Sunday, April 15, 2012

A conversation with artist Edith Lebeau

What was growing up for you like?

I grew up in a small town, I was an only child but I was living in a neighbourhood with lots of kids my age so I had a lot of friends. I was either alone in my room drawing or watching movies, playing tag, playing video games or softball with the neighbours among other things. I was doing ok at school but was really bad at sports. I'm a big movie fan, I use to spend a lot of time in front of the TV, I grew up with movies like ; "Beetlejuice", "The Addams Family", "Labyrinth", "return to oz" , "Who framed Roger Rabbit" and was a huge fan of the TV series "Batman" with Adam West.

Were you always interested in art an early age or was it something that grew into? 

Yes I was, my parents are artists too. I have a lot of memories of my father and I drawing and painting on the kitchen table. He had those huge sheets of paper so I could do lots of tiny drawings on just one sheet!! I loved felt pens!! I was very young. I never stopped drawing and painting since.

Did you undertake any official art training?

Yes I have a bachelor in Fine arts. Each school has different programs I suppose, the training I had was not centered on portraits or figurative painting. I would have love to follow a class about how the old masters were painting. 

Where do you draw most of your inspiration from? 

From lots of different stuff. Mostly by the nature itself. I love the woods and it's mysteries, it's atmosphere, the colors and the smell. My models are also a very important inspiration in my process's. Fashion, movies, mythologies, music and music videos are also a source of inspiration. 

Where do you come up with a lot of the women's faces? Are they semi-based on people you know or have met or simply people grown in your imagination?

All of them are real. I did a couple of portrait that were semi-based on actresses for themed show but most of them are friends and artists. Here's the way I usually work: I do a shooting with my model, then I create a sketch with the picture that I feel the expression is more intense and then I create a portrait with it. I usually don't have any idea of what I want to create when I do the shooting. The process mostly starts when I look at the pictures I took.

How would you describe your art?

I like to create stories. I mostly paints female figures, portraying them as superwomen, goddesses, and nymphs, their look is the most important thing in my work because they tell their own story through their expressions and emotions. I often blurs the story to encourage the audience to make it their own, letting the character question the viewer.

I feel a kind of quirky dark aesthetic when I look at your work but there also seems to be a much more soft feminine side to work. How do you find a happy medium when working on a piece and deciding where you won't it to go versus where it could take you?

Wow, you really get me! It's exactly it. I'm always torn between both the dark aesthetic and the pastel happy feminine colors. If you look at my tumblr: it's where I post pictures that inspires me. You'll see that most of them are black and white or have a dark mood to it. I'm drawn by that style, it's a part of what I am, and what I like. But I'm also drawn by cute, happy, pastel Marie-Antoinette style.
It's the same thing with my fashion style. But it's easier with fashion: winter/fall : dark, Spring/summer colours. But with my work it's not that simple.

Every time I want to go darker with the colours, it ends up not that dark. It's the part of me that still works with instinct. When I start a painting or a series I never entirely plan the colors. I have the black and white sketch and a loose idea of the colors I want. The colors in my head are always darker than what I end up doing. The color palette changes as I paint, it's kind of a struggle every time but it's necessary. I want to keep that instinct so I can continue to be surprised as I paint. I feel that if I plan the exact colour I'm going to use I'll end up being disappointed in the end.

Who are some of your own favourite artists and why?

Well I do have a lot of favorite artists… I love the work of Martin Wittfooth. His paintings glows, it's amazing. His work is beautiful and haunting. Travis Louie is also one of my favorite artist, his work speaks to me. There is this atmosphere in all his paintings. Those beautiful monster have a life of there own. Some other artists which I love there works are Jennybird Alcantara, Michael Hussar, Kevin Llewellyn, Casey Weldon, William Bouguereau, Alphonse Mucha, Andrew Wyeth and John William Waterhouse among others.

Is there a particular person or artist you would love to work with?

I love collaboration painting. I did it once with Casey Weldon and it was great. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I would love to one day create album covers for bands or solo artists. It would be a dream come true to create the album cover for Jack White or Tori Amos. They are my favorite musicians. Music is very important to me without it, it would be harder for me to create. Music follows me all day.

Would you say you are at that stage in your art career now where you can live almost solely off your art's earnings or is that something that's still a little ways off?

No, I'm very far behind from that stage!! 

What are your favourite colours and materials to work with?

Well, like I said for the colours it's hard to find the right balance but I like to work with dark colours and I also love reds!! When I started I was mostly only using canvas but I talked with artists that are using wood panels. I started using it for the collab with Casey Weldon and  I loved it. As for the medium, I work with acrylic paints.

There are a lot of females, animals and bold colour schemes in your work that evoke a lot of emotion. When your working on a piece are there central themes you tend to re-visit or concepts you like to base your projects on?

I guess that there is a lot of recurring themes in my paintings. But the dominant one is mother earth/ mother nature. Femininity, strong woman, goddesses, hunters, warriors, horizon line and landscape background are also recurring in my work. I did a whole series of tiny paintings inspired by moon goddesses with different birds of prey. It was a fun series to do. I like to get inspired by mythologies but also to create my own. I'm having a hard time to explain myself with words. The stories I have in my head are mostly made of pictures, emotions and atmospheres.

Is there any direction you would like to go with your art that you haven't conceptualised yet?

I would like to do a whole series of darker portraits with mostly greyish colors and lots of black smoke. It would be a bit different from what I do, but I think it would be interesting. I think it's important to try new things and work with your instinct. I like to be surprised with the result, when everything is not already planned. It helps to push the limits.

What can we expect from Edith Lebeau in the future?

I have no idea, it's kinda scary and exciting. But you can expect me to continue creating for a long long time because it's what makes me happy.

Also - Please take the time to vote for Edith in the "Arts Take Manhattan" contest  HERE.  
The artist with the most "COLLECT ME" will   have their work exhibited in Times Square and win $10 000. There are a lot of great artists participating.