“When my husband surprised me with easel and art supplies last Christmas, I realised that I had to take up painting more intensely, and ‘work out my passion’,” Belinda Origo confesses.
Describing her style as ‘expression of reality’, her artwork featuring expertise in brushstrokes and harmony in composition, she hopes to produce enough pieces for a solo exhibition which will be her ‘utmost joy’ to share with her family and friends sometimes next year: “I relish the prospect of showing my work for everyone to enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed painting it.”
Belinda recounts her first approach to fine arts: “My interest in drawing and painting was influenced mostly by my father. He painted a mural on my nursery wall which we kept there for as long as we could. I started painting in my middle-school years – at first, I copied Disney characters and drew them for my school friends. I carried on with my art through all my school years, and I sat it as part of my GCSEs.”
“I believe in supporting them whenever I can.”
In her teenage years she was tutored by John Culatto. He taught her technique and art form. “I am very keen on experimenting, and I like visiting art galleries whenever I travel. In Gibraltar, I attend exhibitions by my artist friends. I believe in supporting them whenever I can as it’s important to them. I enjoy viewing their art and how they convey it to the public.”
Now, she has moved on from copying to pursuing her own style, inspired by nature, with a penchant for colourful flowers and plump juicy fruit, trees, and seascapes. “Faces, on the other hand, are challenging for me, but who doesn’t like a good challenge?”
Within the versatility of her subject matters, the common thread remains Belinda’s attention to detail: “My favourite subjects are still life and landscape painting. I started with family portraits using pencil sketching, then introduced acrylics to a few of my paintings, and finally watercolours. I love detailing my work. I am interested in scenarios which I have previously photographed, like see-through effects on glass, sunsets, bay views, street views and pets,” Belinda says. “I do life drawing sometimes, but I prefer to paint from photos, where time is frozen and the light is kept consistent for long enough to reproduce it on paper or canvas. I like painting in watercolours, as the blending of tones are easier to attain because they take longer to dry, whilst acrylic dries quicker; though I find that dabbing it with water makes acrylic paint easier to manage.”
She exploits the plasticity of reflections and tricks of the light when successfully negotiating gloss and transparency of crystal surfaces; she applies wide-angle perspective to her landscapes, where the predilection for clear, atmospheric, open spaces oozes through, with the added bonus of inked detailing, bequeathing a sort of Victorian illustration quality laced with cinema-poster linearity. “Ball pen is for me a tidier way to capture the essence of those buildings than paint brush.”
Belinda has sometimes participated in life drawing sessions at the Fine Arts Gallery and praises the ‘friendly atmosphere that infuses it’. Her sketches show her exquisite penmanship and her gift for capturing the sitter’s character in a few soft lines. Concurrently, she suggests implementing sessions for beginners to introduce more people to fine arts and promote drawing for all ages. In fact, she would like to see washable boards around town, in restaurants and public spots, to encourage children – and adults too! – to doodle and draw, and develop their artistic potential while having their talent viewed and appreciated by passers-by. This would constitute a semi-permanent open-air exhibition, and once the white boards are full, and their artwork suitably documented for posting and safeguarding on websites or social media pages, the boards could be wiped clean to give someone else the chance to gain exposure.
“But who doesn’t like a good challenge?”
In her bid to follow a traditional figurative style, and to retrace the staple trends of local art, Belinda reckons that Gibraltar’s heritage, architecture, and natural uniqueness provide the best inspiration and support to produce artwork that can and will promote our culture abroad.
Belinda’s creative flare doesn’t stop at a canvas or paper, as she enjoys painting on just about anything and with all media at her disposal: “I like cake decorating too. I used to paint my children’s favourite characters on their cakes when they were young. I am still doing it for my three granddaughters, and I love the way their little faces light up every time, which is so satisfying to see. I have also cross-stitched a few pieces hanging now from my walls, and I am partial to dried flower arrangements.”
To anybody out there who has an artistic flare or just wants to try out painting, she offers this piece of advice: “Just follow your heart, because painting gives a lot of satisfaction: you see it taking shape in front of your eyes as if you were giving it life.”