It is both calming and impressive. May be that’s why it’s so attractive and inspiring. Then there is this original connection with water. 71% of the globe surface is made of oceans. 60% of a human body is made up of water. There are few experiences as relaxing as swimming in the ocean. Immersing your body in water triggers an incredible amount of positive physiological effects.
“Man and ocean” will be the theme of the next semaine de la science on the island of Noirmoutier. I’m honored that they asked me to create the poster for this fall event. This was such a natural theme for me that I did the painting in one shot. Which is very rare for me.
For the first time, I started with a colored undercoat. The natural imperfections worked just great. I managed to abandon the work after the first stage… which happens to me even more rarely. The ocean effect.
The design of their skin is a fascinating one. It could have been created by Keith Haring (another fish name by the way). Always the same pattern. No two are alike. I’ve been fishing and grilling them for decades but never really noticed their mesmerizing beauty. I sketched their stripes for the first time thanks to an imposed themes in a sketching group I joined during the lockdown.
I enjoyed the design so much that I felt like exploring it in painting. The same 4 mackerels. Just one of them shining a bit more than his colleagues. I would not be surprised if some more of those beautiful fishes come back on my easel soon.
You’ve probably lived a situation like this when you happen to find yourself in one specific place at one specific moment… and life suddenly takes an unexpected turn.
A few days before the French lockdown, I was traveling by train from Amsterdam to deliver a painting in Paris. I would meet friends and enjoy my usual tour of favorite galleries. On the Saturday night, signs of an upcoming lockdown start to amplify. Rather than going back to Amsterdam, I decide to head south with my week end bag and settle on my beloved island for a few days. As I leave Paris, I get started with a sketchbook which I title “exodus sketchbook”. I thought I would be traveling for a few days and that would make a nice distraction. 3 months and 90 sketches later, I was actually still on the island.
My sister Clémence had set up a Facebook group. It became the daily rendez-vous for 100 sketchers from all places, ages and levels. A theme – a sketch – a day. A wonderful routine that built great bond between all those happy artists during 90 days. The nice thing about this unusual practice (create on an imposed theme every day): it leads to unexplored areas… like trees and mackerels. Here are my favorite 15. The 75 others are there.
This painting was commissioned 2 years ago… and delivered in Paris just 2 days before lock down. This is how I could escape to the island of Noirmoutier just in time, instead of going back to my Amsterdam studio. I had just one day left to walk on this beach before all access were banned for long weeks.
I have painted this subject 3 times in 10 years. I love this view that reminds me sailing sessions in those days of perfect quiet weather when we can sail by high tide so close to the rocks. The painting was a gift to a very nice person, who happens to own the nicest cabin of this beach.
This one was started a year ago. My first one with oil after a decade with acrylic only. The face shaped up pretty easily. The volutes of the nice hair locks made me feel like trying new things. This exploration journey took a year… and ended actually in a pretty conventional finish. At least, I enjoyed having this smiley face looking at me in the studio for a year.
They went through the Gorges de Samaria then reached a small pier at the end. Swimming was non negotiable. Dive after dive, the temperature has become a little bit more bearable. Her hand is about to grab this beautifully rusted chain and she will go up. This is only a matter of seconds. Just the time to straighten up on the quay, to scan a never endless bright Mediterranean surface, start to feel the epidermis already heating up, marvel at the water transparency, and at the abstract sea floor design… And dive again!
There are 2 great joys in my life as an artist: the creative process by itself, and the connections triggered by the result of it. Once upon a time, there was a Catalan art lover who used to follow my work and chat through Instagram. Her Canadian New-Brunswicker lover, who happens to work in Amsterdam, started asking if there would be a way, by any chance, to celebrate their anniversary with a portrait of his soul mate. A first secret meeting with him takes place in my studio. We browse through available pictures while tasting some goof wine… hoping one of them would be triggering the inspiration. It actually happens with that image. I liked the attitude a lot. The eyes looking down, as if lost in her thoughts. The long hair that doesn’t stop spinning right under the warm Canarian wind. This interesting hand that hesitates between a gesture of control or thinking. Many stories can start from there.
Work starts in may. In october, the canvas is varnished. November: we celebrate the final piece together in Amsterdam. December: the painting reaches its new sweet home in Barcelone. I have two new friends. Feeling lucky.
This one came by surprise. In my mail box. A greetings card sent by my very first collectors. I like the image a lot. Months later, it has become a painting. Not easy to make but I really liked those siblings in single file walking on the pool edge. The reflections and above all the posture of the youngest one in foreground. He creates a story. One can imagine a conversation. I have to thank the parents for letting me paint this first painting of him from the back. Promised: he will have his portrait one day!
“Only love and art make life bearable”. That’s what novelist William Sommerset Maugham thought. We can state in a simpler way that art is good for health: proven by neuroscience! Treating oneself with art or offering art is even better. Clear enough, art buying is a pleasure business, but… there is a supreme level of happiness: To treat yourself to art while supporting an inspiring program.
Good news for you guys, you can reach that by participating into the auction sales that takes place in Noirmoutier until August 17th, organized by the association La Chaloupe. My painting “l’échouage” (the beaching) won the contest for the poster of the 30th classic yachting regatta (Régates du Bois de la Chaise). I decided to donate the original painting to the association in order to support their program “boarding for children”. The auction benefits will fund the renovation of “La Fringante”, an old wooden ship that already helped thousands of kids to set sail for the first time. This boat requires some structural repair work.
They were there already in the late 19th century. In Noirmoutier island. They are today one of the largest gatherings of traditional sailing units on the Atlantic coast. Reborn 30 years ago thanks to the association La Chaloupe, les régates du bois de la Chaise bring together sailing, ship carpentry and image lovers. Three reasons why I feel so close to this event. My Dad competed and won many years in his category with “Sterna“, a tiny dinghy he built by himself. My son spent years observing both the regatta and the carpenter workshop. That may well be part of what inspired him to become a ship carpenter. I started to paint in those years. Every summer, the new poster unveiling was an exciting opportunity to discover another painter.
I was so happy when asked to create the poster for the 2015 regatta. Also excited to compete for the 30 years anniversary poster. Honored to win that contest. Very pleased to help promote this event which remains so true to its original values.