François was exposed to the arts at a young age. He was first attracted to music and studied dance and improv movement for many years while also working in stained glass. Now a printmaker at BlueWave Studio in Nanaimo and the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery, his work explores movement, texture, mood and color through abstract shapes and plant material. He currently has three monoprints in our online exhibition, Lost Lines.
We asked François to tell us a little more about his journey as an artist.
I was born in Montreal, Qc. My father was a presentation designer (in those days they said, somewhat less glamorously, window dresser). I remember watching him draw and paint sale posters freehand and being amazed at the ease with which he could create beautiful numbers and letters. It was music that first attracted me, and I worked as a musician in my early 20’s.
In my late 20’s, a friend of mine taught me how to make stained glass, and soon I was coming up with my own designs for lamps and windows. I enrolled in the Glass Arts program at Le Centre des Métiers du Verre du Québec and studied the various ways of working with glass. Soon after completing the program, my partner and I moved to Vancouver where I found work in a glass studio. I also took several classes at the West Point Grey Pottery Studio. It was a great spot to get exposed to various styles of pottery, as the club members came from all over the world.
In the late 2000s, my interest in printmaking developed. I loved the immediacy of the medium compared to all the planning that had to go into glass work. In 2011 I took a linocut and a monotype workshop with Anne Jones in Nanaimo and I was smitten. I started going to her open studio regularly. Anne and Dorothy Friesen at the printmaking studio at the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery have been enthusiastic guides in my development since then.
What I love about monotype printmaking is the spontaneity of the medium. It gives me the same freedom I enjoyed in improvised dance and music. And somehow (perhaps not surprisingly), the fascination for pattern and rhythm I pursued in music comes through in the prints that I make. In my earlier print work, I used abstract shapes that were superimposed to create patterns and rhythms. I would often try to build the image as a whole on the plate and print it in one go .
Often, what printmakers call the 'ghost' (the residual ink and pattern left on the plate after the print has been pulled), can provide the background for another print, by adding more material on the plate and running it through the press again.
For the past few years I have used plant materials gathered in the garden or near the studio in the same way. I love decaying or skeletal leaves and stalks. They become abstract elements that express nature's vitality, its intricate processes, and the cycles of decay and renewal. While I feel a strong connection to the natural world, especially the plant world, I don't feel motivated to reproduce it as is. It's more about conveying energy than making a plant illustration.
I like to build layers on the same print by adding colours and patterns. I often work on several prints at once, moving back and forth, using the ghosts to either start a new print or add another layer to one already in progress. The piece Plenitude in the current online show is a collage of a few prints made that way.
As a result of the Covid pandemic and the closure of the studios I went to, I have set up my own work space at home. Since I don't yet have a press, I've been working with a pin press, which is like a metal pastry pin that you roll with your hands directly onto the plate. It has forced me to work in a different way. I have been using mulberry paper, which is very thin and absorbs ink fully without much pressure. I can also take advantage of this paper's translucency to print on both sides and play with the effects this creates. This is taking me in a new direction. The pieces titled Beacon in the Sky and The Meeting Point in the online show are examples of this process, as is the print below.
Please join us in our online gallery to view François work in our current exhibition Lost Lines HERE. Artwork can be purchased online. For more information on shipping costs etc. please visit https://www.ladysmitharts.ca/onlinegallery
View work by François of BlueWave Studio HERE