Finding Positivity Amongst the Rubble with Pauleen Micallef

Finding Positivity Amongst the Rubble with Pauleen Micallef

October 16, 2018

Pauleen Micallef was born in 1951 in the United Kingdom but moved and settled in Malta. She studied Art all through her school years. Her first job was producing copper murals related to Maltese folklore. She took a short break of about six years to bring up her young family. While painting constantly, she also studied History of Art – attended various workshops with international artists, hailing from United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, South Africa and Poland.

She has also been studying the nude for many years and excels in the painting of the human figure and portrait. When she finds no life models for portraiture, she enjoys doing quick sketches of personalities, from television interviews.

Maltese artist, Pauleen Micallef

Pauleen also paints land/seascapes, flowers, historical monumental buildings and old Maltese farmhouses en plein air. Her mediums vary from oil, water, dry and acrylic. Pauleen has works in private collections locally and abroad. She is also a collector of other artists’ works. She has been a regular contributor to philanthropic events for the past twenty seven years.

"Yellow Lillies", Pauleen Micallef, Mixed Media, 30cm x 42cm, 2016


What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?

Art found me.

How would you describe your own personal style?

Impressionist and bold.

What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?

Discovery of my own talents gave me self motivation to push on further, which has been evolving and is still evolving on reaching sixty seven years of my human existence.

What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?

Since I am a plein air artist, it is the natural outside elements which drive me to the easel.

"New Zealand", Pauleen Micallef, Oil on Canvas, 75cm x 75cm, 2014


Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, maybe even other artists?

The encouragement of my teachers, working with artists from different nationalities while painting outside and indoors for life classes. Mentors Van Gogh, Renior, Picasso, Sarolla and Emil Nolde.

When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?

I paint and enjoy all mediums. I prefer using big brushes ( hogs etc.. all types), even brushes from Hard-ware stores to Rigger Brushes.

When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?

I always find a positivity that draws me to any theme. I even find something to draw in the most mediocre places, like a collapsing rubble wall as an example.

"Xaghri", Pauleen Micallef, Mixed Media, 56cm x 52cm, 2017


Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?

I first go on location to view the subject. I pick the best angle for a good composition. Prepare the main colours (usually all primary and few secondary, including gray, raw sienna and moss green). Do a rough outline to block in shapes on my canvas or paper. I prepare a basic colour undercoat, using mainly 3 colours. I work nonstop until I finish the painting, usually in one or two sittings.

Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is a more a case of when the moment is right you work?

I paint en plein air, twice a week. I attend life sessions once to twice a week. Also sketching portraits, my pets and figure drawing whenever I have the opportunity, even out of doors. Work on commissions in between. Working in my studio, particularly in oils. Check regularly on social media re painting orders.

"Sicily", Pauleen Micallef, Oil on Canvas, 80cm x 80cm, 2008


When you work, do you focus on one piece at a time until completion or are you working on multiple pieces at the same time?

I like to focus on the subject I am doing.

How has your art evolved to be where it is today?

From an academic and proper proportionate lines to now painting like a child.

Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?

Hockney.. His assertive linear lines that interact with me.

"Mellieha Bay", Pauleen Micallef, Pastels, 50cm x 62cm, 2015


If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?

Impressionist Era.. Often I dream of meeting my fellow artists in Paris . Artists like Toulouse Lautrec, Gaughin, Manet, Monet and Van Gogh. Wouldn’t mind Klimt and Egon Shiele.

What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?

Competition with Artists who use digital and IT application to art works. I think they are very skillful and the results are fantastic.

What advice would you give to a young aspiring artist currently studying art?

Learn the rudiments of true drawing, proportions, shapes, light and shade, before attempting colour. The colour process will come naturally once the previous elements are mastered. One important thing is to observe more. Many keep doodling around their painting, having eyes down, with hardly looking at what is in front of them. Observation ration should be 5 is to 2. 5 seconds to observe and 2 seconds to paint.

Despite having developed your own distinctive style, is there another style of art that you are immediately drawn towards and admire? Why?

Cubism. Very symbolic, bold and depicts artist impression of life’s oppression of the era.

"Looking On", Pauleen Micallef, Pastels, 60cm x 50cm, 2006 


We have all heard of the unfinished masterpiece, even Da Vinci laboured away at the Mona Lisa for years and years, have you works that are in a continual process of evolution? When working on an artwork do you find it hard to let go? Knowing when enough is enough?

I am blessed that I let go in time. Never had a problem.

Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?

I create purely for the sake of expression of my creative nature.

What are you working on at the moment?

Presently I am working on a commission for a pastel painting of the statue of St. George, who is the patron saint of Qormi in Malta. This saint has many followers. Malta is a Roman Catholic Country.

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