Exactly one year ago, while visiting Spain, I was roaming through the labyrinth of narrow streets in the old Gotic quarter of Barcelona, waiting to go see a staged version of Bizet’s Opera Carmen at the Palace of Catalan Music. I was admiring the sights and the sounds of the city’s streets, enjoying the warm Spanish weather, when I stumbled on a beautiful interior courtyard, filled with palm trees and a sculpture garden, with a giant banner exposing a woman, dressed in a red gown, sitting on a throne as if she was asleep on it. I was intrigued by the beauty of the art on display and so I walked in to inquire what this was? It turns out it was the entrance to the European Museum of Modern Art (MEAM) and on that night, they were launching a new exhibit in conjunction with the Art Renewal Center’s (ARC) annual salon and the banner was the beautiful work by Arantza Martinez, that year’s best in show winning painting: “Absolute Trust – Sleeping Beauty”. Little did I know that by entering the museum on that evening, my life would change forever.
As I walked up the grand staircase, music from The Lord of the Rings soundtrack filled the air and when I got inside the first room, I was immediately taken by the beauty and the diversity of the art on display. I was totally and utterly stunned. Through my travels, I have visited many of the great art museums and galleries of this world, but the paintings on display here were like nothing else I had ever seen or experienced before. The subject matter presented in every piece compelled me so much more than I had ever been accustomed to, this was relevant to my era and to who I am as a person. This was real and these astounding works of art were all done by actual living artists!
Inside I discovered the wonderful works of Roberto Ferri, Katsu Nakajima, Adrienne Stein, Jordi Diaz Alama, Dorian Vallejo, Hanwu Shen, Joel Carson Jones, Steven Levin, Ivan Franco, Christina Grace Mastrangelo, Lacey Lewis, Jaime Valero Perandones, Julio Reyes, Jason Brady, Stephen Bauman, Gerardo Monroy Vergara, David Palumbo, Richard Harper, David Eichenberg, Victoria Steel and so many other amazing and talented artists! Please take a moment to view and visit the sites and artworks of these wonderful and gifted artists:
I went back to the museum the next day and spent the afternoon gazing in great detail and in awe at all the different paintings and sculptures, admiring their beauty and analyzing the masterful techniques behind each one of them. It ignited in me a spark and a desire to pursue this further and I knew then that this is what i wanted to do with my life: I wanted to develop my own skills and techniques in order to elevate my art to such a level of beauty and precision. It is also at the MEAM that I was introduced to the Barcelona Academy of Arts and it’s program teaching drawing and oil painting techniques based on realistic traditions originated in the renaissance period, where I would love to go study in the near future. I was fortunate enough to schedule a last minute appointment to go visit the Academy and i was so pleased and excited to see the establishment and dream of the new possibilities in front of me!
Upon my return home, I felt inspired by all the art I had seen in Barcelona and so I would come home from work in the evening and sit down at my table and draw into the night and on week-ends, practicing my drafting skills and try my hand at realistic portraiture, in order to build a strong portfolio. I have had so much fun drawing ever since and at every portrait I drew, I could feel my technique develop and my skills improve, which gave me great motivation to pursue this endeavor. Looking back after a year of work since my trip to Barcelona and that amazing moment of revelation I had on that evening of November 20 2015 at the MEAM, I am extremely pleased with my progress, which is illustrated throughout the present website I launched earlier this year, as a testament and a showcase of my evolution as an illustrator. I even had the chance to produce a first series of limited edition prints of recent portraits, which can be purchased through my ETSY web shop.
I cannot wait to have the chance to learn from great teachers and masters and apply the techniques learned to my own art and creations. I look forward to practice my drafting skills under the supervision of talented artists, learn to master oil painting techniques, to be inspired by the works of other fellow art students, to evolve artistically and discover my own creative voice.
Thank you MEAM and ARC. Thank you Barcelona Academy of Art.
Muchos gracias Barcelona!
Text and photographs by François Champagne-Limoges,
Artwork by the individual artists listed