“Serpentine”, oil on canvas, 118X113 cm

“The Sikh’s Sister”, oil on canvas, 81X116 cm

“Meditation”, oil on canvas, 73X92 cm

I love to travel. Bob and I travel as much as possible and our favorite places are always very different to what is around us. Last December/January we spent 6 weeks driving 3,000 kms in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Then we went to Antarctica.

I use photographs in my work, because I only paint what I see. And I cannot bring with me from my travels the landscapes and the people that appealed to me. When you think of it everyone used photography. Vermeer with his “camera obscura”. Victorian and Pre-Raphaelites and Impressionists used photographs. Even the old masters copied from plaster casts, and from each other.

So in my travels I love to take photographs of the people I find interesting. I always ask if I may photograph them, some let me and many don’t. Then I pretend I am photographing next to those who don’t. I am the thief of souls, aware like a thief of my own deviousness.

I will then compose a painting by bringing together people I saw in very different places. They usually look defiant in my paintings, even if in the actual photographs they lowered their eyes, or turned their faces away. An old friend of mine, another Portuguese painter, Dordil, told me once that “art has no mercy”, and he is so right.

Even though most of the people I have photographed end up in my work, I am really painting a mirror of my own reflection. These paintings also preserve sound. I always listen to music while I paint. Sometimes I will listen to the same music over and over and over, day after day. There was a time when Mozart’s Requiem was my obsession, making me soar as I painted. Many years later one of my collectors asked me to repair a painting that suffered damage in a fire. I brought my paints and brushes to his new house and while I was retouching the painting I started “hearing” the music I had listened to over and over while painting it originally.

Note: “Meditation” is the painting that got damaged in a fire and bled music as I restored it several years later.


  1. Pienso que pintar un cuadro, una obra de arte, además de intentar transmitir visiones y sentimientos tiene dos trabajos: el mental y el físico. Sobre el esfuerzo mental, sensaciones vitales nos han contado varios artistas pero sobre el esfuerzo físico más bien lo han contado observadores de las obras, como por ejemplo el de Miguel Ángel en la capilla Sixtina.-
    Nos puedes contar, Celeste Maia, como se manifiesta cuando pintas ese esfuerzo? porque en una pintura preciosista como la tuya debe ser importante no?

  2. Celeste,
    You paintings beckon . . . and I willingly fall into them, happily so, . . . .

  3. It is so exciting and delightful to discover "new" paintings by you, creations that are such a vivid and real part of you, and I feel with each one, that I am with you. Love your art, your words, your many different expressions.
    Love and appreciate you very very much!
    It is such a joy to see that you were able to salvage this magnificent painting: Meditation.

  4. You paint what you see, nice, I wish I could paint too. You such a great person.

    A welcomed sweets at hotels, you may find them here

  5. Beautiful paintings! So many layers to explore.