28 Feb 2022Mont Marte

You’ll often spot some familiar Aussie critters in Joseph Villanueva (@jvilla.art)'s work. His sgraffito impressionist style shows off the beauty of the Australian landscape, with bright, bold flowers and native wildlife peeping through. The Melbourne artist builds layer upon layer before scratching it all back to reveal the colours underneath.

 We had a chat with Joseph Villanueva about where he finds his inspiration and his top tips for improving in art.

Joseph Villanueva in his studio with artworks.

What drove you to pursue your style?

My style has always been about the process of making a painting. I like to scratch-back the wet paint to reveal a coloured background underpainting. I usually work with a complementary colour scheme and recently I’ve been exploring new colour combinations. My work looks distinctive because of the textures, use of bold and bright colours. I never worry about using too much paint.

We love that! You should never worry about using too much paint, it’s more fun to experiment with it instead. Speaking of, how do you set up your creative space? 

My studio area is very ordered, I have all my paints, brushes, palette knives close by. I always work flat - on a table or on the floor for large canvases. Because I use a lot of thick impasto paint, I find I can control the paint on the surface more easily, this way.

Abstract artwork of a kookaburra with graffito.

What does creativity mean to you?

Creativity means being in my own space and being committed to usually making sense of my world. For me it’s a never-ending process of exploring new ideas and thoughts and constantly finding inspirations everywhere.

How do you build the courage to show people new work?

I think it’s really important to be courageous and show your work, even if you think it’s not as great as you’d like. Don’t think too much on what people think and just focus on your work. Paint every day and you will get better all the time. In a few months or years, you’ll look back and see just how much you’ve honed your skills and techniques, which will drive you to keep going.

Thick layered abstract nature artwork with bright colours and impasto.

Do you have a favourite gallery experience?

I love showing my art along-side other amazing artists. My experience in the Melbourne Affordable Art Fair at the Royal Exhibition Building was one of my favourite. Meeting other artists and being part of such a huge event was an honour.

What’s your favourite Mont Marte product? 

My favourite Mont Marte product is the Dimension Acrylic. It’s a full bodied high pigmented paint which has great coverage and holds its shape when applied by brush or palette knife, it’s perfect for my style and the textures I’m trying to achieve.

Abstract artwork of three lemons on a plate with thick layers and texture.

What’s a lifesaving art technique or art strategy that you’ve learnt?

Through experience and trial and error, I discovered how to use a medium to help achieve my scratch-back method, because I needed to be able to clearly reveal the underlayer. I always put a medium over the dry underpainting, this helps tremendously to separate the impasto and show the underpainting much more cleanly and crisp.

What are your tips for improving in art?

To improve in art, I would recommend learning about colour theory, harmony and colour values. I’d also recommend expanding your range of subject matter, (for example go from a still life to landscapes), and try new mediums and styles. Most importantly, draw or paint every single day.

Joseph sketching the forest at Hanging Rock Victoria.

Is there a place you like to go for art outside of the studio?

I’ve always wanted to travel and explore more of Australia. The Australian landscape is uniquely beautiful and I would like to capture it more in my paintings.

What’s your main inspiration?

I like to paint about scenes or subjects that I’ve seen or places I’ve been to. I constantly seek inspiration in nature every time I travel. Nature’s beauty has always been a source of inspiration for artists and it’s also strong in my works.

We hope that Joseph Villanueva’s work has inspired you to create. Show us what you come up with and #montmarteart or tag us @montmarteart on Instagram or Facebook.