Artist Annie Clavel presents a collection of colorful, flowing abstract paintings using acrylic and watercolor. Find more of her work on her website.
I am a French artist and grew up in Paris. My father was born in Indochine (Vietnam) to an Indochinese mother and French father. He and his family arrived in France when he was thirteen. He became an architect and met my mother in the small town of Millau, France.
I liked to watch him drawing architecture blueprints and ink or watercolor washes. I longed to become an architect too. However, my dad, thinking of all the problems he had with his contractors at that time, said to me, “It’s a man’s world.” I was thus discouraged from undertaking such studies.
I ended up studying mathematics and computer science and became a mathematics teacher in France and Tunisia. Although I enjoyed teaching geometry and scientific argumentation, I didn’t like numbers! I was captivated by mathematical theories that have proven useful in areas other than mathematics.
When I first began painting, I painted representational watercolors at the suggestion of one of my colleagues who gave me the list of supplies to buy and, put a still life in front of me. Five years later, I attended a workshop in Paris, run by an abstract artist. He asked me, “Do you want to try abstraction?” Guess what? I tried and became an abstract painter.
Many of my earlier works portray an expression of realism seen in the day-to-day life of people, nature and the culture of each country I lived in—Tunisia, Germany and France.
In 2006, I moved from France to Long Beach, California. Once in the United States, I created Les Jolis Trésors Art Gallery in Long Beach and managed it for six year. I built up a network in the art community—curating exhibitions, moderating art talks and teaching art. At the same time, I joined different art organizations in Los Angeles and showed my art in exhibitions.
Where does my inspiration come from? From what I see in nature? I don’t think so. I am genuinely abstract. Sure, I follow my feelings, I am influenced by the news I hear, by the light surrounding me, by my personal life, by stories I listen to. But my own imagination is my source of inspiration.
My process—thinking in silence, choosing colors, preparing brushes and a surface, then pouring paint on the surface and mixing colors. I find shapes and patterns are randomly appearing. I don’t paint straight lines, only lines that convey movement.
I dumb down some colored areas or brighten others. I search for light and shade. And I create an atmosphere inspired by my emotions. The process is important as each layer partially covers the previous one. Each brushstroke leads to the next one, and I react to what happens. Little by little the personal story I have inside me evolves until it’s done.
Presently my favorite media are acrylic on canvas and watercolor on a plastic “paper” called Yupo. However, I like to experiment with different approaches, subject matter and techniques. What will be the next step?