I started drawing and painting at a young age and always knew it was my calling. From age 14 and on, I went with assiduity to draw nudes every week in a Paris atelier full of professional artists. That experience gave me a solid advantage both in my artwork and when I applied to a National Art School in Paris.
Watercolor sketching was the first painting technique I learned. I was attracted to the fluidity, the elegance and the sobriety of the medium. It was a period of my life when I travelled a lot; Watercolor was a great medium to capture a moment, a light, and a transient atmosphere.
Printmaking was my major in college in Paris. The first technique I learned was gravure [etching]. It required a thoughtful and almost ceremonial succession of actions to produce a print. I was hooked and never let it go, until I knew all about printmaking. I am still learning.
I started painting with acrylic on canvas while living in Bali, Indonesia. (I could roll the canvases and ship them back home.) Acrylic is water based, so travel-friendly. It allowed me larger formats than watercolor, and thicker layering. Later when I moved to the USA I taught myself oil painting on canvas, and oil & egg tempera on Masonite.
Painting with layers of oil-based inks on a large sheet of Plexiglas, I printed the vegetables growing in my garden, with my etching press. I rolled inks with a large brayer on my lingerie and printed it on different color papers. Making monoprints, one-of-a-kind prints, allowed for impulse, emotion and immediate rewards. It was for me a fast way of producing vibrant imagery. Printing in layers on Plexiglas added transparency and depth, which painting directly on paper would not.
When I learned film photography I used a Yashica-C double lenses old camera, with film 20, (the negatives were square 2” x 2”). I also used an old Nikon with a lens F3. I liked to create double or triple exposures by taking two or three shots on the same film frame. I also liked to sandwich negatives in slides holders, and expose them manually with long exposures.
I recycled unsatisfying prints by painting over with layers of liquid acrylics, working with reticulation and metallic paint in abstract forms. I found it liberating to reclaim these surfaces with splatters and spills of color. Later, I looked for the traditional ink paintings I did when I studied sumi-e in Japan. The ink paintings were done on very thin paper; I tore some and collaged them on my abstract painted backgrounds. I also collaged some printed trees, and I used vegetable oil to render the collages transparent, so the background paint shows through.
Cyanotypes is an old photographic method using the sun, [or UV light], to expose coated surfaces with negative films or objects. It is one of the many techniques I experimented with, relating to photography. I made films of nudes (sometimes layered several films together), and I made films of landscapes; sometimes I used lace fabrics, or feathers and grass, to expose paper and canvas that I coated with cyanotype chemistry. I used the sun on my lawn in the country, and a light exposure unit in the city. The exposed surfaces were washed in water to reveal the image and the background turning blue.
In my early travels I kept a watercolor diary of the places I visited. More recently I started to paint watercolors sketches again when I re-visited Provence in the South of France. I also photographed the places I painted, and I came up with a way to digitally combine my watercolor sketches with my photographs. I call these “painted photos”, it is a way for me to bring the traditional watercolor with the technology of digital photography. I find the possibilities are endless.