Elaine Despins, studio visit report from Montreal

Paula came from Vancouver to attend her high school reunion here in Montreal (Pointe-Claire). I can’t precisely recall when the Figurative Artists site came up but it was early on that Paula invited me to be part of this great site. I was happy that soon I would finally get to meet her!

Elaine Despins

Paula arrived at my studio and immediately engaged in her eager and spontaneous spirit with her note book in hand and looking at all the work that was up on the wall. This meeting couldn’t have been timed better. I was actually getting ready for my annual studio sale on the coming weekend. I had cleaned up, painted the walls and hung up all the paintings in their various formats. During the afternoon, Paula asked me several questions, wrote down some notes, took some pictures and we shared on various art related topics. Two days later, to my surprise, I received Paula’s blog link comprising of an informative text accompanied with a series of beautiful pictures of the studio. That was fast! I put up the link on Face Book and also emailed it to a few of my friends. That was a mega help for the success of the studio sale.

During our conversation, I expressed my desire to explore a new series on the theme of the nocturnes. When I underwent my Masters, I did a series of videos where my approach was more related to the qualities of stillness and silence embodied in the tradition of paintings than seen in the regular story based video world. Because I wanted to take a step back from our common experienced daily reality (like I tend to do in my paintings also), while shooting, I relied upon the night vision mode to transpose what was perceived. This function, gave a very greenish tint to all the videos. I found these video stills ranging from a greenish black to light green, quite compelling.

Recently, I was looking at the works of James McNeill Whistler and Frederic Remington. Both worked with this theme of nocturnes in their own unique ways. Although I’m not a big fan of Americana themes, I find the moonlit outdoor scenes in Remington’s painting utterly, amazingly striking. He is real master at this. I am leaving this week to do some oil studies from his paintings at the Frederic Remington museum in Ogdensburg, NY. On the other hand besides the beautiful evocative qualities of Whistler’s paintings, I find Whistler’s process to be quite inspiring. He would create this series of nocturnes from memory. In this process, Whistler explored different ways such jotting down on a small piece of paper a few key words, or turned away, he would attempt to recount a thorough description to his friend standing beside him, or sometimes a very primitive diagram to guide him to reconnect with the scene while back in his studio.

This is part of the process in which I will be engaging in with this future Nocturne’s series. I realize that it is a considerable shift from my previous work. This new approach will be calling upon a process of a greatly simplified composition and limited range of colors in an attempt to convey the effect of the perceived atmosphere in an intimate way more than trying to depict it in an almost photographic fashion.

Thank you for your supportive and inspirational work in creating such a rich connection between a multitude of figurative artists with various practices. I am also delighted to say that it was through the FigurativeArtist.org site that a Chicago art collector discovered my work in Montreal and consequently was inspired to acquire one of my paintings, seen above.
Elaine Despins

Read about Paula’s visit to Elaine’s studio here

Elaine sent this photo of herself set up in study mode at the Remington Museum. Good luck, Elaine. We’ll watch as your new journey unfolds…