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What is Approachable Art all about?

Approachable Art (AA) was created in order to celebrate art in all its diverse manifestations – painting, photography, music, dance, etc.

The author of AA will not employ complicated art terms, present art as something elitist that is there to appreciate for a small group of art experts, or take on the task of educating her audience on art history, philosophy or other academic disciplines.

What I will do, though, is take you on a journey across artistic disciplines and styles of the works that I personally find interesting and inspiring. Or perhaps perplexing and puzzling. The aim of the journey? Getting to understand art better. The means of doing so? Getting to know artists through their own responses to the questions asked in each interview presented in a relevant category.

What you can expect of this blog is the following:

  • getting to know art through its creators, i.e. painters, composers, sculptors, dancers, etc, from all around the world;
  • learning about artists’ reservoirs of ideas, creative process, and its outcome, as well as about their lives with their ups and downs;
  • finding a source of inspiration to, perhaps, create something of your own?..

Approachable Art‘s aim is to demonstrate that art is something that can be enjoyed by everybody, anybody in fact. Once you embrace your curiousity to APPROACH art, you will see that you are ABLE to do so – just as I did 😉

Impromptu pigment and ink works of Sabine Cornic

Each of Sabine Cornic‘s works is one-of-a-kind, and, according to Sabine, even the artist herself could not reproduce her own creations in exactly the same manner. The latter seems to be a considerable downside of the technique employed by the artist, but is there more to it?

Sabine’s main artistic media are mineral pigments and ink, which she – in Pollock-like style – pours and drips on Japanese Kozo paper. Such execution, without doubt, leaves a lot of room for unpredictability, but it is also a wonderful demonstration of how an artistic spirit can convert chaos into an eloquently aesthetic object of art.

MOUNTAIN

Where do you get supplies for your work (paper, ink, pigment, etc.)? Do you have a favourite provider?

The Japanese paper I use is not that easy to get. I order it from a wholesale paper merchant in London and ask visiting friends to act as couriers. As for pigments, I buy them whenever I see some that spark an interest, but from time to time I indulge into a large order from a German pigment company which has hundreds and hundreds of different pigments (including really poisonous ones) for every purpose under the sun.

My dream is to visit this shop: Pigment

At what point can an amateur artist consider himself/ herself a professional one?

I honestly don’t know. Probably when you sell enough to pay the rent? (This criterion would exclude me…) 

Finished piece

Does the place of residency affect an artist’s painting style? Has there been any change in your style after you moved from London to Bordeaux?

Everything can affect an artist’s style, but it’s often subtle. I have been working on a few pieces inspired by the Base sous-marine, a place that fascinates me with its eerie beauty and troubled history. Bordeaux is a very stony city, and I am intrigued by the texture and colour of the traditional limestone, so let’s see what happens with that in the future.

In your “Heimat” (in English: “Motherland”) project you claim to question the concepts of nationality, home, and belonging. Given that you yourself have been living abroad, where do you feel you belong?

Heimat is a difficult thing. Accepting to be without one has been a painful process. Yes, you can yourself be cosmopolitan, but the fact remains that you give up something to gain that status. I had underestimated how much it would affect me, and moving to Bordeaux last year is still unsettling me. 

Artist’s workshop

When describing your working process, you use the adjective “accidental” – can you please clarify what exactly such working process represents?

Accidental means I have no idea what I’m doing. I am not flippant, though – it is really like that. I love the process of pouring and dribbling paint, pressing paper into stains of wet ink, making creases, pouring more paint…. and having no control over it. Well, not much anyway. The beginning is always chaotic, but then, after a few layers, I begin to see something emerging, and I keep working on that with more focus. Learning when to stop is still difficult, and I have ruined more pieces then I can count by overdoing. The process takes a lot of time, because I need to let the paper dry before working on another layer. It’s easier in summer, when my studio gets boiling hot. 🙂 

Drying

Who are some of the artists you are inspired by?

Lots and lots. A by no means finished list:

Anselm Kiefer (my all time ever favourite)
Gerhard Richter
Pierre Soulage
Antonie Tapies
Marc Rothko
Jackson Pollock
Cy Towmbly

Edgar Degar is often quoted as having said that “Painting is not very difficult when you don’t know how; but when you know, oh! then, it’s another matter.” What did the great French painter mean?

I think he meant that you get better with practise, but your mind is always faster than your ability, so it gets ever harder to live up to your own expectations. 

If you had to re-paint one of your works from memory, would you be able to recall all the details?

No chance. 

Detail

Interested in learning more about Sabine Cornic or getting in touch with her? Here is where you can find the artist:

Deborah La Caramelita’s flamenco journey around the world

Deborah La Caramelita‘s extended career of a professional flamenco dancer has made the woman find herself performing in front of most varied audiences all around the world. However diverse the languages her spectators speak might be, they all understand and appreciate the language of dance practised by Deborah.

Capable of conveying a wide range of emotions that seem to be part and parcel of the dance, La Caramelita makes one completely enchanted with her refined technique, flamboayant flamenco dresses and shawls, and heartfelt passion for what she does.

How did you first come up with your stage name – “La Caramelita”?

It was actually my husband who came up with the name. “La Caramelita” literally means “little caramel” and he thought that it described my physicality as well as my personality. It’s quite common for flamenco artists to have stage names and my real name, Deborah Dawson, doesn’t quite have the same Andalusian ring to it. 

Are you your own choreographer or do you have one?

It depends on the project. I have been asked to perform in dance companies where there is a choreographer who stages everything from start to finish, but most of the time I put my choreographies together. Flamenco is different from many other dance styles as there is a lot of improvisation involved. I may choreograph one thing and then do something quite different when on stage. Also, there are a lot of traditional movements, so I may put the movements in a different order but I didn’t originally create some of them. 

What’s your most memorable performance?

One of my favourite performances was at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival a few years back. The festival takes place a couple of blocks away from where I grew up and I used to volunteer there. Every year I would be so inspired from seeing performers from all over the world make people dance and sing. Coming back to the festival as a performer and sharing what I had learned after so many years felt very special. 

How did you become part of  Le Projet Téléphone? What’s in it for you?

I was approached by Melissa Rindell, founder of Le Projet Téléphone in Bordeaux. She asked if I would be interested in being a part of the project and after learning more about it I jumped at the idea. I thought it would be so interesting to put a piece together that had to follow a completely different structure than what I am used to. I think it made me grow as an artist and I’ve made some new friends from the experience. There’s a really great community that came together because of Le Projet Téléphone and I’m very grateful to Melissa and to all the artists involved. 

What emotions do you experience when dancing flamenco?

All of them. No, really. Everything that I’ve experienced in my life at one point or another comes out when I’m on stage. There’s joy, pain, jealousy, anger, playfulness, love, passion, anger, hurt, loneliness. I am drawn to flamenco because of these varying emotions and how well different “palos” (styles) can express and eventually heal. 

What’s the most difficult aspect of dancing flamenco?

Again, all of it. I find that flamenco is the perfect example of the more I learn, the more I realize that there’s still so much more to learn. I guess it keeps me on my toes, literally. 

Is it easy to find a job as a flamenco dancer?

I wouldn’t say that it is easy, but moving to Bordeaux has definitely made working a little easier. It’s an up and coming city with a growing cultural demand and I’ve found that audiences are responsive to flamenco shows.  

What do you like doing in your free time?

Yoga and meditation. As much as I love flamenco it can take a negative tole on me physically as well as mentally. I’ve recently found that yoga helps me balance out, relax, and come back to dance with a fresh perspective. Between dance, yoga, reading, biking, hiking, apéros with too much rosé, and watching too much netflix, I fill what is left of my free time with eating cheese. Vive la France, non? 

Interested in learning more about Deborah “La Caramelita” or getting in touch with her? Here is where you can find her:

Hugo Pondz and his minimalistic universe of blue

The first thing you notice when facing Hugo Pondz‘ artworks is that rich profusion of blue which prevails in all of the artist’s paintings. The artist – who himself describes blue as a “relaxing colour” – could seemingly not have picked a better colour scheme to rely on. It would indeed seem impossible to deny the potence of the effect of stillness and absolute immobility that the artist managed to bring into existence by “merely” adopting the blue. What, however, lies behind this perceived serenity of the landscape?

It turns out an artist only needs as little to be able to say as much.

A BEAUTIFUL DAY

What was your professional activity before you fully dedicated yourself to painting? Did you receive any formal education/ training in arts?

Before painting I was a photographer. I never received any artistic education but I was always surrounded by paintings, as my father was an antique dealer.

With blue so richly prevalent in your works, is it correct to say it’s your favourite colour? Is it aimed at evoking certain emotions in the viewers of your paintings?

You know, 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered with this blue liquid, and strangely enough, we are made up of almost the same percentage. The celestial vault is also blue.

I think everyone loves blue, it’s a relaxing colour.

What paintings decorate the place where you live?

I have to put my paintings somewhere, and my girlfriend loves to see them, so…

THE FUTURE PROJECTS

What’s the importance of music in your life? Do you listen to it when painting?

I’m very lucky to have my girlfriend, who is a pianist, so that’s it. But I really love heavy metal and electronic music as well.

With so many artworks at our disposition, is it still possible for a contemporary artist to create something innovative rather than “recycle” what’s been created before?

I think all artists have always done that. They are inspired by nature, they look at what other artists do, and repeat all this through their own filter. After all, it is a matter of taste, education, and spatiality. A European does not approach a work in the same way a Chinese does and vice versa.

THE SIGNAL

Why do artists often try to seem mysterious and inaccessible to people outside of the artistic circle?

No, no one is mysterious. Or rather everyone seems mysterious when you don’t understand their language. If you listen to two electricians talk about their work, you probably won’t understand much, not to mention two nuclear physicists 🙂

How crucial is it for an artist to be a man of his time and why?

I think the real question here is: how crucial is it for a man to be a man of his time and why? I think it is important to take an active part in the world, and especially to do good things. Too many people are working for the dark side and only see money, and it is a big mistake. And our whole society is based on it, and it is inevitably going to its downfall. So, I think it doesn’t matter what job you do because, after all, you need everyone. And one of the best things you can do is to question yourself about everything, all the time. Because we live in a society of liars, and if we want to move forward, we have to question everything.

For my part, among other things I’ve always been shocked by the blatant lie of the 9/11 World Trade Centre events. You see, in plane crashes there is always something systematic happening that no one, not even the President of the United States, could prevent. Not even the military-industrial complex. Despite all the CGI (author’s note: computer-generated imagery) they give us to see, they could not prevent families from going to the airport to ask for news about possible survivors. But it didn’t JUST happen – it’s as simple as that! It was the key to fighting the war, and getting the Patriot Act signed. And now no one in the world can pass through an airport with half a liter of shampoo in their suitcase anymore.

So, for the work below “The First Key” seems to be the right title. Hope you like it.

THE FIRST KEY

Interested in learning more about Hugo Pondz or getting in touch with him? Here is where you can find him:

How does one celebrate life in death? Lucie de Syracuse seems to know the answer

Lucie de Syracuse‘s Cabinet of Curiosities is far from being conventional – filled with images inspired by Dark Romanticism, and exploring diverse taboo topics capable of making you really uncomfortable, her glass globes strike you with their ability to combine transcendence with eeriness.

A self-taught creator, Lucie has never attended an art school, but has, however, obtained her degree in French literature. It is during her studies – focused on Dark Romanticism – that she developed a passion for the curiously sublime eccentricity that she would later employ as the style of her works.

BARBE À PAPA, 2018

How did you first come up with the concept of your Cabinet of curiosities?

In the beginning I didn’t really think about creating a cabinet of curiosities, as what is important to me is to display used and broken objects. I am constantly in search of the right shape, material, idea, and representation – it is, above all, an artistic work. The fact that it’s contained in an old curved glass globe makes it possible to associate such depiction with a cabinet of curiosities.

What’s the recurring theme of your works? What’s its significance for you personally?

The recurring themes of my works are fantasticality, Dark Romanticism, irony, and all the topics that go alongside with humanity, love, disappointment in love, death and its taming, sickness, quest for spirituality, power, dreams and nightmares, etc. I am open to exploring everything.

Which of your works is your favourite and why?

I’ve always loved broken or wrecked objects. I’ve always loved broken or wrecked human beings. For example, when I came across the small doll that would later become the central piece of the composition of Esprit des bois (in English: “Spirit of the woods”), it had a scalped head, no hair, no eyes, part of its scull missing – it was fascinating!

Its eyes were there at the bottom of the head: two blue eyes made of beautiful sulfide. The doll would not later have them in their usual place, but in a small basket next to it hanging from one of the bars of the chair in which it was sitting.

The doll sees differently, and surely more deeply than I ever could. Its spirit escapes through the crack and reigns over the entire forest. And its extraordinary sight does not miss any moment of life or death, of distress or remorse, instantly going wherever it is called. It cares, it consoles, it saves all that can be saved. I really like this sculpture.

LES YEUX, 2016

Does your creating “morbid” scenes and images rather than cheerful ones mean that you see the world that way?

No, not at all! I don’t see morbidity in what I create. I see life the way it is. Perhaps it’s just an illusion, but I see it in its entire beauty. I magnify death – I want it to be full of life, too.

I make room for traumatic experiences, or disturbing ones, but it is also important for people to talk about them more easily. There are always taboos, things we don’t want to see, things that make the humankind angry. I use the fantastic to make the most hidden secrets visible. In my point of view, the course of life is disturbing in its fragility, and my sculptures naturally reflect it.

Do your family and friends find your works bizarre?

Yes, of course, and I understand them. My father, in particular, doesn’t like at all the clay heads that I create: those are grotesque heads with big mouths, and very naïve expressions. Otherwise, my family and friends can now see how their own history is revealed in my sculptures – in other words, they have learnt to observe them.

SPIRIT, 2017

Do you create your works at home or in a studio? What does your workplace look like?

I work in a workshop – a very small one. It is in my garden. There are many people, and rather little space. It’s like chaos with a little order: porcelain canopies, old decorations, taxidermied animals, tools, books, old photos, and bridal globes are all mixed up, but each one has its number! This is the place where I feel good.

What are your future plans regarding your art? Any particular projects you are working on at the moment?

I am organising an April exhibition at Yvonne in Bordeaux. I am also preparing an exhibition in Paris in the gallery Cabinet des Curieux, and working on an exhibition for libraries for the year 2020.

LA MORTE FIANCÉE, 2018

Photo credit: Miguel Ramos

Interested in learning more about Lucie de Syracuse or getting in touch with her? Here is where you can find her:

Life of a French-Mexican corps de ballet dancer Alexandra Vadon

Have you ever wondered what life of a ballet dancer is like? I have.
That is why I am so excited to present an interview with Alexandra Vadon, member of Ballet du Capitole Toulouse.

Alexandra is an aspiring corps de ballet dancer with many years of dancing experience. Having graduated from the conservatory of Paris, she danced for the Polish National Ballet before returning back to France where she is currently working.

Alexandra Vadon, member of Ballet du Capitole Toulouse

How long have you been in ballet for? Why did you decide to make it your career?

I started dancing for fun when I was 6 years old, and as a professional when I was 19 years old. I actually didn’t see my life otherwise. I was in a special school, going to dance classes in the morning and studying in the afternoon. My childhood friends were my classmates – also dancers and artists. Plus I didn’t like any other sport at the time, whereas dance had always been fun for me.

How did you happen to work for the Polish National Ballet?

I had to audition during my last year of school. The problem was that I was a bit overweight at the time. Due to that it was pointless to do a lot of big auditions – like that of Berlin – running in January. By April, though, I was pretty fit, so I decided to audition for the Polish National Ballet, whose audition took place in June. That is how I got a 5-year contract with them.

How do corps de ballet maintain a friendly relationship if they are all, in fact, competitors trying to get noticed and promoted?

Competition can be unhealthy for some people. For me succeeding is not about making my colleagues fail. I try to push myself as much as I can. We all have different bodies and personalities, and if you know how to use what you’ve got, this is when it works for you.

Alexandra in her pointe shoes

Do you have any special rituals you do to get into the right mood before a performance?

Yes, I have a “ritual” before a show. I go for hair and make-up, I do my warm-up routine, I put my shoes and my costume on. If I am not sure about the choreography, I go over it once remembering the corrections we’ve had in rehearsals. And at the last moment I apply a bit of rosin to my shoes.

What are your eating habits? Do you have to follow any particular diet?

I don’t follow a diet, I just have a different lifestyle, I guess. I eat as healthily as I can – I believe food has a lot to do with how your muscles and brain work. I eat a bit of everything in reasonable quantities and drink a lot of water.

Do ballet dancers do any sport on top of their ballet classes? Is it recommended at all?

Yes, I think everyone does something on top of dance. It’s actually recommended because dance can be violent for your body. Men usually go to the gym, some people run, swim, do pilates. I do gyrotonic once a week, and I have a strengthening and stretching routine every day (abs, arms, legs, calves, back).

Alexandra Vadon

Are there paid holidays for ballet dancers? How many days per year? How do you spend your days of paid holidays?

I m lucky because I’m a full-time dancer, so I get 5 weeks of payed holidays. For freelance dancers it’s a bit different. I must say that most of dancers enjoy their holidays. I have a big family in Mexico, as I have dual nationality, so I spend most of my summer there.

Do ballet dancers have a fixed salary or do they get paid based on the number of performances per month?

As I’m a full-time dancer, I have a fixed salary every month no matter how many shows I do. I get extras if I dance a role or something specific that requires body painting or lifting something heavy, etc… There are many rules about that. We get extra money when we go on tour as well or if we have extra projects that aren’t related to the theater.

What are some of the activities you enjoy doing when you have some free time?

I like cooking, knitting, taking photos and playing the piano. At the moment I’m learning Russian, and I hope to start taking acting classes next year. Also, I just got my dance teacher’s diploma.

What is your ultimate goal as a ballerina?

I hope to get up the ranks to become at least a demi-soloist but it really depends on many factors, so I would say that my ultimate goal is to become the best artist I can and always grow as a person.

Interested in learning more about Alexandra Vadon or getting in touch with her? Here is where you can find her:

Dreamlike exotic locations of Isabelle Feliu’s illustrations

The settings of illustrations depicting ephemeral, nearly surreal locations full of sand and palm trees might not be an obvious choice for somebody coming from Canada and based in Norway, but precisely this was Isabelle Feliu‘s pick.

Isabelle, who has collaborated, among others, with Puma and Marie Claire France, has been asked to be interviewed quite a few times, but rest assured that Approachable Art has done its best to provide its readers with a one-of-the-kind interview with the artist.

Dragon Fruit & Champagne

Why do you only paint women? Have you ever gone through a creative period when there were men depicted in your works, too?

I started to paint women because they are what I mostly relate to. In fashion school, we drew a lot of feminine silhouettes, my style has evolved a lot since then but the idea of depicting women stayed with me. I haven’t painted many men in the past, except for some private pieces that I didn’t share, but as my style evolves, I would like to make more space for them in my work. 

Have you ever appeared in your own illustrations? If not, how would you set the scene of a self-portrait?

I made an autoportrait once, but I am not really a portraitist and I usually avoid illustrating existing people. 

I am quite shy and introverted, so I think that it would be an important theme in my autoportrait. 

In one of your interviews you state that “my paintings are my wish-list” – how many of those wishes depicted in your illustrations have come true?

Unfortunately, not many! A lot of my illustrations depict places where I would like to be in that moment, but they usually are from my imagination. A big part of that wish list also concerns fashion, but I seldom end up getting the clothes or accessories that I have illustrated. Painting is less expensive than shopping!

Pink Pyramids

Is there any particular time of the day when you feel most productive?

To be honest, I never feel very productive. I do my best to be disciplined and work all day from 9 until when my boyfriend comes back in the evening, but it doesn’t come naturally at any time of the day.

What do you do on those days when you absolutely don’t feel like painting/ drawing?

Emails, preparing things for my accountant, editing my website, lunching with friends and of course, feeling bad about not painting. 

Do you get emotionally attached to the work you create?

Not really, I am attached to it while I am painting it, but once I have finished working on it and that I have scanned it, I don’t have any problem letting it go. 

Seeing how appealing hot exotic locations seem to you, do you think you will move to such a place one day?

It is quite a dream, and I would surely love to live in such places for a while, however right now I am so Nostalgic of Montreal, that I only see myself going back to live there in the long term.  

Peruvian Girl and Friend


Interested in learning more about the artist or getting in touch with her? Here is where you can find Isabelle Feliu and more of her works:



The universe of emotions, humour and poetry in the works of the French sculptor Jean-François André

An autodidact with a multidisciplinary background, Jean-François André creates sculptures of such sublime beauty that it’s sometimes too easy to forget about their iron-and-stone essence.

Having worked for the Bordeaux National Orchestra, as well as for the Opera of Bordeaux where he operated as part of the ballet technical production team, Jean-François decided to fully dedicate himself to his passion for creation.

Find out more about the artist and his calling in the interview below (translated from French), in which Jean-François reveals some practical aspects of the world of sculpture.

Self-taught French sculptor Jean-François André

It is said in the description of your profile that you are a self-taught artist. How can one learn arts & crafts on his/her own?

I have an inborn talent for 3D visualisation, as well as an understanding of how natural forces work, and an overview of various existing techniques.  What is more, I love challenges – I can say that I am adventurous and creative. I have always experimented with tools and materials. Over time these experiments allowed me to master certain techniques, to adapt or to modify them in order to obtain the desired result.

How did you first decide what materials you wanted to work with?

The materials were chosen in an opportunistic manner based on their financial and technical accessibility. I started with earthen, plaster, cement, collected wood, then acquired wood, which was followed by crushed glass and resin, stone, iron, stainless steel…At the moment it is cling film that I am working with.

MEMORIES OF THE 20-TH CENTURY
iron

What’s the very first step you take to create a new sculpture?

The first step is the process of3D visualisation of an emotion or an idea in my head.

How do you estimate the price of a sculpture?

The current price of my work is a result of thousands of works of art that I have already sold  and that serve as the point of reference for me.  At first the prices of my sculptures barely covered the cost prices, but with time they were adapted based on the prices that my clients were ready to pay in order to acquire one of my works.

What’s the ultimate objective of your artwork? Is there a specific message you wish to deliver to the world?

My work, when it is not only an aesthetic pleasure, reflects my desire to promote the values of respect and humanity through humour, and, at the same, to encourage introspection.

OBLIVION
iron, tulip tree

What kind of art is “mainstream” these days and why? How do you ensure your works are in demand with so much competition?

I never strive to be in a mainstream in order to seduce people into buying. I leave it to art critics to analyse my works if they please. My only concern is to alleviate my soul from its suffering by the means of artistic expression. My wish, above all, is to not make what has already been made – this way the originality of a personal and honest creation allows me to stand out from the competition.

Would it be possible for a person who sees you for the first time to guess that your profession is art-related?  Is your creativity somehow manifested in your everyday life?

No, I don’t play the artist – I do not wish to become a caricature whose sole purpose is to attract attention of potential clients. I am an artist, but I’m also father, grandfather, husband, friend, colleague, student, traveler…All of these roles integrated.

My creativity manifests itself in all aspects of my life, as it is the result of extreme greed – a desire to constantly discover and create, a need to pass on solidarity. It is not a tool to highlight for highlighting my person.

STRADD INTERMEZZO
beech, stone

Interested in learning more about the artist or getting in touch with him? Here is where you can find Jean-François André and more of his works:

P.S. The artist’s page is entirely in French but Jean-François himself can speak some English 😉