Welcome back to the final instalment of my adventures in Madrid. It is on the best of notes that we end as I spend my final 24 hours with one of the worlds best painters and all around great guy Alfonso Giraldes known to most as Banshee. As Always links to the previous hobby blog and the previous travel blog.
Most painters have some Idea about who this passionate soul is but for those unfamiliar Alfonso is a incredible artists who has worked for Games Workshop, Scale 75 and Big Child Creatives. He is currently freelance and spends a lot of his time teaching classes that emphasise not only on technique but also how to bend and break the rules of traditional miniature painting. He has inspired countless hundreds of painters including myself so I considered it a true honor that he let me into his creative space and his home.
With all of that said let’s jump in where we left off!!
The bike ride from the center of the city to Alfonso’s studio was much longer than expected. It was largely uphill and the heat made the situation even more intense. Visions of Alfonso’s studio kept me going on that searing cloudless afternoon.
After nearly an hour of cycling I arrived at the building where Banshee and Marc Masclans studio was located. from the outside it looks like just another industrial building, busy with men loading and unloading trucks of goods and wondering what this dorky looking cyclist was doing outside their workplace. After getting shood by a short but gruff looking manager I gave Alfonso a call and he trotted down welcoming me in. After giving the manager a sly look I followed Alfonso in with my bike. He was once again surprised at how lightly I was traveling. After going a few floors up in the elevator we arrived at the proper floor and exited to a hall that led to a big room that then spidered off into the various studio spaces. It was really fantastic to see so many different types of art in one consolidated place. I parked my bike and followed to the holy shrine of Fuck Smoothness.
“What do you think?” Alfonso asked. “Its perfect” I replied a little starstruck. While the space wasn’t the largest it really was the perfect space for 2 – 4 artists to work comfortably Alfonso desk was in the back left and Marc’s was on the wall near the center with another table next to it. The rest of the walls were lined with shelves of art books sketchbooks miniatures and photos. Alfonso raced around sharing all the plans he had for his home. “Here there will be a couch, do you think we could fit a chair as well or would it take up to much space? Here are art books. Here is your desk feel free to take Marc’s paints to use. If there are any extra miniatures or copies you can take them. What do you want to do?” My mind was still processing the question about the couch by the time Alfonso got to the last question and I honestly was just incredibly happy and suprised to be there.
I decided to look for something to paint and sketch on and took some time sorting through miniatures and gazing around the studio at all of the memories and beautiful art. After looking at the miniatures in the glass case Alfonso told me just to take them out so they could have a proper viewing under the lamp.
After some time I put everything back and decided to try to sketch some kind of chromatic effect on a dreadnought body that I found in the drawer with Alfonso’s Demon Kind as reference. My version ended up to saturated but it also wasn’t the best subject matter.
Eventually I pieced together almost three big child orks and decided it would be ok to paint on one. I started sketching in yellows and greens on his cloak. One of the other studio members arrived and set up shop. We chatted while he set up and eventually we both got back to work. Alfonso would periodically take a break from his planning and come give us tips or push our painting one way or the other. Alfonso himself didn’t paint, he was in the process of planning his wedding and honeymoon and there wasn’t much time for anything else.
After a bit more time we packed up and made our way to the car so that we could head over to the workout back at the Parque de el Retiro. Alfonso drives as many of you probably would expect. Fast, Furious and with expletives being hurled every few seconds. This was to my enjoyment though as I found it extremely humorous except for a few occasions were I joined in the hurling of expletives, just in english.
After parking we made our way to the workout area. I was so happy to have the chance to see Raphael and David once again after chatting for a few minutes David decided to get the show on the road. Seeing as I had to travel the next day I left the gang to it opting for a late evening stroll in the park. It was a kind moment of peace that allowed me to contemplate all the experiences I had the previous couple of weeks.
With the workout finished I rejoined the group, wishing final farewells to many of them. Alfonso and I made our way back to his car and almost immediately found ourself in a traffic jam. Someone tourist had gotten stuck at the bottom of the hill stopping all traffic to a one of the main streets. 20 minutes later they finally moved and we got on our way to Alfonso’s home.
I can’t thank Alfonso enough for letting me spend a night at his and Sofia’s flat for a night before my departure to Barcelona. After getting settled in we got out the food and snacks we had gotten earlier at the market. We got the computer out and I began to help the couple plan their honeymoon in the USA. Showing them different interesting places on the east and west, finding cheap flights, and making sure they knew all of the options available to the two of them. I was more than happy to help! Sofia happy with the plan and thankful for the help decided to turn in as she had work early the next day. Alfonso and I went to the kitchen to put things away and grab a drink. I took this opportunity to show Alfonso my Van Gogh inspired Anonymous bust.
It was a joy and an honor to watch Alfonso spin the bust around and around looking at it from so many different angles. “It’s great, It’s one of my favorites, It has 4 or five great angles. This is what fuck smoothness is.” As so many of you know Alfonso doesn’t mess around when it comes to what he does or doesn’t like. I was blown away and humbled by his words. This viewing of the bust broke the dam and once we started talking about art and painting we didn’t stop until close to 4 AM in the morning. It was one of the most incredible artistic conversations i’ve ever had. So many different topics were discussed but the main focus was how do we continue to push miniature painting in the direction of art.
Fully exhausted we both went to bed. I layed on my back for some time mind still thinking about the conversation and art.
The next morning we woke late and zipped off back to the studio to grab my bike. I stole some brief moments in the studio before disassembling my bike to be transported to the airport where my bus was departing from. The car ride to the airport took a little while. Alfonso and I chatted about the USA and also about my military service as it intrigued him. Eventually we made our was back to art chatting all the way up to my unpacking on the curb of the terminal. With a heartfelt embrace and words of encouragement Alfonso departed.
I just want to take a moment here at the end to truly thank Alfonso for the incredible last day in Madrid. Your Kindness and encouragement get me through days of creative drought and our discussions fuel my passion for that I am always in your debt.
I feel incredibly luck and haven’t taken this experience for granted for a single moment. I hope you enjoyed reading this. If you ever have the chance to meet Alfonso take it, it will be worth our while.
Check out Banshee here
More of his artwork here.
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If you want to see more of my work look here!