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Introducing our artist profile series in partnership with Barcelona Academy of Art - a prestigious institution celebrated for its intensive training and commitment to the classical traditions of drawing, painting, and sculpture. In this first interview, we're thrilled to chat with Menna Mohamed, a talented student whose passion for art has taken her on a remarkable journey from Cairo to Barcelona. Join us as we explore Menna's artistic background, her creative process, and the valuable lessons she's learned while studying at this esteemed art school.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Cairo, Egypt. My journey as an artist began when I was just 11 years old. By the time I turned 12, I was already taking formal art lessons. Back then, my dream was to attend the Fine Arts Academy. However, life had other plans, and I faced rejection from the academy. I decided to go a different path. I started learning the language of a country that had some of my favourite artists, eventually earning a degree in Spanish philology. I began a career in that field but always kept my dream of becoming an artist in the back of my mind. Finally, I decided to take the step and joined the Barcelona Academy of Art to study academic drawing and painting.

 

What’s your preferred art medium and why?

I have a strong preference for oil painting. The reason is that oils take longer to dry compared to other mediums like watercolour or acrylic. This gives me the flexibility to work on a piece, make adjustments, and experiment without the pressure of having to start over from scratch.

 

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How did you get started as an artist?

After completing my university studies, I began my artistic journey by mostly learning from online resources like YouTube videos and various websites. These resources provided me with the knowledge and skills to pursue my passion. Eventually, I was fortunate enough to join the Barcelona Academy of Art, which allowed me to transition into a professional artist.

 

What’s your favourite thing about studying at art school?

My favourite aspect of studying at an art academy is the opportunity to learn from experienced artists and develop a strong technical foundation in both drawing and painting. Receiving regular critiques from different teachers also provides me with amazing insights and diverse approaches to painting.

 

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Tell us about your creative process.

I'm still in the process of defining my creative approach, as I work on various exercises every day. Currently, I'm engaged in the challenging task of painting my self-portrait. It's an introspective journey, spending hours each day looking at my own reflection and attempting to convey my personality through my artwork. Each day brings changes and sometimes I even start over, but it's a fascinating process of self-discovery.

 

Barcelona has an incredible art scene. Do you have any favourite spots in the city that inspire creativity?

Barcelona is an incredible city with many inspiring locations. I find a great deal of inspiration in the sea, as well as the nearby mountains and the beautiful Costa Brava. The natural beauty and vibrant culture of this city are a constant source of motivation and inspiration.

 

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Where else do you find inspiration?

My inspiration is derived from various sources. I often visit museums and immerse myself in the works of renowned artists like Sargent, Velazquez, Sorolla, and Rembrandt, among others. I also draw inspiration from my teachers, as well as the works of the director of the Barcelona Academy of Art, Jordi Diaz Alamà. In truth, inspiration can be found in many places and individuals.

 

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What are your biggest artistic influences?

My artistic influences are wide-ranging and encompass my friends, family, teachers, and fellow artists. The list is really endless. These relationships and interactions have a profound influence on my work and shape my artistic perspective.

 

What piece of art are you most proud of?

One of the pieces I'm particularly proud of is my first still life. It was a significant challenge for me. I gathered the objects from a real ship in the port of Barcelona. I had an incredible encounter there, where I asked for a simple rope, but to my surprise, the sailors handed me a piece of it along with some beautiful wooden objects. The experience filled me with positive energy and inspired me to paint this still life, capturing the emotions and sensations I felt during that moment.

 

 

Could you tell us about a challenge you’ve encountered as an artist and how you’ve worked to overcome it?

One of the most significant challenges I faced as an artist was during my last project at the academy. Life threw various challenges my way at that time, and it affected me deeply. However, when I arrived at the academy, I managed to put aside those distractions and focus entirely on my painting. The support of friends and teachers played a crucial role in shifting my mindset towards a more positive one. Through determination and hard work, I managed to complete that project, which turned out to be my longest one, lasting three and a half months.

 

What advice would you give to artists just starting out?

To emerging artists, I would say, trust in yourself and your unique artistic voice. Avoid the temptation of constant comparison with others because everyone possesses their own talents and strengths, whether it's in portraits, plein-air, still life, or any other genre. Continuously learn, observe paintings, and don't hesitate to seek inspiration from one another. In terms of advice for learning, I highly recommend considering the Barcelona Academy of Art, where you can develop a strong technical foundation.

 

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What is your favourite Castle Arts product and why?

Among Castle Arts products, I particularly appreciate their watercolour pencils. They are highly portable, making it convenient for me to carry them around Barcelona and create quick sketches on the go.

 

Feeling inspired by Menna's incredible oil paintings? Channel your own creativity with our premium 24-piece oil paint set – the very same materials Menna used to create her extraordinary artworks.

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