Saturday, June 2, 2018

Nicolás Uribe: Painting Our Lives

Nicolás Uribe paints the people and places he loves in Moleskine sketchbooks. Yesterday he launched a crowd-funded plan to translate his sketches into a facsimile art book.

Nicolás Uribe, oil
James Gurney: You've been painting a lot in sketchbooks lately. What makes sketchbooks so attractive to you from a creative standpoint?

Nicolás Uribe: I’ve always found the act of sketching both necessary and stimulating, but as of late, I’ve just understood my sketchbooks as a place where I can approach painting and drawing far more liberally. It’s become the place where I feel safe to try things out, to search, to attempt to understand, and more importantly to feel comfortable failing.

Gurney: What kinds of subjects or approaches do sketchbooks let you explore that you might not have explored on a large canvas?

Uribe: I think the size is essential. It puts me in a mindset where I can approach an alla prima painting session with enough commitment to know that I can “finish” a painting while being bold and expressive but also careful and sensitive. It’s a very intense couple of hours where every decision counts!

Gurney: Who are the people in your pictures, and what inspires you to paint them the way you do?

Uribe: They are people who, regardless of the nature of my relationship with them, are an integral part of my life. Some of them are very close to my affection - they are family, friends, people that I love. But among them there’s also strangers that I encountered for only a split second, people that I will probably never get to see again. I find it very poetic that the people that I love, share a space with strangers, objects, interiors, all of them painted with the same respect and sensitivity.

Gurney: What reference are you looking at when you're painting the portraits? Are there aspects of your picture-making procedure now that differ a lot from the way you were trained?

Uribe: I mostly work from photographs, but I also consistently work from life. During my training I was taught how to paint and draw exclusively from life. I’ve always stated that working from nature instructs every single decision that I take in my studio. Everything I’ve learned, every reflection I’ve made on form, structure, gesture, color or light has come from my direct interaction with nature. There is simply no substitute for it.

Nicolás Uribe, gouache
Gurney: Why have you chosen to use Instagram Stories for sharing live painting videos? What needs to happen for a successful live session?

Uribe: It’s a very direct channel for visual communication. In theory there are many other live channels, like youtube, twitch, or facebook, but the artist community is very active in Instagram. I also find that the default ephemeral quality of the live videos (they’re only up for 24 hrs), emphasizes the fact that you feel you have to be there when something is being painted. That same presence, that same sense of urgency is the one I feel when I have to execute a painting in two or three, one hour sessions.

Gurney: What did you learn from your 2017 Kickstarter campaign, and what approach are you going to take with your new Indiegogo campaign?

Uribe: Honest and active engagement with the people that follow and support us is absolutely vital. People want to feel like we are right there with them, that we are there for them, and that we work alongside them even if we’re separated by an ocean. If we all feel that each one of us is an essential part of a healthy community, we will build trust and selflessly work for each other. It is truly that simple.

Nicolás Uribe is a painter born in Madison, WI, currently based in Bogotá, Colombia. He graduated with Honors as an Illustration Major from School of Visual Arts in NY.

The fundraising campaign has already reached its fixed goal, but many of the pledge categories are still open. 


Susan Krzywicki said...

How does he get his pages to lay down so flat after he's added so much pigment to the page? Did he glue several pages together before or after painting?

Won't the pages stick together when he has the journal shut?

Beth Robinson said...

He primes them with acrylic medium and uses both sides of the paper so I think that helps it lay flat. He usually uses a alkyd white oil paint so it is dry within a day or so and the pages do stick together a bit. He usually coats them with retouch varnish which helps

Unknown said...

Alkyd white oil paint just as a primer, Beth? Or are these sketches in alkyd? It looked like oil when he was laying out his palette (and what a huge blob of yellow for a little sketch!).

Nicolás Uribe said...

Hey all! I use a transparent acrylic binder to prime the paper. Moleskin paper is fairly thick so even if it curls a bit initially it will level and flatten out with time. It also helps that both sides of the paper are primed, compensating for the tension may feel from the priming. I use Michael Harding's titanium white no. 3 that has driers in it. Since every painting is done allá prima I'm not concerned about possible cracking. If I use medium I use a tiny bit of alkyd medium, but I paint almost every single painting with straight paint. Remember there's enough oil in a tubed paint to act as medium. After the painting has thoroughly dried I apply a thin layer of retouch varnish which dries in about 20 minutes. The pages may stick a bit initially but the more I handle the Sketchbook the more they get used to the contact with each other. I also don't want the paintings inside to have a precious air to them. They are part of a whole. They are paintings that, contrary to what we've been accustomed, are meant to be viewed, touched, manipulated. It is very liberating to see them as such. It is a sketchbook after all. Not an anthology of paintings that I want to eventually frame or sell. ������

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for the personal reply, Nicolás Uribe. Your sketchbook is gorgeous and I'm sure I'll talk myself into supporting the IndieGoGo before it closes. (I just backed another project and the shipping to the UK was eye-watering, so I have to recover a little!).