The talented street art duo TelmoMiel are known for their impressive murals. They receive invitations from all over the world, to paint large walls and breathe life into busy festivals with their colourful artwork. Telmo Pieper and Miel Krutzmann work from their studio in Rotterdam almost exclusively with oil paints.
We caught up with them to find out more about their impressive work.
Tell us a bit about your background and your practice.
We’ve both drawn and painted from a young age and met at Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam.
After the academy, we continued to paint walls and eventually we started to make an income. Nowadays we produce murals for about half the year, the other half, we paint with oil on canvas in the studio.
What do you ﬁnd exciting about painting as a medium?
Oil gives you the chance to make pretty much everything that comes to mind. Painting itself is, of course, an ultimate form of freedom. A blank canvas is virtually limitless.
How do the material choices you make inform your practice?
We work with acrylic on the wall in the same way as with oil on canvas. With our murals we like to work wet in wet and mix on the wall with large brushes and lots of acrylic. We work a lot faster than because the drying time is much shorter than oil paint. But for murals you never get as much time as for studio work. Our way of painting is not very different between different materials, but we prefer to work with oil paint. A large mural using oil paint is definitely on our list.
What are the advantages of using oil compared to other types of paint?
I think it is purely an extension of possibilities, compared to acrylic for example. With oil paint, the transitions are so smooth that you automatically push boundaries. All textures are great to mimic with oil, but for us the smoothness and the possibility of sharp finish still counts.
In the end, the colours are so much fuller than acrylic. With acrylic I found the dull ‘chalk-like’ finish quite annoying, it’s a matter of adding much or little water, to create gradients and glazing effects. To achieve the same effects with oil paint, we use different painting mediums that improve flow and transparency.
How do you decide what colours to use?
On our canvases and murals, we often work from primary colours. When we were just starting out, we used standard red, yellow and blue but now we play with tones and different colour combinations. Our works often consist of chromatic greys and some strong colours for contrast. This includes cadmium colours, the intensely bright tones and brilliance of cadmium paint works very well for us, especially the reds. Recently we got acquainted with Winsor & Newton’s Cadmium Free Oil Colours and the first experiments are very promising. They definitely match the lightfastness and colour strength of the traditional cadmium colours.
What’s the best thing about being an artist today?
One of the best things about being a painter now is the materials. They’re constantly developing and improving.
What do you ﬁnd most challenging about being an artist today?
Developing your own style. Through social media, the network of artists and works of art has become so large that sometimes you can no longer see the forest through the trees. It can be very important for inspiration, but the constant flow of new works of art can also be very distracting.
What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?
The advice that has stayed with us the most is the art of omission. We like to paint a lot of different things and subjects, but sometimes we put that too much into one design. A teacher’s advice to look more at what you can leave out rather than add has certainly taken us further.
Do you have one piece of advice for artists just starting out?
We often notice beginners are afraid of making mistakes. But you shouldn’t worry about that at all. Mistakes are the best teacher.