The overhaul of my inventory is progressing well, we have reached about halfway at this point. A tedious task, but already yielding interesting results.
First, a sense of clarity emerges as every piece is registered, and put together with others of the same period or theme. Not only do I know where it is, I also know what I think of it: time is a great appraiser.
Some are discarded, (less than I expected, a nice surprise), a few reframed (while I am at it). And a selected few, retouched. This one was staring me in the eye when I took it off the shelve. I remember when I had put it away in an unresolved state, colors clashing with each other, unable to figure out what to do at the time.
Above is the “after” version and “before” is below. This series was very intuitive and playful, so I wanted to keep that spirit while integrating the forms better into the composition.
Another great benefit is that I am gaining a perspective that spans over four decades. It feels as if I am taking a stroll in my garden, looking at everything that was planted over the years, from the small flowers of spring to the trees with their autumn foliage, in a broad, sweeping vista.
There is much satisfaction to be found in this review, with the process itself nurturing quite a bit of reflexion. And that, who knows, might instigate some very new work.
Louise Jalbert, “Sostenato”, Sortilèges, suite et variation series, 2008-2019, Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20 inches
Every artist has an inventory to manage. Not every piece is sold, and the process of art making involves creating many pieces that may or may not fit into the next body of work, all of which cumulate over the years.
Doing a complete inventory of my art has been on my mind for some years now. A daunting project that I wasn’t sure how to handle. Fortunately, we have a good artist’s association in Montreal, the RAAV, that provides a regular flow of seminars on the many aspect of an artist’s career, from using social media to the intricacies of keeping your archives. After attending two seminars on this topic, I boiled down the information with the help of a librarian friend and defined my own simple but adequate system.
Why would you do a comprehensive inventory? For your own sanity, obviously, as it is much easier to know what you have and where it is. I tend to be organized and have kept a record but there are gray zones and some tidying up to do. It is also an opportunity to review and document what my journey has been so far. And last, but not least, my art is part of my legacy, whether of personal or local cultural relevance remains to be determined, but as such, I care to make it easy to access and manage.
Did I mention daunting? Admittedly it is a long and fastidious process. To be sure the task got done without absorbing too much of studio time, I decided to hire an assistant. After establishing a budget, and again with the help of the art association, I found one with the clerical skills and office experience needed. Louise-Andrée is a fellow artist: she understands my specific needs and provides useful suggestions. Part of our deal is that I teach her how to keep her own inventory, which makes for an affordable and stimulating collaboration.
As a visual artist, I am accustomed to doing a lot of things in solo. But some tasks are better tackled in tandem and it’s more fun too. So far, meeting every Friday since mid-January, we have completed approximately 25% of the task. This may be optimistic, but the main thing is, I see light at the end of the tunnel.
Photos: Louise Jalbert, “Inventory in process”, and “Louise-Andrée Lalonde at work” 2019
I thought some color would do us good today, so I am sharing this painting from a series of a few years back, called “Orange”. The idea was to explore the possibilities of that color, and the energy that springs from it.
Louise Jalbert, “Orange Becoming Sanguine”, Series “Orange” Acrylic on Canvas, 2008, 16 x 20 inches. Photography Guy L’Heureux
is what I have been doing with my work lately, once more reminding myself that this is never a good idea. Striving for too long, without allowing much respite, I ended up feeling more like kicking than painting.
Taking a break was the easy (and obvious) answer, but no, I wouldn’t yield to this, because it is very hard to let go of something that you haven’t yet managed to do. It is tough to admit you can’t do it now or perhaps ever (oh yeah?).
And I do like to be engaged in creating, taking one idea into the next, inventing as I go, discovering new possibilities. There is so much I want to do! But when I push too much, I shut those possibilities down, and everything becomes stiff.
Finally, I took a break from the studio and immediately felt better. I even started to get some ideas and did little sketches. So it looks as if there might be a spring after this long and icy winter, what do you know.
This was a good time to refresh my website homepage and add new pictures, thanks to my webmaster, Guillaume Sanfaçon.
Louise Jalbert, “Trees in the courtyard”, 2019, Feltmarker on paper, 8 x 3.5 inches
Winter Morning Light, 2018, Gouache on paper, 8 x 10 inches
As you might know, I enjoy visiting museums and different venues where art is on display. During the last two or three years, I have been photographing people while they are looking at art, or wandering in these scenographic spaces. I share some of “Muses in Museums” on Instagram, but will start to do so in this newsletter occasionally. Here are two samples, just to get you in the mood.
Remember Parle-moi d’amour? Next week will be the opening of this exhibition I am proud to participate in. The day before Valentine Day seems an appropriate time to show our love to those in need.
Opening: Wednesday February 13th at 5h30
Atrium of Wilder Building-Espace Danse, 1435 Bleury street, Montreal.
Everyone is welcome. This is a chance to buy artwork from Les Impatients or professional artists at a very good price, including mine on the right. Place your bet anytime between February 13 and closing evening, February 27th. I look forward to see you there!
1-Young woman looking at Le déjeuner, Marthe et Jean Terrasse, by Pierre Bonnard, 1916, oil on canvas. Exhibition: Pierre Bonnard: Radiant Color, Musée national des Beaux-Arts du Québec, November 2016. Photo Louise Jalbert
2-Young lady who would be at home in a Balthus painting in front of La rue by Balthus, (1929, oil on canvas), Museum of Modern Art, New York, April 2017. Photo Louise Jalbert
3-Louise Jalbert, “Orange in August”, 2017, Watercolor on paper, 11 x 15 inches, framed.
I visit my mother in Quebec city about once a month. It’s a routine that settled itself in sometime before my father passed away five years ago. The drive takes two and a half hours on a rather monotonous highway between Montreal and Quebec city, with on either side fields, farms and woods and large expanses of sky.
I’ve come to appreciate the many different hues of grays and beiges these mundane sights can take in winter. This Saturday was sunny and clear with fresh snow, so the shades of the day were crisp blue and white, divided in the middle by the black ribbon of the road.
Shortly before arriving, suddenly all the trees and schrubs started to glitter. It took me a few minutes to realize I had crossed an invisible line into an area where everything from fences to electric wires was covered with ice.
There had been freezing rain the day before. Quebec city had been hit harder, and being located further north, the cold weather was preserving the effect of this coating downpour.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t like freezing rain. It stands in between snow and rain, ruining the former, disguising as the latter, it makes driving a nerve racking exercise and you can forget about walking normally unless you plan to spend the next weeks in a cast. It also causes damage to vegetation, and as we all know up here, to electrical wires. A very inconvenient thing.
But it does create astoundingly beautiful landscapes, that nobody asked for but there it is, looking splendid as if everything had been coated in cristal.
And so, as my mother and I sat together that afternoon, looking at some photo albums of long ago, our gaze could not help reverting back to the window, attracted by this magical display of winter light.
It was only fitting to be with her on that day, because she taught my siblings and I to observe and appreciate the many nuances of the natural world, in every circumstance. My mother’s marveling was my initiation to beauty.
Louise Jalbert, “In Québec city, Saturday, January 26th, 2019 “, Photography, 2019
Art comes from a natural desire to express our being. It is an impulse that wants to seize an emotion or an intuition and bring it into the world. I think we all have this urge to express ourselves, and to create, everyday.
Whether you do it as a pastime or as your life’s work, that form is born out of who you are. And only you can do it that way, in that moment, whether it is singing or painting or cooking. This is not something you do for others, though you may enjoy sharing it and others may benefit from it. It is something that you do because you want to: it is a form of love.
There are a great many levels to where you can take this, or have fun with it, but basically it is the same aspiration. Some of us though, fly very high.
Lately, I have been listening to Franz Schubert‘s piano compositions which touch a particular cord in my heart. Why Schubert? Why now? I don’t know yet, and being short of words only adds to the joy of being enraptured as I discover more of his music.
Among the many brilliant pianists who play Schubert, I find Maria Joao Pires‘s interpretations poetic, with great depth and subtlety of emotion. As if the air in my soul had been stirred by a bird’s wings, and suddenly I can breathe again.
Not only is she an accomplished artist, she is also somebody who has thought deeply about life, and who infuses everything she does with the same quality of attention. So I will leave her the last words:
“I don’t believe so much in art in terms of something for rich people or talented people, or for the big concert halls or for the big museums. I believe in art in all day life, in everyday, so that you really put it in everything you do, doing things well, with beauty, you know”.
Maria Joao Pires, pianist
Louise Jalbert, “Bird resting on branches”, 2018, Photography
I am doing some technical exercises right now. It’s quite basic, but it’s one way to get into the swing of things, without over thinking. Let’s call it rediscovering acrylic on canvas.
I’ve painted with acrylics before, but it’s been a while, and the available products on the market have expanded a lot. More importantly, I am looking to expand my style, but feel a little daunted. So getting acquainted with the materials again is a good way to get the ideas flowing.
It’s a bit like getting back to the violin after playing the piano for a while. I have to practice my scales. And as in music or dance, it’s a good thing to go back to basics once in a while, for practice and for inspiration. It always yields something.
On loose pieces of canvas, I am trying out different kinds of marks, with a brush or some newly available painting instrument, doing color tests of superpositions in opacity and transparency, fluidity and thickness, while testing different painting mediums. Developing a familiarity with my tools will facilitate spontaneity later on.
Meanwhile, I am thinking about compositions with thumbnail size sketches, a habit I developed early on during my illustrator days. It allows me to visualize quickly an idea without going into details.
So here I am, progressing slowly in a complex world.
Louise Jalbert, ” Technical tests in acrylic on canvas”, 2018, 30 x 36 inches and felt marker drawings in sketchbook, 8.5 x 11 inches.
Louise Jalbert, “Winter Sun”, Acrylic and collage on paper, 2002, 22 x 30 inches