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How They See - Issue #16: Mandy Racine on modern interpretation of the old masters and mixing realism with abstract expressionism

Mandy Racine’s art is a modern approach to the legacy of old masters. However this short sentence doe

How They See

October 17 · Issue #16 · View online
How They See will help you to meet artists from all over the globe and understand their perception of art. Published weekly on Saturday.

Mandy Racine’s art is a modern approach to the legacy of old masters. However this short sentence doesn’t cover all intricacies around her painting, there is more to explore. She is skilfully mixing traditional compositions and forms with abstract expressionism, using a variety of different mediums or techniques. In her works, realism is engaged in a fierce discussion with abstraction. Sometimes shifting the border from one to the other side and surprising the viewer. I have enjoyed those shifts and surprises.
In art, nothing has been said and done, Mandy’s paintings are a bold exclamation mark backing this statement. Strong evidence that traditional, classical art is not only a great source of inspiration and knowledge but it still can lay the groundwork for something very fresh and new. 
Mandy Racine is an artists living and working in Mallorca, Spain. You can find more about her on Instagram.

I have read that you like gardening, it is not my hobby though I like taking care of plants. What is giving me most fulfilment on this field are especially tomatoes and sunflowers. Do you have some favourites?
My favourite part of gardening is my vegetable garden – very satisfying and the flavour of the produce is amazing!  Also, I’ve particularly appreciated my outdoor space during the lockdown.
Painting is like a journey to a different world. What is the most interesting part of this journey for you?
I love to emerge myself in the other world that painting takes me to – I can just indulge in my ideas and imagination.
Many Racine, Peace & War - after Rubens, 120 x 100 cm, Acrylic, Charcoal on Canvas
Many Racine, Peace & War - after Rubens, 120 x 100 cm, Acrylic, Charcoal on Canvas
Do you have a painting done by old masters that had a huge impact on you and your art? Can you elaborate on why?
One of the best examples in my take on ‘Peace & War’ by Rubens. There’s something very special about his compositions & colours -  a perfect balance. My version of this particular work I think leant itself to portraying a sense of movement and bringing in some abstract qualities.
I would refer to old masters and realism once again. Most of the paintings I have seen from their era are very vivid, you can feel someone who is on the portrait. You are combining this approach with slightly distorted the reality, some of your works at first glance looks purely abstract. 
On the subject of realism/abstraction – I like for the original subject, be it a scene or a portrait, to have a lot of the original composition & colours, but by adding a degree of abstraction I like to portray a sense of movement to what are quite often pretty static works in their original form. It’s kind of my ‘modern twist’ on the classics.
In your art, classic is meeting the abstract expressionism. What do you find the most interesting in the latter?
Abstract Expressionism for me brings out the full emotional response to the subject and hopefully, viewers can connect with that sense of energy.
How does your creative process look like and what is the most challenging part of it?
I work mainly on canvases and the first thing I do is get rid of the white, then I start sketching in the image with a brush and then proceed to build up layers of paint & textures. I work fast and I am quite impatient, hence I have a hairdryer to hand at all times to speed it up (even though I work with acrylic which dries quickly)! Whilst work is underway, I quite often pause for a bit and play scrabble on my phone – it helps clear my head and then go back to the work with a fresh mind. I also quite often use charcoal & towards the end-use, gestural pastel marks.
Many Racine, Sea Triumph, 110 x 110 cm, Acrylic, Pastel on Canvas, 2020
Many Racine, Sea Triumph, 110 x 110 cm, Acrylic, Pastel on Canvas, 2020
When do you know that your painting is finished?
This can be difficult at times – can I do a bit more and risk losing the energy & messing it up, or do I stop and sign it. Usually, when I’m ready to sign it, I know it’s finished.
How are you dealing with burnout and creative block? What is your experience and tips to battle them?
I look back at old sketches & ideas – quite often there are some pieces of inspiration there that I’d never pursued at the time, so see them afresh. Also, I have a large collection of art books & catalogues, so I’m happy to immerse myself in those to generate new ideas. Don’t try starting a mega work on a canvas, just allow yourself to almost ‘doodle’ ideas/sketches -that way you’re more relaxed and the creative flow will kick in again.
What advice would you give to any self-taught artist?
Believe in yourself & your ideas – every person is unique and so is the work you can produce – don’t be too distracted by other peoples’ work or commercial pressure. Also, to just practice, practice, practice – experiment and above all else enjoy the experience!
What is your favourite colour?
Has to be Ultramarine Blue.
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