Inspiration

The following is an excerpt of an interview I gave to the Irish magazine Tangible in September 2014. I have chosen it for this page because it reflects well my passion of animal portraiture and arts in general. The article was specifically about my work with Bella and the anthropomorphic images.

LA VITA E BELLA

I graduated in Industrial Design in my native Rio de Janeiro some decades ago. I still remember one of my first classes during the 1st year, whose subject was History of Design. On that particular day, it was all about the Pre-Raphaelite movement, and William Morris's Arts & Crafts. I was enthralled and, soon, that small group of dreamers became my favourite Art school. Not only because of the undeniable beauty of their works, but also their passionate and sometimes turbulent personalities and relationships. Later on, I would be introduced to the Secession movement and the intricacies of Klimt's work, French Symbolism, and finally the beautiful, nostalgic shtetl art of Marc Chagall. They all marked me deeply, their faces, lives and works.

At the end of the course (beginning of the 80's to be precise), I defended my thesis about the importance of Computer Arts in the creative process. It was all very different then. You could not dream yet of possessing a PC or Mac at home and some graphic software (in big companies exclusively) would modestly allow you to work with a maximum of, let's say, 256 colours. Which was better than nothing. At the time, of course.

My life passed, and changed, and alas I started my working life in another area, seemingly distant from design. Lots of things have been happening since then, some good, some not as good. Lately I re-started revisiting some of these interests "of yore", and, to make long a bit shorter, have decided to start using Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.

I love it for its amazing array of possibilities (layers, filters, brushes, fonts and, yes, colours). And then my lovely dog Bella became my inspiration, my little muse. I use her image for digital collages. The main thing is to get Bella to look (or to be) as anthropomorphic as possible. Suddenly, in my work, she becomes quite human and develops impossible poses and expressions for a canine, for example. Or dresses up. Or... Caninely human, humanly canine. There you have it.

The hardest part for me when doing this kind of work is to adapt a new photo to the textures and atmosphere of an old painting. Or, for example, to make Bella's paws play an instrument. It is not simply a "collage", but feels like a new composition (to me at least!) in the sense that I have to work the photo (or photos, since I use more than one generally) along with the original painting so these two media look as seamless as possible, consistent in light and finishing.

I have still lots to learn about Photoshop, since it is such a limitless tool, offering so many possibilities and resources. I have no formal training on that, but I am keen to explore it and read about it, so this is how things go at this stage: one step at the time.

I have decided so far, to work on 3 different types of collage: one is called the "Bella's Little Gallery of Art", where she (or one of her "famous" canine ancestors) is inserted into classical paintings; the other is "Bella-chan in Japan" where she travels back in time and becomes a Geisha or Maiko, and, the last is called "The Paper Moon Company", where I use old photos or postcards from the beginning of the 20th Century up to the Roaring 20's to have Bella posing in pretty flapper frocks or any other cutesy outfit.

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