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ÉTIENNE ROUSSEAU

Feb 3, 2022

I would say that flourishing in creation is essential. Then it’s about promotion. However, if your technique is interesting and your paintings stand out from the others, people should start following you and taking an interest in your work. This is when everything takes shape. It’s about taking it one step at a time and believing in yourself.´´


Where are you from? 

I live in Quebec City, Canada. It is a city known for its stone buildings and narrow streets lined with bistros and shops. The Château Frontenac is the emblematic infrastructure of the city. 

An artist you´d invite to dinner.

Personally, I would not invite a musician or an actor, but rather three artists who inspire me and still influence me today: Cy Twombly, Joan Mitchell and Willem de Kooning. I would invite them to dinner in my studio surrounded by my paintings. It would be a great honour to discuss everything and nothing, art and colours and to get their opinion regarding the development of my paintings.

Describe your art in three words.

Abstraction, gestures, colours.

The most difficult thing about creating.

It’s neither the beginning nor the end. It’s the middle where the first layer covers the background and you have to work out a composition. The first lines of the composition are always difficult to position. You must abandon yourself to the creation and think about nothing. When the first steps are taken, the rest follows on its own.

How do you stay inspired?

I walk here and there. I watch the sky, the clouds, the colours of the sunsets. I’m inspired by simple elements, from daily routine, from life. When I no longer have the desire or the inspiration to paint, I stop painting, I wait for it to come back. It can last a few weeks or even several months. I do not consider it abandoning creativity, because I am constantly in reflection and research. If I try to rush things or force myself to paint, often the results are inconclusive. When the urge returns, the paintings are always more of a success.

How did the quarantine affect your creative process?

The pandemic hasn’t really affected my creative process. It even had a fairly positive effect on it. It allowed me to devote myself fully to my art, to think about new concepts and experiment with new painting techniques. I also read several artistic books, including one by Michel Pastoureau and Dominique Simonnet on the symbolism of colours. I was alone in my studio for hours with my acrylic mediums and I liked it.

 

What music do you listen to when creating?   

It all depends on the moment, my emotional state and my musical desire. Most of the time it’s popular music or music from the 80s and 90s. I like to choose a song or songs that are quite similar and listen to them repeatedly throughout the creation process, in order to stay in the same state of mind. If the song changes, unfortunately, the intention, the emotion and the gesture too. As a result, everything is turned upside down which often leads to a mess. But more often, I listen to Lana Del Rey. One of my favourite albums of hers is Norman F*cking Rockwell.

You must abandon yourself of the creation and think about nothing. When the first steps are taken, the rest follow on its own.´´

How has your art evolved over the past three years?  

I started acrylic painting during my bachelor’s degree in visual arts. Initially, I  painted surreal landscapes, completely unreal and distorted. It was several planes superimposed by sinuous lines of brilliant colours. After my degree, the lines began to disappear to make way for the masses. During my first year of my master’s degree, my paintings were only created by the accumulation of masses. Subsequently, these masses became closer in shape to result in circles. Once graduated with a master’s degree, I no longer knew where I was. My paintings no longer had lines or shapes. It was at the end of the summer of 2020 that the line reappeared. Since then, the serpentine line has been present in different widths and several mediums have been added to acrylic, including pastel.

Did you always want to be an artist?

When I was little, I wanted to become a music producer and have my own record label. After finishing high school, I had to choose a program to enter Cégep. There was nothing available to me in that field, so I decided to go into the art program and I don’t regret it at all. I can’t see myself doing anything other than art all my life. Otherwise, teach it.

What are your favourite colours to use at the moment?

It’s always quite difficult to answer this question… I really like rosés, bluish and dark greens.

Most inspiring place you’ve visited.  

The web is the most inspiring destination I have visited. Having not yet had the chance to make long trips, I visit the world via the Internet. Last week I was in space watching supernovas goes by. I also contemplated the aurora borealis in the far north. This week, I was interested in flora and I visited Singapore and its artificial trees. I hope that one day teleportation will exist then I could use it to visit these places.

Something creative you´d like to try. 

Recently, I tried oil paint and I must say that I was surprised to find it quite easy to create gradients with. I have in mind to eventually create my paintings in collaboration with acrylic and oil. I would also like to try painting on round canvas or even on raw canvas. Otherwise, I would love to learn sign language.

An artist on Instagram that we need to follow.

Sunyoung Hwang is based in London. Her oil paintings are simply amazing!

Your favourite film director.

Unfortunately, I don’t really watch movies, series or even television. I prefer to keep myself busy with various projects. However, a few weeks ago, I let myself be tempted and listened to the first season of Only Murders in the Building with Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez. It was excellent!

What advice would you give to artists on how to balance creating with the business aspect of being an artist?

I would say that flourishing in creation is essential. Then it’s about promotion. However, if your technique is interesting and your paintings stand out from the others, people should start following you and taking an interest in your work. This is when everything takes shape. It’s about taking it one step at a time and believing in yourself.