Abstract art for all
Well-known in the Algarve art scene, Stela Barreto is a colourful, friendly, authentically creative artist and teacher preparing for a
solo exhibition at the Galeria de Arte in the Lagoa Adega (winery) from April 2017. As she prepared for the exhibition at her Portimão studio, Atelier 34, she described the long journey, via classical training, which has lead to her love of expressionism and abstract art.
Aged seven, Stela began painting portraits, progressing in her teens to oils and more complex methods. Her father was not keen on her pursuing her dream of becoming an artist, but at 16, a persistent Stela saved up for a Spanish art correspondence
course. She attended Lisbon’s António Arroio Art School and after graduating began painting professionally and teaching art.
Comfortable with her academic techniques, Stela began to explore abstract methods: “The fabulous Carlos Lança saw my work and really liked it: I was thrilled, it was a real honour! However, he told me that I wasn’t expressing myself. I took his advice on board and began to explore inwards, learning how to use my right brain as it controls three-dimensional sense, creativity, and artistic senses. I started to draw freestyle and found my path,” she explained.
The first drawings were a little dark, but they finally evolved into something that Stela could work with. As her style began to take shape, this evoked new, fresh ideas and a lust for new mediums: “I don’t want to be dependent on one method. I’m experimental – I need to discover what’s inside of me! I go through phases: it can be two or three at a time,” Stela continued. “I have to be myself. I must paint in solitude. It’s a dialogue between the painting and me: it’s my work.”
The works that Stela has prepared for the Galeria de Arte exhibition are slightly darker than last year’s collection and include portraits and architectural/landscape pieces. That’s how she works: ever changing and creating her art from within. Atelier 34 is a studio, teaching space and creative hub where Stela holds musical ‘happenings’, with talented musicians playing concerts for an audience of artists and art lovers. Donations of €5 are taken at the door and the attendees are entered into a draw where one of the lucky entrants will win a painting by Stela. You can keep up to date with events at Atelier 34 via Facebook.
Stela’s new love is her baby grand piano, which she is learning to play: “Art and music go hand in hand,” she said. “If you can compare a classical music composition to a canvas, the piece of music will often have long, purposeful silences, spaces in time, and these can be more powerful than the main chorus of the song. The canvas can have big blocks of space and they contribute to the overall impression of the piece.” Stela continues to dedicate herself to art classes and running workshops. As a founding member of the INICIARTE group, she founded the School of Art at the Casa das Artes in Portimão. Twice a week, a mixture of young people preparing for university, and older students, gather to learn techniques and improve their skills.
MONTRADARTEKIDS is a joint project with her artist daughter Sofia Barreto teaching young children to promote their creativity, development, self-esteem and to express themselves via art. Stela told us: “It’s so very important for these children to have the opportunity to learn about art and use it for their brain development. Learning how to use the right brain through art has changed my life for the better and I love to share that.”