Art – Exclusive Interview with Lovely Rita – 'The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes'
Picture yourself in a 15th Century Church somewhere in France, Lovely Rita is listening to music, the classics, dreaming of tangerine tress and marmalade skies. The colours in her mind slowly and deliberately swimming together to form the geometric shapes that will come together, revealing her muse in painted stained-glass sanctity. Rita’s paintings are wonderous and otherworldly, what was her creative process? The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes.
Interview conducted on Tuesday the 18th of December at 11:57 am via Instagram Messenger. There has been minimal editing in order to preserve the authenticity of interview.
Tell me a bit about yourself, when did you start painting?
I started painting when I was 30. I did not follow any academic training. I was fond of classic painters as well as contemporary ones. Such as Henri Edmond Cross a XIXth pointillist artist , and on the other hand, artists like Lichtenstein or Adami. The decline was made when I discovered Robert Combas, a French painter close to the "Free Figuration". I started with no brushes, just fingers in the material. My goal has always been to convert my musical emotions into painting. My true references are music between 1965 and 1972. Hendrix, the Beatles, Led Zeppellin, the Who, Janis Joplin, the Doors, Deep Purple, Cream, the Beach Boys, and all the harmonies of the Flower Power and the Swinging London era. My pseudo, Lovely Rita, is a tribute to this song from Sergeant Peeper Lonely hearts club band, representative of this time. Another important reference is Rimbaud's poetry, especially, A Season in Hell and Illuminations. So I try to portrait the artists I admire, the iconic figures of rock and pop culture, but not only, for instance, I just finished a portrait of Proust and one of Greta Garbo.
At the beginning I proceeded with mixed techniques, collages, acrylic and epoxy. Originally, I am a collector and a passionate. For years, I have accumulated thousands of photos, documents and books about the artists I love to create some kind of a private imaginary museum. For instance, for Lennon's portrait "Johnny with Lucy in the sky", I had hundreds of pictures that I sort, classified, and eliminated. After a period of rest that can last several weeks, a photo emerges. I make a stencil and I fill the hollowed out areas with about 300 pop art vignettes representative of this period that I had previously cut out.
Eight years ago I began digital painting. No Photoshop (too sophisticated for me), but Studio artist on PC and Icolorama on Ipad.Today, I try to liberate myself from a too restrictive technique. I can make a Hendrix wood carving that I paint or cover with collage afterwards. Usually, I start with studies of shapes and colors on screen and I keep on going on canvas or wood panel with acrylic, on square formats of 1 meter by 1 meter to recall the sleeves of the vinyls of the Sixties.
I tend to throw away a lot of tests before getting to what I am looking for. I do sessions of 4 or 5 hours, I go to sleep and the next day I see all the defects. I start again and so on... It's a process of constant satisfaction / disatisfaction that helps me to go ahead.
For the past two years I have been working full time on my painting. For a month I have a workshop in the south of Bordeaux, surrounded by wild deers and pheasants. No more false excuses to progress! The aim is to make more exhibitions. In the past, I exhibited only four times in Paris and Normandy.
What is Free Figuration?
It is a painting current from the 80s and 90s. Combas, Haring and so on. It is the starting point that decide me to paint.
How would you describe the ‘Free Figuration’ movement?
A kind of Rock painting, the free mixing. Far away from academic rules, of many influences. But today what I paint is not free figuration. Robery Combas invented this movement. In the beginning I was influenced by that. Not today.
So, do you have a favourite Robert Combas painting?
Yes all the period between 1983, 1988 and 1989. That was crazy. Crazy colours, crazy topics, crazy drawings.
One I love is the portrait of his wife, Genevieve, painted like stained glass of a gothic Cathedral.
It is not seemly!!! Erotic and dirty… Like ‘Sticky Fingers’ of The Stones.
Some would say, that his art is more punky than rock, but for me it is rock and my painting, I try to be at the middle of pop and rock.
‘Child in Time’ of Deep Purple. The perfect mix of classical education (Jon Lord at the organ) and the crazyness of Ian Gillan, the singer. That is the music I play loud when I paint.
When does the creative process begin? When you are listening to music, sketching?
When I am listening music! And I paint always portraits because my main motivation is to catch the right light in the eyes. I could paint only eyes… So I have a list of figures that I want to paint. I tried to paint Keith Richard for 2 months but it is not good. I have just finished one of Queen Elizabeth, it was tricky one.
What comes after the music? Your next step?
I cannot play music, I know only 3 chords and I sing out of key. My goal is to feel with the painting my musical emotions. So the next step is to find my colour harmony that I could translate the emotion I feel when I hear a particular song. When I found the right colour harmony, I choose the eyes I want to paint. Eyes are the best windows.
The colour in your work is incredible! How do you find the ‘harmony’?
I am a little bit of a dreamer. I spent many hours to watch sky and clouds. Here is the sunrise this morning from my bedroom.
The eyes of Charlotte ramping with the colour harmony of a sunset plus a pink floyd solo guitar: that is my ingredients.
What comes next?
The choose of the medium: wood carving, acrylic painting, digital painting ,no matter what, often a mix of everything,. The important point is that I have in mind the exact result I wish. So I am looking for in all directions to find my goal. That is why I throw many attempts. And why it takes a long time to get something ok. When I am looking for, it is like I was in a labyrinth and I must find emergency exit! It is like a trance. I mix all techniques and when it is finished I would be not able to do the same.
How long does it take you to finish a painting?
Between 10 and 20 hours? Keith richard I spent mabye 30 hours and I failed!
Was it the eyes?
Yes! The left one! Because he is in the same time a very cool man and also ‘Sympathy for the Devil’. And I did not find the devil I imagine.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished working on Her Majesty and now I would like to work on a George Harrison, one of my prefered musician.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
Hope: to improve day after day, new expositions in art gallery. Dream: to paint sky and clouds on very large canvas, a lot of works…
Finally, what advice would give the younger Lovely Rita?
Live your passion with patience. (Is the right word in English?) Be obstinate with love with the guidance of beauty!
Interview terminated on Tuesday 18th of December at 1:35pm
Follow Lovely Rita on Instagram here.
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