Whether with oil sticks, paint, collage, or iPad Pro, artist Lynn Bouchard renders vibrant and magnetic scenes that explode with color and overlapping imagery. In this interview, learn about Bouchard's journey coming back to art later in life, her interest in evolutionary astrology, and how her art aims to heal the soul.
Lynn Bouchard is a painter, photographer, digital artist and evolutionary astrologer. She was born on April 13, 1960, in Portland Maine. She studied fine art at Hartford Art School in Bloomfield CT and Maine College of Art in Portland ME from 1978 to 1981. She has in the past exhibited her work in galleries and museums on the east coast and Canada. She currently lives in Arizona.
Her recent paintings are created on an iPad Pro in a collage like fashion incorporating her drawings, her photographs and cut collage pieces. These paintings are then printed on canvas or paper for viewing. She works intuitively, allowing the creative process to guide her to the finished piece. Her paintings have been a vital part of her soul healing process, and often, much like dreams, reveal messages and insights into her healing process. German expressionism, abstract expressionism, primitive art, and tribal art have had a strong influence on her work.
Where are you from originally and where are you currently based?
I am originally from Portland Maine but moved to Arizona in 2006. I currently live in Northern Arizona where there are trees and water. I found the desert a bit too dry and hot, but I love the sunshine. We also travel to Hawaii three to four times a year, which feeds my need for the ocean, humidity and lush landscape.
When did you first start creating art?
I must have started making art when I was a young child because it seems that drawing and painting have always been part of my life. I remember the art superintendent acknowledging my paintings in grade and it was the first time I heard someone say I was an artist. It just seemed like a natural staple of my life and was usually something I did daily or several times a week.
I just love the vibrant color palette present in your work! What draws you to using such bright hues? What influences your color choices?
I love color. Working with color for me is ecstatic. It’s like a spiritual experience. I also love texture and line, but color is my favorite. I used to work with Sennelier oil sticks because they were so vibrant and immediate. I didn’t have to mix things. It gave me instant gratification. Maybe that’s why Van Gogh used the paint right out of the tube. However, currently I have switched mostly to my using iPad Pro. I have been developing my technique on this for five years now. It allows me to experience the vibrancy of color immediately. It’s like painting on glass and allows lots of light to shine through. It makes me very happy. I also like to do direct mono prints, oil stick drawings, and works with fabric.
My influences for my color choices varies. Sometimes I am influenced by nature, fabric, or paintings by other artists. For instance, our pear tree is currently exhibiting these beautiful golden orange leaves. I was ecstatic seeing the late afternoon Fall sunlight penetrating through these leaves. I couldn’t stop looking at them. The light coming through them is what made all the difference. So, I photographed them. I may never use the photograph but the imprint of that color on my mind and emotions will eventually seep into my work. Also, I saw some tapestries by Le Corbusier that were exhibited at an online gallery. The brilliant reds in these pieces were mind blowing. That too will eventually find its way into my work. Now in the past few days I was attracted to an Edvard Munch’s deep blue landscape. Because I have been recently working with the theme of collective soul trauma, the colors in his landscape deeply moved me and so I have been working more with this blue theme.
Many of your works appear to feature lush landscapes or plant life. Can you talk about this aspect of your work?
I think some of this influence comes from Hawaii. I absolutely love its lush jungles and primitive landscape and diverse array of plants. I know when I am there, I absorb the islands energy. We go about every three months, and I find it incredibly healing and inspiring.
How would you say your artistic style has developed and changed over the years? Was there a time when your art took a significant turn, either visually or conceptually?
Initially my style was realism, but after art school I no longer found that rewarding. At first, I found myself drawn to the German Expressionists—Max Beckmann, Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, Paul Klee, etc. I loved the freedom of expression, color, and intensity of their work. It made me feel my soul. I also loved children’s art and was attracted to artists like Marsden Hartley, Van Gogh, Philip Guston, Edvard Munch, as well as the Abstract Expressionists. I loved the bold lines, intense emotional expression, and vivid color. So, I started in my late twenties creating this way. I was using oil stick and it allowed me to create boldly and with the immediacy of color. I was going through a difficult divorce and so the emotions were pouring out. Then it seemed I tapped into something deep that even went beyond this lifetime. It’s like I had found my soul. I remember in art school I had created a few pieces like this and one of my teachers had said, “That’s it! Keep creating from this place!”. But at the time I didn’t understand. Now I am finally understanding.
These pieces were figurative but expressionistic. The theme seemed to be some sort of trauma my soul had gone through either in this life or a past life. Soon after that I had my first past life regression session and for the first time understood myself/soul from another place and time. These sessions were healing me as well as the artwork. As an aside, I was so poor at the time that I paid for my sessions with artwork. The therapist was helping me release my past, but I was giving it back to her with the paintings as payment. It was kind of funny and a unique situation.
I am currently working with this same theme but on a collective soul level. This has been the most recent shift in my work. As a collective, we are all carrying the deep suffering of our past, whether it’s our own current lifetime or the ones our ancestors lived. This collective soul suffering includes injustices, judgements, persecutions, annihilations, etc., from patriarchal societal structures that have left many feeling hurt, angry, fearful, confused, disillusioned, and marginalized. As a collective whole. we all feel this enormous history even though many are not conscious of it. So, by working with this theme, I find a level of healing and release for myself as well as for the collective since we are all intricately entwined.
Have there been any major life events that have influenced your work?
The first event to have an impact on my work was my divorce in 1987-1988. Emotionally, I was left raw and in shock. I had married a mentally ill man and had to leave for the safety of myself and three children. My artwork was a way for me to release all the pain and heartache I was going through and was the catalyst for me accessing my soul. I began creating emotionally intense paintings. The work was keeping me sane. I continued in this vein for a while and exhibited in museums and galleries for a few years. However, due to my economic situation, I had to find a viable source of income, so I put myself through dental hygiene school which adequately supported everyone. At the time it was difficult because weeks before entering school, the curator at MIT List Visual Arts Center wanted to meet with me regarding an exhibition. I met with him but felt due to school and my family situation I could not move forward with it. Because I am working with soul issues, it requires deep reflection and some level of solitude to create the quality of work I wanted, and my life at that time was not allowing that. Also, one of my son’s has Autism and Bi-Polar Illness and that was taking enormous amounts of my time.
I did continue to photograph, draw, and paint, but nothing of any great magnitude. I also started at that time deep spiritual studies, meditation, and began studying Evolutionary Astrology, which continues to feed into my work today. Evolutionary Astrology is a branch of astrology specifically designed to understand the souls core issues and intentions for incarnating. It has been a main staple in my life for over 30 years and very instrumental in my own healing process. So, it hasn't been until the past five years that I started seriously creating again. Being retired and having grown children has helped open more time for the intensity of focus needed to create. It has been so exhilarating and healing.
What would you say is your biggest source of inspiration?
Wow, that is a hard question because I am inspired by so many things. But my biggest source is my compassion and empathy for humanity. I feel this deep yearning for us as a collective to evolve to a higher place and hopefully beyond this current magnitude of suffering. This is in part why I am currently working with the theme of collective ancestral soul trauma. I am currently intrigued by barbed wire and using it in a lot of my pieces. So, I find Holocaust photos and indigenous art and artifacts very inspiring at the current moment. Last night we went out to dinner and the restaurant had this beautiful Native American woven tapestry on the wall. It was depicting community life and survival. I started thinking about how we have collectively survived on the planet and our current struggles. I found it inspiring, and it probably will eventually make its way into my work somehow. As far as artists I find the most inspiring, once again the German Expressionists, Paul Klee, Le Corbusier, Jean Michel-Basquiat, Shara Hughes, Hew Locke, and Kiki Smith to name a few. There are so many that I love. I am also deeply moved and inspired by the musicians Omar Sosa and Hania Rani as well as the poet Ocean Vuong. They all stir my soul to create.
What excites you the most about creating your work?
What excites me the most about creating my work is the process. It’s always a challenge because I must let go and allow it to come through me. Even though I may have a theme, it’s important I try not to control it, but allow it to naturally evolve. There is always this incubation period where things filter in. For instance, it may be a certain color I see, a sound, or image I come across. It could even be something someone says that hits me profoundly. It’s important at this point that I don’t discard any of it or treat it as frivolous or meaningless. It’s as if something in me says, “Pay attention,” so that I will save the experience and pack it away until it is ready to be used. So, it is an intense process of listening, feeling, and being totally honest with myself. For instance, the other day I took a walk and saw this strange decaying flower. I was going to keep walking past it, but something pulled me back to it. I took photos wondering what I would ever do with them. Then I looked at them a few days later, played with the exposure, lighting, contrast, etc., and they turned into these intriguing photos. I was happy that I didn’t pass them by.
Also, because I had gone through such a long stretch of not making art as intensely as I am now, it is taking me time to get the work up to the level I want. So, I must be patient with this part of the process. It’s important I keep doing the work whether I like the pieces or not. I have days I truly hate everything I am doing. It’s important I get away from it at this point and take time out for reflection and allow myself the rest needed to see things with new eyes. It really isn’t an easy process, but life isn’t either. Being creative is part of my way of processing through it all and marking some of the terrain I have journeyed through. It’s also like the process of eating. You’re hungry so you eat, you digest and then eliminate. Doing the artwork is like the eating and digesting part. Once the artwork is done its like it is finally released and eliminated from your system. The grip it had on you is gone and now you can prepare to give birth to something new if the desire so arises.