Artist Spotlight: Christine Peloquin May 02 2020

Describe one of your earliest experiences with art and what led you to become an artist?

My mom told me that when I was three years old, I proclaimed I was going to be an artist. She noticed I was interested in activities that differed from other kids my age, such as drawing a floor plan of our house at 4 years old. My earliest memories are of drawing.  I remember being captivated by a book I was given on how to draw animals. I went through and drew every single animal in the book. When I started school, my passion for art took off and I enthusiastically dove in to every art project and took every art class I could.

What other artists have had a strong influence on your style or art practice and why?

Taking AP Art History in the 11th grade changed my life and sparked an enduring interest in art movements as a reflection of society. I cannot pick a single artist or movement that is my favorite. I love Chuck Close’s use of color and pixelation as much as I love Caravaggio’s dark drawings. I also appreciate how Georgia O’Keeffe and Frida Kahlo pushed against the art movements and conventions of their time to create work that moved them. Of course, I am drawn to figurative painters, as well.  I am inspired by the realistic skin tones of William Bouguereau’s subjects, Ali Cavanaugh’s expressive watercolors of her children, and the use of color in Xenia Hausner’s narrative paintings. I am also influenced by the bold, fun abstract paintings of Jane Davies, Lance Letscher’s collages, and Andy Goldsworthy’s sculptures that depict his reverence for the outdoors and touch on ideas relating to nature’s impermanence. I also love collecting art and have work by many of the artists represented Arts on Douglas and McRae Art Studios, where I work. 

Image Above: Christine Peloquin in front of work by Chuck Close on view at the MET. 

Would you elaborate on your process and some of the diverse materials that make up your mixed-media pieces?

My work typically begins by collaging fabrics and papers onto the support. I enjoy making monoprints with gel printing plates and incorporating these prints into the collages.  Then, I draw my subject over the collage with charcoal and paint on top of the drawing with transparent acrylic glazes.  My intuition is my guide. I surrender to my love of color, shape, pattern, and abstraction. 
What are some common themes that you explore in your work and how has that changed over time?

Faces and the female figure are regularly occurring themes in my work. Early in my career, I created thick paintings on burlap bags with a palette knife.  As my selection of fabrics became more refined so did my drawings.  I am currently experimenting with new techniques and materials, such as encaustic wax and watercolor on paper or clay board. Found objects such as puzzle pieces, game boards, and signage are also showing up more frequently in my work, which directly influences how I draw on the surface.
“Happy accidents” are common occurrences in the art world.  Can you describe an experience where something did not turn out as expected, but eventually led you to a new idea or process?

Happy accidents are my goal! They are the rainbow after a storm. I like to think of myself as a faucet from which art and creativity flow. Happy accidents occur in art when embracing this flow. Letting go of expectations and trusting the process is essential. Creating an environment in your mind that allows for new ideas and processes is central to an artist’s practice. It is okay when something does not work out. The important thing is that you were trying something new. The key is to learn from this mistake and keep working. A breakthrough could be just around the corner.
Pick one of your pieces at Arts on Douglas to discuss. What makes it different than some of your other work?
Recently I have been exploring what I call ‘windows’ as a compositional element in my collages. Each ‘window’ is a space that can have a unique perspective or section of my subject. The painting at the gallery titled Slivers of Recognition is an example of this but it was the first time I used repetition to create multiple windows of varying sizes. This was the result of a ‘happy accident.’ After placing the first ‘window’, the piece was compositionally out of balance, so I added a second. It was still not right, so I added the third sliver. Recognizing that this third sliver solved this compositional problem led to the title for this piece.

Slivers of Recognition, acrylics and charcoal over fabric and paper collage, 24 x 24 inches

In addition to making art, you also teach workshops. Do you find that teaching and interacting with your students has had an impact on your own work?

Yes, teaching and interacting with students has impacted my work. At first, I was hesitant to share the process that I developed. I was afraid my students' work would resemble mine. What I learned, however, is that with this process, no one's work will look like mine. Teaching encourages me to continue to push and reinvent myself as an artist, allowing me to grow as I continue to try new things.
What advice do you have for emerging artists?

My advice would be to take as many classes as you can, as I did in my youth. Learn from these experiences and continue to explore the processes and techniques that pique your interest. Finding your own voice is a journey and involves taking in all things that bring you joy and combining them to create something that is uniquely yours.
You recently wrote and illustrated a children’s book. What were some challenges and benefits of working in a new format?

I self-published a book titled If You Could Tell Time, What Would You Tell It? I wrote it about 10 years ago when my kids were young.  At the time, I was not sure what medium I would use to illustrate it.  Recently, I started working with watercolors again and I decided to use this medium with my mixed media paintings to create the illustrations. This project was a challenge because it was a first for me. The paintings were a total joy to create because my kids are two of my absolute favorite subjects!



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