Interview with artist Duma: Mysterious and glamorous paintings

Duma 's work focuses primarily on female figure, depicting various facets in a typically enigmatic, mysterious and anonymous way, never showing the entire figure. Without the surrounding environment, the viewer is led to imagine a story for each character. The idea is to show that we do not really get to know anyone deeply, not even ourselves. There is always an unknown part of the whole. Duma 's characters are full of glamour, innocent but provocative, frail but also strong, dichotomies present in female but also human behaviour in general.
Hello dear Duma, please, tell us how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?
As an only child, I used to play hours alone in my bedroom and, most of the time, drawing and painting with my colored pencils. Sometimes creating new things, sometimes drawing my dolls and that is what I still feel when I draw and paint... like I’m playing with my dolls. I started to exhibit my work in 1993. When I was a child I didn’t know that this amazing thing like drawing or painting could be a work. I had no one in the family or friends connected to art. At the age of 18 I started to use oils and, at that moment, I also started to think about art as a career.

What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?
I have so many influences!! I think we are like sponges. Everything we live, see, feel is an influence. I studied advertising and this had a great influence on how I paint. I had a very good visual culture for it. We had disciplines as cinema, Art history, design, photography, etc, and all of this was very important. I also love digital illustration and I started to use the traditional techniques of oil paint in a way like if it was a digital painting, like vector illustration. Also the music, graphic design, fashion and, of course, a lot of great artists, from the classic to the new contemporary, have been a great influence in my work.

How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?
I use to wake up early (most of the days) because 3 days a week I give drawing and painting classes in my studio. In the afternoon I draw and paint. In the mornings I don’t have classes, I use to make some exercise, reply to emails or prepare more material for new paintings and drawings. At night, I like to relax, watch movies, tv series or sometimes go out with my husband.

What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperitive for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?
As I said before, I studied Advertising at IADE (Visual Arts, Design and Marketing Institute) in Lisbon. After that I studied Drawing and Painting at the National Society of Fine Arts in Lisbon. I think it’s always important to study art, but they don’t teach you how to be an artist. It’s very good to learn about techniques and materials but we have to work a lot and experimenting a lot to be a good artist.

What fascinates you the most about surrealism / pop surrealism / contemporary art / lowbrow art? How would you describe your style? What themes do you pursue, what surrealism mean to you and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?
I think all types of art are wonderful, if sincere. I love pop surrealism, lowbrow and new contemporary and I love figurative art. I love the duality and the provocative essence this kind of art has. I make figurative art, sometimes with a touch of surreal, sometimes with a gothic touch, sometimes with a minimal feeling, always very clean and graphic. I like to paint unknown women, where mystery plays the lead role. I like to leave space for the viewers imagination so they can create their own stories arround those women. Every woman I paint is a reflection of myself in some way.

What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?
I love making art and I love the sense of freedom this gives to me... I’m my own boss, create what I most like. I love to have new ideas and see them born slowly with paint. That is fascinating and addicting! I feel very happy and thankful for doing in my life what I most love!

Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?
Most of the time I use oils but sometimes I work with watercolor or graphite and colored pencils. I use to sketch the image I want on the canvas, with lots of measurements and then I started to give the oil layers and glazings. In most of times I use reference photos that I take, or ask my husband to take me or I use other images from other sources that I use as a guide for anatomy, light and shades.

Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
I would like to know how to make digital illustration. I don’t know anything at all about it but I’m always fascinated seeing artworks from other artists who make wonderful things with digital tools!

Tell us more about your workspace. What was the most funny or weird thing that happened to you in your studio? What is / was the most strange thing hidding in your studio?
I moved recently to a new studio. The old one was very big and beautiful. This new one is smaller but much more practical, cosy and warmer (big spaces have the incovenience of being much more cold). I have a room where I paint and a bigger one to give classes and make some bigger works. I also have a small kitchen as a warehouse but it also has lots of chocolate, gummies and tea!

What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
Well, the toughest challenge, in the begining, was to believe in myself and in what I was working on. Another tough thing is to learn to deal with people that are not very nice or honest in this art world. The biggest lesson I learned is that we cannot please everyone, so I just have to be myself and do my own thing.

What’s the best and worst advice you ever received in your art career?
The best advice is to believe in myself. The worst advice is when some people try to convice an artist to paint what they believe is more interesting or more marketable.
What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
What I most dislike in the art world is elitism.

The hardest thing on being an artist are deadlines. They are so stressful and my work takes so long to be finished!!

Yes, the artistic life is a bit lonely. I don’t dislike it, but I also give classes and that is very good to always be in contact with more people and most of them become good friends for life!

Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s your goal?
I just want to improve my work and always do what I most love and what makes me feel well. I don’t think too much in the future, I’m just doing everyday what I think is the best.

Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?
I think all I can say is:
Work a lot... but really a lot.
Be honest with your work.
Be humble.
Be passionate.

Your favorite art or life quote is ...
Art is heart.

What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?
I love to go to the cinema, go out to eat ice cream or sushi with my husband, travelling, be with friends, go for a walk.
Do you have an online portfolio, blog or social medias where we can view your work?
Yes, I have: My website, Facebook page, Instagram @dumaarantes and my shop.

Is there anything else you’d like to say? Is there any project you are working on right now or any ongoing event or exhibition you would like to share with our readers?
At this moment I have an exhibition with more 4 Portuguese Artists, called „Telling Stories“, curated by Private Gallery, in Algarve | Portugal, until July 18th. I’m also working for a new solo show called „Seasons and Moods“ that will open on August 1st at Rastro Gallery in Figueira da Foz | Portugal.

Thank you dear Duma, it was a honor to interview you, I wish you only the best for you and your art and already looking forward to see your new art works :)
By contributor Linda. June 2015. Find Oh, So Surreal on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google + or RSS.