3 Questions Digital Series

Carl Lopes

An interview from Art in Embassies 3 Questions Digital Series with Carl Lopes, who speaks about his creative process and artwork at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Praia, Cabo Verde.

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Full Transcript

Hi, my name is Carl Lopes. I’m an artist, specifically a painter. Well, I’ve always had an inner desire to create and I’ve always felt that working from one’s mind is a very important feature for an artist who is pioneering new ways of work.

So I try not to copy other artists. In the past, I did copy when I was in college, and I wanted to learn and to grow with the different elements. But as far as my studio work as a professional, I’ve always been a pioneer trying to work up out of my own mind’s eye and my own heart

. And I would say about 20 years ago, I realized that African art, I always loved African art. And I realized that African art was playing a far lesser role in society than it should. And especially in Western society.

No, because African art was thought of in many circles as being primitive art. So I started to change my geometrical art into art that was influenced by African design. And instead of doing elements as my main subject matter, like color, texture is lines and so on, I started using ancient African carvings in mass suicide, using ancient African

designs that come off of African pottery and in textiles and putting it together in my own geometric way. And then I found that collecting in other materials, such as gold leaf and silver leaf and copper leaf was making my work a little bit stronger in a visual sense.

My work became much more colorful at this point. And I started using actually different types of materials from polygraphing papers to jewelry that I’ve broken up in glass beads into my pieces, too. So my influences would really be the desire to pioneer a new a new way of working and a new idea, and to also uplift African

design and to put it on the pedestal and to say, you know, publicly that this this needs a close inspection because the elements that are taking place in these ancient designs, all those simplistic are miracles and and fabulous in a in a visual sense and also in a cultural sense.

First thing I do is I have to come up with the idea. So I will go through our history books. I will go through photographs that I’ve taken of African art in museums, and I will look at images that will inspire me.

And once I’ve done my sketches, I’ll do a large rough draft, putting them all together to see what the composition would look like, because I’m very much attuned to how artists compose on the page or on the canvas.

And I think that’s one of the major elements in art, is having a strong composition. So what’s my composition is designed in rough draft form. I’ll draw it on gesso white, painted on plywood. And if I have to cut out any section, I’ll use a working machinery and it kind of shapes and edges and so on.

And I have to just do it by design and drawing it. So it still comes in the gesso. It might strengthen. That changed a little bit. And then I’m ready to start painting. The first thing that I do is start working with my acrylic paints.

And I use a lot of airbrush work because I was trained in realism and painted so many years. Realistically, I can’t put some realistic additions to abstract images by putting in shadows and having a light source and making things appear as if they’re rounded.

And I used to airbrush because if you think of a sphere and if you want to look round in the light source. So that means this is going to be highlighted on one side, shaded on another side to begin that transition of tonelessly as possible, which I enjoy.

I use an airbrush. And the next step after I’ve done most of my painting like that is to work with the holographic painters in the holographic papers are actually nothing more than mostly gasbags. But you will find the source.

They found that these papers are the colors. Gold will have greens and reds in them. So once the holographic tape is around, I said drawing paintings, acrylic paintings. And that’s where I bring in a lot of the African patterns that I mentioned that I take from ceramic where as well as textiles, clothing and so on cloth.

So I drawn a lot of designs in these designs. I researched many of them of history, African art history and some of the designs. I take the liberty of being an artist and making them up myself, too. And once I feel that the painting is done and it’s not telling me that it’s got into problems or individual

issues, then I call the whole thing with all resin. I’m on my studio table. I lay laid out flat, shimmied it up, makes it two parts together. And the reason I put that on it, spread it all around with the same brush.

It drips off the sides. I make sure the sides are covered to it because it mix the two price together. It’s cloudy with air in there now. So when it’s on the piece, the piece looks a little bit cloudy and there are bubbles here and there.

I take a blowtorch like so I’m to used to sweat copper pipes and I gently heat the surface of the colorist and all the bubbles come to the surface and disappear and it becomes like clear glass. And when I can’t see any any movement in the reflection and when I don’t see any more bubbles of cloudiness, then

I know I need to stand back and just let it cure for the next two or three days. And it’s a chemical cure as opposed to evaporation to cure will be sticky for a couple of days. But by the third day of the painting, all secure and ready to go.

I would say you need to have some built up confidence. You need to understand that we’re all individuals and we all do things differently. And your creations as a an artist or practicing artists in my creations as a professional artist shouldn’t even be compared in such to be.

There is a form of communication. And it’s up to the individual artists, beginner or even advanced as to whether they want to communicate to others in the public. I think most art should be shown, but it depends on the artist helpless, which should be with the issue of family members.

If you go to the gallery and say this, there’s a lot in between there, too. But it’s all part of human nature to create. It’s all part of human nature to work with materials. And it’s sad when I see students or any older adult discouraged from doing that.

It should be encouraged on many, many levels. I’m a big fan of putting art materials in kids hand at an extremely young age and just letting them make a mess and not even have to color inside the lines.