Joanne Fenech Portelli, painter

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Joanne Fenech Portellk was born 1976, hails from Qrendi and lives in Luqa. She says she always carried a drawing book and colours along as a child. Her love for art led her to becoming an art teacher; and she claims she wants to keep on learning and evolving. For Joanne, life is a never-ending journey.

How did you get started?
I started by getting my mum to buy my first brushes and poster paints from a well-known art shop in Valletta as a little girl. I seriously studied drawing and painting techniques under the guidance of Dr. Joseph Paul Cassar as a 20-year-old. After this two-year period I studied under various local artists including the late Charles Cassar, Anton Kalleja, Philip Agius, Alfred Briffa, and Noel Azzopardi. I also studied sculpture techniques with Angelo Agius and Joseph Chetcuti. This road also led me to become an art teacher which saw me teach art to children in various primary schools in Malta and Gozo for my 15 year-long teaching career.

What genre do you consider your work to be?
I consider my work to be realist modern impressionist.

Describe your work in less than 10 words.
Impressionist, imaginative, colourful, figurative, realist, emotional, communicative, inspirational and creative.

Where was your first exhibition held?
My first solo exhibition was held at Cleland & Souchet in Portomaso and was entitled ‘Body & Soul: Human Images in Pastel’.

How long have you been painting?
Since childhood

Which is your favourite from among your own artworks?
If I had to choose one of my favourites, it would be ‘Leda and the Swan’. I painted the female figure from life in three two-hour sessions, then incorporated the swan and forest scene from photos I took abroad. It is painted in oil.

Whose artist’s work are you most inspired by?
I am very much inspired by Gustav Klimt, Alphons Mucha, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Nikolai Fechin, and the list goes on…

If you weren’t a painter, what would you be?
Mmm… I think I would have been a musician. I always had a great attraction to music, but unfortunately never got to learn how to play a musical instrument. Maybe in the future…

What is the epitome of happiness for you?
It would certainly be being alone in a beautiful landscape, painting en plein air for as long as I want.

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I regularly continue practising life figure drawing and painting, and go out to paint on site en plein air.

Are you a morning person or do you come alive at night?
I think I would be a nocturne person, though most times, due to family duties I have to have a good night’s sleep or else I do not catch up with a busy life!

How many coffees a day? Don’t embellish.
Just 2 coffees are enough for me, I am not a coffee addict.

Sundays can be very productive for some and very unproductive for others. How do you spend yours?
Sometimes I have to catch up with housework on Sundays! Yet, lately, I am trying to go out paint for a couple of hours.

Wine and cheese. Yes or no?
Definitely yes! A good Carmenere or Primitivo with crunchy Maltese galletti and Parmiggiano with dear friends and relatives are welcome anytime!

If you were given a million euros, what would you indulge yourself with?
Oh dear, where to start? I would go on a never-ending world trip with my painting stuff and paint every day…that would be Heaven on Earth for me!

Favourite place to holiday?
La bella Italia for sure…spectacular locations, delicious food and wine, no language barriers, it will always be my number one choice!

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Paula Fleri-Soler

Paula has a pedigree in TV and stage production (children's and family entertainment) and a passion for the arts. She's taken the reins on The Artists' Directory - Malta and the relevant content for the site.

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