Michele del Campo is an Italian figurative painter. He was selected for the Columbia Threadneedle Prize in 2009 and is a frequent exhibitor at the Mall Galleries. We spoke to Michele about the creative and collaborative process of commissioned art.
Michele works on a large scale, creating huge canvases of bold colour with an emphasis on human gesture and environment. Infused with colour, youth and energy, they express a striking immediacy and sensuality. He approaches every work as a new and unique challenge. He constantly experiments, searching for new imagery, new textures, new colours. He often works intensely through the night, sometimes not stopping until 3am. The painting process usually takes around a month, but the entire project can take up to six months to complete as he likes to take his time to fully explore his theme, visiting locations, choosing models, taking several photographs and building up his composition before moving into the studio.
Michele del Campo in his Studio
For Michele, his life is very much his art: “Art is my world, it’s not a weight but a thing to enjoy.” His studio is very much a social space, he invites friends to model for him or to join him in life drawing sessions. His works themselves often draw on his own relationships and encounters. Some are even autobiographical recreations, dramatic re-stagings of events from his own life. Inspiration also comes from other artists - he admires the poetical solitude and intense atmospheres of Edward Hopper, the melancholy of N.C. Wyeth and the boldness of Eric Fischl. For style, he turns to contemporary painters Antonia Lopez Garcia and Liu Xiao Dong, appreciating their realism and precise brushwork.
Commission Case Study: ‘The Rest’
Michele del Campo, The Rest
Michele greatly enjoys the process of commission, believing that it offers new and unexpected perspectives for his work. He views the process as dialectic, enjoying the creative discourse it provides between patron and artist. He believes the creative process is enriched by the imposing of limitations, by working within a framework provided by another.
Michele Del Campo, The Rest in home
Michele created this image of two siblings for a Spanish client - the mother of the children - who was already an admirer of his work. Her dream was to have a painting of her two children in his style. She didn’t dare to ask Michele at first, not knowing whether he worked on commission, but fortunately she eventually dropped enough hints! Michele grabbed the chance to get out of his comfort zone, having never painted children before. It is this which he enjoys most about the process of commissioned art - the possibility of exploring new challenges, new territories and new forms of imagery. The combination of the two siblings appealed to Michele and he was happy to accept the proposal. He travelled to Madrid and spent a couple of days location-scouting for the perfect place to photograph the children. The final picture is actually a composite work, with Michele combining his favourite images of each of the children with a graffitied backdrop scene from London. Michele draws on skills learned from his education in photography and film-making to create the perfect final image. He almost takes on the role of a film director, combining all the right elements - location, figures and the objects which surround them - to create the final composition on Photoshop before he begins to paint.
Michele del Campo, The Rest in Studio Tent
Since completing ‘The Rest’, Michele has gone on to paint many beautiful portraits of children. He is currently at work on for a large family portrait of two parents and five siblings in a swimming pool and a very challenging commission featuring two very young and hyperactive children! To commission your own portrait from Michele, please contact our Commissions Consultants.
Michele del Campo trained in Fine Art and Illustration in Madrid, Falmouth, Dundee and Milan. He exhibits internationally and his work will feature in the upcoming London Art Fair in 2016. His work was selected for the Threadneedle Art Prize in 2009 and he won the Winsor and Newton Oil Prize at the Mall Galleries’ Royal Society of Marine Artists Exhibition in 2012 as well as Second Prize in our Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in 2013. He also featured in our Originals10 Exhibition in 2010 and this year’s Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition.