Interview with Neptalí Quezada

“I believe that figurative art tends to communicate more simply the intention of the artist”

*Interview conducted in Spanish, original answers at the bottom*


Artist Neptalí Quezada Alvarado was born in Trujillo, Peru, in 1976. Ever since he was a little boy he was interested in art. After earning his bachelor’s degree to become a Mathematics teacher, he studied Visual Arts at the School of Fine Arts “Macedonio de la Torre” and developed his professional career as an artist. 

Quezada’s beautiful oil paintings combine realism and surrealism —many of them with powerful environmental messages— and have been exhibited across Peru and Ecuador in different shows and galleries. He has earned several awards during the past few years, and in 2019 was interviewed for the Peruvian TV show Detrás del Arte.

Painting by Neptalí Quezada using model Becca as a reference (image shared by artist)

In this Q&A, artist Neptalí Quezada shares with PoseSpace how he started drawing, which artists have influenced his work, details about the process of making his work and more:

Can you tell us about your background and how you got into art?

From my childhood, what I remember the most during my first years of life (when I was two to three years old) is sitting next to my mother listening to the instructions on how to draw a dummy. She would take my hand and, on other occasions, I would do it alone. Later on, my father, every now and then, bought me sketchbooks—those of cardboard and silk sheets— and watercolor pencils. During this stage of my life, I saw my father draw a lot and quite well; he did it as a hobby since he never studied drawing at school, much less professionally, but I wanted to copy what he created. It was in the first five years of my life that I acquired a taste for drawing and painting.

As a teenager, I made copies of some paintings by famous painters such as Rubens and Velásquez with tempera paint on cardboard, that some people—friends or family— liked and later bought them for me.

Then at the end of my university studies as a teacher of mathematics, I applied for the School of Fine Arts “Macedonio de la Torre” in the city of Trujillo (Peru), and I was awarded the gold medal for the best student in 2003, which was a great incentive to continue with my professional artist projects. Since then, I dedicate myself to art professionally.

Which artists have had an influence on your work?

I should mention that, at first, it was Rubens and Velásquez. Then, as a student of Fine Arts: Caravaggio, Ingres, Bouguereau, and Dalí. And, in recent years I have been investigating Claudio Bravo (Chilean painter).

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

Well, the first thing is to immediately address the idea that comes to mind before I forget. I have had some of those ideas when I go on the bus to work or in my bed right when I start falling asleep and immediately I stand up to sketch it before I forget.

After the sketch, I use Photoshop to have a clearer idea of the images and textures that I want to achieve at the end of the work. It is here that I look for the image closest to the sketch that I made at the beginning. Finally, when I am satisfied with the digital work I do previously, I transfer it to the canvas.

And, well, it probably looks like a ritual, but I’m always accompanied by a New Age musical background or alternative rock to escape from my surroundings.

What do you think of PoseSpace?

It fascinates me and I use it often.

It is a great resource especially for figurative artists, it has a wide range of models and poses that can fit with your compositional idea of the work you want to portray.

My favorite models are Becca and Vaunt.

Painting by Neptalí Quezada using model Vaunt as a reference (image shared by artist)

What is the importance of figurative art for you?

Art is one of the many ways that men and women have to communicate and, from my point of view, I believe that figurative art tends to communicate more simply the intention of the artist. For example, if the artist is empathic with caring for the environment, even if his work is immersed in surrealism, the images that the viewer recognizes will encourage some reflection on ecological awareness.

Now that you have more experience, what advice would you give your younger self?

Difficult to answer, but I think I would advise myself to devote more time, as much leisure time as possible, to find new forms of visual plastic expression.

Neptalí Quezada’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/neptali.quezadaalvarado1

Interview by Andrea Miliani


Spanish version: original answers

El artista Neptalí Quezada Alvarado nació en Trujillo, Perú, en 1976. Desde que era niño se interesó por el arte. Más adelante, después de obtener su licenciatura para convertirse en profesor de Matemáticas, estudió Artes Visuales en la Escuela Superior de Formación Artística “Macedonio de La Torre” y desarrolló su carrera profesional como artista.

Las hermosas pinturas al óleo de Quezada combinan el realismo y surrealismo —muchas de ellas con poderosos mensajes ecológicos— y se han exhibido a lo largo de Perú y Ecuador en diferentes presentaciones y galerías de arte. Este talentoso pintor ha ganado varios premios durante los últimos años y en 2019 fue entrevistado para el programa de televisión peruano “Detrás del Arte”.

Pintura realizada por el artista Neptalí Quezada usando a la modelo Becca como referencia (imagen compartida por el artista)

En esta serie de preguntas y respuestas el artista Neptalí Quezada comparte con PoseSpace cómo comenzó a dibujar, qué artistas han influido en su trabajo, detalles sobre el proceso de creación de arte y más:

¿Cómo se desarrolló su relación con el arte?

De mi infancia lo que me ha quedado de recuerdo de mis primeros años de vida (entre dos a tres años) es estar sentado al lado de mi madre recibiendo las indicaciones de cómo hacer un monigote, cogiendo ella mi mano y en otras ocasiones haciéndolo solo. Más adelante mi padre, de vez en cuando, me compraba los cuadernos de dibujo, aquellos de hoja de cartulina y otra de seda, además de los lápices de colores para acuarela. Es una etapa en donde vi a mi padre dibujar bastante y muy bien, él lo hacía por hobby dado que nunca habría estudiado dibujo en el colegio ni mucho menos profesionalmente y yo quería copiar lo que él hacía.

Entonces fueron los primeros cinco años de mi vida los que marcaron mi gusto por el dibujo y la pintura.

En mi adolescencia hacía copias de algunas pinturas de famosos pintores como Rubens y Velásquez con témpera sobre cartulina que llegaba a gustar a algunas personas, amigos o familiares, que luego me las compraban.

Luego al término de mis estudios universitarios como docente de matemáticas postulé a la Escuela de Formación Artística “Macedonio de la Torre” de la ciudad de Trujillo, siendo premiado con la medalla de oro al mejor alumno en el año 2003, lo cual fue un gran incentivo para seguir con mis proyectos de artista profesional. Desde aquel entonces me dedico al arte profesionalmente.

¿Qué artistas han tenido una influencia en su trabajo o lo han inspirado?

Debo mencionar que en un principio fueron  Rubens y Velásquez. Luego como estudiante de Bellas Artes son Caravaggio, Ingres, Bouguereau y Dalí; y en los últimos años he estado investigando a Claudio Bravo (pintor chileno).   

¿Cómo es su proceso de trabajo? 

Bueno lo primero es plantear inmediatamente alguna idea que se me venga en mente antes de que me olvide, incluso algunas de esas ideas las he tenido cuando voy en el bus a mi trabajo o en mi cama al empezar a caerme el sueño y de inmediato me levanto a plasmarlo como un esbozo para no olvidarme.

Luego del boceto utilizo el photoshop para tener una idea más clara de las imágenes y las texturas que quiero lograr al finalizar la obra. Es aquí donde busco la imagen más cercana al boceto que plasmo al inicio. Finalmente, cuando ya estoy conforme con el trabajo digital que hago previamente, lo traslado al lienzo.

Y, bueno, probablemente parezca un ritual, pero siempre estoy acompañado de un fondo musical New Age o rock alternativo para escapar de mi entorno.

¿Qué piensa de PoseSpace? ¿Tiene modelos favoritos?

Me fascina y suelo utilizarlo a menudo.

Es un gran recurso sobre todo para artistas figurativos, tiene una amplia gama de modelos y poses que puede encajar con tu idea compositiva de la obra que quieres plasmar.

Y sobre las modelos favoritas para mí son  Becca y Vaunt.  

¿Cuál es la importancia del arte figurativo para usted?

El arte es una de las muchas formas que el hombre y la mujer tienen de comunicarse y desde mi punto de vista creo que el arte figurativo tiende a comunicar de una forma más simple la intención del artista, por ejemplo, si el artista es empático con el cuidado del medio ambiente, así su trabajo se encuentre inmerso en un surrealismo, las imágenes que el espectador reconoce motivarán en él alguna reflexión sobre conciencia ecológica.

Ahora que tiene más experiencia, ¿qué consejo se daría a usted mismo cuando estaba empezando a interesarse por el dibujo y la pintura?

Difícil de responder, pero creo que me aconsejaría a dedicarme más tiempo, todo el tiempo posible de ocio para poder encontrar nuevas formas de expresión plástica visual.

Neptalí Quezada / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/neptali.quezadaalvarado1

Entrevista: Andrea Miliani

Interview with Dana Lombardo

“The poses give inspiration and references to give form and substance to my ideas”

Artist Dana Lombardo was born and raised in Oklahoma, in the United States. Ever since she was a shy little girl, she draws and uses art to communicate and express her ideas with others. Painting people later became a professional career and, currently, she also enjoys working on commissioned portraits.

Lombardo uses oil paint, pastels, charcoal and ink. Inspired by artists like John Singer Sargent, Rembrandt, Degas, Dali, and Escher; this self-taught artist learned to create her own style and has earned several awards including 1st Place Still Life and Best in Show at the OAG Small Works Show in 2013, Emerging Artist Winner at the Artmuse Online Contest and the Best Figurative Award at the West National Juried Show. This year, her painting “The Rush Gather” will be part of the Women Artists of the West’s 50th Anniversary juried exhibition.

“Let’s dance” by Dana Lombardo, inspired by anaiv010  (image shared by artist)

In this Q&A, artist Dana Lombardo shares with PoseSpace how she started drawing, what has been her greatest artistic success and gives valuable advice regarding commissioned portraits:

You started drawing when you were a child to connect to other people. When did you first know you wanted to become an artist? 

I have enjoyed drawing for as long as I can remember.  I know that I wanted to be an artist in high school but college and pursuit of what my family thought was a real career sidelined that for a bit. In my late 20s I started drawing again.

You have earned several awards. What’s been your greatest artistic success? 

I think my greatest success so far was when I won a Best Figurative award at a national show.  At a time when I felt discouraged, it gave me the confidence I needed to believe in myself and to keep painting.

Painting by Dana Lombardo inspired by PoseSpace model (image shared by artist)

How has your style changed over the years?

I don’t know that my style has changed so much as that I have continued to learn and incorporate that into my work. 

What do you think of PoseSpace? Do you have a favorite PoseSpace.com model? 

I am a fan of PoseSpace.

I don’t have a great camera or access to a lot of models. The poses give inspiration and references to give form and substance to my ideas.  I have used several models including Becca, Ana and Ayame.

“Phoenix Rising” by Dana Lombardo, inspired by model Becca (image shared by artist)

You make commissioned portraits, what advice would you give young artists interested in accepting commissions?

Portrait commissions are fun and challenging!  It is important to practice a lot and work from life as much as possible. When it comes to commissions, I would tell anyone staring out to ask lots of questions, be open to suggestions and never take criticism too personally. Take it for what it is and use it to make a better portrait.

Artist Dana lombardo’s website: https://danalombardo.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danalombardofineart/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danalombardofineart

Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG9hziDDvv9YwJ-TplWAQPA

Interview by Andrea Miliani

Interview with David Marteney

“My hope is that my work evokes some kind of conversation about mental health”

David Marteney is an American artist located in Columbus, Ohio. He has a strong passion for the human figure and currently his favorite mediums are charcoal and black pastels. Marteney speaks openly about depression and his art has been strongly influenced by personal experiences related to this condition. His series “Lost to shadow” show different characters struggling with dark emotions, the viewers can see the tragic beauty in each piece. 

“Self sacrifice” by David Marteney (image shared by artist)

Even though David’s artistic career has had its ups and downs, he has managed to learn and improve his work by studying through different online platforms. A few days ago, David received two grants from the Greater Columbus Arts Council and his work and talent have been recognized in the community. 

In this Q&A, artist David Marteney shares with PoseSpace how his depression had and impact on his work, what are his rituals, who is his favorite living artist and how he has used online platforms to improve his art:

Can you tell us about your background and how you got into art?

I got into art from a pretty young age, but my struggle with depression never let me get too far with it. I tended to have a pattern of trying to make art, struggling, my depression flaring up, and then just giving up. A lot of people think that art can be a panacea for people with mental illness, but it has never really worked like that for me. It could distract me at times, but, in truth, it tended to make me feel worse more often than anything else. I really wasn’t able to focus and improve until I got into therapy and proper medication. The result of this waffling in life was me not entering into a formal art education. At this point, I do a bunch of online classes—the two major sources being proko.com and nma.art. But I’ve also learned a lot from various Youtube creators as well. 

How do you start a work —do you have any rituals?

I tend to start by turning on some kind of music that falls into the background, lots of vaporwave or synth music. Then I go through a process I call “Getting the ugly out.” This could be a few quick sketches of my intentions, or just some warmup gesture work. Sometimes this process lasts minutes or could be my whole session. I’ve had to learn to go with the flow on this. If my idea doesn’t have a solid enough foundation to push me through, it usually means I need to think about it more or do more concepting. I’ve had to learn to have more patience with myself and embrace any failures that come out of this process. I keep telling myself that a success teaches me one thing, but a failure teaches me many. If I make it through this process, I often find myself in an almost meditative state where the rest of the world falls away.

You are active on social media. How have these platforms influenced your work?

Social media is a bit of a sore spot for me. However, I understand its importance, especially if I want to transition to a full-time artist. I really only use it for my art. I don’t spend any time on it for personal use. To be honest, my wife is my teacher for that side of things. I often have to ask her some really silly questions about how stuff works, or why doing specific things on a service makes an impact. When it comes to Facebook, I find myself completely lost. That’s a structure far too byzantine for me to wrap my head around. 

As far as how it has influenced my work, I try to not let it. I know that I should be posting more often, but I feel like rushing through things to do that would be detrimental to my work.

Portrait by David Marteney inspired by Cath (image shared by artist)

What do you think of PoseSpace? Do you have a favorite PoseSpace.com model? 

I love PoseSpace! It’s been really useful for my work. It’s really great to have this huge resource of body types and poses to work from. A lot of the photos have a strong use of chiaroscuro that is super useful for the type of visual arts that I like to make and has been a great education on lighting for when I work with models locally. 

Picking a favorite model is tough. For a masculine body type, I would have to go with BenP, as his musculature is well defined without being overly bulky. Whenever I work from one of his references, it always feels like his muscles flow gracefully with the gesture of the pose, rather than breaking it. For a feminine body type, Thea manages to make any pose look graceful with a water-like flow of anatomical structures. I always find myself inspired when seeing one of her poses. 

But there are so many models! I doubt I’ve seen all of them.

Do you have a favorite living artist, whether famous or completely unknown?

One of my favorite living artists is Steve Houston. His work has so much friction and energy. I get lost in his pieces all the time. They have mesmerizing quality to them. He is also a fantastic teacher. I’ve learned so much from his classes at New Masters Academy.

What life experiences have influenced your work?

A lot of my work deals directly with depression. After my suicide attempt in 2017, and getting proper mental health care, I decided that I wanted to create a body of work around mental health. After my attempt, I was willingly placed in a mental health facility. My conversations with the other people in there were incredibly helpful. Being open and honest about this aspect of ourselves, that we are often told to hide, was liberating. It really took some of the teeth away from the monster. I want to help other people do the same. My hope is that my work evokes some kind of conversation about mental health.

“A Hollow Feeling” by David Marteney

Do you have any shows or activities on the horizon that you’d like to tell our readers about?

I do have a show coming up this year, but all of the details haven’t been hammered out yet, and I was asked to keep it private until that is all done. Other than that, I’ve started work on my next series Where Life Once Was where I am mixing the anatomy of abandoned buildings with the human figure. I’m excited to see where it goes and the immense challenge it’s presenting me.  

David Marteney’s website: davidmarteney.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/davidmarteneyart

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/david_marteney_art/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/David_Marteney

Interview by Andrea Miliani

5 Valuable Lessons From Figurative Artists

by Andrea Miliani

It’s been a year since PoseSpace’s blog was created. We have interviewed artists from all over the world and here are some of their most valuable lessons and thoughts.

I am not an art expert and I’ve never been good at painting or drawing. And I don’t intend to be an artist or an art critic any time soon. As I’ve read about, listened to, and interviewed artists as a social media manager and content creator for www.posespace.com, I’ve learned a lot over the last three years and, more importantly, it’s been a tremendously inspiring and educative experience.

When I started working for PoseSpace I discovered a whole new world. I never thought that nude photography and art models could be such a powerful resource for figurative artists. I learned that live drawing sessions with real art models are the most precious experiences for artists, but that not just anyone has access to live models. It’s expensive and limited.

Douglas Johnson, PoseSpace’s owner, has offered artists from all over the world the possibility to have an art model right in front of them—through books or on their computer screens—in their homes or studios. After I saw the fantastic artwork that talented artists could create based on these references, I became curious and proposed that we create a blog and send a questionnaire to artists that were users of the site. 

The result was very satisfying: we got amazing and inspiring stories. It’s been a year since Posespace’s blog started and we’ve interviewed over 25 artists and counting. Here I share 5 of the most valuable lessons that some of these figurative artists shared with us:

1) Never give up on your art 

One of the frequent responses I kept receiving from different artists had to do with what figurative artists regretted the most. I did not ask this question directly, but many expressed that they wished they had started their artistic career earlier, or that they hadn’t been discouraged by other people’s opinions.

When I asked Sladjana Buhovac—a figurative sculptor from Sarajevo based in Canada—what advice she had for young artists who had an interest in sculpting, this was her response:

“My advice is to never give up on your art. Don’t listen to others, follow what inspires you the most. When I studied fine arts in the late nineties, figurative sculpture seemed like a dying field. Everyone, including my classmates, were pursuing installations and abstract work and I felt totally lostI got a gift that nobody was interested in.  So it seemed at the time. I should have followed my heart long ago, but it’s never too late to start again.” 

Sculpture by Sladjana Buhovac

A few artists, like Les Satinover—an American figurative artist who focuses primarily on the male figure—have seen the benefits of having an alternate career that provides a solid economic backing:

“I retired from a 36year career in corporate retail design and went into my full time studio practice in 2012. I work entirely in service of my own vision without the financial requirement to make sales. Validation is an extra. What comes after, that is fate.”

Painting by Les Satinover

2) Work hard

Brian Smith, an award-winning graphic designer and art professor from Canada, has been teaching art students for over 20 years now. He has earned several awards for his paintings and his most valuable advice for anyone interested in creating art is to be persistent and work hard:

“I tell my students all the time to ‘Show up for work!’ The great thing about being an artist is that, if you want to be a better artist, you simply do more art. So, show up for work as often as you can—even if you are not working on “the big project”— just show up and work/play at your art.”

Michaela reclining” painting by Brian Smith based on model Michaela

3) Keep Learning

Talent can be expressed in so many ways and some artists seem to master several mediums and forms of expression. Italian artist Tiziano Gilardoni is one of those multi-talented geniuses: he can draw, paint, sculpt and take fascinating photography. His secret? He is constantly learning and finding new challenges:

“I’m convinced that art is a continuous flow: after a while of dealing with the same subject or the same technique I feel that I’m becoming self-referential, therefore I try to focus on a different topic, to experience something new or I even jump from sculpting into photography or drawing. And each project has its proper language that best fits it: one shall be expressed by drawing, another could only be represented by a statue, and a third can only be a black and white photo. In the end, I started developing some skills to find my way, now I try to learn new skills that could fit the ideas I have in mind.”

“The Mermaid”, sculpture by Tiziano Gilardoni 

We also asked Roy Stanton, an artist and actor based in Florida, to tell us one thing he thought he knew, that he later turned out to be wrong about. This was his response:

“I think that would have to be the notion that there was an endpoint in growing as an artist; that the education would, at some point, be over. Completely wrong. To be honest, I find that each image, at its beginning, holds the same excitement as the first, and the same challenges. Will it work? Can I accomplish what I want? Granted, I have the benefit of experience to bolster me up when those concerns pay me a visit, but I have to say that getting that little bit of uncertainty definitely keeps boredom from setting in. Give me a new problem to wrestle with, a new challenge to solve, and I’m a very happy artist.”

“Bride” drawing by Roy Stanton

4) Don’t underestimate your life experience

Human experiences are at the root of figure drawing and figurative art. Meaningful artwork can tell real and personal stories that the audience can find beautiful, touching and close. Australian artist Dagmar Cyrulla shares such intimate moments in her artwork.

“I enjoy making work that captures some of the things I have seen, reflected upon and learnt from. I love it when the viewer brings their stories to my paintings and loses themselves and maybe has an epiphany of their own”

she told PoseSpace a few weeks ago. And you can truly empathize with this internationally recognized artist’s work.

“The Couple” by Dagmar Cyrulla, oil on linen 500 x 700mm (image shared by artist)

Sharing personal feelings and emotions is also Gwen Roberts’ strategy, but she prefers not to be too explicit. This British artist uses her pencils and the Photorealism technique to communicate, but remains cryptic to keep her audience entertained and get them curious:

“A bit like a writer writes about what he or she knows, I draw on what is familiar to me or interpret emotions I have felt from past experiences. However, I consider it is important to have some mystery and ambiguity in the work so that the viewer has something to ponder over or put their own viewpoint to. Therefore, if I were to reveal the experiences that have inspired the work it would leave nothing for the viewer. I much prefer to keep them private, as some are very sensitive and personal.”

“Twenty Four Seven” by Gwen Roberts using Oliviap046 as a reference

5) Use social media for inspiration not just for comparison

Modern artists also have to deal with daily lifestyle disruptors: social media networks. And just like any other tool, these platforms could inspire and help us, or frustrate and dissuade us. 

I’ve been impressed by how fast artists on social media can use the content we share to create almost instant pieces of artwork. We constantly see this on Instagram or Twitter: we publish a pose and a few hours later someone will send us a drawing or small painting of the reference we published earlier—and it’s so exciting! This is a great example of how social media can be beneficial and get someone motivated to create. 

American scientist and artist Davey Edwards is one of these social media enthusiasts: “I use other’s artwork on Instagram to inspire me. There are a lot of great artists around the world!” And Liz Gridley, a growing professional Australian artist agrees: “The problem with smartphones and instagram is I find new amazing artists to watch everyday!” However, Gridley also recognized that she has suffered the consequences of having access to so many talented artists’ work and lives: 

“I think one of the hardest lessons is how to deal with comparison against other artists. With Instagram and online communities it’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed by seeing artists accomplish what you’re working for (a technique, an award, getting an opportunity) it’s part of being human, but you can’t let it stop you! So many people tell you ‘everything’s been done’ and ‘nothing is original’ –the hardest part is not believing that. Trusting that even if 20 artists all do the same thing, there’s no loss in making art, all 20 would still be unique to each artist. In short: no matter what, just keep making!”

Photograph of her painting “Withheld” exhibited at “Empathy, My Witness” (shared by artist) /Model: Chelle

Photograph of her painting “Withheld” exhibited at “Empathy, My Witness” (shared by artist) /Model: Chelle

Takeaways

Seeing talented and professional figurative artists struggle with common everyday battles, like Instagram’s unhealthy competition or negative opinions about our personal lives, has helped me feel more connected to each one and admire them even more. These artists have also taken advantage of the tools and services openly available online to build and create wonderful new works of art.

I believe that these lessons apply to any career, dream or profession, and not just figurative art. Perhaps understanding the meaning from reading the messages these talented artists have honestly shared with us, will be exactly the right boost someone needed today.

To learn more about these artists or to find more specific recommendations—regarding plein air drawing, sculpting, modeling for artists or even airbrush painting—visit our blog: https://figuredrawing.us.

Interview with Dagmar Cyrulla

“I enjoy making work that captures some of the things I have seen, reflected upon and learnt from”

Artist Dagmar Evelyn Cyrulla was born in Germany but grew up in Australia. Ever since she was a young girl, she enjoyed drawing and observing. She describes herself as an empathetic person, and empathy is one of the strongest feelings the viewer can experience after observing one of her paintings. This talented artist knows very well how to represent “snapshots of time” on her work and how to combine modernity and human nature through brush strokes.

“The Couple” by Dagmar Cyrulla, oil on linen 500 x 700mm (image shared by artist)

Cyrulla earned her Bachelor of Visual Arts in 1987, her Masters of Fine Art in 2009, and explained that she is constantly learning. Her work focuses on women and relationships, and she is always personally and emotionally connected to the concepts and ideas she represents. Australian and International media and institutions have recognized the value of Dagmar’s work over the past few years. This 2019 she was a finalist or winner of around 9 prizes and competitions. 

In this Q&A, artist Dagmar Cyrulla shares with PoseSpace how she found her artistic voice, what life experiences have influenced her work and the most exciting moments of her career:

You earned your Bachelor of Visual Arts in 1987 and you’ve been studying and painting for many years. When did you first know you wanted to become an artist? 

I studied my masters of fine art at Monash University Melbourne so I probably didn’t find my artist voice until then. I had great teachers in high school. So after high school I wanted to be an artist, but found it difficult to find my feet at university. My upbringing was very sheltered, so I never felt right in the university culture. After my first art degree I went on to study architecture, I think I did 4 years part-time or something like that. In hindsight I didn’t have the life experience to see that I could make a career through my painting and also felt I had to prove to my father that I was smart. I have found those skills handy, but we all have our individual journey. I have always drawn and painted and my family is creative: sewing, music, singing, etc. I would spend every day if I could on my floor drawing and I rarely watch television unless I am drawing. But I think that art is a direct reflection of personal growth and maybe I needed to grow before I found my voice. 

Studio session by Dagmar Cyrulla (image shared by artist)

Your work is about feelings. Why do you think you like to capture those “snapshots of time” in your paintings?

I think I am very empathetic. I think that comes from lots of self-reflection. I tried to really work out why I paint interior snapshots and why they are relationship based without just giving you a glib answer.  So I thought I would share some of my past with you. We (my mum, dad and two siblings) were immigrants who held on to our German culture and customs more than Germans. I guess because you are in a strange land and want to protect the family.  My father was working hard to make ends meet and we were very insular. There were never any babysitters. We rarely went out for a meal, mum would always cook and it was a very disciplined household. When I was 5, my grandfather came to Australia to visit and he loved the stories I would tell. So I went to live with them for a year in Germany near Stuttgart as he wanted to show me off to my grandmother. I went by myself. My brother and sister remained in Australia. From my parents perspective, they were giving me opportunity. A year passed by, I attended school in Germany and then all I remember is that I was badly behaved and the next minute my father was there to reprimand me and take me home again. Well, that is how I remember it. So I think there were a few things going on for me at that point. One, I had my father all to myself on the way home which I loved. Secondly I couldn’t speak English so I think that heightened my visual senses and observation. I also retracted into a world where I drew a lot. So as I grew up I was trying to work out my own family dynamics and relationships within that circle. I think I realised that life is about choice and that just because certain rituals happen in our house, it doesn’t mean that it is the norm. To distinguish something allows you the freedom to make the choice, rather than being trapped in a paradigm. I also believe that you need to adopt an attitude of continual learning. I enjoy making work that captures some of the things I have seen, reflected upon and learnt from. I love it when the viewer brings their stories to my paintings and loses themselves and maybe has an epiphany of their own. 

“A moment III” by Dagmar Cyrulla, 92 x 92 cm, 2009 (image shared by artist)

You have earned several awards and recognitions, what have been the most exciting moments of your career?

The exciting moments of my career is when an artist comes up to me and says they love the way I paint and really connect with the work. It is like someone really understands you, speaks the same language. It also gives you a sense of connection. I think we are all still looking to connect with a tribe, without life there is no art.

What do you think of PoseSpace.com? 

I love PoseSpace.com. It is fantastic. I came across them when I needed reference material for a sculpture or painting because the model couldn’t be here. It is a terrific artistic aid. The only suggestion is that sometimes, it would be great to have the hair up for a pose as well as down, when I sculpt I need to see a few more muscle connections, but other than that it is fabulous, I love it.

Sculpture by Dagmar Cyrulla (photograph shared by artist)

Tell us one thing you thought you knew, that it later turned out you were wrong about

I am often wrong about things, I hope I always will be as that is the only way to learn. I can not list one thing.

Which artist or painter has influenced your work?

Many painters that have influenced my work. There are so many that I look at depending upon what I am searching for in my own work. Specifically Eric Fischl, Velazquez, Degas, Jenny Saville… there are so many amazing painters who inspire and teach me things.

Do you have any shows or activities on the horizon that you’d like to tell our readers about?

I am in the 30 finalists again for the richest portrait prize in the world – the Moran Portrait prize. My portrait of the Global Fashion Designer Kym Ellery is being exhibited. I was ‘Highly Commended’ a few years ago, a category which they introduced as a one off as the judges couldn’t decide. That is pretty exciting.

Dagmar Cyrulla’s website: https://www.dagmarcyrulla.com.au/

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagmar_Evelyn_Cyrulla

Interview by Andrea Miliani

Interview with Sergio Ribeiro

“Being an artist implies traveling thousands of miles, art must be taken out of the studio”

Artist Sergio Ribeiro was born in Lisboa, Portugal, and moved to Spain at a young age. His passion for art started when he was a little boy, his father and grandfather were craftsmen. Later, he had several art teachers and his passion for art encouraged him to travel and discover new cities: Roma, Paris, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Florence, Marrakesh, Berlin, Madrid and more.

Portrait by Sergio Ribeiro /  80×60 cm from series “Mujeres en intimidad” (image shared by artist)

Ribeiro learned different techniques and discovered his preferred mediums: oil and acrylic painting. His work combines movements such as expressionism and impressionism, and his life experiences also influence his work. This talented artist has earned several awards in speed painting contests and has participated in different exhibitions around the globe. 

In this Q&A artist Sergio Ribeiro shares with PoseSpace what he loves about oil painting, what life experiences have influenced his work and shares great tips for young artists interested in speed painting: 

You were interested in art since you were a little boy, and tried different mediums. What motivated you to be particularly interested in oil and acrylic painting?

When I work in the studio I like to use oil applying a bit of alchemy; when I paint live or when I go to speed painting competitions—something usual in Spain—, I paint with acrylic because of the ease of drying, although I don’t always do it, sometimes I use oil. If you give me a choice, I keep the oil. It is brighter and more durable in time. Acrylic colors usually lose tone and shine when dry, but, with a finishing varnish, they can be recovered again.

You have traveled and visited many countries and cities. Do you remember any particular experience or anecdote that has influenced your artistic work?

Being an artist implies traveling thousands of miles, art must be taken out of the studio. Participating in speed painting competitions and art fairs have given me the possibility of touring many countries, cities, and towns. I remember, with special affection, my participation in the Art Shopping Carrousell du Louvre in 2017 (Paris). It was a pleasant experience, full of glamor and passion for art. It changed the way I approach the work that comes after the creation of an artwork. It was also the best way to see in situ what is being done today worldwide.

You have created groups for artists. Why do you think it is important to have these communities?

It could be summarized in one word: Sharing. The idea of creating groups of artists was born after seeing that there is a lot of individualism and secrecy and little desire to help those who start. Having a group of artists gives me the possibility to share my acquired knowledge, after years of experience, and, at the same time, learn from all my colleagues. Also, having a group of artists allows you to develop educational and informative activities, organize collective exhibitions, pictorial meetings, competitions, art magazines, and endless activities.

What do you think of www.posespace.com?

I love it and I recommend it whenever I can. For an artist, it is not always easy to have a live model. At www.posespace.com you have a wide and great variety of models with many possibilities and download options, high-quality image and in large formats; essential things for artists who like to see all the details, nuances, etc.

Painting practice by Sergio Riberio inspired by Jesse014 (image shared by artist)


What contemporary artists do you admire?

I like many, but I could highlight the techniques of  Tibor Nagy or Jeremy Mann and I like the ideas of Banksy.

What life experiences have influenced your work?

I think that life itself is already a worthwhile experience, and the experiences that we accumulate over time are reflected in your work. Therefore, the more intense and enriching your life is, the more authentic your work will be. Two experiences that changed my life were: a traffic accident left me in a wheelchair and the other was to do the Camino de Santiago.

You have won speed painting contests. Can you share some tips for young artists who are interested in this technique?

Speed painting contests are like intensive training art schools. Many tricks are learned and ideas are shared, seen and copied.

Live painting is the best school for an artist. I recommend participating in these competitions and not giving up after the first failure, because at the beginning it is a bit hard to create a large-format artwork in just a working day, but with practice and a little patience it is achieved. The best advice is daily work and perseverance.

Artist Sergio Ribeiro painting in Vilanova de Arousa, in Galicia, Spain (photo gallery)

What are your next goals?

Although I feel fulfilled as a person, there are always goals that I set every now and then and that should never be lacking in someone’s life. Setting goals helps me move forward. You must always have dreams to fulfill. I would like to have a residence for artists. A big building with industrial warehouses. A huge place that serves as a workplace, a space to train new artists in different disciplines and for seasoned artists, a space to exhibit. A place that is avant-garde but above all that is extensive. The eternal problem of artists: space. In Germany they have taken advantage of old industrial areas as areas of contemporary art, locations to create, test new trends.

Sergio Ribeiro’s website: www.sergioribeiro.es

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/s.gonzalez.ribeiro

Interview by Andrea Miliani


Spanish Interview (original version)

Desde niño se interesó en el arte y conoció distintos medios. ¿Qué lo motivó a interesarse particularmente en el óleo y la pintura acrílica?

Cuando trabajo en el estudio me gusta usar óleo aplicando un poco de alquimia, cuando pinto al natural o cuando voy a concursos de pintura rápida, algo habitual en España,  pinto con acrílico por la facilidad de secado, aunque no siempre lo hago, hay veces que uso óleo . Si me das a elegir, me quedo con el óleo. Es más luminoso y duradero.en el tiempo. Los colores acrílicos suelen perder tono y brillo con el secado, aunque con un barniz de acabado se pueden volver a recuperar.

Ha recorrido muchos países y ciudades. ¿Recuerda alguna experiencia o anécdota en particular que haya influenciado su trabajo artístico?

Ser artista implica recorrer miles de kilómetros, el arte hay que sacarlo del estudio. Participar en Concursos de pintura rápida y en ferias de arte me ha dado la posibilidad de recorrer infinidad de países, ciudades y pueblos. Recuerdo con especial cariño mi participación en Art Shopping Carrousell du Louvre en el año 2017 (Paris). Fue un grata experiencia, llena de glamour y pasión por el arte. Supuso un cambio en mi forma de enfocar el trabajo que hay después de la creación de una obra y la mejor manera de ver in situ lo que se está haciendo a día de hoy  a nivel mundial.

Ha creado grupos para artistas. ¿Por qué le parece importante construir estos espacios?

Se podría resumir en una sola palabra: Compartir. La idea de crear grupos de artistas, nace después de ver que existe mucho individualismo y secretismo y pocas ganas de ayudar a los que empiezan. Tener un grupo de artistas me da la posibilidad de compartir mis conocimientos adquiridos con los años de trabajo y a la vez, aprender de todos los compañeros. Además, tener un grupo de artistas te permite desarrollar actividades formativas e informativas, organizar exposiciones colectivas, reuniones pictóricas, concursos, revista de arte y un sinfín de actividades en conjunto.

¿Qué piensa de nuestro sitio www.posespace.com?

Me encanta y la recomiendo  siempre que puedo. Para un artista no siempre es fácil disponer de un/a modelo al natural y en www.posespace.com tienes una amplia y gran variedad de modelos con muchas posibilidades de trabajo y opciones de descarga, gran calidad de imagen y en formatos de gran tamaño, cosas imprescindibles para artistas que nos gusta ver todos los detalles, los matices, etc.

¿Qué artistas contemporáneos admira?

Me gustan muchos, pero podría destacar las técnicas de Tibor Nagy o Jeremy Mann y me gustan las ideas de Banksy.

¿Qué experiencias de vida han marcado su trabajo?

Creo que la vida de por sí ya es una experiencia que merece la pena  y esas vivencias que vamos acumulando con el paso del tiempo quedan reflejadas en tu obra. Por lo tanto, cuanto más intensa e enriquecedora sea tú vida más cargada de autenticidad será tu obra. Dos experiencias que marcaron mi vida fueron:  un accidente de tráfico me dejó en una silla de ruedas y la otra fue hacer el Camino de Santiago.

Ha ganado concursos de pintura rápida. ¿Puede compartir algunos consejos para los jóvenes artistas que se interesan en esta técnica?

Los concursos de pintura rápida son como escuelas de arte intensiva. Se aprenden muchos trucos, se comparten ideas, se ve y se copia.

Pintar del natural es la mejor escuela para un artista. Recomiendo participar en estos concursos y no abandonar al primer fracaso, porque al principio cuesta un poco resolver una obra de gran formato en una jornada de trabajo, pero con la práctica y un poco de paciencia se consigue. El mejor consejo es,  trabajo diario y constancia.

¿Cuáles son sus próximas metas?

A pesar de que me siento realizado como persona, siempre quedan objetivos que me marco cada poco tiempo y que nunca deben faltar en una persona. Marcarse objetivos me ayuda a seguir adelante. Siempre debes de tener sueños que cumplir. Me gustaría tener una residencia para artistas. Un gran edificio, con naves industriales. Un sitio enorme, que sirva de lugar de trabajo, un espacio para formar a artistas noveles en diferentes disciplinas y para artistas consolidados, un espacio para exponer. Un lugar que sea  vanguardia pero sobre todo que sea grande. El eterno problema de los artistas: el espacio. En Alemania han sabido aprovechar las viejas zonas industriales como zonas de arte contemporánea, donde crear, poner a prueba las nuevas tendencias. 

Interview with Daniel Miller

“You have to persist doggedly and believe in yourself”

American artist Daniel Miller was born in North Carolina and began drawing from an early age. His military family moved frequently and he lived in various US states, Germany and Japan. After high school, he pursued his artistic instincts and became silversmith, goldsmith, painter, sculptor, designer and even art director.

Miller’s art keeps evolving and he never stops learning. He created sculptural elements for many major films and became popular in Hollywood. Daniel also has sculptural installments in South Africa, Tokyo and even Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. He also taught himself computer 2D and 3D skills and made contributions to films and video games. Now, he is more focused on his own creative concepts through oil painting.

“Manage our Xpectations” by Daniel Miller inspired by vaunt035  (image shared by artist)

In this Q&A artist Daniel Miller shares with PoseSpace how he became successful in Hollywood, what life experiences influenced his work, who are his favorite living artists and more: 

When did you first know you wanted to become an artist? 

I cannot even remember that there was ever any other choice for me. I was so fortunate to have parents that were creative and supportive. I began drawing seriously and regularly around third grade and painting in oils at ten years of age.

You  created notable sculptural elements for many major films. Could you tell us more about this experience? Do you have a favorite one?

    This was the period of my life that I refer to as “my creative prostitution”. I became successful in Hollywood as the go to guy for “Super-scale” set sculptures, meaning simply the biggest. In those days before digital arts, most set pieces had to be physically present. While this work was challenging and financially rewarding, it was about bringing my creative energies to bear for the realization of someone else’s vision. I put my own art on the back burner. So, commercial art, right?

   The first examples of my “super-scale” sculpture was for “Honey I shrunk the Kids”. Most all of the giant objects, from twenty foot stalks of grass to immense cheerios were designed and created by my crew, mostly carved out of various types of polystyrene and urethane foam. From there many other opportunities came my way, including “Cone-heads”, “Stargate” and “True Lies”.

Artist Daniel Miller working on the sculpture
 for film “Chronicles of Riddick” (photograph shared by artist)

   I think my favorite experience was on “Chronicles of Riddick”. I was given significant creative control over the design of the sculpture on this film, and there were many cool figurative pieces. By this time I had developed my digital skills in 2D and 3D modeling. I believe I had an industry first in that there is a scene in that film that features both my physical sculptures in the foreground and my digital sculptures in the background as a “Matte Painting” set extension.

Sculpture by Daniel Miller  for The Chronicles of Riddick (photo shared by artist)

What life experiences have influenced your work?

Certainly travel. Being born into a military family, I lived in both Japan and Germany as a child. I believe this exposure to other cultures was key to my early commitment to being an artist. I confess to being something of a vagabond, at last count I have lived at more than thirty-two addresses, from Mexico, Canada and Africa plus nine US states.

What do you think of PoseSpace? Do you have a favorite model? 

Well, PoseSpace is a great resource of course! I was so pleased when I discovered it. Funny this, but I created a motorized turntable for photographing models about seven years ago. This was mostly for capturing the figures form and details to use as reference and texture mapping for digital models, so for the most part, the “T” pose. 

I love what PoseSpace does with the efficient accessibility of so many models through the pose tool. Usually I have a predetermined idea of the pose I want when I turn to PoseSpace. However, I have found while searching, that often the lighting on a particular set of photos is so beautiful as to inspire the creation of a concept for a painting in its own right. My favorite models are Becca and Vaunt. 

What has been your greatest artistic success?

In 2015 I started an extended series of paintings of the homeless in Las Vegas. I wanted to call attention to this marginalized population that we find so easy to ignore. That series has been in five gallery exhibits and the Las Vegas Library District toured it through their various branches for a year. I donate a significant percentage of sales revenue from that series to Homeless Outreach organizations. But the thing that makes it the greatest success for me has been the feedback from the viewers. I feel like I have made a difference in awareness of this crisis to some.

“Morning” by Daniel Miller. Image shared by artist
.

Do you have a favorite living artist, whether famous or completely unknown?

I have many, Jeremy Mann, Costa Dvorezky and Reisha Perlmutter top the list.

What advice would you give to young artists just starting in their careers or creative practice?

Be determined! You have to persist doggedly and believe in yourself. Creative work is like body building, you must work those muscles to succeed and even when you feel defeated and lost, keep at it. The more you work the better you will get, and stay true to yourself.

Tell us one thing you thought you knew, that it later turned out you were wrong about.

I have spent so many years painting and sculpting the female form. It has never ceased to attract and inspire me. In recent years though, I have been made aware of how important it is to consider the context of this pursuit. The objectification of women in our culture is so ubiquitous that it is easy to miss or just accept. The “male gaze” and all of the patriarchal baggage attached to it has become an issue for me. I love figurative art and cannot imagine it not being a part of me, but I now consider it my quest to uncover a direction and voice that supports the female form without exploitation.

“Introspection” by Daniel Miller inspired by vaunt043  (image shared by artist)


Daniel Miller’s website: https://danielmiller-art.com


Interview by Andrea Miliani

Interview with Julian Lewis

“I wish I had known how much I was going to enjoy it, because If I had, I would have started modelling thirty years ago!”

Julian Lewis is a professional male life model located in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. He travels across the United Kingdom—and internationally— to perform challenging poses. Lewis started modeling three years ago to earn extra cash and then discovered a new passion.

Working with different artists helped him fall in love with this career and his body. Not only he learned more about his own anatomy and developed muscles holding different poses, now he also studies and works hard to provide the best experience for artists. Julian listens to artist’s directions and requests, owns props —from a rotating stool to a crucifixion cross— he can bring to studios, and assures the audience the discretion needed following a dressing and undressing protocol. 

Photography shared by model Julian Lewis

In this Q&A art model Julian Lewis shares with PoseSpace hilarious anecdotes, how he manages his time, about Hen and Stag Parties with life models, as well as great recommendations to anyone who wants to become a figure model: 

Can you tell us about your background and how you got into modeling?

 I have been modelling for 3 years, and decided to do it because I needed cash to market my wine business. I had no idea how much I would enjoy it, and now I am pretty much full time, modelling across the UK for Schools, Colleges, Universities, Ateliers, Studios, private groups and Hen parties. In the autumn, I will model in Florence and Paris. I made the decision to Life model as I am body confident, and being body confident, nude that is, is the most important factor if you want to get regular work.

You also work in the IT sector and host wine tastings, how do you combine these careers?

It is hard. I spend 32 hours a week in my IT job, 10 hours a  month conducting wine tastings, and 15 hours a week life modelling. I am also writing a book on the subject, it will be released in December, either by Kindle Direct/Amazon or a London publisher. 

Has your perception of the human body or your own body changed after modeling for artists? 

My perception has changed massively. I believe any human form is beautiful. Regarding my body, I have learnt how to manage pain effectively by simply meditating and moving in centimetres. It is astonishing how easy it is to manage pain with the brain.

Do you have any interesting/funny/scary anecdotes you could share with us?

  • I model for actresses, best selling authors and TV personalities… You never know who is going to employ you!
  • I once modelled in the same pose for 2 hours, forgot about my dead foot when I got out of the pose, so fell straight into the ladies in front of me. Fortunately, no one was hurt except my pride.
  • I also broke wind on my third life modelling gig —highly embarrassing—, but I got over it!
  • I have modelled for the World cup winning England women’s Rugby Team and a very famous English TV presenter

What are the most valuable lessons you have learned as a figure model?

  • Your body can do things you previously thought impossible!
  • Artists/Tutors will afford you levels of gratitude that you have never received from any previous employee.
  • I have a deep appreciation of art which I was previously uninterested in. 
  • Life Modelling will raise your confidence hugely. 

Modeling requires body strength and you mentioned you always leave the studio exhausted, what do you do to stay in shape?

I frequent the gym about 3 times a week, take long walks and cycle long distances. I stretch every day in the shower, but because I model so much, my core strength is very high. 

Are you surprised by anything revealed in the artwork about yourself that you never realized as seen through someone else’s eyes?

I am amazed at every drawing I see. I marvel at the ability of most artists and the facial expressions that are drawn can be staggering. I didn’t realise that I have quite good muscle definition.

Could you tell us more about the Hen and Stag Parties? 

Hen and Stag parties are very popular in the UK. They last about an hour and a half, are attended on average by between 12 and 30 Hens/Stags. After the initial surprise of seeing a nude male/female, the Stags and Hens really try and mostly achieve very good drawings. There will always be a couple of people who see it as simply titillating, but they are very much in the minority. Many Hens and Stags go on to take up life drawing as a hobby, and quite a few Hens have asked me to help them get work as a life model.

In the UK, the market for strippers, pole dancers, and butlers in the buff is dying… The market for life drawing at Hen events is growing massively and has been the subject of national press and the TV. I have been recently filmed modelling at a Hen party and the TV program will air in February. Anyone who wishes to attend Hen Life drawing parties should expect to see a professional life model perform exactly how he/she does in the studio. 

What do you think of www.posespace.com?

Posespace is excellent and is used by many of the Sculpture classes that I model for, when I of course cannot model. The results are excellent and you have a very good reputation in the UK. Your models are well photographed in interesting poses. We have nothing quite like it here.

Is there something you wish you knew before you started this career?

 Only that sadly, Artists/Tutors can still be very rude, ignorant and arrogant toward the model. Fortunately, these rude people represent about 1% of all people that I have worked for. Also, I wish I had known how much I was going to enjoy it, because If I had, I would have started modelling thirty years ago!


At PoseSpace we frequently receive messages from people who want to become art models but are scared or don’t know how to start this career. What would you recommend to them? 

To those who are considering Life Modelling, but need to take the leap of faith – do it!— you will not regret it and will probably wish you had done it some 25 years earlier (I do)! As a life model your confidence will rise dramatically and quickly. You will meet the most interesting people on the planet, even if they are a bit bonkers. You will delight in their kindness, support, gratitude, sincerity, and generosity. You will revel in their enthusiasm, passion and self – effacement. The only “must-have” you need is that you must be 100% body confident- not in terms of how you look, but in terms of being comfortable naked.

Oh, and you will get fit!

Getting work can take time, if you really want to do it, you will get work. But make it easy for yourself. Get a proper CV that is only about modelling. Get a business card, issue receipts, get a robe, use it, and always, always be on time. Work will follow. Email Art groups, schools, colleges and universities… If they say no, ignore and try again in a few weeks. 

Julian Lewis website: https://uklifemodel.com/

Interview by Andrea Miliani

Interview with Lente Scura

“My work is what it is due to learning traditional art approaches and techniques. Hardware and software are just tools”

Lente Scura is a talented Italian artist based in Rome who combines two main techniques to create fascinating paintings: digital painting and photo-manipulation. The artist statement describes very well the concept of the dreamlike work: “Lente Scura takes the viewer on an emotional journey through visually striking digital compositions filled with dramatic anguish and beauty, giving insight into the complexity of emotions of the subjects of each painting”.

This artist’s academic background includes two bachelor’s degree —one in Literature and another one in Painting and Drawing— and a Master of Fine Art in Digital Art and Media. The roots of great masters’ techniques are present too, Lente Scura combines different styles: Surrealism movements of the early to mid-1900s, American painting of the mid-1800s, the German Expressionism and, of course, the classical painting of Italy.

“Volando di Nuovo Sulla Luna” by Lente Scura, inspired by model Ginger (image shared by artist)

In this Q&A Lente Scura explains how to use Photoshop to create unique paintings, the advantages of digital art, and provides valuable advice to young artists interested in digital art:

How do you start work — do you have any rituals?

I don’t have rituals in the strictest sense. I will, over the course of weeks, have inspirations and concepts mulling around in my head if you will. I tend to think about them and plan and design in this manner instead of spending large amounts of time fleshing out ideas on paper. This means the work is a stream of consciousness in its concept and its design. From there, it is finding the best references via stock images or scheduling time with art models to build the foundational elements. Once all resources are pulled together, I will make a rough and loose composition in Photoshop. That rough composition then becomes the underpainting layer. In traditional approaches, one will create a foundational sketch or underpainting and then create the final painting but building up layers. This is what I do, but I use a photographic based layer of arranged elements.

After the base composition is completed, I will create the final painting by using a painter over approach. This approach will slowly remove the foundation composition with a painted version that tends to be very different. Since I make changes as I work, the painting and the process will take on a stream of consciousness stage where I allow both technical consideration and mood and emotions to influence the final design and concept.

“Bellezza Che e Perduta” by Lente Scura, inspired by model InnaBG (image shared by artist)

How has your style changed over the years?

The amount of work is lessened in terms of volume. I think more about each work and its meaning. The focus on the conceptual meaning of work has forced me to slow down the volume of work.

How did you discover www.posespace.com?

I discovered Posespace when researching a concept I was developing. I was happy to discover their site and services and their reference material of the human form has helped greatly in the development of paintings and their concepts.

Why digital Art?

I come to prefer for now digital art. Digital art allows for a combination of planning and fluid editing. I have come to like the ability to adjust based on technical considerations and based on my mood and inspiration. One of the frustrating aspects of more traditional approaches is being locked into a composition or taking the pains to go back to the drawing board and start painting over. Digital art allows me to make edits, adjustments, and corrections with minor efforts and with very little lost production time.

“Distaccare” by Lente Scura, inspired by model Ginger (image shared by artist)

Do you have a favorite living artist, whether famous or completely unknown?

Not really. I tend to look to artists of the past, though there are many talented artists I see on social media that I follow. I would say there’s not one living today that I consider a favorite, though their work inspires me. Some of the artists listed below I admire and look up to and consider mentors. Only one is currently living and that is Odd Nerdrum, whose work affects me greatly.

Otto Dix, Albrecht Durer, Kathe Kollwitz, J.M. W. Turner, William Blake, Thomas Eakins, Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Tiziano Vecelli (Titian), Jacopo Tintoretto, Artemisia Gentileschi, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Salvador Dali, Diego Velazquez, Francisco Goya, Frida Kahlo.

 What advice would you give to young artists interested in digital art?

Start with traditional art first. My work is what it is due to learning traditional art approaches and techniques. Hardware and software are just tools. They don’t make your work better and if you don’t have a firm traditional foundation, all the hardware and software will not help you. Having a well rounded traditional art background will allow you to transition to digital art and apply your knowledge easily. Equally, it will help you to push the technology in ways that have not been seen before. The artist is the visionary, technology of any form and making is just the tool.

“Il Falso Sogno” by Lente Scura, inspired by model AnaIv (image shared by artist)


LenteScura’s website: http://lentescura.net

ArtStation: https://www.artstation.com/lentescura

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/theartoflentescura

Behance: https://www.behance.net/LenteScura

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/lentescura

Interview by Andrea Miliani

Interview with Betsy and David Bangley

Betsy and David Bangley are talented and experienced figure models located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Betsy studied Drawing at the University of Toledo in Ohio; years later she decided to become one of the models she admired during her studies and began working at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Soon, she became known as “Pittsburgh’s smiling model”. Later, she trained her husband to model too. Now she is a seasoned figure modeling instructor and mentor.

This married figure model-team work in universities, colleges, galleries and art centers throughout the Pittsburgh area. Recently, they created an interesting project for figure drawing meetups, Pittsburgh Figure Drawing, where they create events and gather models and artists for unique life drawing sessions. Betsy and David also own a farm out in the countryside that grants not only privacy and comfort for outdoor sessions but also great opportunities to recreate scenes in a great variety of locations. They have even used a tractor to pull a trailer full of chairs and drawing boards along!

Figure models Betsy and David Bangley 

In this Q&A art models Betsy and David Bangley share with PoseSpace how they became figure models, how they felt the first time they posed nude, interesting and funny anecdotes, as well as valuable advice and tips to anyone who wants to become an art model: 

Betsy, you studied drawing at the University of Toledo in Ohio. How has modeling helped you improve your drawing skills?

Betsy: When I model, I listen to the instruction going on in university and community drawing classes. I get the best drawing instruction in the country for free! Beyond instruction, I get inspired. Seeing the participants’ work, feeling their excitement and sensing their struggles challenges me to get out my own pencils and charcoals and draw other models.  

I also train other people who want to model by inviting them to join me at the open studio sessions David & I present.  I take the first few gesture poses and then offer the new model a turn posing. I draw the other model, and share my work with them. Invariably, they’re excited to see themselves rendered in this ancient art form. 

Would you recommend artists to model?

Betsy: I would recommend for artists to model.  At the least, it gives you a sense of empathy for the work the model is doing. You understand the physical challenge better, but also, I think many artists are curious about what it must be like to be a model. When you draw, when you follow the contours of a model’s body, you sense to some degree what it feels like to be that other person, to be the model. Your mirror neurons fire as if you were holding the model’s pose even though you’re standing in front of an easel drawing. Actually holding a seated pose —even while clothed—for 25 minutes will tell you volumes about the experience of the model, and after all, isn’t that partly why we draw each other—to be in contact with our shared human experience?

Model Betsy

David, Betsy trained you to model, how was this experience? Who had the idea?

David: Betsy had been modeling for a couple of years and found it to be a positive experience.  I had been improving my diet and exercise routine. When I felt strong enough to endure a 3 or 4 hour class I asked to get involved. I think it’s important to state that you don’t need to be a bodybuilder to model, but you do need to have strength and endurance to do a good job. I have done 25 minute standing poses where it would have been more comfortable just to run a 5K for that length of time and be in motion.

I asked Betsy to prepare me by simulating the classroom environment and drawing my practice sessions. Seeing the drawings was very helpful, since it was the first chance to see how the pose was being interpreted. I had never thought about how my form presented itself to an observer in terms of line, shadow, and balance. These were all new skills I had to learn. It’s just not something ordinary people spend time thinking about.

Betsy was easy to work with, but I was concerned about how slowly the time clock moved, and how strong gravity was. There were lots of poses that I couldn’t hold steady as long as I imagined I could.

Betsy continues to train new models, and has it down to a science now. I’m proud to have been her first trainee.

You’ve been a production manager, a flight instructor, the co-owner of a farm and now a figure model. What valuable lessons has modeling taught you that your previous careers didn’t?

David: I worked in show business, but in technical roles. I didn’t do much performing. Modeling requires me to go into character like an actor. I recognized this slowly, but now getting into character is a key part of my preparation. I realize looking back on life that I was already doing that when I drove to the airport to teach flying. I “became” the flight instructor character to get the focus I needed, a revelation that came years later thanks to becoming a performance artist.

I also use the character of “figure model” to create a relaxed and confident atmosphere around the model stand. Some male models are blind to this and make women uncomfortable by sending a creepy vibe off the stand, even if it is unintentional and due to a lack of training and awareness.  It does make it difficult for males to get hired at schools. We are not there to show off or find dates. Professionalism brings the bookings.

How did you feel the first time you posed nude? Can you tell us more about that moment?

Betsy: The first time I posed, I was clothed, and I recall the most difficult part of the experience was opening myself up to truly being seen —not as much in a physical sense, as in being seen as a person, having my eyes studied, my facial expression captured. It felt as if my thoughts were on view. By the time I first posed nude, I had gotten used to being seen and studied, and I was very comfortable with being seen nude. My concerns were more about the nuts and bolts of modeling. I wanted to provide a beautiful pose that I could hold for the four hour session. I was learning about how often I needed to take breaks, so I just sat still for as long as I could —about 45 minutes. I remember I didn’t know what to do with my thoughts, so I mentally calculated the Fibonacci sequence to 10,946 to fill the time. Nowadays, I know so much more about what I can comfortably hold. I know the importance of taking breaks every 25 minutes, and I relish the quiet time to meditate, to solve puzzles mentally and to listen to the class goings on.

David: We are both blessed with body confidence, so being nude around other people is not a challenge.  Figure modeling for my first real art class was a big milestone for me. I’d wanted to try it since I learned that artists used models when I was in elementary school.  That’s a long held life goal! As a kid I literally wanted to be an astronaut and a figure model.  Why not aim for the most interesting jobs in the world?

How does it make you feel to see artwork inspired by you? Is there one in particular that you always remember or that had an impact on you?

Betsy: It’s tremendously gratifying to see artwork inspired by my modeling work. For a time, I was the only female model at an area art center. I delighted in seeing students develop their skills through an 8-week figure drawing course. When they had breakthroughs and were able to capture my form or a likeness of my face, I celebrated right along with them. It felt good to be part of their progress.

When I first began modeling, I thought that I would just be a stand-in for a bowl of fruit or still life. Just something to draw. Now, I realize that when I am expressive, strong and creative in executing my job, the artists pick up on my joy in my work, and they are inspired.  My work animates their work. I love seeing artists in a flow state, enjoying what they are doing. I love hearing charcoal scratching paper furiously. I love the collaborative nature of modeling!

Artists have given me drawings and paintings of myself, and I feel tremendously privileged to receive a beautiful portrait of myself. Seeing yourself through the lens of another human’s perception gives you a new perspective on yourself. You see yourself redefined in fresh light. It feels like a very slowly rendered compliment. 

David: I’m fascinated by the artist’s ability to interpret me into something new. A camera takes a picture of me, while I’m just an inspiration to the artist. How do you draw confidence? How do you draw life experience? I’ve been portrayed as younger, bolder, stronger than I really am. This means that the performative aspect of my work is being picked up by the artist.  

My favorite painting was made during a Saturday afternoon class where Betsy stopped by to visit.  The idea was to create a montage of figures, and Betsy modeled as a meditating character while my figure is seen in busy body gestures all around her. The poses were all done solo, with the artists combining them as they painted. The students, instructor, and models collaborated so well during that project – it was a magic few hours. 

Airport meditation by Ryan McCormick inspired by art models Betsy and David Bangley.

Do you ever get bored while modeling? What do you think of while you hold your poses?

Betsy: I never get bored. There are times when my foot has gone to sleep, or a muscle is threatening to cramp, that I am anxious for the timer to sound, but I am never bored. I fill my time meditating, planning my week’s activities, or just listening to the drama around me. Sometimes I sense an artist’s struggle, sometimes I listen for wise instruction from a professor, sometimes I sense the class going along in a state of flow. It’s all interesting. When I got started as a model, David and I were running a small produce farm, and I would spend my modeling time rotating crops in my mind. Having time to be still is a boon whether I use it as spiritual time, listening & learning time, or problem-solving time.

David: I’ve never been bored.  In a short pose I’m working ahead in my mind to the flow to the next pose in sequence.  This is rapidly changing as arms and legs get tired and need to be rested as the poses change.  Right leg at its limit? The next pose better utilize the left leg. But I also have to rotate on the stand and provide a visual flow. Some classes have sequences of 30-40 gesture poses in a row, a challenge I enjoy.

In long poses it’s an endurance contest.  I am the general manager of an entire body.  During the 25 minutes I’m motionless between breaks I monitor the locations of limbs I can’t see, down to individual fingers that need to stay put.  Some parts may want to cramp, which can be avoided if I carefully change pressure distribution or flex just a little differently. I make slow, careful changes. Some limbs will fall asleep or hurt, and I am in charge of making a safety determination about breaking the pose early or not.  I must actively monitor my facial expression so I don’t “zone out.” I monitor blood pressure so I don’t “black out.” There’s a lot of executive activity going on. Over the last few years I’ve developed an amazing sense of time, often knowing within 20 seconds out of 25 minutes when the timer is going to sound. I get this intuition that a minute is left, and count down from 60 seconds.

How did you come up with the idea of the Figure Drawing meetups? Can you tell us more about this project?

David: We don’t have a permanent studio in the city, and were seeking a “portable” studio so that artists can find us where we are working around town. The email list was getting cumbersome and was not interactive. The meetup has provided a mechanism to sign up for an event where we have limited space, and makes it easy to give directions to the venue. We also learned that some artists don’t feel confident walking in to the established galleries where the really experienced artists are doing commercial grade work. We wanted to provide a low key alternative for the beginners around the area. We are teachers at heart, and want the emphasis to be on providing an opportunity to experiment and learn.

Do you have any interesting/funny/scary anecdotes you could share with us?

Betsy: I have never felt scared while modeling. I quickly realized when I began modeling that the naked woman in the room holds all the power. The artists were tremendously considerate of me, asking if I was warm enough, if I had enough padding to cushion me, if I needed a break, and would I like a cookie!

As to funny and interesting anecdotes, I once was modeling nude on the stand for a figure drawing class, holding a 2-minute gesture pose, listening to charcoal sticks hurriedly scratching against newsprint when the door to the studio burst open and a police officer walked in. I held my pose until the instructor asked me to put my robe on and take a break.  Apparently, a silent alarm in the old building had been inadvertently tripped, bringing one of our boys in blue to the rescue!

I have had air conditioner repairmen, prospective students on tours, and even wayward party-goers bust into the studio where I was modeling nude. I was happy to hold my pose as still as a statue while the instructor took care of the interruption. The party-goers were perhaps the funniest, as they were coming from an outdoor wedding at the park next door, and were looking for a restroom.  A nude woman and a room full of artists was not at all what they expected!

David: We have to be careful with space heaters in the winter, and every model is at risk of fainting, but I wouldn’t describe those risks as scary. It does get interesting and funny at times. Because of our culture’s general unease about human bodies first year students often fumble their drawing boards to the floor making a tremendous clatter in an otherwise quiet studio. Sometimes you’ll hear two or three of these crashes in the same class. Betsy and I just take it as a compliment. 

Has your perception of the human body or your own body changed after modeling for artists?

Betsy: When I started modeling, I felt confident about being seen nude, though I still had parts of my body I didn’t love.  Watching artists draw and paint all of me, representing me as thinner or younger or realistically, and studying my own reactions to their work was instructive to me. I recall seeing a drawing that I felt made my tummy look fat. Then I studied it again, and realized the artist had represented me realistically, and that the womanly curves in my abdomen were acceptable, beautiful even. Seeing the beauty of the drawing as a whole allowed my perception of my body to shift.

I saw the graceful curves of my hips and butt in a drawing by another artist, and realized that I had aspects of beauty. More recently, I was surprised to hear some women artists express delight as they painted my midsection, “Betsy’s got such good abs!”  

I came to accept myself, even if there are parts of me I want to change, I accept that all of me is good and worthy. 

David: The takeaway for me is that both female and male bodies are beautiful subjects. Our current culture is biased towards the female body as a standard of beauty, but if you’ve ever been to a dance performance you’d know that we’re missing something. I’ve learned that bodies are universally beautiful things and I don’t need mass media to interpret that for me. 

What do you think of PoseSpace?

Betsy: I appreciate the work of the photographers and models whose photos are up on your site. I went right to your site when I began modeling to find elegant and artful poses, and I return to gain fresh inspiration. I also recommend your site to beginning models who are looking for pose ideas.  

David: The Art Institute of Pittsburgh had all the Live Model Books in the library, and I would have been an idiot not to study the poses. So I did! I also followed the website, with particular interest in the couple poses when Betsy and I started working together. We needed some sort of baseline to figure out how we could model together and not make it too erotic for a classroom. Posespace got there first and was a valuable study tool for us.  It’s common to hear our instructors telling the students about posespace.com.  It’s a well known resource.

How do you view the current state of art modeling?

Betsy: I am concerned that new models miss the benefit of learning from experienced models. I had a friend who shared important advice and instruction with me when I began modeling. Without her I would have been lost. However, I still had to figure out a lot of details like where to find pose ideas, how long to hold poses, the importance of holding an eye-point to keep from bobbing my head, and how to find poses that wouldn’t pinch nerves or over stress muscles. And, I discovered the importance of walking to stay fit and doing yoga to stay flexible.  I share all of these things with my modeling students, and am glad to be able to share the benefit of my experience with them.

David: We are both proponents of training instead of “diving into the deep end” which has been the standard for new models.  A little bit of training makes a class run better for all stakeholders. We have developed a process that starts with classroom simulation, followed by a first real assignment working with a mentor model. The mentor does the first short poses, followed by the trainee. Then the mentor does the first long pose, again followed by the trainee.  This makes the first solo assignment easy.

At PoseSpace we frequently receive messages from people who want to become art models but are scared or don’t know how to start this career. What would you recommend to them? 

Betsy: The first thing I recommend is for a potential model to go to an open studio session in person and watch a model work with an eye to doing it themselves. They may be able to talk with the model during breaks to get their insights. There is nothing better than talking with a working art model.

Here are the basics I tell all my modeling students: First, be safe. Take breaks every 25 minutes for at least 5 minutes. If you ever feel the least bit faint, sit down quickly and safely. Don’t worry about alerting the artists or instructor before breaking your pose, just land safely, and put your head down to return blood supply to your brain.  Even fit, young art models faint due to low blood pressure, and the artists will thank you for preventing an injury by breaking your pose.

As to choosing poses, models hold two types of poses: short gestures of from 1 to 5 minutes or so, and longer poses of up to several hours. The gesture poses are meant to present stilled motion —dancing, playing a sport, or having an argument.  The longer poses are meant to be something you can hold and get back into. In both cases, you are always searching for the most dynamic and expressive pose you can hold for the prescribed period of time. You find out what you can hold through experience!  

It always helps to put a twist in your pose. Twisting adds complexity and creates beautiful lines. You might want to try some poses out yourself, and have a friend or partner take a photo with your phone so you can see what the pose looks like.

Probably the most important thing in modeling is to show up for every booking.  If you accept a modelling job and then find you can’t work that date — you change your mind, you get sick, or your car breaks down — it’s critical that you alert the person who hired you. When the model doesn’t show up for the session, the artists who have prepared, gotten excited about getting to draw, and taken the time to show up and pay for the session, are left with nothing. It’s a terrible feeling. You are like a surgeon. Without you, nothing happens.

David: Best advice is to go talk to a figure model about it. Failing in that, talk to the coordinator of an open studio session. Don’t expect to model right away, ask to observe a drawing session and demonstrate that you are reliable and willing to learn.  Many of the men who contact me want to jump right in and get naked, but won’t show up for training. That’s an instant way to disqualify yourself.  

Do you see yourself as an art model for the rest of your life?

Betsy: I plan to model for as long as I can comfortably work. I have met an 80 year old model and admired his work, but I also know that due to the physical nature of the job, I will probably bow out before I reach that milestone.  

David: Nope! It requires strength and endurance that I won’t have forever. I’m lucky everyday that I wake up healthy enough to do this. 

Figure Drawing Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/Pittsburgh-Figure-Drawing/

Betsy’s Art Blog: https://betsyblissart.blogspot.com/