Celebrate Home Magazine interviews Lucile Prache, watercolor artist

14 10 2012

Last month I interviewed Parisian artist Lucile Prache for our inaugural issue of Celebrate Home Magazine, which Barbara Kelley and I launched just two weeks ago. I found Lucile’s illustrations on etsy.com and had her store bookmarked because I love her sketchy, whimsical illustration style. I contacted her and she agreed to be interviewed for our magazine. Click on the link below to download the magazine to see more of Lucile’s lovely artwork.

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Lucile’s Kitchen

When did you first discover your creative talents?
I have been drawing since my early childhood and found it quite natural to express myself in this way as I grew in a family with an artistic mood. I was very shy and I guess it was helpful to draw instead of talk.

Did you go to school for art?
Yes, I studied at the ESAG art school (also known as Penninghen) in Saint Germain des Prés in Paris and graduated—a long time ago.

Did you inherit your artistic talents from your parents?
Yes, I surely did. My father is an architect and my mother has always been making pottery (both are part of the flower power generation!).

When did you know that you wanted to be an artist (illustrator)?
I didn’t really feel like a fine artist because at art school we learned to be illustrators. Plus, I had been working for magazines, the fashion industry, and in advertising for such long time, I didn’t feel like a fine artist.

I still do these types of projects, but I love painting for my Etsy world-wide customers. Having a large audience is important for me—I don’t think “real” artists need that. Knowing that someone in Japan and someone in New York is looking at my artwork at the same time just makes my day!

How long have you been working as a freelance artist and illustrator?
I have been a freelancer for almost 25 years.

I love the fresh, loose, sketchy style of your illustrations. Did the evolution of this style come easily to you?
Thank you so much! I think I have always sketched in this style because I love travel journals (specifically Cy Twombly and Jean Michel Basquiat art). I have been very interested in Chinese calligraphy and started to learn with a Chinese teacher. He always told his French students that they never would become Chinese even after 100 years, but this could be helpful for our very Western style; I believe this is true—my work has become looser and fresher since I began studying Chinese calligraphy.

How would you describe your illustration/painting style?
I want my paintings to look carefree and happy. I have been studying ballet since my childhood, and I believe that my illustrations are just like dance pieces—everything appears to be easy. Dancers are always smiling on stage, but there is a lot of work behind the stage.

Your illustrations are unique and full of energy. Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from real life—typography on labels, dirty papers on the sidewalk (yes, I am a Parisian!), kitsch postcards of Brooklyn, a vibrant green top on a girl in the street, vintage books of English china, figs at the market—almost any image can inspire me!

What mediums do you work in other than watercolor? Do you have a favorite brand of watercolor paint? Favorite brushes and paper?
I work a lot on my Cintiq Wacom pen tablet with Photoshop when I get jobs for fashion, magazines and advertising clients. When painting with watercolor, I love Windsor and Newton because of their amazing fresh colors. I am painting with Chinese brushes on French BFK Rives paper.

I decided to leave my Wacom tablet and my computer for a while and went back to colored pencils, gouache and watercolor again. I missed the “real taste” of different papers and pigments. The printing process means CMYK colors. Original paintings allow gold, silver, fluo paintings and this just makes my day!

Do you create still life set-ups of fruits and vegetables from which to reference? What is a typical work day like?
Sometimes I stumble upon beautiful fruits or vegetables at the market and paint them before cooking them. Most of the time I reference photos or browse online for inspiration when I don’t have time to go to Chinatown and purchase Asian food for a still life set-up.

Do you do any computer illustration?
Yes, I do. It is exciting to use several devices. I work in Corel Painter, Illustrator and Photoshop on an old Mac Pro. These software programs allow me to paste labels, type and photographs into my illustrations.

What do you like most about being an illustrator?
Illustrators have freedom—this is what I like most; but we know that we sometimes have to pay a huge price to keep this freedom.

Has illustration as a profession changed over the years?
It has. Computers and the Internet changed everything. I started my career before the Internet, and I remember I had to go to Marie Claire magazine and deliver my orders in person. It was quite fun because I could talk with the art director and the redaction team. We knew each other quite well. I loved to walk in Paris from my studio to my clients, but it was time-consuming, too.

We are now networking and it is completely different, but I really enjoy the friends I’ve met around the world because of Etsy. I am meeting them sometimes in Paris, or more recently in New York, and I love this!

How long have you been selling on Etsy? Has it been a good way to get your work out to buyers?
I started selling on Etsy more than two years ago and it completely changed my life! It is always very exciting to add new paintings, communicate on Facebook and blog about the process. I am absolutely thrilled to get many buyers from all around the world—mainly from the United States. It is a delight to keep in touch with so many open-minded, cool and positive people.

Do you pursue other creative endeavors?
I like screenprinting and can’t wait to work on new designs but I need time and energy—and not to be too hungry because my screenprinting studio is my kitchen.

You are surrounded by amazing museums, which must be an inspiration to you. Tell me a little bit about life in Paris and your family. Did your children inherit your talent for art?
My children are geeks and creative ones! Please come to Paris and see how we live. After spending two weeks in New York City, Paris seems to me like a small village of farmers, But I definitely love Paris—I get inspiration from the street equally as from the museums. I plan to go and see the Gerard Richter exhibition in le Centre Pompidou tomorrow. I always forget how I can be stunned by painting in a peaceful place like a museum. I am in love with my city, but I am always dreaming of elsewhere…and I swear I will try to improve my bad English. But luckily, the language of images is international.

I noticed on your blog that you also are an avid gardener. How does gardening influence your love of illustrating food?
My garden is located on a wet and sunny island, so I only see my garden four to six weeks a year and it doesn’t take much care. I wish I had a vegetable garden and could watch it grow but it is impossible for a Parisian work addict. Too bad, because it would be very inspiring. I paint fruits, vegetables, cakes because of their beauty, but also because I enjoy cooking.

What are your influences? What artists inspire you?
I was first influenced by rock music and pop art artists such as Andy Warhol, Basquiat, Jasper Johns, Rauschenberg, French artist Hervé Télémaque, Tadanori Yokoo, Joan Mitchell—I love them all.

What are you working on now?
I just finished a collaboration with a French publisher on a cookbook about Italian food. It is a very exciting project.

I will be working for a fashion agency in late October, but currently I want to add new prints and paintings in my Etsy shop. I would love to publish my own recipe book and make it available for Christmas, but I am sure I won’t have time this year.

If you weren’t an artist what would you be?
I would be a (bad) dancer.

Any advice for aspiring illustrators?
Keep your eyes wide open unless you are asleep.

Describe yourself in three words.
Still always curious

No interview would be complete without this requisite question—You’re stranded on a deserted island. What five things must you have?
Five cards of Raoul Dufy flowers, then find a way to make tools and do mineral painting—let’s get to work!

www.etsy.com/shop/lucileskitchen

luciles-kitchen.blogspot.fr/

www.facebook.com/pages/Luciles-kitchen/197554960274042?sk=wall

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of Celebrate Home Magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.





Le Diner en Blanc, Virginia style

7 10 2011

We held our first-ever Le Diner en Blanc on Saturday, September 24. The week before the event was a series of very rainy days and the forecast for that day was off and on thunderstorms. I had to make a decision: cancel it or move it indoors. I didn’t want to cancel it because we had four people coming from out of state (Alabama and South Carolina) just for this event! I didn’t want to go to the trouble and expense of picking up the chairs and tables I had reserved, then get started setting up and then get chased indoors by a thunderstorm. Murphy’s Law—it didn’t rain after all, but I had to commit to the indoor scenario and then there was no turning back. And actually, it was pretty humid, so indoors was more comfortable anyway!

What is Le Diner en Blanc?
Le Diner en Blanc originated in Paris more than 20 years ago. Thousands of people all dressed in white arrive at the same time to have a posh picnic in a prestigious Parisian location. This is an invitation-only event (you have to be invited by someone who knows someone) and the location remains a secret until the last minute (although you do know the time and date). You’re told the location once you are on the scheduled coaches to the venue. This year’s event included 6,000 people in the Cour Carrée du Louvre and another 6,000 in front of Notre Dame. The Paris version requires you to bring your own plates, food and drinks—in our version, the plates, main course, dessert crepes and drinks were provided (and potluck contributions were requested).

Le Creperie Central
Sue, Barbara and Wanda set up “Le Creperie Central” the night before the party. Sue had crepe flipping duty while Barbara prepared various mixes Gina had brought back from Paris. Yes, imported from Paris…with instructions in French (hence the look on Barbara’s face in the top right photo). Gina did do a test run and wrote the instructions in English, but there was still some translating to do with the boxes that showed other ingredients were needed (thank goodness for the web!). Sue and Barbara made 90 crepes and Wanda assisted with wax-paper-tearing duty. I was busy trying to create the original outdoor ambiance in three townhouse rooms—not an easy task. All three ladies are wearing t-shirts I ordered with the “Le Diner en Blanc 2011” logo (a chandelier with the Eiffel Tower as the center column) that graphic designer friend Karen B. (who is French-born, by the way) created this summer just for the event.

Rethinking the Ambiance of Paris Indoors
Moving it indoors meant scaling back considerably—no white hanging cardboard chandeliers (beautifully crafted by my friend Karen B.) hanging from the trees, no shabby chic candle-filled bird cages hanging from shepherd’s hooks throughout the garden, no full-scale “Le Creperie” station with an LED-lit floral chandelier over the warming station. No tables set with crisp white linens and the French script and floral linen table runners I had sewn two weeks before, topped off with vintage milk bottles and silver pails filled with white flowers or chocolate-colored glittery 24″ Eiffel Tower replicas created with 3-d puzzles from Michael’s. No LED-lighted floral vines swirling the length of each table. No white satin shrugs around each chair back, fastened with a chocolate-colored Eiffel Tower silhouette.

I did find some inspiration indoors, however. My favorite one was my impromptu napkin “dispenser”—using my woman head planter I crafted a sort of ancient Greek Carmen Miranda of sorts. It was so sculptural that many guests thought it was a decoration and barely made a dent in the napkin inventory! The full-scale outdoor French crepe vendor stand was modified for the kitchen island and it worked well despite the lack of outdoor ambiance. A huge thank you to Margot for photographing the tablescapes and decorations before the party started—I was distracted and didn’t get many shots. I think she did a splendid job! These are all her photos in the collage below.

Copying the French
We did move the party outdoors briefly to capture a group shot of the revelers in their “yes-we-will-wear-white-after-Labor-Day” finery—are my friends the best sports or what? Gotta love them—I certainly do! My friend Michael, who lives just across the courtyard, said that when he walked over he got strange looks from a neighbor passing by (it was after Labor Day, remember). Michael came clad in white jeans, a white oxford shirt, cream tie, and to break up his “ice cream man ensemble,” a black and white leopard belt! Sue finally had an opportunity to wear a bridal headpiece and veil she had bought recently at an antique store. Carmen wore a feather fascinator and Paula wore a beautiful headpiece that belonged to her mother. Paula brought in her potluck contribution and every time someone asked what it was, she replied in her best Julia Child lilt, “Beef Bourguignon!”

Thanks to everyone who participated, wore their best white ensembles, and contributed all those delicious appetizers, cheeses, breads, dips, side dishes, fruit salad, deviled eggs (thanks, Katie!), desserts (don’t you just love Norma’s Eiffel-Tower-sugar-topped brownies above?), and ample bottles of le vin blanc and le vin rosé. And in particular, special thanks to Rob for helping maneuver clutter from one room to another the night before (a huge help); Gina for her delicious French-inspired main chicken dish with potatoes, importing the crepe mixes and French sugar (and doing the crepe pre-testing), loaning her lighted Eiffel Tower sculpture and some other French-related items for decorations, and describing her perfect day in Paris (her favorite city); Karen B. for her huge pot of accompanying ratatouille, designing the party logo, putting together two CDs with French music, laboriously cutting out cardboard chandelier silhouettes, and delivering the party commencement “speech” in French (she was born in Paris); Zinna for her large soda contribution (we still have some set aside for us!); Paula for her well-received Beef Bourguignon main entree contribution (Michael enjoyed the leftovers the next day); Karen W. for punching out a gazillion little pieces of balsa wood parts the night I assembled the four Eiffel tower puzzles (and for bringing munchies to aid the process); Sue, Barbara and Wanda for their wine contribution, crepe fillings and crepe making efforts (and for trekking 10.5 hours from Huntsville, AL to our humble home); my decorating partner, Carmen, for helping me bring some of the outdoor ambiance indoors, her ever-present and much needed organizing and clean-up skills, and for flying in from South Carolina just for the party; our neighbor Eric for setting up his outdoor pavilion for us; Michael P. for assisting me yet again with the indoor party portraits (that posting to come) and for translating Karen’s French speech to English (he’s fluent in several languages!); Martha B. in San Antonio for sending me a lovely serving platter with a sketch of the Eiffel Tower since she couldn’t attend (you were there in spirit…and porcelain, Martha!); and finally, thanks to F.T. for helping with the outdoor shots.

Here’s to Le Diner en Blanc next year…but this time in June (so wearing white is more acceptable!) and crossing fingers—outdoors as originally planned. We’ll do Le Diner en Blanc in June, Pesto Fest in September, and get back on track next year. Next up—the Chocoholic Party in February, as always.





Sharing a little link love…

1 08 2011

Sculptor/lighting artist David Wiseman creates some of the most beautiful home accessories I’ve ever seen. Look at his ceiling art here, a beautiful copper fireplace screen here and lovely branch-inspired lighting here. I’m even partial to his whimsical “collage chandelier” with its chain-woven spider web here.

Johnny Swing creates the most amazing furniture out of unexpected materials—glass jars, windshields and my favorite—coins. I love the “Quarter Chair,” made of 1,200 quarters! I would imagine you would want to keep this piece indoors—can’t you just imagine how hot it would get on a scorching summer day? Take a look at the “Nickel Couch,” made of approximately 7,000 nickels!

Corey Frye‘s blog, A French Frye in Paris, will take you on the journey of a 33-year-old New Yorker who married a Parisian girl, then headed for France in early 2010. He prose is witty and lively and the accompanying photos are wonderful. He takes you along on field trips all around the city, sharing history, romance, little-known facts, and funny stories about learning how to speak French with his in-laws and other extended family. I subscribe to his blog and every time he writes, I long to be in Paris!

On the arts & craft front: When I’m on a sewing binge, I frequently check out the new projects on www.sew4home.com. The projects are all relatively easy—a plus when you have multiple hobbies and never enough time to encompass them all. And on the subject of sewing, check out fiber artist Miyuki Sakai‘s amazing work here. She’s not your average illustrator—her drawing medium is thread! Her work has been featured in Martha Stewart Living, Country Home, Vogue, Seventeen and other magazines. She shares her secret: a portable straight stitch sewing machine, ordinary cotton blend fabric, extra ordinary sewing thread and magic hands. I’ll say!

And finally, I’d like to build one of these on a tiny bit of land (preferably with a view, or on a lake, or near the water) in each of the following states: Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Oregon, Washington state and Texas. I would then fly between each of those states, visiting to photograph each area in the best weather conditions and peak blooming times. I realize that I can’t store thousands of books in one of these (hmmm….but I could build a separate one just to house a library (and gardening tools…and photography equipment…and craft supplies…and…)! Designer Jay Schafer sells plans for houses ranging from 65 square feet (!) to 837 square feet (and some are even portable).