What was it like growing up in Spain? When did you first begin to notice your love of drawing? Do you happen to remember what you used to draw most often back then?
My youth passed in an interesting period of the history of Spain, with a strong boost in a feeling of freedom, very stimulating for creativity, although in arts, the dominant informalism wasn’t the best climate to develop my personal interests in painting.
I always liked to draw, maybe because my father also liked it. Pencil, color pens, ink, watercolor, charcoal, pastels… different techniques to draw anything, sometimes copying plates of old painters, or inventions.
What was your earliest influence?
I started to visit exhibitions and museums in my city, to see art books… I had no direct teacher to learn, so my reference has been the whole History of Art, extracting what is the common essence of the artistic expression all along the history of mankind. And regarding the conceptual content of my work, the depth psychology, and the Jungian analytical psychology.
What led you to first try your hand with oils?
There was a certain prevention to my start with oils, my father knew my passion for drawing, but he feared that a premature beginning into oil painting, a technique more difficult, could produce discouragement and distancing from my hobby, so he advised me to wait until I improved my drawing skills. But my learning and development were fast and surprisingly easy to me. Even so, I did painted a lot, getting more and more ability. I have to recognize that I had a strong liking for painting but never thought to professionally be an artist, in fact I started my studies of Medicine the same year that I started to paint with oils.
What did you find most challenging when you first started learning to work with those?
To learn to work in sessions, to be patient, and always thinking that what you are painting is the previous layer to the following other(s).
What advice would you offer others who wish to learn on their own?
It’s very hard, you need a lot of self-discipline, and to be very critical. And be convinced that anyone is “self-taught”, it’s absolutely necessary to learn how other masters did, and in this way until the moment in which you feel you have a complete control of the technique, so that allows you to adapt or modify your knowledge to your own way of working, or develop new ones. The only advantage that I see is avoiding the strong and persuasive influence of one only teacher, in a moment in which oneself still hasn’t formed your own artistic personality.
You also have a degree in Medicine and Surgery. Does that training and the knowledge of anatomy in particular come in handy in your painting work?
Of course the knowledge of the deep structure of the human body is very useful for my painting, but I think that there are other elements in the studies of Medicine more important for my work, especially in the creative or conceptual contents.
What did people around you think of your decision to be an artist as opposed to the medical field?
During my career, I also painted a lot, and started to show my works in some collective exhibitions, receiving a very good response, wining some awards, and called by galleries of Madrid to prepare individual exhibitions. Even so, I wished to finish my studies and only after getting my licentiate degree, I decided to work only as a painter and not as a doctor. My family and friends trusted in me and supported my decision, helped by these first successes and knowing my sensible character and prudent determination, although always thinking that Medicine did lose a dedicated surgeon…
What do you love most about painting?
It’s a pleasant way to go deeply into the dark basements of the mind, to explore the collective unconscious. It’s a lonely mystic work of self-knowledge.
Some of your works seem to feature the same model. Why do you enjoy working with that particular subject?
The characters that I paint are imagined and idealized persons which embody some archetypes of the unconscious. All of them have a similitude because they are invented and follow that ideal expression and features. I never use real models. My ability to achieve an adequate verisimilitude, of course has been increasing during the years of work, but my early decision not to use real models, not for persons nor settings, allowed me to create more easily imaginary worlds, and project more directly an inner deep content. Which is much more difficult if you have to look for and find real models and settings.
Why did you decide to work with tempera? How does it differ most from the work you had done previously?
In the early nineties, I studied the ancient techniques of oil glazes on tempera, and then started to use them because of the fast drying of the first layers, its brightness, and the inimitable colors that this technique achieves when you work after with the glazes of oil. Progressively, I’ve developed my personal way, by adapting this one to my preferences, seldom using the laborious preparation of the egg or casein tempera base.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
I don’t believe in these moments. You are always working, even when you aren’t in front of a painting. I love music -but I always paint listening to it-, When I’m not painting I read and study…
Any little known things about yourself you’d not mind sharing with our readers?
I already do: look at my paintings.
Do you have a dream project you’d most like to see completed?
To live many other lives to develop many other forms of art I’d like to make. As this isn’t a project, I hope to see one day all my works together in an exhibition.
Anything you’d like to say before you go?
Gaze at my paintings with your nape, with the eyes closed…
For more information on Dino Valls please see: http://www.dinovalls.com/ You can also see our piece with more examples of his work at: https://theoriginalvangoghsearanthology.com/2013/05/19/the-art-of-dino-valls/