I have created my first NFTs

WTF !?…

What is an NFT? Some of us have never heard that name. Many have no idea what it is about. A minority amongst us kind of understand but struggle to see the purpose. A tiny minority is really interested. Everything is normal : this is a revolution in the art world.

It’s a property deed (of a digital image in this case) that is registered and traceable on a blockchain. If you buy one, you own that deed, even if you don’t own the image rights and can’t prevent this image to be copied. Just like when you buy a limited edition print in the physical world.

Interest for the art world and its communities?

NFTs make art accessible for more collectors and its transactions transparent at last for artists. They let artist follow the life of the artwork. If value grows, they can earn a part of it base on a royalties % they set by themselves at first.

Ther is a blooming community of artists and collectors building up as we speak. At first, it was mostly driven by speculative motivations and artistic interest of most pieces was debatable. It’s maturing fast. We see first example of good curation work through galeries, museums and platforms like Objkt.one. Many renowned figurative artists like Tania Rivilis joined the party. That made me feel confident it was time to jump.

Should I participate ?

I’m passionate about both art and innovation. I had to go and explore from inside. This is a quite intriguing world I have to confess. Every step is new. You don’t get it all but you go ahead. That’s what happen when you have a first time at something, right? I took 6 months to listend to specialists and artists I respect before creating my genesis collection. I wanted a blockchain that would be accessible and energy-efficient block chain. I went to tezos and joined Objkt, the largest art platform there. All that was left for me to do was to choose how to approach it from an artwork standpoint.

What should I create ?

As I come from the ‘physical” art world, I thought about a way that could tick the following 3 criteria

  • The piece doesn’t exist in the physical world
  • It is a true reflection of my art
  • It is not artificially augmented, just for the sake of looking like an NFT

Before art is abandoned

The moment when you decide to stop is a key decision in the making of an artwork. “Art is never finished, only abandoned” said Leonardo Da Vinci. Thta’ sbecause indeed, there is always this temptation of continuing further the creation process. Either because you’re curious to explore the potential improvements. Or just to prove yourself (or your audience) that you are technically capable of going further.

Not surprisingly, that happens each time I do a painting. There are at least 5 stages where I stop and take a break because I’m not sure if it will get better further. Can I make it more interesting? Could it loose it creative strength? When that happens, I leave the canvas in a croenr of my studio until the day I decide to put it on the easel again… or to sign it.

I thought I could make an NFT of those 5 stages. None of them is available in the physical world. It’s the core of my creative work. And I’m proud enough of each of them as I was almost decided to sign them.

« Take five »

Beyond the connection with the 5 stages, the collection name comes from 2 inspirations. “Take five” means “take a 5 minutes break”. As before you decide to stop or go. It’s also the title of an iconic jazz song, which happens to be distinctive because of its unorthodox quintuple time.

This music track based on this super innovative rythm became a jazz standard. May be the fate of the NFTs in the art world?

Where does inspiration come from?

The excitement in front of a white canvas

How do ideas come? An intriguing topic for many art lovers, and sometimes a blocker for artists. Picasso used to say inspiration actually finds you, provided you are busy working. So true!

A bit like luck, inspiration favors prepared minds. Fine, but how can you be prepared? May be with an always on curiosity, the accumulation of rough ideas that sometimes need time to mature, and by meeting people who get you out of your comfort zone.

How did “L’Orangerie” come?

It’s the combination of many triggers. I had the idea of this image in mind for a long time, materialized by a small painted study. I like buns, and I think there is something very feminine and elegant in this gesture. A week before starting this painting, a visit to the Sam Szafran show at the musée de l’Orangerie was a revelation. His late obsession with philodendrons fascinated me. Finally, a week working with Mike Carson last fall had taught me a form of freedom in composition, and techniques that can make it interesting. All of these elements led to this project. Last but not least, it started at a time when I had been working at a steady pace for a while. It found me working.

Study for “L’orangerie”, acrylic on canvas 20x30cm

It’s a painting I’m proud. I don’t say this often but I feel like it’s a bit of a milestone for me. I’ve managed to keep myself from going too far a few times. Painting philodendrons, not really in a pattern, but without perspective logic. Not touching up the first draft except for the skin. Leaving the pool without blue water, not even the reflections (toughest temptation). Glazing the bottom of the painting with some red.

Can’t wait to see how the public will respond to it in my next Paris show (April).

Who knows why?

Why some images keep on coming back in the inspiration flow of an artist?

Most of the time, we create brand new images. And sometimes, there is one of those we love so much that we need to come back to. Work on it again, approach it with a more mature eye, and observe the change versus the last version of it we created some years ago. From a palette, composition and technique standpoint.

First came “Rouge” in 2013, then “Dip in the Amngasset pool” in 2015, … and now this one.

“Va savoir pourquoi” Acrylic on canvas 100x100cm. Antoine Renault

Water volutes have changed shape and colour. The orange undercoat came with new vibrations.

I think I love the 3 versions. But always the last one most. can’t wait what th efourth one will look like in a few years.

Detail of “Va savoir pourquoi” Acrylic on canvas 100x100cm. Antoine Renault

We are children of the ocean

Making of “Sweetest downfall” by Antoine Renault

The ocean transforms us

Just get in the water for a few minutes: your body relaxes, your heart slows down and your stress melts away. Scientists call this the “master switch of life” or “immersion reflex. An ultimate defense against asphyxiation that automatically kicks in as soon as our body is immersed. A phenomenon that affects the brain, the lungs and the heart, allowing us to withstand the pressure of the water and the lack of oxygen. An equivalent pressure on Earth would kill us, but not in the ocean.
The moment your face comes into contact with the water, the metamorphosis begins. The blood in your hands and feet will rise, your heart rate will drop by 25% from normal, and your mind will enter a meditative state. If you choose to dive, this transformation will be even more profound.

“Sweetest downfall” – Acrylic on canvas 100x70cm by Antoine Renault
Detail of “Sweetest downfall” by Antoine Renault

Flying below the surface
Staying on the surface and doing the plank is great. Swimming just below the surface facing the sun is wonderful. Have you ever tried it? I used to play this every day with the kids when we lived in Sitges right on the water. It’s an incredible feeling. In addition to all the effects mentioned above, it adds the fabulous light show. You feel like you’re flying in the clouds. Magical.
I had these memories in mind while painting this canvas. The completely relaxed position of the arms, the hair that seems to spread like a cloud of ink, and the light that appears on the surface.

We are children of the ocean
We feel so comfortable there, probably because that’s where we come from. Each of us begins life floating in an amniotic fluid that is 99% chemically similar to sea water. This is why a child placed underwater will naturally do the breaststroke and can hold its breath for about 40 seconds, longer than many adults. We lose this ability as we learn to walk.
Ancient cultures knew all about these reflexes and used them to catch pearls, coral or fish. Today the apnea record is over 12 minutes. At this rate, the record could soon reach 15 minutes.

Sunshine in a bag

The more you create, the more creative ideas you store up. I’ve had this reference image in my head for years.

“Sunshine in a bag” by Antoine Renault – Acrylic on canvas 100x70cm

I like the contrast between the dark depths and the bright ceiling. The complex structure of this ceiling, agitated by a breezy day in Amorgos. I like the framing, with the silhouette popping up from an angle. And I really like the posture too. The left shoulder that opens up, the right hand that comes down to balance with a laid back attitude. And the light of course that makes the yellow pop in the middle of the blue.

I gave it a first try with a small size canvas. Rather satisfying. It flew away to a collector in California. I came back to it with my last series of small works “Underwater vibes”. A second attempt to simplify as much as possible this complex image. This acrylic on paper is in Paris.

And I ended up taking out a large canvas and painting that image on the space it deserved. It’s naturally a very different process. And therefore interesting. I hesitated for a long time to stop at the step below that I really liked. Didn’t succeed…

Making of “Sunshine in a bag” by Antoine Renault

A week in Florence

The kind of week you don’t forget. I came back with a bag full of friendships, memories and lessons… about composition freedom, colors, visual emphasis, lost edges. Mike paints like a musician (which he is). He holds the brush like a jazz drummer. So much in balance that the brush hair almost doesn’t touch the board. Just like the stick does’t seem to touch the cymbal. But it just did actually, you could hear it. And there you can see it.

Mike is one of those rare guys who can be both extremely talented and generous. May be because he enjoys the making as much as the sharing. The image as much as the connection?

We had the same 3 courses menu everyday: Three hours demo in the morning, all of us around the master, in continuous conversation. Then three hours of practice in the afternoon, with surgical coaching just when needed (You’re stuck – Here he comes – You’re not stuck anymore – You’ve learnt something). Then endless hours around the brasero with this colorful gang of artists (10 different cultures), redesigning the world and sharing our studio playlists.

Life is good. Actually.

Mike. Thank you.

Antoine Renault – Learning to paint with Mike Carson – Day 1
Antoine Renault – Learning to paint with Mike Carson – Day 2
Antoine Renault – Learning to paint with Mike Carson – Day 3
Antoine Renault – Learning to paint with Mike Carson – Day 4
Antoine Renault – Learning to paint with Mike Carson – Day 5

Listening to all that summer breeze

Being creative with a familiar subject.

I’ve already painted a few scenes around the edge of that same pier. My brushes are very familiar with the subject. But for this painting, I decided I’d try something new.

First of all, this is sort of a palimpsest: A painting over another painting. The old one was from my very first show, and I didn’t like it so much. I covered it all with a gesso coat but didn’t do a color undercoat this time. I felt this milky glazing over a blue seascape could make an interesting background for some parts of the new composition. Ant it did!

Playing with the values

The lightest value zones in the foreground, where we can se the dry part of the pier, are left not painted. And if you observe carefully, you will recognize in transparency the silhouette of clouds from the previous painting.

Then I chose to paint all the darkest values in a flashing red in order to create interesting vibrations when it would be covered with green. I also thought it might be interesting to let some of those red volutes visible, on the milky gesso coat. That’s how this upper right corner came up where the sea undulations become something a bit abstract, with shapes of a surprising design.

Finally, I like painting suntanned skin so much, I couldn’t resist to go the extra mile there and work on those arms and shoulders until it would look just perfect for me. And there it is !!

Enjoying the result

I enjoyed the journey because it was a continuous experimentation until the end. And I like to watch it on my wall now. It’s a very different visual thing. I’m not just lost in the memories of amazing mornings on my favorite beach in Amorgos, I can also wander in these abstract red shapes top right, then let my imagination follow the red shimmerings that managed to fall through the cracks of the final green water painting. Don’t get bored of it.

“Listening to all that summer breeze”. Acrylic on canvas 100×100 cm (39×39 in) by Antoine Renault

Oh… what about he title?

Fair question. I love that song “dreamers” by Claire Denamur. Those simple words come in the lyrics. They triggered something. I had the title in mind before I started to work on this one.

“Listening to all that summer breeze”. Acrylic on canvas 100×100 cm (39×39 in) by Antoine Renault

Daddy cool

It started with a black & white photo from the 50ies. Dad is sitting on the dune of Sainte Anne de Bel Air, looking to the West. The family’s sailboat is the only one at the anchorage of the Clère cove. You can guess it’s late in the morning of a hot summer. The dune grasses have turned dry and yellow. It will soon be the Anisade time. There, on teh terrace, just to the right of those big hydrangeas which are still in the shade at this time of the day.

“Daddy cool” – Acrylic on canvas 40x40cm by Antoine Renault
Making of “Daddy cool”. acrylic painting on canvas by Antoine Renault

Blue bliss

Today, it’s warm enough to swim several times during the day. You emerge from the water that just refreshed you. Have a sit in the sun and quietly wait for the skin to dry. Then it’s hot again. You deserve a new dive. Sounds like a hard day…

This painting was a very relaxing one to create. Nothing in the process was really planned except for the original drawing. I started with an ocher undercoat then built the mosaic in the foreground. Then followed a few glazing steps, the browning of the skin, and some final touches of intense white at the intersection of some water volutes. Stuff I love.

“Blue bliss” by Antoine Renault. – Acrylic on canvas 70x100cm
“Blue bliss” by Antoine Renault. – Acrylic on canvas 70x100cm
Detail of “Blue bliss” by Antoine Renault. – Acrylic on canvas 70x100cm

Lobster the Blue

Crusher clamp to starboard. Side cutter to port. If it grows safely and manages to avoid fishermen, the lobster is well equipped to live old, very old, and as fit as its younger counterparts. Hence this this myth of immortality.

“Homard le Bleu” acrylic on canvas 50x70cm by Antoine Renault

The clamp asymetry doesn’t spoil the aesthetics at all. Especially with the famous Breton “blue” lobster. Intense black with azure reflections studded with white spots. That makes an interesting subject to work on as a painting when it’s not lit by direct light: the light reflection dots can easily be confused with the white spots on the shell.

“Homard le Bleu” (detail) acrylic on canvas 50x70cm by Antoine Renault

A cool combination of amazing power and finesse (the flesh). Okay. The king of crustaceans deserves its crown!