Raul de la Torre interview: Constant evolution
Abstract textile artist Raul de la Torre was born in Barcelona but now lives and works in Los Angeles. Raul places an importance on experimentation with colour, combining acrylic and embroidery on canvas to create his work. He is a member of LACMA Art Council and LAAA, the Los Angeles Art Association.
In this interview abstract textile artist Raul talks about his evolving use of colour and why his sketchbook is a key part of his process.
A ‘happy’ accident
TextileArtist.org: What initially captured your imagination about textile art?
Raul de la Torre: I started to play with different elements on canvas: thread, used painting rags, cotton gloves, etc… to create textures and at some point the embroidery became an important part of my work. I don’t think the approach to textile was intentional; it was a ‘happy’ accident.
What or who were your early influences and how has your life/upbringing influenced your work?
Art has been an important part of my life since an early age. I was born in Barcelona, a city where you breathe culture. The first memories as a kid are visits to Museums with my dad or the school: Museu Picasso, Fundacio Miro, MNAC, Dali Museum in Figueres, etc.
What was your route to becoming an abstract textile artist? (Formal training or another pathway?)
People, moments and feelings
What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?
For my new works I’m using acrylic and embroidery on canvas but I still do many experiments with materials and my work is in constant evolution.
Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?
I work in my studio located in downtown Los Angeles – it’s a quiet place so music is a must.
The process is simple; the first step is to choose the colours I’m going to use for the piece, once the painting part is finished I make horizontal cuts on the canvas or paper and cover those open areas using cotton thread.
To me the colours represent people, moments and feelings.
Do you use a sketchbook?
Yes, I use a sketchbook. I’m always drawing or trying to find combinations of colours for new works. All the preliminary experimentation on paper is a very important part of my work.
Physical and mental challenge
What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?
I use everything that is around me as inspiration: people, objects, feelings, poems, etc.
My latest series, POEMES (POEMS) is based on poems by Miquel Marti I Pol, a well known poet from my country, Catalonia. Each painting is based in one of his poems.
The list of artists that I admire is long so I could be writing all day but to name a few:
Antoni Tapies, the message of all his work and the constant evolution; Andy Moses and his use of colour; Tm Gratkowski, the originality and composition; Peter Alexander, a Master in every medium; Nike Schroder, brilliant artist, mesmerizing work; Jiri Anderle, classic-contemporary fusion, with shocking results; and many others.
Tell us about a piece of work you have fond memories of and why?
I feel really close to my latest series, POEMES. The making of those works was therapeutic and a great physical and mental challenge. The works are based on Poems by Miquel Marti I Pol.
From my old work I like LLIBERTAT LIMITADA (Limited freedom), this work is about the struggle for Independence in Catalonia. And LES PREUVES FATIGUENT LA VERITE, because I made this one the week my son was born, still hanging in my studio…the painting not my son.
How has your work developed since you began and how do you see it evolving in the future?
My work is in constant evolution. I don’t work for too long on the same series. It was a big change 7-8 years ago when colour took over as the most important part of my work.
What advice would you give to an aspiring textile artist?
I don’t think I can give advice to anybody, I’m trying to figure out my next step every morning. Maybe that… go step-by-step.
Can you recommend any books for textile artists?
To be sincere the only one I know is DRAWN STITCH by Gwen Hedley
What other resources do you use? Blogs, websites, magazines etc.
Yes, I try to take advantage of Social Media and I use:
How do you go about choosing where to show your work?
Where can readers see your work this year?
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