I attended the second occurence of Art to Play convention in Nantes, France, as a participant ( once more ) to the "Arting Spirit" painting competition. The subject was given at 9 in the morning: "I am a superhero". The artists, around 20 of them I think, had 12 hours ahead to paint a 50cm x 50cm canvas.
Doing a painting in just one day was a challenge to me. For the first time I gave up the idea of using oil paints, and reluctantly switched to acrylics.
My reflexion about the theme led me to express the dichotomy there was between the genuine normality of "I" and the otherworldliness power contained in the "superhero".
That dichotomy is express through two different rendering styles. The one belonging to the real world of "I" is more realistic, while the imaginary, visionary expression of supernatural is rather cartoonish. The character, by planting a tree in a suburban desert, accomplishes a stubborn act of heroism, powered by the feeling that the whole spirit of Nature is acclaiming behind him.
Though I became a bit dissatisfied by the lack of smoothness and density of acrylic paint ( compared to oils ), I had pleasure painting this, plus I seemed to manage the tight schedule okay. At the end of the next day, the jury gave their vote and oh, how cool was that, I got the first prize! I got a 1200 € paycheck which at the same time disqualified me for all upcoming "Arting Spirit" challenges. Instead I'll be a member of the jury for the next event in Switzerland, in April for Polymanga.
Apart from that very happy ending, it was a pleasure, just as always, to exhibit my works, sell prints, share a stand with my beloved Zélie Oiseau, and meet up with all the artists, my buddies Santiago and the craziest of all Meko, new encounters like Kara who was VIP signing his last comics, Cyril Nouvel my kind stand neighbor, Matthieu Moreau who got the second prize, Sitron right in front who offered me this adorable print, my talented right neighbor Senri and of course David and Sarah from Switzerland. Hope to meet you all soon guys !
Back from my first time in Japan Expo Paris, I must admit it's been a frantic adventure, although I can't say that I found time to actually explore the convention hall.
We decide to share a stand with Zélie. Those stands are rather expensive, so it was good to split the price in two, but it was mostly the occasion to built a little universe of our own. I was exhibiting a few original paintings and selling prints of my work, while she was showcasing her handmade jewelry and goodies.
We are not specialized in the japanese culture at all, but we had seen at Polymanga that our works could fit in. Zélie had made a series of cute kawaii dolls that made a nice link between our creative universe and the theme of the convention.
To speak about the logistics, it's been rather crazy. We came all the way from Bordeaux by car, which is a 7 hours drive, carrying an immense, heavy case on the roof that I had build for the occasion. The case was meant to host my precious canvases. The day of the departure, we found out that it had rained a lot that night, and that my ( thankfully empty !) box readied on the roof rack had a one inch-deep water reserve in it... I had to sink it and rush to the nearest DIY store to buy whatever necessary to make it rainproof. We took off with a 6 hour delay. By the way, it rained all drive long on our way to Paris. Ouch..
Those four days at the convention went by at the speed of sound. We had wonderful moments, met a lot of people and several friends there. Sells went rather well, we managed to reimburse the price of the stand and, roughly, our travel expenses. No benefit at all, but load of fun! After several nights with so little sleep, and the rush of packing everything up, we left for Bordeaux on sunday evening. We had barely reach the southern suburbs of Paris that we fell asleep on a highway parking, inside the car in very uncomfortable position, and woke up only next morning.
Exhausted, but happy ! Not sure we would do it again, but we will surely give the Japan Expo Belgium a try next November !
Le salon était très grand, tout un bâtiment du hall d'expo Nantes, rempli d'animation en tout genre autour du jeu. J'avoue que je n'ai pas trop eu le temps de visiter, je suis rester dans mon coin au milieu des copains dessinateurs, au fond à droite.
Cette fois-ci, j'ai préparé rapidement de quoi décorer un peu mon stand. Quelques cartes et affiches à vendre, et pour exposer le seul tableau de taille assez modeste pour être transportable.
Même si les visiteurs ne venaient pas trop pour ça, j'ai vendu quelques cartes, rien de mirobolant mais ça faisait plaisir! ( Bon, ensuite, la nuit du samedi, je me suis fait voler ma maigre recette ainsi que mon fond de caisse.. donc largement déficitaire sur ce coup...) Vraiment, que d'expériences !
Le concours Arting Spirit nous a délivré son sujet le vendredi en début d'après-midi: "Fun". Disons que cela ne m'a pas trop inspiré au départ, et j'ai gribouillé pendant deux heures avant de me convaincre tant bien que mal de partir sur quelque chose, car le temps pressait.
Pour moi, le "fun" c'était un sentiment de joie immédiate et primaire à l'égard d'une action inutile mais qui nous fait nous sentir vivant. J'ai voulu illustrer cela à l'aide de mes codes et symboles personnels et antinomiques.
Au terme de cette réflexion douteuse, je me suis décidé à dessiner un homme de pierre qui se lance d'une falaise en un élan absurde et bienheureux. La pierre, symbole d'immuable de lenteur et d'intemporalité, s'oppose à l'immédiateté de l'action. Le personnage est saisi dans un instantané de joie béate, mais prend un air pathétique dès que l'on observe son bricolage de pacotille et que l'on songe à son devenir fatal. Il commence déjà à se démantibuler, d'ailleurs. Son front décalotté est là pour signifier que, euh.. que voler, ça décoiffe. Voilà.
Résultat pas fameux pour ce qui est du classement ( 6ème ), cela a tenu à une interprétation trop bizarre du sujet. Je suis malgré tout content d'avoir réussi à terminer cette toile avec un niveau de détail convenable. La surface n'était pas très grande ( 50cm x 50cm ) mais le temps était également très limité ( 12h, sur deux jours ).
J'ai monté une base acrylique en plaçant les blocs principaux de couleurs, puis suis monté par-dessus à l'huile.
Mais plus généralement, le salon fut un excellent moment, à baigner dans les éléments que j'adore, avec de belles rencontres et de grands moments de fête.
A refaire absolument !
Qelques photos ici.
It took a little while to finally tell a bit about what was my very first comics convention as an artist. This journey to Switzerland has been the most frantic ever, 4 days packed with traveling, painting, drawing, meeting people, sleep deprivation and cosplay overdose.
Although I had no idea how on earth my type of work would fit a Japanese comics convention, when the director of Polymanga called for inviting me to participate in this new concept named "Arting Spirit", I was thrilled by the promise of a fun, yet endangering experience. I must admit that when the day arrived, the prospective of waking up at 4, followed by a 3 hour train ride to Paris then a 9-hour trip to Lausanne suddenly pondered the enthusiasm. However I quickly found that the Polybus filled with comics artists and art fellows was all I needed to deepen into the drawing ambiance in a flash!
Tenth of new awesome encounters later, we shared the youth hostel room with Lorenzo and Flonum, two out of the thirty participants that would be in the starting blocks for the Arting competition on that early Saturday morning.
Each of us was given a easel, a 100x100 cm canvas, two days and a subject that left everyone puzzled in the first place: "3D". Just the sound of it, in French : "troidé". It could be the third dimension. It could be three dices. It could be anything. I put down the mind game on paper, and a few scribbles later I settled with the idea of three characters _ actually three variants of the same_ which would be allegories of the words "Défi, Désir, Délit" (literally: Defier, Desire, Delict). I would also give a simpler entry point by having my composition sit onto three stone cubes _ the dices.
Then the race had to start. I attacked the sketch directly with paint, a diluted ocre tint. It was my first time with acrylics. Those color tubes were fresh from the shop, I had no idea how it was going to be like to brush with this fast-drying paste. I really had little choice but using them to grow my underpaint, but frankly, what a relief when the second day I could switch to oils! Such a pleasure in those smooth gestures, in the paint that never falls dry, that can be thinned forever.
( you can click on the images above to watch pictures)
The challenge ended up at 11pm the second day. It was for me the climax of a trance that had risen up in intensity from the last four hours. On the microphone, David Heim announced that the countdown was over, but that they were offering some extra time... of one minute ;) I can tell i used this minute to the maximum. They had one person of the staff next to each artist to make sure he wouldn't add a single stroke after the bell had rung. Harsh! There I was staring at the result, bound to admit that I would have to be satisfied with its level of completion, and realized that one actual stroke was missing for my storyline to get consistency... there at the distance of my arm... but they wouldn't allow me to add this fallen dress strap on my character Désir's shoulder. ( No one complained about it, obviously, but when I'm asked often when do I decide that a painting is over, this is the kind of small detail that has its underlying importance in my verdict. )
Below is the dedication that the VIP guest Stephen Silver drew inside the copy of his copy of his Sketchbook. I have been sitting next to him for those three days, and besides witnessing the immensity of his skills with character design and live caricature, i've been spoiled by the man, with tenth of goodies and food and drinks :)
Stephen is famous for his work as a character designer, and was all the time surrounded with hundreds of admirers who were fans of his series Kim Possible. I must thank him for he told me at one point “you have six hours left” with a teasing smile, while I was getting carried away in detailing the face of my left character with a tiny brush, making me realize that the tough part of the race had to start. It's only at the end of the third day, when they gather the painters on stage that I understood that Stephen was actually member of the jury! ( if I had known, I would have been the one spoiling ;) )
So yes, I was really happy to make it to the second place with my painting. Romain Lardanchet, whose piece was also my personal favorite, a very efficient, frontal, black and white robotic composition mixing painting and sculpture, won the 1500€ prize. I won a 500€ prize, and Valérie Rallière the 300€ prize with a fresh, ethereal scene populated with stereoscopic aquatic species.
I was very happy of the results, but I was just a minuscule 0.15 point away from Romain, which made me wonder were that little extra thing lacked. Finitions, I would say, because my piece wasn't as polished as his, and also a more modern approach in terms of style, which was a bit too fantasy-like in my opinion.
Overall, it appeared that the artists who were the most distant from anime style, and who were familiar with a larger range of media fared better with the challenge. Most participants were perfectly trained comic artists on one hand, but in the other hand, they were mostly new to bigger surfaces and unfamiliar with brushes and paint. Moreover, many of the artists had to take care of their stand in parallel, and kept working on dedicating their books or doing commissioned portraits in the meantime! While I had no stand at all :/
Trying out dedicaces
I was such a newbie to this kind of convention that I didn't bring anything to sell or sign, not even some postcards or posters. After the first day,I had the iPad and compiled a slideshow of my works. It was still better than nothing on my desk. I was surprised that several visitors or artists knew my paintings from deviantART ! Most who were familiar with the website had seen Home and Fairies somewhere ( .. for it is, at the time writing, the 4th ranked deviation of the site, weee! ).
It was really nice to discover that I wasn't such a complete stranger in a manga festival !
So I had a flattering welcome from some visitors, which made me doubly happy to try making drawings for them. To those who brought me something to draw on, I tried making something out of my dusty skill. I dedicated paper sheets, pages of notebooks, costumes, bare limbs, or these super cardboards for calligraphy with golden frame, that I lousily used on the wrong side, oOps.
I don't have pictures of those drawings that I did for people. Only this one below, of Milena who stood still for chatting in front of my stand:
I'm sorry that apart from her eyes, I quite failed in rendering the face, because she was either smiling or filling up all the blanks of the conversation, and I had no idea how to capture this moving mouth so I rendered it rather inexpressive, which was at the opposite of the moments I shared with her and her brother.
I must say that after the last day, Monday, I was really exhausted, after only 2 hours of sleep the past night and another stressing day. The reason why I was still standing is because I was high on Red Bull ( they were sponsors of the event, I drunk like 800 of them in 3 days). And we had to go back to Paris by bus, driving overnight. You can't really sleep in a bus...
For some reason they had advanced the departure of 2 hours, so we arrived in Paris at 5 AM and I had to wait for my train to Bordeaux for 5 more hours, an insanely long time when you're exhausted. The girls from the fanzine Darjeeling Clockwork, Océane and Cécilia, kindly waited with me around a café near Gare de Lyon.
The final piece of travel, 3-hour long ride by train, was a bit confused. It was really hot, I ate a bit, drew a weird surreal scene inspired by the conversation with the very old french-speaking american-born protestant nun seating next to me and blurred by sleep deprivation. Then I fell into a disturbed sleep on my 1st class seat.
Finally, I was proud I made it to Polymanga. It was such a rich experience. Plus I'm not getting this old after all.
Here we are at the end of a long period of absence from the surface of the internet _ worse: from the world of arts_ although by searching thoroughly there could be some remnants of ancient craftsmanship that could get dug out in order to feed this abandoned blog.
If web pages would get covered by ivy, invaded by weeds, and conquered by lizards and crickets, then we would enjoy to forget them on purpose for a few months, so that they lose a part of their digital coldness.
To begin with the repopulating, we have to rewind back to July ( I will move this article to this date to avoid those blank months when browsing my journal! ). Claire and I had managed to block two weeks in a row to go backpacking around the greek islands. Among my spare belongings I was carrying a postcard-sized watercolor paper bloc, as well as a tube of ochre and another of black.
The first postcard is a view of Sifnos island ( Σίφνος _ just for the pride of showing my awesome knowledge in spelling Greek ). The old fashioned color scheme that I've chosen allow to stay in the continuity of some postcard drawings I did before, but it certainly doesn't translate the mood of the Cycladic Island which are thoroughly blue and white. Our room in the minuscule village Kastro had a bird's eye view of the amazing sea far below. Those dwellings on the postcard were on our left side facing the horizon.
On the second postcard, we have some stones remnants lying in the shadow of a tree on the Asklepieion site, on the Kos island. It was sightly away from the impressive place were Hippocrates took his famous oath. The air was really hot and dry, and the midday sun was casting the brightest light all over the place. Under this ancient tree was a haven.
Here somebody caught me while drawing :)
Below is a view of a temple and byzantine church in Lindos, on Rhodes island. There again, a magical place, were one feels privileged, a pencil in his hand, to be able to witness from above both the bluest sea and two centuries of history. ( I didn't take the time to color this drawing yet )
The last one is our backpacks; I painted them on the ferryboat deck ( the place where you get thoroughly covered with oil). I didn't always have enough time to complete the postcards on the sites, so I used the often very long boat transits to continue with the inking and the coloring.
I also made a few other watercolors there, but nothing worth being shown actually.
Below is a last one that has nothing to do with Greece. This is a view of Bordeaux, its most famous square the "Place de la Bourse", when one looks up. The reason why I didn't finish it is that they turned off my model's lighting at 1AM. I guess I will have to go back to it someday.
... That's it, we're done ! :)
I have been invited to exhibit my work for the first time, in a gallery in Bordeaux. Its owner, Daniel Boulogne, is a remarkable man who has supported artists in various and amazing ways during his life, and I was honored that he accepted to lend me his walls for a month.
The space is small but wide enough to contain 7 of my canvas. I had them framed for the occasion, so that they look cute for their first night out ! In particular, the exhibition will showcase "Tears of joy in the garden of giants", a painting started in 2005 and that I finished only a couple weeks ago.
Lucky french-speaking persons could have a look at the wonderful press release that my friend Leila Joucla (who is a Doctor of Arts) wrote :
Press release - exhibition Zancan - 28.01.10 - 02.03.10
Though most unlikely to happen I'd be thrilled to meet one of the foreigners at the inauguration, that will be held on Thursday, January 28th at Galerie 22 Rive Gauche in Bordeaux, France !
Mon trait est assez imprécis car j'ai eu peu de temps. ( Un dessin architectural de cette complexité demanderait beaucoup plus d'application!). De plus je me recroquevillais sur moi-même pour conserver le peu qu'il me restait de mon capital chaleur. Quand je vois la peine que c'est de chauffer notre local de deux mètres carrés, alors que l'on grelotte dans une église de 12 milliards de mètres cubes en plein hiver je ne leur en veux pas trop ( mode exagération à la marseillaise activé )
L'organiste, une jeune femme venue d'Australie du nom de Sarah Kim, nous a servi plusieurs pièces baroques de toute beauté. C'était vraiment un plaisir que de dessiner sous les vibrations de cette musique.
Après le concert, nous avons eu la chance d'être invités à monter sur le balcon et admirer l'orgue de près. Un organiste nous a fait une démonstration de l'instrument. Le son des graves ( des tuyaux de cinq mètres de haut!) faisant trembler votre poitrine juste là, et cette vue plongeante sur la nef ... fascinant.