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Interview with Matti Vesanen

“The detailed sculpting of the face or hands is challenging but when you get it right, it takes the whole sculpture to a different level altogether”

Matti Vesanen is a 43 years old sculptor from the south of Finland. He imprisons human nature in fascinating resin, plaster, bronze or wood structures. The majority of his artworks explore the nude female figure from different perspectives, emotions and living moments. His sculptures are versatile, you can find them in private collections or public spaces, in gardens or in living rooms, in a 13-meter-high Corten steel relief or an 8cm tall bronze figure.

This Finnish artist is constantly working. He regularly shares on Instagram his works in progress and you can explore his techniques and his sculpting process on his website. Matti is always participating in expositions and exhibiting his works of art in local places and events. Also, every year —since 2013— he holds the annual Autumn Exhibition in a property of his own. Last August it was called “Immortals” and visitors could explore around 20 pieces of art inside the house and in the garden.

“Shipwrecked Madonna” by Matti Vesanen using PoseSpace photography as a reference (shared by artist)

His work has undoubtedly grown and expanded in the past few years. In this short Q&A interview, Matti explains how he got into art, the challenges he faces while sculpting and how his technique has evolved:

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

As a kid and teenager, I went to an art school for children and youth but never thought I would be an artist. I trained and worked as a mechanical engineer. When I was 26, I started sculpting as a hobby at the local community college, where they had a live model; I still go there to this day. Gradually the idea of becoming a professional artist sort of grew on me and I began to do sculpting, first part-time, then full time.

Do you listen to music while you work? What is your perfect environment to sculpt?

I do listen to the radio, mostly classical and rock music as well as talk radio. My studio is a fairly peaceful place without too many distractions. With two young kids, it’s a haven!

What challenges do you face working with the nude figure?

In my work I try to achieve a natural, unforced effect so that the pose wouldn’t seem rigid or artificial. You also have to consider all the possible directions from which you can look at the sculpture. A pose can look perfectly fine from one angle but strange from another. The detailed sculpting of the face or hands is challenging but when you get it right, it takes the whole sculpture to a different level altogether.

“And moss grew all over it” by Matti Vesanen using PoseSpace photography as a reference (shared by artist)

How did you discover www.posespace.com?

Around 2011 I was looking for model photos on the internet; I had previously used photos from another internet source for my work, but PoseSpace was better than the others. I could purchase single poses without subscribing to an annual membership. Most importantly for sculpting, the website provides the most camera angles of a model, much more than other similar websites. Seven years on, this is still the case.

How has your style changed over the years?

These days the surface of my sculptures is rougher, less polished than what it used to be. Now I often patinate the surface while my earlier work tended to have a more even and monochromatic finish. I find that patinating and visible layering of paint give more depth to the sculptures.

Website www.mattivesanen.com

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004514388768

Interview by Andrea Miliani

Interview with Gwen Roberts

“I use realism to enhance specific areas of importance and draw the viewer toward a more intimate proximity to the work”

Gwen Roberts is a Photorealism artist who uses her pencils to create fascinating drawings. This British artist describes herself as “curator of emotions” and has a special talent to transform photo references into unique, delicate and sophisticated pieces of art.

She develops her drawings with extreme detail and care, and uses different social media channels to promote her work. In her Youtube channel, she explains her drawing process and teaches how to draw realistic skin textures, pores and lips. Gwen is also currently working on a book—a step-by-step guide where she reveals her drawing secrets—and sells her drawings as prints on Saatchi Art.

“Eclipsed” by Gwen Roberts. Shared on Artworks, inspired by a PoseSpace.com model

A few years ago, she decided to change her life and follow her artistic instinct. In this Q&A interview, Gwen explains how she uses PoseSpace.com, why she chose graphite as her medium and shares wonderful advice for art students interested in Photorealism:

You started working in the financial industry and after 20 years without picking up a pencil you decided to start drawing. What happened? Do you remember how you felt at that moment?

I was working in a very stressful job and when the contract ended I decided to take some time out. I have never lost my passion for art so it seemed a good opportunity to do some drawing. It was like taking a breath of fresh air. Following my instincts to put pencil to paper came rushing back. It felt so natural.

Why did you choose graphite as your medium?

As a child, I was always drawing. I wanted to sketch with sophistication; I was never interested in drawing cartoons like most other children of my age. I used to practice drawing perfect circles, because in my mind if I could draw a perfectly round circle I could draw anything. I think it paid off.

By the time I had gotten proficient in sketching, graphite was a medium I felt very comfortable with. However, when I returned to my beloved fascination with graphite later in life, I started to realise how versatile the medium was. To this day I strive to push the medium as far as I can with layers and textures to creature as much realism as possible.

I would like to turn my attention to paint at some point but I’m not done with graphite yet. I am currently working on new ideas for larger scale pieces on canvas.

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

There are many artists whom I admire. My first encounter with photorealism was the great Chuck Close. He was my inspiration toward the movement. I also have Kelvin Okafor to thank for revealing his techniques in his blog, which I adapted to suit my own hand. However, it is important to me that my work is not overly focused on technique. A photorealistic style contributes to the objective but is not a means to an end. I do not strive to faithfully replicate a photograph. I use realism to enhance specific areas of importance and draw the viewer toward a more intimate proximity to the work.

During the few years I have been developing my practice I have had the honour of corresponding with an Instagram acquaintance who has kindly given me guidance through the challenging process of finding myself artistically. Gary Epting is a fantastic artist, a great mentor and a good friend. I have a lot to thank him for. Epting has taught me to take inspiration from what I know and what is familiar to me. Annie Murphy-Robinson is one such artist whom also enthuses me to do so. Having a sense of mystery in my work is essential to my philosophy and Dirk Dzimirsky, Johan Barrios and Marilyn Minter are contributory in stimulating a lot of my ideas at this point in time. There are many more but my favourites seem to change with what mood I happen to be in.

Do you have a favorite PoseSpace.com model? 

Before the work is put to paper I already visualise how it will look and I will have a pose in mind. Therefore when I use PoseSpace.com I am not looking at the models, I am looking for a suitable pose. PoseSpace.com provides an extensive choice and a variety of poses. The 360 degree option is also very useful.

It is difficult to find willing models, even without nudity and it can get expensive to pay a professional model and it’s helpful to be pretty handy with a camera, have suitable studio space and lighting, etc. Consequently, PoseSpace.com overcomes these problems for a regular artist and the high quality images also benefit an artist, such as myself, who works in minute detail.

What life experiences have influenced your work?

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.

What advice do you have for artists who are studying drawing and have an interest in Photorealism?

I think my top tip for anyone just starting to learn photorealistic techniques is to focus on mastering accuracy. Don’t rush the initial process of plotting out your drawing at the start. I spend a long time placing the features of a portrait before I even consider the shading.

If I may, I would like to mention that I am working on a book that will reveal my techniques and process. It will take the reader through a “step by step” guide of one of my drawings from start to finish. There will be photos and a detailed explanation at every stage. In addition, there will be sections the reader can refer to for more information that focus on specific facial features such as a nose or a mouth. I am attempting to make short YouTube videos to accompany the book as well.

“Twenty Four Seven” by Gwen Roberts. Shared on Artworks

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

I find that social media is a great platform to get my work seen. I do not yet have gallery representation and I do not exhibit on a regular basis and so social media is a good way to get exposure and build a reputation. It can, however, disrupt my creative thought process. I have tripped up with quite a few pieces where I have been distracted with what people want to see rather than what it is I want to say. I want to produce unique and interesting work but it is very easy to jump on the bandwagon and draw portraits of celebrities in order to get more followers. Social media is flooded with repetitive subject matter and it makes it difficult to stand out from the crowd if you use a photo from the Internet. This is exactly why PoseSpace.com is so beneficial and there is the advantage that the images are royalty-free. If you are intent on taking someone else’s photograph and faithfully replicate it, the work is not entirely your own and you are at risk of the work being void of emotion and merely about technical skill.

In addition to putting together a book, I am currently working on some new drawings. To enable me to focus my thoughts entirely on a new body of work without outside influence, I am posting less frequently on social media at the moment. I will no doubt interchange between bouts of divulgence and quiet periods of solitude.

Gwen Roberts website: https://gwenrobertsartist.weebly.com

Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/gwenrobertsdrawing/

Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvq2M_m0kUecDQTcdktqezQ

Artwork: https://www.saatchiart.com/account/artworks/848989

Interview by Andrea Miliani

Interview with Liz Gridley

“Feels amazing to declare myself a professional artist, finally!”

Liz Gridley’s paintings seem to capture strong emotions and feelings in every piece, especially in her portraits. This talented artist was born in Melbourne in 1989 and showed her artistic side since she was a young girl. Now, after several awards and exhibitions, she can proudly consider herself a professional artist.

She recently presented her first solo show “Empathy, My Witness” in Melbourne, a beautiful exhibition of paintings with “heightened colour, expression and flesh” at the Off the Kerb Gallery. The audience got to see her work first hand and experience strong connections with her soulful artwork.

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

In this Q&A interview, Liz shares with PoseSpace her thoughts, the names of the artists she admires, more details about her work and the most valuable lessons she has learned as a professional artist:

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

As many artists do, I started by being the ‘arty’ kid at school who wanted to do nothing more than draw and draw and draw. My main academic interest started when I was 14 and tried my first Life Drawing class (a bit daunting for my father at the time, to leave me to draw nude models with strangers, but he got over it very fast when he saw how excited I was with the drawings!) I’ve been happily stuck on the figure ever since, completing a Bachelor of Visual Art Honors in painting at Monash University in Caulfield (VIC, Australia) in 2010.

I’m now (after a bit of life happening) 2 years into a full time art practice and it feels amazing to declare myself a professional artist, finally!

What life experiences have influenced your work?

In 2008 I was lucky enough to be able to do one semester of my university degree at the Monash University Prato campus (near Florence, Italy). The months I spent in Italy were very crucial to my love of Baroque masters and pursuit of a marriage between traditional and contemporary techniques. I focused my projects on the abundance of figurative sculpture in Florence: the drama in posing, lighting shifting during the day highlighting narratives and moments of emotional tension. Experiencing these pieces I’d seen in books or online was so fundamentally different in the flesh, so to speak.

What is the importance of life drawing for you?

As I mentioned, life drawing sort of kick started me on my art journey! When I haven’t been able to paint, when life or work became the priority, it has been life drawing almost every time that kicks me back into gear. By focusing on your forms, working in fast quick moments and slowly building to longer poses it is an exercise that lets me shut my brain up and get my arm back into form. I thoroughly recommend life drawing as a regular habit to realist artists as it refreshes you and allows for play and experimentation that can sometimes be more difficult to fit into your studio practice if you’re focused on a subject or style.

How do you use PoseSpace.com’s photos?

I stumbled onto PoseSpace’s archive on Tumblr years ago, initially it was a great resource to just find interesting poses for figures (I’ve never been good at drawing from my imagination, reference is essential) but I started using the images more when I bought my first book & disc collection Art Models 6 – The Female figure in Shadow and Light. The accompanying disc is a well loved resource, not only for the 360 degree views but for the high resolution detail! Zooming into the faces and details has allowed me to practice not only figure drawing but portrait techniques in paint as well.

Images of Liz Gridley’s work in progress and final result using PoseSpace’s model Luana as a reference (shared by artist)

In 2018 I also did my first demonstration for Ringwood Art Society, in a room of 50+ people, with open doors and drafty conditions it wasn’t appropriate for me to have a live nude model, so I spruked and used my Art Models book! Live drawing in PanPastel straight from the reference image was convenient, it was visible on a projected screen and I received lovely comments from the audience.

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

The problem with smartphones and instagram is I find new amazing artists to watch everyday! Up at the top I’m a huge fan of Roberto Ferri (contemporary artist, painting in the style of Baroque Old Masters), Jennifer Gennari (Oil Paint artist, master of portraits & animal paintings) and silicon (hyper realist) figurative sculptors such as Sam Jinks, Patricia Piccinini and Ron Mueck.

You have won several awards ever since you started your career. What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a professional artist over the past few years?

I’ve been very lucky and honored to win some gongs in drawing and painting, most notably the 2017 Graeme Hildebrand Emerging Art Prize (Body of Work, Major Prize). I’ve learnt so much from taking chances to enter things and say yes to opportunities.

I think one of the hardest lessons is how to deal with comparison against other artists. With Instagram and online communities its 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 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!

Liz Gridley’s website: https://lizgridley.com.au
Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/lizgridleyartist/

Interview by Andrea Miliani