Jules, welcome to RepDigest. Tell the audience a little about yourself – your background, what you specialize in and how you got started as an artist.
Thank you so much for this wonderful and generous thing you do; introducing art and artists to each other. I can't remember not drawing and painting. My grandmother was an artist and I always had art supplies, art books and trips to the museum at a very young age. I studied studio arts and art history for many years and much preferred staying in school to real life. University provided me with a great environment to be around other artists as well, to meet guest lecturers and other accomplished artists from every genre.
You currently live in the the Montréal area? Were you were born and raised in Canada? Also, what is the art scene like in Montréal and how does this area influence you as a creative?
I was born and raised in Montréal and was active in the vibrant
and thriving art scene there, having had great opportunities to consistently exhibit my work. Montréal is all about culture, such as art, theatre, music, and dance. There are many galleries, museums, performances, live music and theatre venues, as well as bars, restaurants and festivals to keep everyone very busy with going out all week. Montréal is very multi-cultural, and I've found that artists are well respected and encouraged in every genre.
I've also had the opportunity to live in New Mexico and was very influenced by the colors and landscape there. I had terrific experiences exhibiting my work there, as well as meeting many artists from other places and learning so much more about art and culture from a different point of view. Living in the desert was beneficial to my painting in that it forced me to consider a new reality with different colors, new ways of thinking and expression through paint. I now call Vancouver, British Columbia, home and have for a while. In Vancouver, the focus is on nature, which is most inspiring to me. I love mountains and rocks, as well as the ocean and its fluidity, its shapelessness, with open and seemingly endless boundaries. I love walking out in the tide. The colors of the air and sky are constantly changing.
What mediums have you explored and what do you enjoy most? Are there any other genres or styles you would like to experiment with?
I appreciate all art and have explored and experimented with most mediums and techniques like printmaking, photography, and sculpture. I always return to acrylic, especially mixed with mica. Sometimes my style may evolve or diverge a bit into themes derived by using a different tools or a new color, but my method and approach never change. This is simply how I think and express myself in my chosen language of paint.
How does art balance your spirit? Do you find a sense of peace, therapy or otherwise when working in your zone? What secret ingredient keeps you coming back to the canvas?
I get peace by being outside in nature, and therapy by eating chocolate. I listen to music most of the time, especially while painting – usually jazz, blues and classical. The secret ingredient that keeps me painting is probably unattainable, i.e., perfection. There seems to be no end in sight and, although I may finally like a painting, it is never perfect.
Do you feel artists have a different kind of soul? Do you identify with the romantic nature of creatives, or is this notion of "passion" merely a myth?
This is a myth! Career artists are just people who have had or made an opportunity to create. I also worked as a graphic artist and art teacher while doing my own painting. There are many artists in the world who – by virtue of circumstance, country, or culture – were born into it. They do not have the possibility to be creative in fine arts, but still build houses, fix things, tend gardens, or cook to feed others… all forms of creativity.
To briefly define your paintings, I would suggest they are explosive forms of color and energy – a bold force of nature that stems from within… How would YOU define your work?
I would completely agree with you and use those exact words because that is precisely my process as I approach a canvas. I enjoy a blank canvas and cover it completely with paint right away. No time for sketching! For me, this creates a kind of dialogue between substance and surface that continues with each layer and color. I always use many layers of colors and textures. I want the viewer to feel like they can travel behind and around to discover and experience the totality of the painting. I believe you cannot abstract what you cannot see, in real life or in dreams.
When you begin a new painting, what do you search for within? Is it a special feeling, a cosmic sense, a personal desire? Or is it something much deeper that you can't wrap words around?
I usually have a painting in my head and then I must get it out onto canvas. I don't sleep very well, so 4:00 a.m. is a busy time for thinking of colors, shapes and ideas.
What subjects, themes or motifs inspire you as an artist? What motivates you or calls to you most? What messages are you trying to convey with your visuals?
My paintings are inspired by the beauty of nature, especially topographical maps as seen from above, imaginary, or real. What has always stayed with me is a quote by Canadien philosopher Marshall McLuhan who said, "The medium is the message". Viewers tend to concentrate on the content and in what context things are created, but I truly believe the medium is just as important. Sculpture is a good example of this concept because we focus on the content or what the artist has created and overlook the materials used.
From a creative standpoint, are there any other places you'd like to visit in the world? Have you been able to travel elsewhere to see art or museums? What places remain on your bucket list?
I have seen so much great art by brilliant artists, but the one place I always return to is the Academia in Firenze where Michelangelo's David is – but not necessarily for David. There is a storage room behind David where all of the casts, busts, and miscellaneous broken sculptures are. Inside there are four unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo that define pure art. They are partly figurative and because they are unfinished, partly abstract. The figures are emerging out of slabs of marble. You can see his chisel marks all over the marble and imagine him working.
Please share some breakthrough accomplishments you've had as an artist. What was your most important achievement? What goals or objectives do you have in the near future as an artist?
They have all been wonderful because each show or publication was different. However, the strangest thing that happened to me was at a very large exhibition in Italy where I showed some huge paintings. Some people asked me to autograph copies of the catalogue my paintings were featured in. I was completely surprised, but I suspect they asked because of the amount of Grappa they had consumed.
Who are some of your favorite influences as a creative being? Any favorite artists or mentors who have inspired you? Any relevant music, films or theater driving your paintbrush?
My paintings and thinking have been influenced by some of the great artists who were my teachers in Montréal. At the same time, the museums and galleries of New York City were only a 6-hour drive, so I made countless trips there. I was completely in love with the art of abstract expressionists like Kline, Rothko, Motherwell, and de Kooning. I also have great admiration and appreciation of Native art, especially Salish and Innuit.
What do you think life would be like if you didn't have the gift of creativity? Do you feel you would be a different person or that your reality would have different results?
I think I would have been the same person whatever I did, but it never occurred to me to consider anything else. I was always an artist as far as I can remember, though I do love winter on a mountain when the bears are hibernating.
If you were forced to part with every painting you ever created, but allowed to keep only one… which painting would that be?
That is a great question because I was so conflicted by my first sale, which was completely ridiculous because that was the whole point. From then on, I lost all sentimentality about my work. Even now, I am not attached to things in general, although if I could keep one painting forever it would not be mine. I would be very happy with a small painting by Franz Kline or Vincent Van Gogh.
How much time and credence do you give to social media as an artist? Has social media given you any new insights, perspectives or otherwise?
I've met many wonderful artists and a few galleries on LinkedIn and Instagram. I have never been on Facebook, so these two platforms are the extent of my social media. I do not love the restrictive nature of either, nor being used as their product, but I would have no contact with other artists at this time if I were to quit. I would happily leave both platforms if there were other viable options.
What would you like casual observers to understand about your paintings? How important is it for you to have your work "connect" on a mental, social level?
I prefer to have the viewer enjoy my paintings, but whatever you bring to viewing art is what you get out of it. I always enjoy discussing art. In the end, it is just art and if you get something out of it, I am happy… but if not, I will still continue to paint.
What is the most important thing an artist should always consider as they journey through life? What would you tell an artist who feels depressed or self-conscious?
Stay true to your art and just let it flow. If you feel tortured, depressed, or self-conscious, than try a different way of expressing yourself without harming others or the planet. The nature of art is exposing yourself. Any audience is secondary and will always be subjective. Please know that the amount of attention you receive does not correlate whatsoever to the quality or the validity of what you create.
What would you suggest to anyone starting out as an artist? What would be the first and most important thing you would share?
Make art for yourself.