Monday, 15 August 2016

Q & A with Caridad Barragan

Hello Caridad
You will be one of the artist guides this October with Tuscany Plein Air. Perhaps you can help us to get to know you a little with some questions and answers. 

Q. So how long have you been an artist.
Caridad: I’ve been a professional artist since 1991 when I moved from southern California to Italy.


Q. You come from California. Why have you decided to live in a small rural community in the region of Umbria?
Caridad: I had been living in northern Italy for 15 years and was looking for a change of "scenery" so to speak.  I needed a quite place and through my friends in California I found a tiny medieval hamlet perched on a hill overlooking the Tiber Valley.

Q. I believe you stopped painting for a few years after graduating from Art college.
Caridad: Yes. Life is an adventure and often we don't know where that's going to take us. I was going through a difficult moment and fortunately or unfortunately I wasn't able to dedicate myself to my practice.

Q. Can you tell me how you got back into creating art and was it hard?
Caridad: After 10 years of not painting it dawned on me that it would've been a tragedy to lose my ability to paint altogether.  I stumbled upon the American artist Duane Keiser and his "Painting a Day" practice on the internet. I immediately thought: THIS is the type of project I need to get back into the saddle.  So I made a deal with myself to paint a small 5 x 7 in. oil painting of a still life everyday from Monday to Friday for one year. 

It was INCREDIBLY difficult, I would say even painful to paint. Initially it took me 4-5 hours to complete a small size painting and most of them looked like duds!  I remember very well the struggle to sketch forms, mix just the right color of paints and have my work resemble what I had in front of me.  I've kept a handful of those first paintings just to remind me of my point of departure. 
I think it took a good 8-9 months to finally feel at ease with painting and really be happy with the results.  Needless to say I sped up and was able to finish in about an hour.

Q. Are paintings the only sort of art that you make?
Caridad: I like to think of myself as an explorer. I'm a very curious person and I love to experiment with different materials such as paper, thread, wax, found images to create collages. I've also worked with a group of musicians to create their light design. I love ceramics as well. Does cooking count as an art?!

Q. Do you have a favorite painting medium?
Caridad: Of course, I prefer oil paints because of
their consistency. I like the creaminess of them. They remind me of soft cheese.

Q. How do you feel about drawing?
Caridad: Drawing is the base for painting. It's the initial stepping stone to understanding and seeing what you have in front of you whether that be a still life or landscape.

Q. Is there something special about painting en Plein Air in Italy?
Caridad: Absolutely! Italy has a particular light. I think that has to do with the fact that it's a thin strip of land surrounded by the Mediterranean on both sides which reflects onto it and around. 
When you step into the landscape it's like you're stepping into a dream or a page right out of an art history book. No wonder artists and writers included it in their Grand Tour.

Q. What's your favorite time of day to paint?
Caridad: In the summer, I prefer painting either early morning or late afternoon. I love that warm lateral lighting and the long shadows.

Q. Do you have a favorite season and if so, any particular reason ?
Caridad: Summer is my favorite. I hate the cold and always have ever since I was a child.  I admire painters that can paint outdoors in the winter. I prefer to sip a hot tea next to a fire!

Q. Is there a particular part of Italy, which you prefer to paint.
Caridad: This is a hard one! I really love Umbria but I think all of central and southern Italy is beautiful. Don't get me wrong, northern Italy is nice too but the sky can often be greyish even in the summer. 

Q. Does Italy have a dynamic painting community.
Caridad: I live in a very provincial environment. I think the only community out there is composed of squirrels! Large cities offer more chances to paint together with other artists . In fact I often paint with other artists from Rome and Florence.

Q. If you could choose to live anywhere else, where would it be.
Caridad: For now, I think I would choose exactly where I am now. It seems to have everything I need at the moment: beautiful landscapes, about an hour north of Rome, peacefulness and excellent food.

Thanks for taking the time for these questions Caridad.
Looking forward to painting with you. 

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