In Aranjuez, a gorgeous old town just south of Madrid, I am about to meet Magdalena Morey; a disciplined, and very productive artist. But most of all, a woman. Magdalena: “I am a woman, and I express myself through my art. Art is my nutrition. Art is also my livelihood and I am proud to be able to support my family.”
Meet the artist
While going through university, Magdalena worked full time to pay the bills. Creating simple paintings of flowers, 5-10 a day, used for hotels, furniture shops and so on. It made her happy, she earned some money, she could pay for school. Those years taught her to focus and not give up; she learned to be productive.
Her style certainly evolved over time; matured, alongside herself. Originally using textiles, she deliberately chose paint and a brush. Painting provides her with everything she needs, although her love for textiles is never far. Vertical lines appearing from the almost organic drips provide a weaving loom. Allowing impressions to come and go, like waves. Lines, patterns, weaving time and thoughts through the lines. Painting provides Magdalena with a path, forward, towards the light.
Magdalena prefers using mixed media and adores experimenting with them. Acrylics, watercolor, pastels. Creating texture, working with bark, sand, sisal, and she is very well versed in applying gold leaf. Figuratives and abstract landscapes are her main subjects and she needs them both.
A manifestation of past experiences and emotions, Magdalena’s figuratives are often intense, and feelings are tangible: insecurity, trauma, pain, healing. Very personal. “Women bend themselves, trying to keep it all together. Working, having kids. I love women. They are like heroes to me.”
In contrast, her landscapes are much softer. Providing a soothing, silky blanket of love. Steeped in nature, with palettes influenced by seasonal temperatures. Creating space and freedom; the landscapes provide Magdalena with balance.
“I always work on two or more paintings at the time, depending on the size. I find inspiration as I am creating them. Like cutting out a window of color, a composition, larger or smaller, giving me a different perspective and a new painting is emerging. Sometimes I have to leave a piece, even if it does not feel finished.” Needing multiple pieces for her creative process, Magdalena has to stop and start another work, to finish what she started. Going to the new painting can give her a break. Going back and forth between the two paintings, they are connected in a certain way. When hung together, they tell the full story: sister pieces in the true sense of the word.
Letting go of the personal pieces
With work that represents so much of her personal being, I wonder how Magdalena experiences selling her work. Although she realizes paintings are bought for different reasons, it makes her happy that people buy a painting because it makes them feel a certain way. Some pieces sell fast, but with the more personal pieces, it is a process. She has to talk to them. Telling them it is time to find a new home. Like cutting the umbilical cord. It will not sell until she does, which can take months, like with her favorite painting “Sleeping Beauty”. “This was the first piece where I detached myself a little from my own emotional state. I wanted to find a way to represent a nameless, beautiful woman living out her life. It was a calm, accepting and more empathic piece that, for me at least, represented all women, our ancestors included, that have experienced some kind of subjugation or repression.” Magdalena takes solace in the belief that her paintings end up where they belong.
Asking Magdalena whether her creative life is lonely, the answer is yes. But the loneliness is counteracted by the paintings. “My paintings are my companions. They listen to me, they talk to me. And of course, I always have my family around me; my husband and my kids.”
Besides thinking about teaching art workshops, and perhaps more solo exhibitions, Magdalena would like to be able to provide for her family without worrying about whether they can make the end of the month. With her incredible work ethic, professionalism, and the marketing, business, and IT support from husband Tom, there is no doubt in my mind, that she will succeed.