Studio visit: Raymonde Fortin

"For me, the process of creating is the work in itself." RF

*This interview was made possible thanks to a grant from artsnb. Thank you artsnb!*

(This article is translated from French)

Raymonde Fortin is an artist who is continually searching. Her style changes as she experiments and discovers new techniques, as if she was pursuing an elusive end that always escapes along new creative bunny trails. Her personality is reflected in her work, calm but passionate and always looking to reflect the world around her to better understand it. Raymonde still has lots to discover along her artistic journey, but it seems that she has already traveled for miles.

My mom and I visited Raymonde on a hot and humid day in summertime, and we could have stayed all day. Raymonde welcomed us with warm hospitality and contagious enthusiasm. She was well prepared for our visit and had a lot to show us. There were painted columns in the garage ready to go on display, works in progress in the studio, completed works on the walls of the living room, and even experimental pieces wrapped around trees outside. It’s rare that you find an artist who is as articulate with their words as with their art, but Raymonde is one of them. She told us her artistic exploration process, how each turn and revelation leads to a new direction, in such a way that we saw the train of thought behind each work, linking them together.

Raymonde’s career began later in life. She worked for years in graphic design, and after raising her three children, she found herself thinking about her dream of making art. "I’ve often looked different artists and I wondered what brought them there," she said, "I’d never painted with acrylic, never worked in sculpture, but that’s what I decided to study.” She studied at the University of Moncton in drawing, painting, sculpture and art history. Afterwards, she began creating, also doing some internships as a resident artist in schools and teaching workshops to supplement the household income. Since then, she and her husband (who is a photographer) have invested in apartments blocks, allowing her to continue to create full time. Raymonde’s style is abstract, very sculptural, where you see the echo of a form or idea. She prefers not to plan or practice, but experiments directly with her materials. "I don’t do sketches on paper, I have to do it directly on the canvas. It is much more real and tactile." For her, the preparation and use of materials are as much a part of the work as the final painting. The kind of canvas, tools and types of paint she chooses to use determine the direction the work will take. She never stays long on one style or technique, but each method becomes a starting point for the next stage of experimentation. Throughout the evolution of her work, you always see the essence of who is Raymonde, this calm and natural energy that draws on emotion and makes you look at the world in a new way.

What inspires you?

I draw my inspiration from my sense of place, where I am when I create, and the people I meet. I see the light, movement, shadows, and I try to describe what I see and to express what I feel. I visualize myself in a place that I call “Feeling" or my inner landscape, and I observe the emotions that I see there. These are changeable, unpredictable and often contradictory. They are colored by memory, coloured by desire, altered by my imagination ... I try to express this state by painting.

How would you describe your creative journey to this point?

Both simple and complicated. Simple because my creative exploration has always been driven by the same themes, time, life, spirituality; complicated because I am drawn to creating in both two and three dimensions. Most of the time I am a painter, sometimes I am a sculptor, and increasingly I am both. What inspires my painting comes from both my background in sculpture and in paint.

I have to say that the physical condition of my hands is forcing me to adapt my choices of creative expression. The gradual loss of my ability must be offset by something else, which will somehow shape my way in the future.

Can you describe your creative process?

My works are usually born of a desire to merge or a duality of opposites. Currently I paint, using lines and textures that are found in a landscape, then I integrates geometric shapes that have no real relationship with the landscape. This allows me to describe our relationship with nature, what you feel when you find yourself in a house, in a car and what it feels like in a forest on the edge of the water to watch the river flow, a moment that seems suspended in time. I call these moments "Eternities". This is the theme of the exhibition that I am presenting at the Salon Irène Grant-Guérette from October 23 to December 13 and in Miramichi after Christmas.

What are your goals and dreams for the next 5-10 years?

I love installation. In the future I would like to create more based on a location or space. I want to develop a creative approach and technical means that are in harmony with my condition and my vision. I hope that my work will allow me to travel, to discover people and unique spaces. I would like to participate in collective events to interact with artists from around the world.

I believe that art contributes to the advancement of society. My goal is to one day become actualized as an artist and to become known for what I do. I hope to thereby contribute in my own way to the history of art from my little corner of the world.