Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Sergio Lopez and I am a fine artist in the San Francisco North Bay Area. I work primarily in oils. My subjects are primarily nude female figures and Western American landscapes.
What is your favorite medium?
My favorite medium is oils although I have a great respect for watercolor and gouache, which I practice much less frequently. I am a fan of photography, but I am mere dilettante in that medium.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
From all sorts of places. Conceptually I’m very much inspired by 19th and 20th century fine art and illustration, as well as the new contemporary art scene that is flourishing at the moment. I also look at a lot of photography, fashion, textiles, basically anything aesthetically pleasing with a novel concept done beautifully.
What is your creative process?
Well it depends on what I’m working on. Since most people are interested in my figurative work, I will walk the readers through that process. I try to work only from my own reference photos when possible. I set up my own photo shoots, find my own models, and mostly use props/costumes that I make or procure myself. I find that a critical part of the creative element in my work, since I don’t try to invent anything. When my concepts draw upon physical reality, the creativity depends on what I choose to seek and put into my work, and how I arrange it pictorially.
I shoot a lot of photos so that I have a variety to choose from while selecting which poses would make for the best paintings. I sometimes shoot over 1000 photos. From there, I narrow it down to about the best 15-20 pictures that have potential as paintings. I do color processing in Lightroom and Photoshop. Then I run various Photoshop filters over and over on the photo to get that signature look of patterns appearing to blend in and out of the figure and background. I will then do whatever necessary color processing and manipulation that is still required, until I have a photo that I feel confident in producing a finished painting from.
Once I have that, I will transfer that photo to my tablet screen that I paint from when I am in my studio. I typically grid out a canvas to help me do a preliminary drawing, which I will eventually paint over. It typically takes me 3 to 4 layers to complete a painting. First the initial block-in, then further refinement of the figure/background, then finessing the patterns, and more refinement of the entire painting if still necessary.
Is there a specific theme/message/emotion you aim to evoke?
It depends on what my subject is. With my landscapes, I definitely want to evoke a feeling of “being there.” If I could imply extra senses into a landscape painting, I know I’m on the right track. With my figures it’s a little more nebulous. I purposely try to avoid any lofty ideals and even any overt narrative for the most part. I prefer, not only in my own work but work I admire, a more ambiguous narrative. I enjoy the mystery of it, and having the choice of trying to figure it out. Or not. I believe that the only responsibility of a painting is for it to be beautiful. Not necessarily in theme or concept, but in look and execution.
What motivates you to continue to create?
I’d be lying if I denied the financial imperative to create, since it is my sole means of making a living. But of course beyond that, there is the insatiable need to continue to improve, which was instilled in me as a student. There is competition, both implied and overt, in the art world that can inspire you if you let it. There are all the ideas and concepts, both in my head and all ready to be painted, that I could never hope to get all finished, but I will continue to try.
When you encounter creative blocks, what do you do to overcome them?
I have a lot of systems in place that make sure I minimize any creative blocks that I can. What might otherwise be a creative block is really just a problem I haven’t solved yet.