I am delighted to have Alain Voinot from France as my guest blogger this month. I featured one of his pieces back in March and have always been astounded how he uses black (or dark) paper as his support for landscapes.
A particular skill is needed to work on black. Yes, it shows up bright colours wonderfully, but what about light, subtle, or landscape colours? I’ve done a few experiments on black paper (you can see one here) but I found the experiences, so far, unsatisfying. Alain Voinot is a master at using black as his paper colour. The fact that he uses it for creating landscapes, often very green landscapes, is doubly impressive.
Do you know Alain Voinot’s work? Here’s a piece to get you started:
A Bit About Alain Voinot
After school, Alain Voinot traveled, particularly in India, moved by a desire for philosophical and artistic discovery. For several years, in France, he took courses in documentary drawing, in black and white, in the studio of a renowned engraver, Catherine Escudié, and at the Toulouse Academy of Drawing. For his move to colour, pastel was a natural choice, since pastel is both a drawing and a dry painting tool. For 10 years, he taught in various associations and institutions. Then he embarked on his career as an artist. He has received awards in Pastel Salons exhibitions. In 2014, he obtained the “Prix de la ville de Saint Aulaye for tonalities and colours” in an important pastel fair in France: Pastel in Perigord, ” juried by Michel Bordas, Master Pastelist. You can read more and see more of his work on his website.
And now I hand you over to Alain Voinot!!
Alain Voinot – Illuminating the landscape on black paper
I live in Toulouse, in the south of France. But it is not the city that inspires me; I prefer the countryside. I find my happiness 10 kilometers from Toulouse, in the Parc du Confluent. It is a natural place where the rivers Garonne and Ariège meet. In nature, it is the water that I like most to work on. It is expressed in a multitude of forms. It can be transparent, or opaque, or bathed in light.
In my artist’s career I found my style in pastel working on black paper. I like the strong contrasts, and the black allows me to bring out the light by the light/dark contrast. I use Canson Mi-Teintes paper most often, using the “smooth” side.
One of the characteristics of pastel is to integrate the colour of the support with the colours of the composition. For my part, I use black paper, which allows me to work colour and light directly, as opposed to using black.
In my opinion, there are two distinct phases in the elaboration of a pastel: the first is that of intuition. In other words, the essence of what one wants to “say” must be understood and grasped as quickly as possible. The second is that of finishing. One can use the black of the paper to create shadows subtlety. The difficulty is to find the right balance so as not to drown the paper under the colour and to keep both strong contrasts and light.
Here is a work done en plein air, which I photographed step-by-step.
Working on black paper has allowed me to understand the concept of contrast. I also work on light or dark paper. I use Pastelcard for this which allows very beautiful shading and a rendering comparable to oil painting. For the dark parts I begin by using – after the general placement of the colours – a black Rembrandt, very dense. Then I modulate with different dark colours. I have done many pastels on this paper.
An important idea, and I always pay attention to it during my work, is to use the colour of the paper. The colour of the paper is the base colour of the composition and all other colours are based on this base color. It is nice that it appears behind the pastel, it gives a “breathing” to the piece.
From the point of view of the style I am an Impressionists, but to be more precise, my style is ”realistic fantastic.” Of course one can only interpret and it is always what one “sees” and that one proposes: an interpretation. I think that the spirit of the artist will always try to approach the mystery and the beauty of the world and to restore at best what he/she “sees”. My gaze is realistic and poetic at the same time because it seems to me that poetry must ally itself with realism to reveal its depth, and realism without poetry is only coldness, lacking consistency and truth. It is the search for the synthesis of these two aspects that motivates me.
I started by working on the drawing, in black and white. And it is therefore in the greys that one can express the nuances and the subtleties. I genuinely understood colour when I realized that each colour corresponds to a certain degree of grey – a certain degree of light.
The subjects that inspire me most are simple from the point of view of composition, and complex from the point of view of light and textures. I like the notion of colour temperature, and I often prefer in my paintings hot colours or cool colours, according to my choice.
I often walk in nature, for the pleasure of walking, but also to find new subjects. Many pastellists know that during walks we see beautiful landscapes, but also, and especially future pastels. However, I am convinced that a beautiful landscape does not always produce a beautiful picture. Also I prefer scenes that are more intimate, even anecdotal to the broad landscapes – ”the postcard landscapes.”
Here is another step-by-step. Also note the second version of the painting.
My use of colour is very instinctive, linked to a direct emotion. As one of the dominant colours of a landscape is green, I wondered how to make the green colour interesting. Green is a colour reputedly difficult to work. It is a colour considered “ungrateful”. Yet I manage to give colours to the green, using variations of this colour: orange greens, grey greens, bluish greens … etc. Thus the greens preserve their identity, but with a more nuanced and warm aspect.
The artist never paints “reality”. Instead, the artist always proposes an interpretation that corresponds to his or her sensitivity and perceptions. If this ” something ” is grasped and then recognized by all, the painting is a winner!
Nature produces works of art in a natural way. So much so that the notion of “chance” is much more complex and subtle than a simple … chance. Nature is the source of inspiration bar none.
Thank you so much Alain, for sharing your process, ideas, and work with us!!
We would both love to hear from you!! Do you create landscapes on black paper? Or do you avoid ever using black paper? Are you surprised by what Alain Voinot is able to create using black paper? Please let us know by leaving a comment (‘reply’).
Have You Completed The Survey?
Have you filled out the HowToPastel survey I sent out last week? The deadline is midnight 23rd December. You’ll be helping me figure out what direction we need to take this pastel journey. To thank you for your time and effort, three paintings from the 31-in-31 challenge will go to three lucky winners!! So go on, do the survey!
Join Me In Croatia Next September!!
Just a wee reminder that I’ll be teaching a workshop in Croatia in Fall 2017. I’m sooooo excited about this! The area where we’ll be staying and painting is beautiful and with so much opportunity to paint – townscapes, landscapes, seascapes, as well as still lifes, flowers, and gardens. It’s gonna be FUN!! Click here to read more and sign up!!
Have tons of fun over the Holiday Season. May it be merry and bright, with dancing, singing, good food, and most of all, those you love.
Peace and Love to the world.
Until next time,