My artistic nature came to life as soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil. But it really bloomed when I started middle school. We had more serious art classes and if I could, I would have spent all of my time there. I started working on special and extra curricular projects for the school. Around the same time, when I was about 12, I began to concentrate on faces and bodies. Soon after, I watched the movie "Wuthering Heights" from 1992 with Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche. It felt and still feels like it was one of those incredible chance encounters that change you forever! I was deeply impacted by the balanced darkness of the movie, the haunting soundtrack and the obsessive play of the actors. Anyone who knows me knows I am a sunny and happy person. But this film resonated with the darker facets that lived within me and with the art that captivated me. After this, I discovered some masters that fascinated me (Dali, Magritte, etc...). I was enthralled with their art, with the fact that they allowed themselves to go places no one else went, with the expressions they put out in the world. I continued to share my time between art and literature until I was 18.
I got involved early on in a toxic relationship. Every waking moment was spent thinking "how can I make this relationship work". I didn't realize then that there is a breaking point when dealing with someone else's mental illness, especially when you are the choice target for all kinds of mind games, including relentless gaslighting, verbal abuse and shows of agression. I had come to a point where I wasn't myself anymore, I doubted my own ability to think, I was left with no sense of my own value or trust in my own abilities.
Finally, after many years in a hell that only got worse, I left.
Thankfully, my parents, André and Angèle, are the best and most supportive people I could ask for. They were and are still there to cheer me on. They took care of me and of my kids while I rebuilt myself. I painted some large pieces back in 2015-2016, it was incredibly healing to spend hours doing nothing but what I loved and what I was good at. I had not touched a paintbrush in over 10 years! The week after I left my abuser, I met someone who would have a pivotal role in my life. My friend Simon Bouchard hired me (I am a senior kitchen & bath designer by trade and have been since 2001), coached me and taught me in many ways, often without him knowing, to stand up for myself and to remember my value. After 3 years of hard work on myself, pain, sorrow, guilt and grief, I slowly felt more like who I wanted to be. I then met my husband, Scott, my soul mate, the actual other half of myself, my favorite person and partner! I function at my best in great partnerships, and now I have my very own that elevates me and gives me a steady and powerful base to spring from!
With this new life to build, I now have the energy to pour myself in my art again, showing my boys what it is to do something you love and to be supported by great family and friends. What real love is. What real friendship is. A new partnership with Ateliers Jacob through it's owner, my good friend Simon, has sprung me back into art. I fell in love all over again with charcoal. My favorite way to use it is on wood panels that I cover with a gesso and a coarse molding paste. The charcoal grips on it and gives a great texture that conveys a lot of depth and an organic feel. Just the sound the charcoal makes on the surface and the vibration it creates, combined to the charcoal dust on my hands and feet, is the most calming and satisfying thing in the world! It's incredibly well suited for faces, the expressions become deeper and more palpable. I often use Acrylics to add some dimension to my pieces. I am obsessed with the contrast golden and bronze hues as well as iridescent colors offer against the depth and grainy texture of the charcoal.
If I had to choose a different career, it would be in psychology. Human nature and all of it's never ending facets is my favorite subject. Hence, it makes sense that I am completely taken by faces and the emotions they convey. I endeavor to give each piece its own life, with a complex set of emotions and a story hidden in it. I relish the moments where I can observe people reacting to them and telling each other what they think the subject is feeling or what it's back story could be.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I think so many of us don't allow ourselves to show certain facets of ourselves that we have been taught to suppress because they were not desirable or because they disturbed others. Smiling is easy, but expressing all the other emotions in our repertoire isn't always simple. No matter what your life path is, no matter what culture you're from, no matter what background, religion or race, we are all human and we all deserve to know our own value, we all deserve to be loved with all of our different facets, all of our different feelings, no matter the duality some may create. And that's the message in all of my pieces. You may love them, hate them, ignore them, cheer them on, they exist and they are unapologetically bold. I hope they can relay some power to whoever connects with them.
With love, Hurlevent
Hurlevent is the artist name I chose years ago when I started painting seriously.
The name comes from the french version of Emily Bronte's novel "Wuthering Heights" which was translated to the french "Les Hauts-de-Hurlevent".