I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember, drawing always been part of my life for friends, charity, and many others in an informal way…
I became a nurse for 12 years but wasn’t working during the outbreak of covid and started painting at that time. My first collection of paintings « Intensive care » has taken me to national news in France and several press articles. An exhibition of my seven Portraits is displayed in some hospitals in France and currently part of the exhibition « Creative Resilience » at UNESCO Paris.
I subsequently became a full-time artist, my artwork is realistic, symbolic, inspired by current affairs. I aim to promote in interest or curiosity to the symbolism of my subject and maybe provoke an emotional reaction.
Where are you from? Did you grow up in a creative environment?
I was born in La Seyne-sur-mer, a small town on the Côte d’Azur. My father’s family owned a local bar on the port where most of the family members worked. Above the bar, the house was divided into flats where sections of the family lived. As an only child, my father, my mother, and I were in the top flat, surrounded by my grandparents, uncle, aunt, and cousin. The family house was always open to people with struggles in their life--some were coming for the alcohol served at the bar, but most were coming for the warm, welcome offered by all my family members.
My father, Henry, was a very talented cartoonist--even if he always refused to do it professionally. His drawings survived him and are still very funny and sharp witted. The flat was surrounded by his collection of comics, which inspired me to spend hours at my desk creating my own sketches.
My mother, Odile, comes from a family with a strong core of creativity. She is a cellist and two of my aunts are professional artists. In addition, many of my cousins are interested in architecture or design. Our grandmother taught us to create our own toys because imagination and creativity were cherished and appreciated more than bought toys.
Who or what has compelled and/or encouraged you to create your art?
Drawing was my best companion as a child. Frequently, as a teenager, I would be asked to draw promotional artwork, logos for music bands, sports clubs, or stage décor for plays and promotions. At age 19, I trained as a nurse and would draw for colleagues or for charities. I never took my artwork seriously, but I was pleased to find that other people were appreciative and so I was encouraged to continue.
A change in my husband’s career forced us to move to Montpellier. I was delighted to find a local art studio where, for two hours per week, I could challenge myself with more complicated subjects and different techniques. First acrylics, then watercolor, with my aunt Brigitte Willers so happy to see me embracing an artistic career “at last!”.
During the first lock down, I was home schooling my three boys and escaping into my artwork. I was no longer a full-time nurse, but all my thoughts were about my ex-colleagues. I started creating a collection of “Hospital Workers Portraits”. I asked my nurse friends to take photos and with the material they provided me, I started to create a collection. I aimed to create realistic portraits, colorful and aesthetic to raise public awareness. The first five paintings were watercolors, as it was easier to paint and be interrupted by my children, and also, I could work late into the night using electric light. I found the results so encouraging, so I started using oil paint for more technical subjects and bigger formats for the last two of the seven portraits. Enlarged prints of my paintings are being shown in public hospitals that want to acknowledge the value of their work force. These exhibitions were very well received with newspaper and magazine articles, and I was astonished to be asked for an interview for national news. Four of my “Hospital Worker Portraits” were selected for the exhibition Creative Resilience by UNESCO in Paris during November 2021.
What is the key topic or issue that your work addresses?
My work is based on current issues or topical stories. It might start with a topic that moves me or interests me. My style is figurative. I create realistic portraits or still lifes about humanitarian subjects. I paint what I feel, making it look vivid, interesting, and easily shared. My “Hospital Workers Portraits” are about my previous professional life, 12 years of being a nurse, in Emergency Room, Intensive Care and Theater. These portraits show facial expressions of resilience, humor, concern, and exhaustion.
“Coronapéro” is a satirical series of paintings about COVID under the coverage of an aperitif theme. Each painting is a game for the spectator to find amusing details, second meanings, slogans, portraits of controversial people, with a very French sense of humor...
My latest collection of paintings is a series of four “Marianne”; an allegoric figure created by Eugène Delacroix in 1830. Marianne became the symbol of the French Republic and Liberty. I’ve used her for commemorating some of the terrorist attacks in France since 2015 (Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan on the 13th of November of 2015, Nice on Bastille Day 2016, and Samuel Paty’s murder in 2020).
My idea is to create a beautiful image that is decorative and pleasing to look at, but with an underlying message that is darker and brutal. This form of expression is without judgment, gives no solution, but creates an impact so that people reflect about their own interpretation.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
My inspiration emerges suddenly after I’ve been impacted emotionally by a story or situation. I don’t plan it, it just happens. I’ve always created images faster than I could describe in words. If that image is consistent enough, it becomes clearer and can multiply into several imaginary paintings. It’s like walking into an imaginary gallery of paintings that are not yet painted. That’s how I know what I’m going to paint next. My style is realistic so I involve models and sometimes I must create objects that I will use in the photos. I am working more often with a professional photo studio for my material. I currently have three collections of paintings in my mind (about human impact on ecology, violence against women and within families, cyber harassment by teenagers), probably enough for two years of work!
If you weren’t creating art, what would you be doing?
I would probably still be a nurse, as I enjoyed seeing people as they truly are and working in a team. I stopped nursing because a change of circumstance in the family commitment. But now I have discovered my artistic potential, I only want to paint and create more artwork! My topics, my choices of subjects are influenced by my nursing background as they are aimed to show empathy for people in difficult situations.