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Why 100 paintings from nothing?

Beginning in the Jan 2021 lockdown in Portugal, I began the From Nothing series – 100 A4 paintings – while unable to explore the beautiful country I had moved to. The process of working within a constrained format meant I had to push my creativity with very limited external inspiration. Similarly to painting within a consistent and smaller format, being in confinement meant an adjustment in our concepts of space in daily routines. A nature and landscape theme became clear very quickly, perhaps as a way to psychologically extend our physical space indoors.

Santana, Madeira Island in March 2021

As spring approached and glimpses of the possibility of a summer lifting of restrictions peeked through the drab Portugal rains, I began to dream of travel once again. I was able to make a trip to Madeira Island and I spent a week lost in the old, magical Laurisilva forest, imagining the island pre-human settlement, and soaking up as many details to bring back to the studio. Feeling entirely revived and reconnected with the outside world, I returned to the studio and my goal of finishing 100 paintings.

The military were brought in to administer vaccinations in Portugal and things began to look brighter. Restrictions were lifted and I gambled on a June friends and neighbours Atelier do Tijolo opening during what would be the infamous Santo António sardine festival in the historic Alfama neighbourhood. I sourced and bought 7kgs of sardines, beer and wine for the event only to discover that the festas had been cancelled. Luckily the restrictions in Lisbon for the weekend were specific to the evenings so I was able to continue the strategically planned daytime Atelier opening. Since then, I’ve been all business – religiously opening my doors to the empty streets every Thursday through Sunday.

As of 9th July, I am currently at 65/100 paintings. Weekend restrictions have been reinstated in Lisbon and the Alfama is still quieter than it would normally be in the summer.

I’m taking a short break from painting to scan the 65 paintings, set up my online shop and make sure I’m prepared for what could be another winter of restricted movement. As such, I’m spinning a lot of plates to bring some exciting new projects into fruition online…

UPDATE! In August 2021 as part of House & Garden UK magazine’s Sept 2021 Framing issue, fine art reproduction giclée prints of the From Nothing series will be available for sale as sets of three in A4 and A3 sizes, for a limited time. You will be able to curate your own triptych from the available paintings to add to your art collection!

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Atelier do Tijolo

EN: ATELIER DO TIJOLO is a working artist’s studio and gallery space with a focus on exhibiting the artist’s process and development alongside their final works. During opening hours the artist welcomes visitors to observe the process, stay for a cup of tea and chat about art and anything else that comes to mind.

PT: ATELIER DO TIJOLO é um espaço de atelié e galeria de artistas com foco na partilha do processo e desenvolvimento do artista ao lado dos seus trabalhos finais. Durante o horário de abertura, o artista dá as boas-vindas aos visitantes para observar o processo, ficar para uma chávena de chá e conversar sobre arte e qualquer outra coisa que lhe venha à mente.

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“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”, Albert Einstein

During the Jan 2021 lockdown in Portugal, I began the From Nothing series – 100 A4 paintings – while unable to explore the beautiful country I had moved to. The process of working within a constrained format meant I had to push my creativity with very limited external inspiration. Similarly to painting within a consistent and smaller format, being in confinement meant an adjustment in our concepts of space in daily routines. A nature and landscape theme became clear very quickly, perhaps as a way to psychologically extend my physical space.

As summer approached, I returned to some abstract landscape paintings started and abandoned a year earlier. I remember these paintings began with all the vigor of a new immigrant – full of enthusiasm and visions of the future to be – only to be quickly dashed by increasing Covid-19 restrictions. The paintings lacked the input of appropriate inspiration – until I was able to make a trip to Madeira Island. I spent a week lost in the old, magical Laurisilva forest, imagining the island pre-human settlement, soaking up as many details to bring back to the studio. Feeling entirely revived and reconnected with the outside world, I returned to my landscape paintings, reworking and embedding the passing of time into their development.

The Abstract Fantasy Landscape paintings developed a focus on reimagining current realities whilst still retaining embedded notions and concepts: A mountain range became graphical stripes; a river could be orange; a waterfall can fall from the sky. Everything is the same but different. These paintings explore my personal transition of moving countries, and in the current times they explore the changes to our lives as a result of the pandemic. As the From Nothing series branches out into different sizes and formats with the Abstract Fantasy Landscapes series, new challenges arise and spark more shifts and changes. As the world desperately tries to spring out of hibernation into bloom, so our perspective shifts accordingly.

Meanwhile, nature and life continues.