Some prefer to draw at home, outside, in their studio, while talking on the phone… for me, a nice coffee shop does it.
Especially right now, as I am travelling throught the UK, discovering new places is a lot of fun. Every coffee shop has it’s own ambiance; from the decor, to the barista, to the crowd. It is interesting to create to different vibes. Sitting in a unknown establishment gets my creativity going. It’s one of the best spot to sketch people, as they are sitting for hours sometimes.
Also, it’s very suprising how few people approches me while I’m drawing. When I first drawing in public, I was scared I’d have to show my sketches to a lot of folk. But actually, people are respectful and will leave you alone. But just to be sure, sit back to a wall, no one can suprise you from behind (and ruin your super precise inking at the same time…).
The TATE Britain. The name of it invokes beauty, creation, wonders. With art pieces from 1500 to today, all displayed in this ancient prison, it’s a no-brainer for any art enthousiastes in London. Most artists exposing are British, many of which I had never heard of. That included Briton Rivière.
My dear Briton…
Born in 1840 in London, Rivière explore the animals displays of emotions and their intriguing relationship with their environment and us, humans. Since animals were massively depicted at that time in paintings, it isn’t surprising that you’ve never heard of him. In theory, he didn’t revolutionised painting, but he did, in my humble opinion, captured more than simply a subject. He quickly became one the most famous animals painter in the UK with pieces emotional charged.
When I walked in this random little room in the Tate, my back facing his work, I was took by utterly surprise
Beyond Man’s Footsteps. Breathtaking sunset on the Artic iced lands with an intrigued polar bear gazing at the orange, red, purple hues skies. Perhaps was the bear enjoying the view, perhaps was he contemplating the fragility of the landscape.
Surprisingly, Rivière never set foot in the Artic, never saw a real polar bear. Yet, he captured the essence of what a cold, desolated, mesmerising and delicate world the North is.
It’s not everyday that a artwork moves you to tears, makes you shivers.
I was happy to found more of his artworks, since they all depict the intense emotions that animals feel towards one another, humans or their surroundings.
Mr. Rivière, I hope that, wherever death took you, you know how much your work is still appreciated and inspiring.
I have been living in London for three months now. In the most vibrant, eclectic, historic city possible and so far it’s amazing. Even the food is (surprisingly) delicious (no offence).
I came here knowing that I would be learning so much: about litterature (Harry Potter walking tour, done!), about music, history and art. What I didn’t know is that most museum here are… free. That’s right. Nada. Rien. Gratuit. Free as the wind.
Want to know more about mammals? The Natural History Museum is open to you. Dreaming about momies? The British Museum will gladly invite you in. Are the ocean and ships your passion ? There’s the very nice and free Maritimes Museum. Want to cry in front of a Klimt at the National Portrait Gallery? I did that already… for free!!
“Our free museums and galleries ensure that culture is for everyone, not just the lucky few.”
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt
I can’t express how much I appreciate having the opportunity to explore so much of this city gratis. Especially since everything else is so god damn expensive. 12£ for a gin tonic ? That’s brutal !
The inconceivable happened: there was a shooting in a Mosque in Quebec City- basically my hometown. Witnessing the horror, the terror, the impossible from half way around the world, I binge watched every video, read every comment, followed any kind of development to the story.
When something so major happens, there is a need to talk about it, to create a conversation, to express deep feelings.
And that is precisely what art is for.
Pablo Picasso’s most famous art work is probably Guernica; to process the Nazi aerial bombing of this town.Using blacks, whites and greys, Picasso created a piece that probably helped him process the horror, but also an eternal reminder of the horrors of war, of hate.
Painting was for me the only therapy needed.
Le Coeur Est Un Oiseau (The heart is a Bird) was written by the great Richard Desjardins. It’s about how our heart, our soul, this bird, is bigger than our frontiers, our lands and that even trough tyranny, hunting, it will always flourish. It has the thirst for freedom. Perhaps Desjardins was referencing to a phœnix, raising from his ashes.
Celion Dion powerful ballad S’il Suffisait Qu’on S’aime (if lovinf was enough) also came to mind in those insecure moments.
I wrote those powerful few words and framed them with blooming flowers. I founded inner peace while painting them and it helped me remember all the love the world has yet to offer.
And I can only hope that this tiniest amount of beauty can help us all in those dark times.
….or am I?
I have the habit of denying being an artist. To diminish the importance of my paintings. To qualify them as “just sketches, just doodles I do from time to time, nothing serious”.
I don’t do it out of fake-modesty. I don’t do it as a “my drawing is so ugly…-please-tell-me-it’s-nice” kind of thing. Getting compliments on any of my creation is very much appreciated and I’m grateful for every comments. But I do it because I cannot call myself an artist. To me, I have too much to learn, too many things to perfect, too many skills to master before thinking of myself as an artist.
And what is an artist anyway?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines an artist as someone who draw or paint as a profession or an hobby.
If I follow that explanation, I should see myself as an artist, shouldn’t I?
So what’s the deal?
To me, I am a creative person, but I can’t quite call myself an artist. When I think of artist, I picture someone more talented, more creative, more skilled. Someone who knows what they’re doing, who’s not guessing. Someone who can touch many with their creation, who can actually sell their work. Someone who’s work can express the most intense emotions and tell great stories. Being an artist is creating values for other and calculating that is near impossible.
Artists have a tendency to be their worst critics, to see what there is to improve instead of what’s been learned. In that regard, I just might be one of them.
Beside shoes, packing art supplies is one hard choice after another. If you are anything like me, you really want to bring everything… just in case!!
I just moved to London for a year and I almost broke down when deciding which washi tape to bring with me. Because washi tape is life. And I love my art supplies, I cherish them, I want them with me all the time… just in case!! But with the baggages weight limit in mind, I had to make some choices.
So here’s what in my art bag:
I travel with three notebooks: my sketching book, my watercolor one and my dear agenda.
I absolutely adore my Winsdor & Newton watercolor palette. It’s the perfect size to take on a trip with you and the colors in it are pigmented and varied. I also got four individuals one : dark green, black, white and purple. I took my dear PETA ruler (ain’t no nugget!) and my Fineline masking fluid.
I also took my black ink (always in a Ziploc bag kids), an ink pen with a few different tips. I love my Staedler watercolor pencils, I couldn’t leave them behind. A few paintbrushes in a toothbrush holder and I’m ready to go !
Of course I do miss my prismacolor markers. And my pastels. And my acrylic paint. But choices were to be made and I can happily express myself with everything in my black and white polka dot pouch.
The Musée National des Beaux-Arts de Québec (MNBAQ) and I have a special relationship. Being new to Québec city, I didn’t had many friends and the MNBAQ became one of my favourite place to chill.
It is quite a shame how museums are empty. I found myself surrounded by moving creations, alone, not a soul around to experience the power of art (beside the nice security guards). Art is not everyone’s cup of tea, you’ll tell me. And that is quite true. But museum were created to democratised art. During the French Revolution, the first museum was created with the Royal Family private art collection; it was all part of the new era based on freedom and accessibility.
And still here I am with the greatest Canadian painters : Riopelle, the Groupe of Seven, Pellan, Dallaire… by myself. I cannot count how many times I sat in front of the ”Hommage à Rosa Luxembourg”, contemplating without any distribution.
Now, I admit I like having the luxury to relax freely with those magnificent pieces. Would I have the same satisfying, spiritual connection with this Riopelle’s, if it had been hidden behind visitors ? Of course not. It would have sucked. Just take a look at the Mona Lisa; it is dreadful to watch those hundred of visitors all cramped up in front of this tiny painting… But do we need to make a conscious effort to visit our National Museums, to educate our self, to open our eyes to the beauty resting right next to us.
I was very excited by the new pavilion the MNBAQ which was built in 2016; the Pierre Lassonde. This beautiful, contemporary wing attracted people. On the opening day, the queue was so long it went outside for another block, as I’ve been told. And that makes me very happy.