Manuela Crespo — ARTIST

Manuela Crespo

Manuela Crespo

Interview with artist Manuela Crespo —

"Women with a heat" print

“Women with a heat”

1. Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a 56 year old woman who loves to play with art. My mind is inhabited by lovely imaginary beings, who insist on jumping onto the paper. A long time ago, I went to Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes, the public Art School in Lisbon, Portugal, to set them free. Since then, I’ve been drawing every day, I paint a lot, and I print, and print and print! I’ve made a specialization in illustration and printmaking not to mention the workshops on everything that relates to art on paper. I love to work on paper. I also see a lot of patients because I am neurologist, and that´s what we neurologists do! So the patients kindly give me plenty of ideas that I keep on the back of my mind all day long and only let them get out at night, when my right hand starts to have an independent life, commanded by a mysterious part of myself. Since 1999 I’ve been writing and illustrating four children’s books, making a lot of exhibitions, illustration and creative writing workshops with children. Now, at home in Aldeia do Meco, where the grass grows and smells like spring, I make workshops on drawing, printmaking and painting for friends and friends of friends. And we love it, because art is so great.


"Fishes on my Mind"

“Fishes on my Mind”


2. Why art?
I have an absolute need of art in my life. Beauty warms up my soul, brings me peace and makes me think life is good.

3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist?
I think I’ve never thought about being an artist. I just love to do it.





4. What are your favorite subject(s) and media(s)?
My favorite subject is the human being and his subconscious, or I was not a neurologist myself. It is often the recondite places of the mind that appear in my drawings like the Rorschach spots that psychologists use in their personality assessments. Art is so transparent.


"Red Forest" print using Tetrapak

“Red Forest”
print using Tetrapak


But about medium, pintmaking has taken my heart. It is a technique a little devalued in the world of the arts also in Portugal although we have excellent printmakers ( Bartolomeu Cid dos Santos, David Almeida…),Their work with beautiful textures enchanted me. For a number of years I looked for an printmaking studio or association where I could learn the technique, but it was very difficult because most of the places had only small courses with no continuity or impossible schedules for me. So, I discovered Contraprova, an association of contemporary printmaking, that was set up in Lisbon ten years ago. It is a group of very dynamic young people who, in addition to promoting teaching in a continuous training format with post-work hours and weekends, also created a well-equipped studio where members, can work without time restrictions. This was very important, because in our country it is not easy to live from art work and therefore the vast majority of artists have another job. Often members gather there for the evenings, ending projects happily discussing new ways of making printmaking. In addition, this studio has a very active voice in cultural dissemination with editorial projects, and educational activities for specialized audiences, kids and adults in Lisbon, where we regularly make workshops of less common techniques such as Moku Hanga, nontoxic etching, tetrapak etching and others more conceptual. It was there that I found a special welcome and the people who have made me grow in this area. At the moment most of the artistic work that I am developing is divided between drawing and printmaking done at Contraprova and in my own studio in Aldeia do Meco.


"The birds conference"

“The birds conference”


5. How do you work and approach your subject?
Over the years I have been changing my form of intervention. Initially I was very focused on drawing, more worried about copying reality, but I quickly turned my mind’s process, introducing fantasy and distortion of reality. I left the copying process of reality and I started making color spots (stains) mainly in watercolor where I find the themes that I want to work with. I was recently asked to do a Saint Anthony of Lisbon and I made the stain, in fact I made fifty and in one of them I got to see the Saint Antony. The rest came up. when I began to draw the aura. The idea of joining the pagan symbols of Saint Antony, the “mangericos”, small pots of a scented plant with a very colorful flower, and the sardines traditionally eaten at this time, closed the circle.. And that’s when Saint Anthony was born in my drawing.


"Saint Antony"

“Saint Antony”

"Saint Antony"

“Saint Antony”








Drawings of Saint Antony – 
I often use these drawings for the construction of more elaborated print makings. Now I’m also using stains done by printmaking and not just in watercolor like I used to do before. I call this my evolution technique.


6. What are your favorite art work(s), artist(s)?
Let’s just say that first of all I’m a storyteller, I have to mention the European medieval illuminations full of beautiful colors and also the Indian illuminations made to tell stories. And because I am a colorist, I deeply admire the work of Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and  Paul Klee for his ability to simplify everything to the basic elements. Bartolomeu Cid dos Santos for his magical way of work the light, Henri Matisse for showing me the importance of dimension. Countless illustrators like Květa Pacovská for her ability to make great the art for children, Peter Sis, Rebecca Dáutremer and I could stay here ever and ever to quote indefinitely those who inspire me.


"Animals on my Mind"

“Animals on my Mind”


7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
When I published my third children’s book in 2009 “O Imaginão,” a school from Oporto adapted the story to a theatre play. The play was presented at the Rivoli Theater, one of the biggest in the country with two hundred and fifty children participating. Suffice it to say that I cried with emotion. It was a unique moment in my life.

8. What do you like about your work?





9. What advice would you give to other artists?
If you love what you do that will be enough!





10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I can´t really imagine.




Manuela Crespo

Manuela Crespo


Contraprova Printmaking Studio:
National Society of Fine Arts: