"I Live, therefore, I Evolve" with Fabienne Monestier

December 10, 2018

Fabienne Monestier is a professional artist from France. She is graduate in Fine Art and studied experimental cinema and engraving at the "Institut d'Arts Visuels" of Orléans, France. Fabienne began painting professionally in 1994.

She mainly paints from her imagination, because she truly enjoys the freedom of evocation. Her main artistic output is in figurative, abstract, impressionism or photo-realism art. Fabienne is driven by inner desire to create images! All her artworks are original pieces, paintings and drawings, direct from her studio in Touraine, in the Loire Valley, France. She is also a lyrical mezzo singer in a professional choir from Opera of Tours, France.

"Approach of Love", Fabienne Monestier, Acrylic on Canvas, 40cm, 2018


What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?

Honestly: nothing. I have always been creative, painter, drawer, writer, musician ... it's like that. It's a natural gift. Like mathematics or literature. We have it or not. It can not be learned. You can learn techniques, but you can't learn to be an artist.

How would you describe your own personal style?

Currently, I am driven by a desire for gesture, artistic writing, but always in reference with an identifiable subject. I do not have a single style in my work. My artistic expression is eclectic. I work by periods. I painted hyper-realistic nudes, refined abstract skies. Now, I have a more spontaneous, more gestural expression. I try to leave my hand free. In order not to lock myself into the subject, my work base is pareidolia: the subject emerges from random forms.

"The Emerald Forest", Fabienne Monestier, Oil on Stretched Canvas, 2016


What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?

My painting is the expression of my thought, of my being. So, even if globally it's always me, there are inevitably changes due to the maturation of the being. Life is movement, life is not static. I live, therefore, I evolve. As I work by big periods, I can not know where it will take me ... Maybe in a geometric painting? Perhaps in total abstraction - you can never say never.

What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?

Spontaneity. Personality. Painting like a child who delights in drawing lines in the sand. Pleasure of the gesture. And, I admit: beauty. Doing something that makes my eyes happy. I was told that I was doing joyous paintings. A nice compliment.

Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, maybe even other artists?

After high school, I did not know which job to orient myself towards, I had no idea. I come from the working class, modest and simple. I had to make a living. I started working in a store, as a cashier. But, after a few months, I got sick, I was hospitalized. The doctors did not understand what I had. They called it, at the time, "spasmophilia", a catch-all word for physical diseases due to the difficulty of living. My high school friends opened my eyes. They came to see me at the hospital and told me, "You should attend art school." I thank them again! I sincerely believe that they saved me ...

"In The Garden", Fabienne Monestier, Oil on Stretched Canvas, 2017 


When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?

I quickly understood the technical characteristics of the pigments: transparency, opacity. I hate muddy mixes. I learned a lot from watercolor technique. Currently, I paint in acrylic because I need the paint dries quickly. When I paint with oil, I use a siccative medium to work fast. I need mediums drying quickly because I am in the spontaneity of the gesture and the spirit. I do not want to give my brain time to think. I want to let the instinct speak, to have real free gestures. Oh, and I've abandoned the precious and expensive tools and brushes for artists. I have found my favorite ones in a DIY store !!! Flat large brushes, not complicated, with the good size for me, perfect for my technique!

When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?

For my floral abstract series, the colours motivate me. Light is also omnipresent in my paintings. The pretext for making flowers is a desire for colour, a desire for orderly disorder as Nature is.

Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?

I do not foresee anything, no preparatory drawing, nothing. I just have a vague desire for colour (which may change along the way), a desire to paint, something very instinctive ... Currently, I start all my paintings with light scribbles with watercolour crayons . Above, I literally throw inks or very diluted and transparent colours on the canvas. I admit that I am very afraid of "the blank page"! By letting the chance happen with scribbles and splashing, the canvas becomes like my garden that I will be able to tame. I will gradually put order, my order, while trying to remain spontaneous. As a French artist, I love "English gardens" !

"Clouds - Landscape #11", Fabienne Monestier, Oil on Panel, 2017


Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is a more a case of when the moment is right you work?

I work by periods. I can stay days without wanting to paint. I happened to stay for years without wanting to paint. And then, one day, the need is back, violent, irrepressible. I learned that you should never feel guilty for doing nothing, or not wanting to do. I learned that, even when you do not paint, the brain continues to work in the background, like software on a computer ... And when you return to work, solutions are found, ideas are cleared. I learned that we had to let go ...

When you work, do you focus on one piece at a time until completion or are you working on multiple pieces at the same time?

I'm working on one piece. But I begin several pieces. I realized that I can only devote my attention to one. Otherwise, the other is missed ...

How has your art evolved to be where it is today?

Working. Leaving to settle. Respecting my envy or my non-envy. To know the history of art. To go to the museum. Watching contemporary painters. Always have the eye of the painter awake. Even if I do not paint, I am constantly a "painter" in my head. It is a vital, organic need. It's beyond the will.

"Ocean", Fabienne Monestier, Acrylic on Paper, 70cm x 70cm, 2015


Which of your artworks are you most proud off?

Those who are the most spontaneous, with transparencies. Those where I created a space. Those whose composition is beautiful. One day, a buyer told me that the painting he had just received had a "mystical flavour", thanks to the light it "emitted". All is said.

Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?

Oh ! They are so many !!! I admire the tonalists ! I love the contemporary new figurative painting ! And I admire the Hudson River School ! And abstract painters too !

If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?

I would have liked to be a disciple of Caravaggio. Or live in the time of the Impressionists.

What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?

To make art indispensable, in our tormented world. Art is the light side of humanity.

"Clouds - Landscape #19", Fabienne Monestier, Oil on Panel, 2017


What advice would you give to a young aspiring artist currently studying art?

Be humble, even if we love what we do. Beware of satisfaction, it prevents progress. Always look for your own personality. One can copy to work, but one must always develop one's own personality. It's the hardest. Once, I was told "This painting looks like this artist", so I immediately abandoned the pictorial path I was about to follow. I had not made the connection with the artist whose work I knew yet.

Despite having developed your own distinctive style, is there another style of art that you are immediately drawn towards and admire? Why?

Photo-realism ! I love "hyper-realistic" painting (as we say in french). I've already done photo-realistic nudes. Now, I practice this kind of style as exercises. For instance: small photo-realistic drawings made with coloured pencils from my photos. This practice allow me to be quiet. Meditative. Just concentrate on the colours and values given by the photography. No need to search for a composition. Neither a style: the personal style disappears in this kind of work. Very relaxing for me.

We have all heard of the unfinished masterpiece, even Da Vinci laboured away at the Mona Lisa for years and years, have you works that are in a continual process of evolution? When working on an artwork do you find it hard to let go? Knowing when enough is enough?

These are two different things. When a painting has nothing more to say to me, I know it's finished. On the other hand, sometimes I do not know what to do with a painting. So, I let her rest, sometimes for years. And, so far, I have not been disappointed to have taken these pieces "forgotten". They needed time, my mind was not ready, did not yet have the ability to give them their true appearance.

" Roses - Baroque Floral", Fabienne Monestier,  Acrylic on Canvas,  2018


Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?

I would not be able to carry a message. (Although I did it a long time ago, with a series called "Asylum(s) Right(s)"). Everyone has its own personality. So, I express my creative nature. But I know it's not in vain. I bring happiness to my buyers.

What are you working on at the moment?

Floral abstracts and landscapes, and mysterious woodlands and small abstracts pieces... That's all, folks !:-)

"Memories of Secret", Fabienne Monestier, Acrylic on Circular Canvas, 2018


Have you ever been part of an artistic group / movement? How did your work benefit from that experience?

Never ! I am a lonely bear!

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