Cécile Chevallard is a French artist, currently living in Paris.
I am so grateful to have made this connection with Cécile, and I’d like to thank her so much for chatting about her art, spirituality and much more.
Below is a transcript of some moments from our conversation.
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Beginnings as an artist
“It was tough… I started sketching when I was 7, and I told my mother ‘I really want to learn art, to do things with my hands, with a pencil’.”
After a friends mother offered Cécile her first oil painting set at 13, she began to take art more seriously.
“At 15 I said to my mother that I wanted to become an illustrator or an artist… my family is more in the medical sphere so she said ‘you’ll go get a scientific degree and then you can decide if you are going to keep painting, as a hobby’.”
After this, Cécile dropped the idea of pursuing artistry – opting instead to go to business school.
Coronavirus and getting back into art
“it was a sort of revelation, because I restarted painting during the first lockdown. it was a blessing, which is weird to say, but it was truly a blessing because the last time I painted I was 15 years old – a 10-year jump and covid brought me back to it”
Cécile recounted the strict lockdown measures Paris went through, remembering grocery stores seeming like an ‘strange movie about the end of the world’. But it was ultimately a gift in disguise as it got her back into art.
Working from home as a digital consultant in the advertising field, she moved from her small studio apartment in Paris (‘a prison’) back into her family home (‘a golden prison’), where her mother re-introduced her to art.
If it wasn’t for this, she may have never gotten back into painting –
“I never stopped sketching, I used to draw on a regular basis, but maybe I would have been too scared to try painting again”.
Emerging as an artist
“Between the age of 15 and 25 I learned how to know myself, to get confidence in myself and to believe in me.”
As her family and some close friends aren’t as supportive or into the work Cécile does as an artist, she found approval within herself. Through the quarantine, she began to share works through Instagram – eventually opting to begin a dedicated page for her art.
Soon after, Cécile launched her own website (www.cedeuxlart.com) and began to take art more seriously. She stopped giving artworks to her friends for free and began selling her works.
“I started the website to establish myself and the artworks I was doing, not just as a hobby as everyone was saying to me, but really to be a second job or maybe my future job in the very nearest future.”
In her two jobs, Cécile finds a unique fulfillment –
“My advertising job is pleasing my masculine part, I’m a boss, I’m a girlboss. I manage, I can handle budget and I work in a huge firm where I have a lot of value… I can sense that, which is very empowering for me.”
“The painting is pleasing my feminine part, even though I don’t like to place genders, it’s like all my emotional parts and it’s also a way to be more aware of my feelings. It’s a sort of introspection about my feelings… I think there will be a point in my life where I will be more directed into one (job)”.
Funnily enough the friends that were asking for free artworks are not inspirations for her paintings, but some close friends that are in tune and very supportive have become the subjects of many works. An example of this is Elisa – star of ‘Elisa and the fig tree’, ‘Elisa with Pizza’ and many more.
A common theme in Cécile’s work is women and empowerment –
“I really love how women look; they inspire me so much.”
As Cécile has progressed as an artist, distinct series in this theme have emerged – like the collection of sketches of Greek Goddesses or the newest nine-painting series “I love my ass”. This was her first public exhibition.
“The last series I did around butts… 8 months I’ve been thinking about it. It started with something within me that was saying ‘body positivity is lacking in art; it’s lacking around me’… It was my first exhibition in a bar in Paris, called A la Folie. They were all attached to trees which is so cool because I love trees… there were butts on trees, like they were growing on them.”
“When I was at the exhibition surrounded by friends and family, there was so much love… I was so proud and full of joy.”
She is further inspired by fellow contemporary artists, mentioning Annabel Faustin and Inès Longevial in Paris and Chloe Wise in New York as her primary sources of inspiration and adoration.
“(Annabel) does amazing work, she is bringing us in her own dream world. Inès Longevial is a great source of inspiration, her work triggers a lot of emotions and the colours… bombshells every time.”
Answering a super long winded question on my part, Cécile notes she is in debt to historical figures in art but she takes more inspiration from her contemporary colleagues in art.
“I’m influenced a lot by comic artists…” – like Italian artist Alessandro Barbucci who created art for ‘Sky Doll’ and ‘W.I.T.C.H’ – “I love the softness of the features and the colours, my dream world would be made with bright, light colours.”
In this mix of inspiration, Cécile also notes how much that nature plays a part, often referencing the importance of the sky (specifically sunset) and the sea to her as both an artist influence but also a destressing tool.
“When I have something in mind, you can be sure it will be done in a few days, or I no longer want to do it.”
Cécile’s process takes inspiration from the themes mentioned above, but also from photography –
“Instagram is a huge source of inspiration because you can get a lot of sunset pictures that are amazing, or even women that don’t fear sharing pictures of their bodies.”
For her newest series, Cécile only spent roughly 4 hours on each piece, there is a sketching process, finding literal examples through pictures she has found or taken herself, and then it is brought to life with a unique spin on canvas.
The confinement in Paris also brought Cécile towards spirituality –
“Painting was the first thing in my mind, second was spirituality as I discovered meditation. I discovered podcasts about the connection with nature, unconditional love and all other parts of personal development… now I cannot say I’m not a spiritual person.”
The two ended up working sort of in tandem, as painting had become a mandatory but meditative process for Cécile already. Whilst it was a long process, meditation has allowed her to focus more on individual tasks, as well as becoming a potential source for future works.
“It may sound weird but I’ve actually visited five of my past lives, I want to do a portrait of each life, and this life too which is obviously the most important to me right now.”
“Each time with a different intention, I have gone back into my past lives… It depends on what you believe, it could be my imagination, or it could be the truth, I don’t know – but that’s not the important part… it’s part of me.”
Talking more about spirituality, Cécile touched on topics of free will, constraints, etc.
“We all have the command of our lives, we lead our own movie so everything we are experiencing it’s through our filter, the important part is what you make of it. I have nothing to hide, I am very proud of me and what I believe, if something doesn’t resonate with someone, they will do the filter – I don’t have to.”
“It’s the purpose of a lifetime, I am not completely done and it’s a process. It all started in quarantine in front of a blank canvas. Suddenly came meditation and spirituality, looking into myself and what I’m experiencing.”
“It is a shame we don’t feel comfortable to share our insecurities and our sensitivities to other people, for me it’s the purpose of human life, sharing what is true to yourself, even if what is true is dark.”
As her final message –
“Stay true to yourself, don’t forget to love and take care of yourself.”