I've recently had the pleasure of speaking with the editor of VOGUE about my practice of portrait painting. The interview is available in the @voguepolska app and it's in Polish, however I made a translation of it and you can read it below.
Art in the Instagram Era
by Julia Wlaszczuk
'Identity is one of the most important subjects for me. Is it permanent or ever changing, is it innate or acquired?
What makes us who we are? - says the painter, whose paintings hang on walls all around the world.’
When did you start making art?
I've been drawing since early childhood and I simply never stopped. I attended drawing and painting lessons. I planned to study graphic design but then I took up the brush. I ended up studying Fine Art Painting at Strzeminski Academy of Art in Lodz. Then I went to Italy and England, where I searched for a more classical training while working at art galleries and incubators.
One day I was walking around Fitzrovia and entered a gallery, where there was a show by a young artist I didn't know. I was in awe. We went for a coffe together and when we spoke, I understood there was still space for traditional painting in the art world and that one could actually make a living of it. That was a turning point for me.
What is your usual work day like? What is your favourite painting technique?
I love painting in oils. My favourite way of doing that is definitely Alla Prima, also called direct painting, where you paint at one go, putting everything in one layer. I like to use a limited colour palette; it results in a specific harmony that I adore in painting.
Apart from oil paintings, I also work with watercolour. It is a much faster medium and easier to execute outside my studio. It can come very handy for someone like me, who combines work with family life. I usually work in my home studio, but I can also work from a park or a cafe.
I've been a mother and a full time painter for over five years. I paint all evenings when my children sleep or during the day, when I’ve childcare. I think they share my passion for art. Sometimes I take their easels to my studio and we paint all together.
What is the subject of your work?
I mainly paint portraits. I’ve always been interested in people, their character and emotions. I focus a lot on the subject of identity: is it permanent or ever changing, innate or acquired? What makes us who we are?
I like the candidness of children and I enjoy painting them. They are unable to hold a pose and they don’t control the impression they give.
What inspires you? Who are the artists whose work you look up to?
When it comes to history of art, I’m into XIX and XX century. The paintings by Joaquin Sorolla, John Singer Sargent, Henry Scott-Tuke and Andres Zorn are breathtaking. I love Olga Boznanska, Gerald Brockhurst, Gwen John.
Speaking of contemporary artist, I admire Coleen Barry, Nicolas Uribe, Nicola Samori and many others.
Is there any other form of art other than painting that you would like to try?
I like sculpting. I’m only a beginner and I’m definitely less ambitious in sculpture than in painting but it gives me a lot of pleasure.
What’s Instagram for you as an artist?
It’s thanks to Instagram that I started earning my living as an artist. It’s also a tool that I use for being up to date with the art world. The disadvantage of it is that I compare myself a lot to other painters and even though I know we all have different journeys, I can’t not see how good they are and it’s easy for me to feel like I’m just a worse painter.
In spite of that, Instagram can be a great learning tool. I follow a lot of artists who happily share their knowledge and painting process, art historians who speak about their passion and understanding of art, art conservators.
What advice would you give to beginning artists?
Draw, paint observe and explore. Make a habit of daily drawing as early as you can. It’s a way of self expression and the style and technique will follow your efforts. Painting is a complex field with a long history. It takes time to learn to do it well.
Try to learn from the best; it is possible this day and age as the Internet makes everything more available. Find an artist whose art speaks to you and see what they have to offer. Know their ways. When I started studying art and felt lost, I wrote emails to my favourite painters all around the world. I asked for advice. That’s how I learned about the Florence Academy of Art, Grand Central Atelier or LARA in London, which I attended.
Interview published at Vogue Polska app on 23-04-21