ART IN A FEMININE PERS­PEC­TIVE /

Gail Des­coeurs

Magazin'Art - - Summary - Noel Meyer

There are so ma­ny dif­ferent ways to des­cribe Gail Des­coeurs that it is dif­fi­cult to know where to be­gin. De­ter­mi­ned and dis­ci­pli­ned fit the bill as does the see­min­gly contra­dic­to­ry cou­pling of mys­ti­cal and spri­te­ly.

Des­coeurs works in the field of contemporary realism. Her pain­tings are al­most all land­scapes and a fair num­ber of them fea­ture wa­ter and im­pres­sive skies. "My fa­vo­rite things to paint are skies, trees, land­scapes, marshes, wide open spaces, wa­ter. I love the light, even in my dark pain­tings there is some light."

A good example of this is Brea­thing the in Bet­ween, a 30 x 40 work that leads you down a lake and then up into the moun­tains. On each side of the lake there are tree co­ve­red hills which rise in the centre at the end of the lake to be­come moun­tai­nous.

In the fo­re­ground the tree co­ve­red hills are re­flec­ted on­to the lake. There is a clear cen­ter stripe running down the lake which then moves up­ward to be­come trans­lucent clouds. It's al­most as if we are loo­king at a se­ries of Vs going down the lake, a V for­med by the flanks of the hills and then ano­ther V for­med by white clouds ri­sing up set off by dar­ker gol­den clouds on each side. In rea­ding the pain­ting the vie­wer takes an up­wards or spi­ri­tual path, com­mu­ning with na­ture.

Gail Des­coeurs was born in 1962 and grew up in the Mon­treal sub­urb of Pin­court on Ile Per­rot. "We li­ved at the end of Pin­court be­fore it was de­ve­lo­ped, sur­roun­ded by woods and the woods were my fa­vo­rite place to be and they still are."

"I grew up in na­ture. I fell in love with dra­wing and pain­ting when I was ve­ry young and that crea­tive pro­cess has brought me a lot of joy. I'd look at land­scapes and ap­pre­ciate them and think to my­self I'd love to do that and I star­ted and it just be­came who I am."

Des­coeurs is lar­ge­ly self-taught. Her fa­ther was a Sun­day ar­tist and she star­ted by going sket­ching with him. When she was 17 she used his kit to start her first oil pain­ting. She tried wa­ter­co­lours but didn't like the un­pre­dic­table na­ture of the me­dium. For quite some time she has wor­ked ex­clu­si­ve­ly in oils. "I love oil for the lu­mi­no­si­ty, the tex­ture, I love how they blend."

Like ma­ny ano­ther pain­ter Des­coeurs had to bide her time be­fore de­vo­ting her­self to it full­time. For 22 years she wor­ked as a me­cha­ni­cal drafts­man but all the time she was al­so wor­king on her art, ex­hi­bi­ting and joi­ning ar­tists' groups. In 2002 she be­gan tea­ching be­cause people would ap­proach her at ex­hi­bi­tions and ask her to teach them how to paint. By 2006 she was able to de­vote her­self to a com­bi­na­tion of tea­ching and pain­ting.

At the mo­ment she is tea­ching four classes and spen­ding about 30 hours a week pain­ting. She star­ted tea­ching by dri­ving to her stu­dents' homes. Now she teaches in the ba­se­ment stu­dio of her home on the banks of the Ot­ta­wa Ri­ver, out­side of Hud­son Que­bec.

"I'm hap­py if I can get two to three good pain­tings done in a month, de­pen­ding on the size. I paint ve­ry fine in thin layers. I'm so­mew­hat of a per­fec­tio­nist as well. I want the pain­tings I do to be unique and spe­cial. I don't want to be­come re­pe­ti­tive and I don't want to be dic­ta­ted as to what I paint."

There is so­me­thing ve­ry tra­di­tio­nal about some of Des­coeurs' land­scapes and that can be seen in Brea­thing the in Bet­ween, where pers­pec­tive seems to be so­mew­hat flat­te­ned and the forms are sim­pli­fied. At the same time, in some of her work, there is al­most a touch of ma­gic realism as in Come Away, 10 x 20, and Sym­pho­ny of Light, 30 x 30.

Come Away is a won­der­ful piece and plays with the way we look at things. At first glance it is a lake pain­ting but real­ly it is more like two pain­tings in one. On the top there is a stan­dard view of lake, trees and sky and then there is the re­flec­ted world of trees and sky in the lake. Ho­we­ver, there is a thin band of wa­ter that se­pa­rates rea­li­ty from the re­flec­tion and this ef­fec­ti­ve­ly di­vides the pain­ting into two.

Sym­pho­ny of Light is an ho­mage to the splen­dour of fall fo­liage sho­wing a ma­gni­ficent ex­plo­sion of orange trees, once again some of the trees are mir­ro­red in a lake to great ef­fect.

Des­coeurs can see the Ot­ta­wa Ri­ver from her kitchen and says that she needs to be out­doors eve­ry day. She runs ma­ra­thons and when she needs a break will put on her running shoes and go for a spin, fre­quent­ly running on near­by Ri­gaud Mou­tain.

She mixes her own co­lours, "I'll sit there in my work­shop mixing co­lours and I will see what I am at­trac­ted to for the mood I'm in and then I will stick to that pa­lette for the pain­ting. I want to paint what I want to paint and so­me­times I don't know what I want to paint. I just start and it comes out. It takes on a life of its own."

"Be­cause I do a lot of land­scapes and wide open spaces I tend to work in a ho­ri­zon­tal for­mat. I find that now I'm ex­pan­ding the size be­cause the big­ger they are, the more I can get into them. I find that the big­ger they are the more people tend to stay in front of them and get lost in them."

Des­coeurs des­cribes her­self as being a stu­dio ar­tist as op­po­sed to plein air. Ho­we­ver, she al­so takes ad­van­tage of her out­doors time, "I do some sketches, take pho­tos. I do some rough little pain­tings."

She says that in the past her work was more rea­lis­tic, one of the re­sults of wor­king as a me­cha­ni­cal drafts­man. Her work is loo­ser now. "It took me a while to break away. I res­pect ar­tists who work in im­pres­sio­nism but that's not me, I can't paint like that"

The odds are that Des­coeurs will conti­nue to work in the field of contemporary realism. She has a wish list of places she would like to paint. "I love tra­vel­ling. I want to go back to Eu­rope, the Sa­gue­nay, New­found­land, Se­do­na, Ari­zo­na. I feel drawn to Ire­land. I'd like to see what would come out of me by going to those spe­cial places."

Gail Des­coeurs is a mem­ber of the La­ke­shore Ar­tists As­so­cia­tion and an As­so­ciate Mem­ber of the So­cie­ty of Ca­na­dian Ar­tists. She has won nu­me­rous first places in com­pe­ti­tions. Her work can al­so be seen on her web­site www.gail­des­coeurs.com. She is re­pre­sen­ted by Ga­le­rie Iris in Baie St. Paul and the West­mount Gal­le­ry in To­ron­to.

Earths Delight

Brea­thing the in Bet­ween, 30 x 40 in

Wind Be­neath My Wings, 48 x 60 in

Gentle Ways

Sym­pho­ny of Light, 30 x 30 in

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