Her murals are simply ethereal and have always moved me so it was a fantastic opportunity to speak with the artist.
Jacqueline lives in Cascais working full-time as an artist and has successfully completed over 80 large-scale murals all over the world. Jacqueline is a self-taught artist with an academic background in medical ethics and health sciences. Her work is “dramatic, nature-infused figurative art” which can be found in international galleries on Europe’s prominent street art scene.
Jacqueline told The Portugal News when it comes to inspiration “Anything visceral, anything that gives me an emotional reaction, I am a very grateful person I think, I was very ill in my late teens and twenties so the fact that I am still about, I am very grateful. I get sort of moved by everything, walking on the beach with my family, sunsets, galleries, music and science books. My main source of inspiration has always been books, I love science and I always wanted to be a scientific illustrator but because I don’t really like rules, I found the strictness of being a scientific illustrator quite limiting and the rules would kill the inspiration a bit but it is something that I am really passionate about.”
The Language of Flowers
Jacqueline’s “The Language of Flowers”, produced by Because Art Matters, has most recently been voted as one of the top 100 murals painted around the world in 2022, through the global survey from Street Art Cities. I thought it important to point out that Jacqueline is also the first woman in Portugal to be in the top 100!
The mural is 14m high, located in Largo Hintze Ribeiro, in the centre of Lisbon, and took about six full days. “You can’t miss it and it will probably be there for another couple of years”. “The mural was independently financed so there’s no conflicts of interest which is very important in my work, I have no sponsorships and I don’t partner with brands. I specialised in medical ethics, I studied health sciences, so I thought, well now that I am a full-time artist I am not going to dump my experience and past work in ethics and conflicts of interest down the drain.”
I was surprised to learn that the paint used in the mural was actually artist grade acrylic, Jacqueline explained “I dilute my paint a lot, so it is like watercolour and I usually have two brushes going at the same time to blend it with water so I use very little paint so that the ecological footprint of my work is minimal.”
Jacqueline also shared that “the gold around the painting is gold leaf.” Adding “I think I am the only person who uses classical gilding technique in an urban context within the street art world.” When asked how she discovered this technique, Jacqueline explained “I had always painted, but when I was about 17, I took the train into Lisbon and I found a really cool art shop in the Centro Cultural de Belém and they had gold leaf and I have been using that for five years ever since.”
“I don’t like a lot of light at home and when something has gold leaf on it, it illuminates with the minimal amount of light, so when the moon is shining and under the street lights these paintings literally glow at night which gives it that wow factor.”
Coding & Courting
Jacqueline then went on to give a deeper insight into the inspiration behind her mural, which I thought was rather beautiful, “I had thought about the project before because my grandfather was a botanical painter and my grandmother fell ill at the beginning of the pandemic and when she fell ill, I started painting freesias as an ode to her as it was her favourite flower. My mum had given me a book about floriography soon after which is a form of coding that I became fascinated with.”
Jacqueline went on to say “As we have been in the pandemic, things like hugs and love and being with your loved ones, you realise how much you take it for granted so the whole mural has 10 flowers around the head and they are all linked to love and were all used to send messages of love, not just in courting but different types of love – the message is unrestricted love.”
The Highs of Painting Outdoors
Jacqueline told The Portugal News “When you are painting in the street, people interact with you all the time which is the bit that I love the most about painting outdoors. I have painted in a lot of social neighbourhoods as well but that is my favourite part, the interacting and people inviting you for meals and bring you food, the amount of food you are brought when you are painting outdoors is insane! I was painting in a Cape Verdean neighbourhood in Sintra once and they brought me Cape Verdean food, the need to feed you, and look after you, is really moving.”
A Note for Aspiring Artists
Jacqueline kindly shared her advice for aspiring artists, “You don’t need to go to college, if you’ve got it, you know you’ve got it so don’t listen to anyone.” “It is never ever too late to change and I painted my first mural aged 37 and I spent my 42nd birthday up a lift.”
“Of course, your work needs to be good if you want to live off of it and you have to able to keep practising. I paint everyday and I practise all the time but when I stopped caring what anyone else thought and I just painted for myself, it sort of exploded.”
Jacqueline kindly gave a glimpse into some of her upcoming projects, which includes her already having started a five-story art installation at The Lumiares Hotel & Spa in Lisbon this week. The installation will include 250 birds who will interact with the two murals in the iconic hotel, with the artwork adorning their stairwell in order to encourage guests to take the stairs.
Jacqueline shared “There is a very cool collective show in March in Lisbon with Because Art Matters that has been curated by the same curator that did the mural, which is made up of 24 international street artists, some of which are the top in the world so keep an eye out on Jacqueline’s website and Instagram for the date. “I have my solo show on the first Friday of November in Lisbon, I only do one solo show in Portugal a year, and there are murals planned for throughout the year where I will be in West Africa, Germany and Romania amongst other countries also this year. I will also be painting in the Algarve in June or July.”
For more information, please visit www.jacquelinedemontaigne.com. Alternatively, you can keep up to date with the artist on @jdemontaigne on Instagram. Additionally, for more information about “Because Art Matters”, please visit www.becauseartmatters.com.
Jacqueline de Montaigne’s Ethereal Urban Art
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