FINALLY, I got my hands on this book that I wanted for so long, by Amy Novesky and one of my favourite illustrators, Isabelle Arsenault, ABOUT another artist I admire hugely – Louise Bourgeois! Great combination to make me love everything about it! Each of these artists would deserve a post, but this time I want to focus on the work of the talented illustrator from Quebec, Isabelle Arsenault.
A short search on her name will show you that she is one of the most popular illustrators both among the critics and the readers around the world with an impressive following in social media. Since 2004, she has won numerous prestigious prizes for her illustrations including the Governor General’s Award three times (!)… Born in 1978 she grew up in the wild Côte Nord (North Shore) region of Quebec, now living and working in Montreal. This is actually where I saw her work for the first time, in a cosy book store not far from Saint Joseph’s Oratory. It was the perfect setting to bring a pile of her books to the closest big comfy armchair and discover a new universe. At this time, I had just returned to drawing again myself, but without any plans to make this a new profession.
Isabelle Arsenault likes working on long-term projects as she wants to go deeper into the narrative and illustrate the stories from beginning to end which is rarely the case with commercial and editorial work. Each new story needs a different rendering and technique, but often she starts with pencil and black ink, adding gouache and watercolours. To me, the contrast between pencil and watercolour is part of what makes her imagery so special. Every picture is a little work of art in itself, in a way independent from the text. Isabelle Arsenault also defines herself as an artist more than anything else.
I find the subjects of her books really fascinating. In “Jane, le renard et moi” (Jane, the Fox and Me) written by Fanny Britt, a little girl seeks refuge in the literary world of Jane Eyre created by Charlotte Brontë and in “Virginia Wolf” we meet the famous author Virginia Woolf as a young girl. “Le coeur de Monsieur Gauguin” (The Heart of Mister Gauguin) by Marie-Danielle Croteau, tells the story of how a traumatic loss changed the life of the great painter Paul Gauguin when just a young boy, and in “My letter to the world and other poems” she illustrates the words of Emily Dickinson. This is but a small sample of her many children’s books and a complete résumé can be found on her website.
This series, “Beauty will save the World”, is a way for me to keep track of wonderful things I discover on my journey as an illustrator and to share them with you. Every artist here has a certain quality that I admire and would like to learn from. You could say that I picked them as my personal guides on the road of creativity . We need to keep learning and stay inspired. To achieve that, what could be better than following beauty wherever it is to be found?!
All copyrights of the pictures belong to the artist Isabelle Arsenault