About me

Miscellanous - Irene Cantalejo



Since my childhood I watched as my father first painted with oil and nowadays with watercolor. He was the one who instilled in me a love for painting and who encouraged me to attend painting workshops, so what started as a hobby has today become the form of expression with which I feel identified. A notebook and some pencils always accompany me to write down day-to-day details that inspire me to continue creating.

My work has evolved over the years through many themes and ideas, includung still life, architecture and perspective, allegory, imaginary composition and most recently oriental compositions. But the unifying passion in all my paintings is describing a sense of space, volume, colours, atmosphere and detail, arriving at a kind of hyper real expression of the subject matter.

I am very interested in making, process and technique. My work is abstractly inspired and the journey to a painting can be very multi-disciplinary, often involving the construction of props, dioramas or elaborate maquettes, as well the use of perspective. I paint mainly in oils and watercolours, although I do explore other media. My technique is extremely detailed, applying many layers and glazes to achieve a sense of space, mood and character. An oil painting can take months to finish.

For me paintings act as portals – worlds one can visually step into and be transported and sometimes even transformed by. I believe the primary function of art is to trigger a moment of transcendence in the viewer, in short to fill one with wonder. In recent times I am focusing on oriental painting technique. This interest comes from a long time ago, I was always attracted by the delicacy in the execution of each of the compositions I saw, I began to research and study. I bought books, I visited one of the best Chinese calligraphy masters in Madrid. There I bought all kinds of brushes, of different sizes, different bristles, bars of colored ink, the stone to undo these bars in water, and I also had my Chinese stamp made, which was carved with ancient characters.

My son Martín, of Chinese origin, is continually my source of inspiration, and he is currently focused on Chinese series.

Their technique inevitably catches me, They have an extremely meticulous preparation that requires time to savor the previous process. Before starting the ink bars I rub them on the inkwell stone, this moment is ideal to think that I am going to compose and as my mood of each day is, it is what makes me choose one color or another. Sometimes I lose track of time when selecting the paper, I usually choose heavy-weight white papers, but not very porous, although I also dare to use rice paper for calligraphy, depending on the day.

My Chinesee signing stamp means warrior, it is the name of my son KAI WEI. Serving me as an element of balance in the compositions in these works. Of the two available versions, I chose this stamp with the characters in high relief, that is the yang one, because I considered that it gave more character to my work.

The colour I use for the stamp impression is vermilion red and comes from the mineral cinnabar. And the inkwell where I undo the ink sticks is a stone obtained in Guangdong province on Mount Fuke.

The ink sticks are made from burnt pine soot, glue, and camphor. In Chinese culture, the most traditional colors for these purposes are indigo, earth brown, cobalt green, resin yellow, white and red in four shades.

I have made all this technique my own by westernizing the compositions by adding nib, or touches of liquid watercolor, thus giving intensity to the work.

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