I don’t often show my real civil name as an artist. So my artist name is Etiou (follow me on Instagram!). You can also say Etiou Malonga. I live in France, Brittany, city of Rennes. This name was given to me a few years ago by African friends. At that moment, I had lost a great part of means to live in the society, and they welcomed me and gave me that name. I was willing to be an artist and nothing else, so I had lost my home, bank account, and most friends and family support.
Well, I also had lost my place to work as an artist. But then I got myself a little watercolor set and a sketchbook, and that’s how I started to dare try to make portraits and also to use watercolor paint. Before that, I was quite good at drawing things, but not living creatures.
I first learned drawing. Color was not so natural for me and I had to learn it by myself later. But as a kid I learned drawing the classical way… perspective, copying plaster sculptures. I also had the chance to have a first opening to modern and contemporary art going to the school of the museum for modern art in Villeneuve d’Ascq (Lille) when I was about 10-12 years old.
I also spent a year in Paris when I was 18, in a school for applied arts. I learnt a lot there, and failed with a kind of extravagance. Then I decided to start painting a more abstract and expressionist way. I had a few years of hesitation in the while, but I also realized I had to read books and other things to be an intelligent participant to culture.
I did research about medias and modern and contemporary art. I did a few hundred big paintings on canvas. Then I went bankrupt. That’s when I started again with that name Etiou Malonga. I did finish my studies, with a PhD in design as a communication device between art and industry. And I also had a little job on the side, always.
But most of all I wanted to remain and be an artist. So I spent all my nights and days off painting. And I try to do at least a little sketch every day. As a meditation, as a way to keep being fair to my dream, as a way to make love to the world, and I love sharing it and being linked with other artists all over the world.
My favorite tools are graphite pencils (from B to 2B), Staedtler pigment liner (especially 0.05 and 0.1) as I’m crazy about details. I use Winsor & Newton watercolor paint with little brushes in natural martre (n° 0, 1, 2).
I often use a mix of Chinese or Indian ink with coffee and acrylic golden paint (Liquitex heavy body) with a paint brush to redo the line over a drawing that I colored with watercolor (like in my handmade postcards). I use that ink in my paintings on canvas as well and also on much bigger projects like a 17 meter long mural that’s in progress. I use acrylic paint on canvas (Liquitex heavy body, pebeo, prismo, amsterdam, artists’ acrylic), to do mostly flowers and portraits. I also use silk paper and newspaper that I stick with diluted acrylic paint.
I love to go outside to sketch and paint. Most of the time, I do architecture sketches, and flowers. I am very lucky to live in a city that provides a great variety of architecture, so I think I could still have fun here for quite a long time even if I already have done a few hundred views of the place. We also have a lovely public garden named thabor, with a botanical space that hosts a few thousand species, among which a few hundred roses.. and I just love to sit in front of them and watch them gently to try to make them express their beauty under my brushes.
I always start with graphite pencil, to set the main shapes, then I redo my drawing paying more attention to details, angles, distances with pigment liner. I erase the first drawing and then I do the color with a little water. But sometimes I also use a more traditional technique of watering the page and adding touches of colour that dilutes all over the drawing… or sometimes I do quick sketches with any drawing tool I have at reach.
Then I do copies at home. For the architecture, I redo my sketches on a piece of luxurious watercolor paper, two or three times bigger, and I try to do it better than the sketches, paying more attention to details, playing with colors and shades to create an atmosphere. For the flowers, I redo them on a little watercolor postcard-sized paper, finishing with ink and a brush ; I also do big paintings on canvas, up to 1/2 meters wide; and I also do them on kraft paper, in diamond shape frames to stick them on walls.
I have a website on which I show mostly my paintings on canvas, some architecture watercolors, some of my street art pieces : etiou.eu. Then, I have a page on Google+ on which I post new works every week, and on which you can see most of my sketchbooks of the last ten years. I have a little store on alittlemarket.com on which you can find some of my watercolor paintings and architecture drawings. And the most active link is through Instagram, where I try to post every day, and you get to know when I do exhibitions or other things like that.