Recently I had the opportunity to work with the online gallery, Return on Art. Return on Art works with renowned artists to make original art affordable to decorate your home without the gallery price tag. The art on their site widely varies in subject and style... there's something for everyone. You'll discover worldwide talented artists and be inspired to bring original art into your home. As an artist, I relish supporting other artists so I greatly delighted in taking part in this sponsored opportunity. And good news for you: Return on Art has offered my readers 10% off using code bari10. (Disclosure: this is an affliate code.)
Return on Art gifted me a piece of my choosing. I was enamored with the abstract work of Claire Desjardins, and chose her piece, "Love 1". The colors and movement spoke to me. The piece simply felt like it should live in my home. I love the way the color abstractions seem to hug one another in the piece.
I also had the opportunity to interview Claire below. I hope you enjoy learning more about her!
I love the mixture of colors and shapes in this piece. Can you tell me what inspired it?
I should start by telling you that I began painting my Love series in May, 2020. At that time, we had been living the new "pandemic normal" for a couple of months, and previously ordinary activities now felt emphatically strange and uncomfortable. There seemed to be a lot of fear and angst floating around, and I felt compelled to try and help people through these negative feelings: art can be a great way to do that. What better way than to shower people with love? So that is exactly what I tried to do when I started my Love series: I used copious amounts of messy paint, using colors that speak to the different kinds of love that exist, and smeared them across my canvas. They are smeared, because often the lines of love can be blurred. They are messy, because sometimes love itself can be messy. Being the first of its series, Love 01 is an expression of my desire to hold and to help those closest to me.
Where do you live and work? Is this reflected in your work?
I live in the Canadian wilderness, an hour north of Montreal. Our property consists of 31 acres of mostly forested land and a small lake. Every day, I walk the trails that we’ve cut in our forest. It is where I find peace of mind, and often my inspiration. Walking clears my head, which in turn, allows me to dream up new ideas. I’m always looking at the world around me as though it were a series of paintings. I seek interesting visuals which Mother Nature is forthcoming in providing.
Have you always been an artist? Did you go to art school or are you self taught?
I grew up in a family of artists, and so the artist lifestyle is really all I have ever known, starting at an early age. It was not a choice, but a calling for me. I tried to work in other disciplines (marketing, administrative assistant, web design, among other attempted career directions), but always found myself returning to the life of an artist in some form. It seemed to come naturally to me, and it was the thing I was most comfortable doing. I learned a lot of what I know from my artist mother, and taught myself much of the rest. I did take some formal courses, but they merely served as a springboard for what I did outside of the classroom, and I found myself becoming more and more interested in the latter, so ended up leaving university early, as a result. I learn so much in my daily practice, even now.
What artist in history most inspires you and why?
It used to be that the Abstract Expressionist movement was what most inspired me. It still does, but I find my curiosity and intrigue moving towards more contemporary artists, such as Yayoi Kusama, Peter Zimmermann and Ian Davenport. I love the way they use colors and shapes.
Is there anything in fashion or pop culture that inspires you?
I’m inspired almost everywhere I look! I love how fashion can be an extension of art, and it’s possible for people to wear art, every day. I actually have my own signature collection of women’s apparel, Claire Desjardins, which is available in more than 500 stores across North America, and now in the UK, too. Making wearable art is another way to make my art more accessible to more people, and that’s a really good feeling. When I see people wearing my apparel, it pleases me, and makes me want to create more.
As an artist myself, I’ve always found abstracts to be the most difficult and am deeply moved by masterful abstract work. What makes abstract something you are attracted to doing? And do you find the work to be as challenging as I do?
I think that every artist has their “thing” that they find, do, repeat and love. For me, this is painting abstracts. Finding the balance of colors, shapes and movement feels natural to me, and is very satisfying. I enjoy the freedom that abstract painting allows me to work with. There’s never a “wrong” way to paint a piece, such as there might be if one were trying to paint something figurative, but there are satisfying ways and less satisfying ways of painting abstract. Like anything, it takes practice, and part of that practice is doing a lot of looking: observing the balance. Eventually, I think it becomes intuitive, even visceral.