How Blake Jamieson and Christina Oiticica Concocted 'Fauna e Flora': An Ode to Nature

It’s challenging for any artist to find commercial “success” at all — even more rare if you start painting at 30 years old. Enter Blake Jamieson. You have probably seen his portraits of athletes (Ronaldinho, Kobe Bryant, Joe Montana) or his Topps Baseball Cards (Mike Trout, Derek Jeter). Or maybe you’ve seen his work in Web3 - Terrell Owens NFT Gallery or Knights of Degen. 

Despite finding a profitable and successful niche with his athlete portraits, Blake is yet again aspiring for a new stage. The next “chase” for Blake is the broader fine art market… and this story tells the opening chapter.

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Blake and 'The Alchemist'

The Alchemist found Blake on his 30th birthday. The book was gifted from a close friend, and came highly recommended. Shortly thereafter, Blake embarked on a month-long excursion to Barcelona — a trip spurred by him leaving his marketing job with no set plan for the next chapter of life.

Although packing light, The Alchemist made the cut. This packing decision proved to be significant. The trip itself was a pivotal one.

With the perfect mix of adventure and inspiration, Blake returned confident that he no longer wanted to do marketing as a job, he wanted to paint. He wanted to become Blake, the Artist. Making art turned from a quiet whisper to a calling too loud to ignore. All this became clearer in large part due to reading The Alchemist.

This book’s story centers around the main character going on a journey seeking treasure, overcoming obstacles, finding and ultimately achieving his life purpose — thematic parallels that Blake wanted to lean into for himself.

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Blake Jamieson

In this moment eight years ago, Paulo Coelho, the book’s renowned author, already had a profound effect on Blake from afar. But even then, just starting out as an artist, Blake felt sure that there would be a more meaningful interaction between the two.

Over the following eight years, Blake himself gifted the Alchemist dozens of times, listened to it on audio book a couple hundred times, tattooed Maktub on his index finger (“it is written” in Arabic, a significant saying through the book), and had countless conversations about the book.

With all that though, Blake did not look too deeply into Paulo Coehlo’s personal life. Their relationship was solely The Alchemist.

This changed unexpectedly.

As part of a guerrilla marketing effort for a day long paintathon video livestream where he would create and auction off 23 paintings over the course of 12 hours — Blake sent dozens of personalized public video messages over Twitter to an array of notable personalities inviting them to join the livestream.

Paulo Coehlo was on the list.

When cold messaging people, there’s always the chance of magic, but the aim of this outreach endeavor was for Blake’s own audience and fans to take note of the paintathon project.

The outcome was more grand.

A message came through to Blake’s inbox from Christina Oiticica, “Hello Blake, hope all is well. I am Paulo Coehlo’s wife, we saw your video and would like to discuss the possibility of doing an art collab together. I am also an artist, painter and sculptor. I saw your work and was wondering if you would like to create something with me. Tell me what you think.”

Of course he was interested in exploring a collaboration.

In Blake’s words, he felt “ecstatic” about the newfound possibility.

Some things are meant to be. Some things are meant to be before even knowing they are meant to be. But once they happen, they just make sense.

The script is written.

The message from Christina to Blake led to an exploration phone call — with assistance of a translator — where the two hit it off. General pleasantries quickly led to the what should we create topic.

As timing has it, at this exact moment Blake was in the midst of a transitional artistic period. For years, he had honed his craft and hustled his way to notoriety as a sports portrait artist.

But now, a new subject matter called — plants. So naturally, that’s what Blake suggested. Christina shared that she was currently painting butterflies. Perfect thematic match.

Enter Fauna e Flora

In his Brooklyn studio, Blake kicked off the collaborative endeavor by filling 10 varied-size canvases with paintings of plants.

He then mailed these paintings to Christina in Geneva, Switzerland where she painted butterflies over top of the plant backdrops. Christina also incorporates an additional collaborator into her art — nature.

The Fauna e Flora collection would be no different.

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Chris Heeney

Christina organized a burial ceremony for the paintings to take place on August 17, 2022 at Whitepod Eco Lodge in the Swiss Alps, near a small town called Monthey (a couple hours outside of Geneva). Over 40 people showed up to participate and support.

Blake made the trip too — which would be the first time they would meet in person — the genesis of a true friendship between Blake, Christina and Paulo. Nine months later, they would return for the unburial and another opportunity to meet in person and deepen their collaborative bond.

The works debuted at an opening party on Saturday, July 15 in Sintra, Portugal at Luka Gallery (part of Biester Palace). The show is scheduled to run until August 17, 2023.

Disclaimer: I write this as an insider to the story. Blake was a past business partner and current friend.

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