Well, it's been a while since the last email from Magdalena's studio. For those of you that have recently subscribed, I'm Magdalena's husband, Tom. Three years ago I quit my career as an IT consultant in order to dedicate myself full time to learning what was necessary to support and build the career of my artist wife. We live, breath and survive on her art.
In this new series of emails that I'll be writing over the summer, we decided that we'll try to give a more in-depth view into the world of an emerging artist and how the decision to follow our dreams has worked out and affected us as a family. In each email we're going to answer at least one question that that we regularly get asked.
Before I jump into it, the photo at the top of this email is the view from our new home. After 15 years of travelling Europe together, we've finally found our place and have bought our first house. Asturias is a little known part of Spain with a climate more akin to the south-west of England than the rest of Spain. The area is steeped in history and legend and has some of the most spectacularly beautiful scenery that either of us have ever experienced... perfect inspiration for a working artist and her family!
So on to today's question...
Magdalena, why don't you use oil paints like so many other contemporary artists?
“Whilst I was studying at university I found that almost everyone was using oils as they were readily available and relatively cheap. I was looking for a fresh, looser way of painting that would allow me to work quickly and which would let me capture the dynamics of what I was experiencing whilst also covering large surfaces. Acrylics were new to Poland at that time and expensive, so I settled on poster paints, temperas and gauches with acrylics providing the high contrast details. It was a short-lived love affair though and I had to revert back to oils as that was the medium of choice for the studio in which I worked for the next 5 years after graduating.
"Sleeping Beauty" (90 x 135cm) - Poster paint, tempera, gauche and acrylics
Water-based media came back into my life when I was pregnant. I was very concerned about the fumes of the oil paints and associated solvents and the effect they may have on my unborn child so I decided to switch to acrylics. I was living in England by then where they were cheap and easy to find but I remember being so frustrated to begin with as I’d forgotten how fast they dried! I quickly began to appreciate them though as they allowed me to put layers down while my daughter slept.
Detail of abstract painting using acrylics, watercolours, pastels and gold leaf
These days I love mixing a combination of acrylics, watercolours and gauches with pastels and gold leaf. The acrylics provide a strong colour punch, watercolours give flow and gauche and tempera allow me to work with the layers for longer. I use all kinds of pastels, mainly for detailing and texture and each type of pastel has a different effect. Gold leaf in combination with washes of watercolour was my artistic response to living in Spain and gives me a way to express the intensity and warmth of the sun. I love the quick drying times of this mixed media approach as I am often working to deadlines but more importantly, I paint in layers and this approach allows me to build layers of colour and texture rapidly whilst I’m in the mental flow of a painting.
I’m constantly experimenting with new techniques and ways of applying colour and am particularly interested in finding water-based non-plastic, sustainable media.”
"Where Land Meets Sky" (120 x 120cm) Acrylics, watercolours, pastels and gold leaf
(Currently en-route to Corte-Real Gallery in Portugal)
That's pretty much it for today. The plan is to make this a twice weekly series of emails over the summer. Some will be more focused on the interview, like this one, and some will be more about the paintings themselves. If you have any feedback or have any questions that you'd like us to answer in the newsletter, please feel free to get in touch with us! Whilst we can't always guarantee that we'll answer immediately, we do try our best to reply to every email.
Oh, and stay tuned for an exclusive studio discount only for you lovely newsletter subscribers that'll becoming up in the next week or two ;-)
All the best
Tom & Magdalena