Creative Spotlight: Blanca Schofield Legorburo on painting people’s nudes
‘Self-love, warmth and community’ – sounds like my cup of tea
In May 2020, during the first UK lockdown, MML student Blanca Schofield Legorburo, after having had to come back early from her year abroad in Russia, started an Instagram account called Eve Taking a Nude.
The concept is simple really. Models submit their own nudes which Blanca then paints – in stunning watercolour and floral-decorated glory – and posts on her Instagram, captioning each piece with an anonymous quote from the model. And since then, what started as a lockdown project has become much bigger.
Fast forward seven months later, her account has now amassed more than 3,200 followers. The well-deserved popularity of Eve Taking a Nude clearly shows that the account’s message – as it says on Blanca’s website – of “loving our bodies, the flowers we see around us and connecting with our inner Eve”, is one that people feel they can celebrate and feel empowered by.
The Tab Cambridge spoke to Blanca about her creative process, the message she wants to convey, and what the page has meant to her since its creation back in May.
Starting the process: ‘I really wanted to try painting some nudes and to take them just for myself!’
After rediscovering her childhood love of painting and creating at university “with the influence of some amazing friends and societies”, this was a habit she made a real effort to maintain during her year abroad in Paris and St. Petersburg.
Blanca talks about how her creative pursuits while abroad were borne out of a lot of time spent in self-reflection: “I really put time into spending evenings alone and going for solitary walks around Paris and St. Petersburg to draw and paint. At first, I’d paint flowers and people I saw on the street or interesting artwork, but then I also started painting myself in the bath or my reflection or myself drawing.”
She continued the nude painting she had started while in Russia during the first lockdown in March, when she “developed [her] style of painting the nudes […] just for [her]self, with no male gaze in mind.” And after doing a particularly “Edenic” painting of a nude next to some flowers she’d seen on her daily walk, the name Eve Taking a Nude was born.
Connection with the models: ‘I don’t want to post something they’re not comfortable with’
After starting off by painting herself, Blanca now uses photos that are self-submitted by others. Her creative process is focussed on the model and making them feel completely comfortable: “Models contact me asking to be painted and we try to be as secure as possible.”
She will then “ask what colours and flowers they would like to be represented with” to create an image the model is completely happy with. This is a process of trust, collaboration and respect: “When I am finished, I send the models the piece to ask if they like it because I don’t want to post something they’re not comfortable with, even if it’s anonymous!”
Blanca loves interacting with the models and hearing their stories: “I love and am grateful for the breadth and variety of stories and experiences that models are willing to share! It’s amazing to be part of such a friendly and trusting community.”
Her Instagram page is full of a whole range of bodies, stories and experiences, something she is really focussed on showcasing: “I don’t show myself much on the page because I want it to be a community project focussed on the beauty of everyone.”
In addition, Blanca is refreshingly open and willing to listen to suggestions on this: “If anyone feels they would like to see more representation of different bodies on the page then please get in touch!” Clearly, Eve Taking a Nude is a page where representation and diversity are valued and prioritised.
Blanca’s inspiration: ‘We are all made up of the references and inspirations we imbibe everyday!’
Blanca talks about how her experiences and environment around her help shape her work: “I definitely subconsciously pick up styles and ideas from many artists and galleries and Instagram accounts and books and films, etc. We are all made up of the references and inspirations we imbibe everyday!”
When it comes to the artistic techniques she uses, Blanca is keen not to be defined by one style, explaining that “sometimes I just see what colours appeal to me that day” and although she feels “most comfortable with yellows and sunset tones – I don’t want that to be my only style!”
Although she cites several artistic influences, including Matisse, Charlotte Salomon, and the films of Pedro Almodóvar and Eric Rohmer, she emphasises that her style is fluid: “I really want to keep working and developing, but I also don’t think style is one fixed thing. Every day something new will happen and I think that’s important.”
Creative success: ‘I do try and think of the page and my art as a whole and as a process rather than discrete achievements’
Blanca has had some incredible opportunities as a result of her Instagram page, including interviews with the Evening Standard and the University Times, a repost from supermodel Adwoa Aboah’s Gurls Talk, and an Instagram follow from BBC Woman’s Hour.
However, when speaking to Blanca about her proudest achievements through Eve Taking a Nude, she humbly said: “I’m not sure if there is one achievement in particular – I am just proud of the whole process.”
She continues to reflect on the notion of creative success, admiring singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers’ perspective on making art, which is that she sees it as a process rather than always seeking a product.
Although Blanca acknowledges this perspective can be hard to maintain at times, she does her utmost to remind herself of it: “I think that can be so difficult because we are educated for concrete, tangible results and we are surrounded by products, but I do try and think of the page and my art as a whole and as a process rather than discrete achievements.”
In fact, the creation of Eve Taking a Nude was inspired by this very same experimental sentiment, the desire to escape a results-based view of creative success and the search for a way to explore her creativity without external pressure or stress: “I have always loved art but pretty much stopped painting or creating in school because I thought I wasn’t good enough.
“It’s so ridiculous how once you get past the age of 12 or 13 it seems as if teenagers have to specialise in the subjects and hobbies that they are good at, when in reality we need all that time to experiment and explore.
“So it seems as though if you’re not on track to a grade 8 in an instrument, why bother, or if you’re not on the highest sports team then don’t play, if you’re not amazing at drawing photographically-accurate faces, don’t do art unless you have to because you might as well be studying. This is terrible!”
Blanca’s message: ‘Self-love, warmth and community and solidarity’
From the respectful way Blanca interacts with her models, and how she donates some of the proceeds from her art series to charities such as Samaritans and The Black Curriculum, it’s clear to see how she embodies her artwork’s message of “self-love, warmth and community and solidarity.”
Blanca aims to use her artwork to challenge nude shaming and appreciate natural beauty, a message she explained further to The Tab. She hopes that “the ever-present male gaze becomes less important, with its conforming pressures and sexualisation, exploitation – it’s almost impossible to get rid of this completely, but we can try.
“I just hope [my account is] always a source for joy, love, inspiration and creativity because we know Instagram can be so toxic so I hope my page is one that brings happiness.”
As well as the continuation of her online shop where she sells totes and prints of her designs, Blanca is looking to try more styles and media: “Next is acrylic, but I also really want to learn how to use oils at some point. And I want to do more collage. We shall see, I have some ideas brewing…”
Well, it seems we have some more beautiful, empowering art to look forward to. And I, for one, can’t wait.
If you’re a creative from the University of Cambridge and you would like to be featured in the Creative Spotlight column, please email The Tab Cambridge at [email protected]
Featured image credits: Blanca Schofield Legorburo