We had the good fortune of connecting with Florencia Clement de Grandprey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Florencia, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Before I decided to take the leap of faith and embark on my artistic adventure, I had many other occupations, including that of a tour guide in Spain, English tutor in Italy, airline pilot in the UK and designer and make up artist in the US. In late 2014, already in my 40’s, and at what I consider one of the lowest points of my life, I quit my job in interior design… At that time, I had lost my home, my credit, didn’t have a partner, and was extremely frustrated at work. Needless to say, I didn’t have much to look forward to and had, literally, stopped dreaming. I need to take a moment to re-evaluate my life and go back to basics. All I knew was that I needed to do what made me happy and that painting had always done that for me. Despite not having any formal training in fine arts, I can remember painting from a very young age and still have my very first oil painting which I did at the age of 5. So, although I’ve only been painting full time for 6 years now, I feel like painting has always been part of my life. I’ve never been happier than now, when I get to inspire and empower others through meaningful artwork I create every day!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I was born and raised in Spain, the daughter of a French/Italian father and an American mother. Neither of my parents are artistic, but on my father’s side there are artists and designers. My Italian grandmother was a sculptress and painter and taught art in universities in NY and LA over seventy years ago. Unfortunately, she died when I was little and I didn’t get to know her. My mother recognized my passion for painting early on. Although we didn’t have much money growing up, my mom wanted me to take some basic watercolor classes when I was 11. She asked an artist friend to teach me a bit on Friday afternoons after school and, in exchange, she posed for her a few hours during the week. I now realize how much she sacrificed for me to be able to develop my artistic skills as a child. But, when I went to university, I was encouraged to study something “useful” so I’d have a “real job”, which is why I didn’t attend art college and forgot about painting for 25 years… I actually don’t regret not getting an art degree and, although sometimes I wonder what I’d be creating now had I studied art. I’m convinced that I had to go through everything I went through and have all the job experiences I’ve had, to be able to produce what I do now. My lack of formal training has led me to experiment a lot more and not hear any voices in my head of teachers telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing. I wasn’t taught any rules and therefore don’t feel constrained by them. I’m a mixed media figurative and portrait artist continually evolving and exploring. During my last position in interior design, I got exposed to an extraordinary amount of fabrics and wallcoverings that immediately caught my eye. Often, I found myself taking old sample books home, saving them from being thrown away at the end of projects or at the change of seasons. Soon, I had accumulated a sizable collection of beautiful samples that stared back at me in my already crowded home. I knew I wanted to utilize these samples to give them a new life, but it took me over 2 years to figure out what to do with them! And so, when I finally put paintbrush to canvas in 2014, I began incorporating collaged wall paper samples as my background and used the fabric samples to “dress” my women. Then, in 2017, I began painting directly on fabric and experimenting with other surfaces like porcelain tiles and area rugs. I’m constantly looking for new materials to work with, I can’t seem to look at anything without thinking if I could, somehow, recycle or “upcycle” it. I love texture and patterns and incorporating these pre-existing designs into my paintings. I look for the dance between the subject and the background. I purposefully blur the boundaries to show that all is interconnected and that what we see is more than surface deep. When I began painting, I felt like I had a responsibility to portray strong, elegant and confident women. Currently, I also paint men and portray them as strong and kind. Looking back, I think I was regaining my own power through my images. Now, I see that every painting is a part of me that I’m healing. Because I understand that my struggles and suffering aren’t unique to me, I hope that others might also find healing in my artwork. I consciously represent different ethnicities too, so people can connect to at least one of my paintings and maybe be inspired and empowered by it. I’d say my message is “I see you and celebrate you”. I accept that we are perfectly imperfect beings and I also represent the best version of ourselves as a reminder of what is possible.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I had my best friend here for a week, I’d show her some of my favorite places and fun things to do. I’d definitely have her come during Art Basel Miami week and we’d admire artwork from around the world! We’d visit Hollywood’s Yellow Green market on the weekend. I’d take her to have lunch at Coconut or Shooters and dinner at Canyon in Fort Lauderdale or La Vie in Pompano. For shopping we’d go to Aventura Mall and Sawgrass Mills. Since I love walking, we’d have some long walks along the riverfront and beach in Fort Lauderdale. We’d possibly ride one of the tour ferries to see the famous’ mansions along the canals. We might also visit some museums and historical places like Vizcaya residence and Coral Gables. An afternoon on Lincoln Rd would also be nice! So many places, so little time…!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Thankfully, I’ve felt supported and encouraged by so many. Notably and from the day I decided to pursue a career in art, there was my dear friend and mentor Piero Falci. He is an author and has dedicated his life to teaching mindfulness. He greatly helped me navigate any doubts and existential anxiety I felt in the beginning, He introduced Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” to me, which I found inspiring and almost a guideline for my own journey.
Linkedin: Florencia Clement de Grandprey
Facebook: Art by Florencia
1st photo- Sandi Media