You don’t have to understand much about art to appreciate the intricacies of Pedro do Vale’s drawings. The level of detail is such that his drawings could easily be confused for photographs.
The artist grew up in Faro and has spent over 10,000 hours of his life drawing, having already sold artwork for several thousands of euros and gained a solid reputation in countries such as The Netherlands, Brazil and the USA.
“I have always thought of art as something parallel in my life. I thought about studying architecture but drawing houses for the rest of my life was not an option,” he told Barlavento newspaper.
“When I finished high school, I took a Drawing exam and got an 18 (out of 20) without ever having attended a class. The grade encouraged me to study Artistic Drawing at the Faculdade de Belas Artes (Lisbon). It was only in my third year that I realised I liked drawing portraits. I then learned oil painting in Spain,” the 29-year-old artist explained.
His first experience with painting started when he was just 12 years old and began exploring the world of street art through graffiti.
“I’m a painter, a visual artist. I don’t consider myself a hyper-realism artist even if I use a photo as reference,” he said, adding that he used to put a lot more detail into his earlier work which he now views as “possibly exaggerated”.
“These days, the process I use is very different. I like being linked to Realism because I want the perception of light to be natural, and not the one the picture I work from gives me,” Vale added.
Some of his works take nearly a month to complete. But Pedro do Vale says the most important part for him is never the end-product but the actual process.
“Before I finish a job, I’m always thinking about it. Even when I’m at a café, for example, I always have my phone in my hand to look (through pictures) at what I have already done and what I have to change in the portrait. For me, the whole process is the most important part.”
He also refuses to wait around for inspiration and explains why.
“When I’m out and about, I find it difficult to find inspiration in what surrounds me. Inspiration comes to me when I’m working. I guess I’m inspired by my own work.”
His biggest job so far took 24 days to complete and consisted of a 1.75cm wide x 2.08cm high portrait. “I determine the time a job takes to complete, not the client. I also refuse to work on smaller-size canvases such as A4 or A3. The price for a two-metre canvas can reach €8,000,” said the artist.
In the future, Pedro do Vale hopes to open an exhibition of his past works as well as an artistic residence in the countryside near Nazaré where he would host painters, writers and musicians – music is another of his passions.
He is also working on a project with the Portuguese Alzheimer’s Association which sees him travelling to care homes so he can draw patients at the various stages of the disease. He expects the project to be completed in two years’ time.
Around half of his clients are foreigners but he has also produced artwork for local clients such as Faro council.
“I wasn’t born here, but most of my life was spent here and I consider Faro to be my home, so I do feel very supported,” Vale said.
Original article written by Maria Simiris for Barlavento newspaper.