He has confessed to always carry a camera around. So he approaches his environment always through some sort of means, through a photographic sensitivity, with an artistic aim, as he acknowledges. He has decided to show in his work this interpretation of everyday reality, but seeking or taking advantage of something else other than the mere punctual information offered by photography. It is not only -or we should rather say it is not even- about rendering analysis and observation easier. It is more about incorporating visual codes which, being easily recognizable,  offer him a very relevant iconic medium to the kind of pictures he makes. It is a language model that becomes environmental, which determines the tone of the work and therefore his style, his way of painting and drawing, and even the procedure he uses (…)

Gerhard Richter chose to use photography as an alibi to banish an unwished  subjectivity (thus putting reality aside on the background and turning it into a second hand reflection). Casas, on the contrary, being far more ironic and lighthearted than the german artist, and, of course, less programmatic, makes use of the definition that photography offers him and allow himself to express the whole range of moods at his disposal (or at his wish), as far as treatment is concerned. His realism derives, precisely, from this decision. He does not correct nor changes the photographic offer. His painting is a clear exercise of reproduction, of rethorical camouflage, as stated by his style. A style that is not obvious, which requires invisibility to be effective. Looking at his pictures we notice the minimum, formulaic, flat, succinctly nominative pictorial qualities.  There is not pictorial treatment over the mere representative function. Nor is there a print, a gesture, a charge or a material enphasis revealing anything else other than the presistent snapshot perseverance. We could state that Juan Francisco Casas photographs when he paints, but only if we take into account that he begins his work with his camera. So it is not the work of somone simly copying, as his paintings and his drawings are premeditated. It is a deliberate operation starting at the moment in which he sets out looking for pictures to be made (or to be prompted). Even more definitely, it goes up to that other moment in which he carries out his activity at his studio, transfering the photographs onto canvass or paper. And it is all motivated by a decision that, according to the own artist’s words, I no doubt will describe as ironic. (…)

(…) Far from being the final evidence of his ability -and not just simple ablility-, it is the dialectic key of an approach easily following the winding paths of a logic of reality, whose texture we are so familiar with. All that to take us to his world, that is, to confirm how much fun he has with his friends, girls and other people he tags along, while he suceeds in bringing us round, once again, to his point of view: banality (more than the ordinary, what is left form the annihilation of  les grands récits) may be the more definite sign of our times, only intelligible through multiple microstories.”

Victor Zarza (ABC Cultural art critic)

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Want to see more? Visit his website!