Rocio Heredia, Metalsmith Artist - Chasing and Repoussé in Metalworks.

Interview with Michel Vermeulen, Artist Painter - Music in Painting

Artist to Artist by © Rocío Heredia

 Please tell us something about yourself, where you grew up, and when you were a little boy, what did you wish to be?
I grew in Verdun, a small city which is located very close to the downtown area of the large Canadian metropolis, Montreal. When I was child to young adult, driving racing cars was my greater desire to be. I was seeing myself as a Formula 1 pilot. Moreover I had much talent, but talent is not the only necessary asset to drive a F1. Much money is also needed, which I did not have even if my parents were financially at ease. The sums are too amazing in racing cars, and more one climbs the levels race, worse it is! To be pilot of F1, it is necessary to be a talented and an extremely rich person.

Do you remember the moment when you realized that you wanted to be a painter, over any other profession? Please tell me how you became aware of your ambition.
Child, I drew constantly. Only son, I adored to color. It was my preferred distraction. I became aware of my ambition after having realized that F1 was not accessible for me. I had gained some amateur prizes at primary and secondary schools, what assure me that I had a certain talent!

I understand that you are self taught. How do you feel that not having a formal art preparation has affected you as an artist?
I believe it really favored me, let me explain… I received, nevertheless, a basic training during secondary school: color mixes, light and shades technique, tested several mediums, and most of all practice, practice, practice. The fact of not being framed by a university structure, deeply helped me. I could look further into my style more quickly and entirely devote me to it. With Fine Arts schools, people work various mediums and techniques which does not always really interest them, but they must make it to be noted to some extent. They are forced to do it in spite of them. I could not conceive this mentality. I cannot differently carry out a work than with my heart, my guts and all freedom of expression!

If someone has your gift of art, should they go to art school and why?
It is a so personal choice... I would say to you that it should really be felt in oneself. Me, I did not feel it and did not believe in it. I believe that the school can awake the artist in oneself but if the artist is already conscious of his art, why standardize it? I had already my style at the time... I have it since 1978, and my technique 3d too. Therefore, I did not have really any interest and motivation for the school of fine arts.

What was your first painting? Do you have a photo of this painting?
It was a Formula 1 travelling with sharp pace on a race circuit. It is besides there that I took my technique of movement effect which characterizes my works today. I only replaced the car by musical instruments, as if those really lived. I have more than a photo… I still own the original work!

How do you define art, and have recognition and awards had an effect on your career?
For me, art is to recreate a world with its manner and with the pallet of colors which surrounds us, by the fruit of our emotions, as if it was a marriage of life. Contests are important. They give the opportunity to be known and to be recognized, and by the same occasion, one sells more and more expensive. Several purchasers buy only works of painters who win contests. I find that really damage because one should buy a painting with his heart and his soul, not by financial, or to make money!

What is your favorite medium and how does it influence your creativity?
I have only one medium... Oil! Working with the thickness of this paste, I can play with dimensions, raise a part as if it were going to leave the fabric. It is my famous 3D technique! The duration of drying is much longer, but the result is really spectacular.

Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?
Yes, there are four artists who influenced my step and whom I admire deeply: First is Alfred Pellan for his cordial and sharp colors; Second is Picasso for its brilliant and exclusive forms; Third Van Gogh, for its stroke of magic brush; Last but not least, Jean-Paul Riopelle for his extraordinary imaginary.

Which movements have you been influenced by?
I tried to take a little of all the influences and to do only one of them... Mine! But, lets say that the cubism and impressionism are the two principal ones of my work.

What technique do you use in your work?
I call it my technique 3d. In short, I play much with the volume and the quantity of my paste to give a three dimensions exclusive effect.

Please define your style. Would you explain how you have developed it to its current, very unique status.
Like I already mentioned here above, it is by reproducing a racing car which slips by at full speed that the idea came to me to do the same effect of movement on other objects, such as musical instruments.

I'm tempted to ask about the recurrence of musical instruments at the center of your work. What qualities determine your choice and why did you become attracted to them?
The music for me is synonymous with festival, joy, peace... I am against the war, and the music represents the total opposition of the war! The music, it is the harmony of the people, it is the sound of peace, it is the love between the human ones... It is the festival of the Earth!

Other subjects seem to play an important theme in your work. What do pears and candles represent to you in art?
Pears represent for me: the sensuality, the shapes of the human body and life! The candles, on their part... are the environment, the cordiality and the intimacy!

Tell us about your use of color.
The colors are often the heart of the artist... I have a tendency to hot, sharp and merry colors! For me, a painting should represent the joy in life and celebrates it, while knowing very well that we always have some power on all... The good like the evil!

What is the inspiration behind your artwork? Where do you find the inspiration for your work? What stimulates your imagination best?
I share my imaginary universe with all, the world in which I would like to live in reality… I create my perfect world, my loving world, my festive world; because for me, life should be a continuous festival and a collective sharing of each day! What stimulates me... Life in its whole! Positive energies, nature, trees, brooks... Everything!

How does audience play a role in your creative endeavor?
The public does not play any part. It is my imaginary which controls all! I paint what I see in my unconscious; when the painting is finished, it becomes conscious!

Which of your paintings has given you the most gratification of your career? Which is your favorite piece and why?
They all have a history to tell... An emotion to be shared! They all reward me… My favorite piece… "Le chant éternel" (the eternal song)! Why? It is simple, the painting represents my good-byes with my father who has just died, a homage to his eternal rest... If you look at this painting attentively, you will find a funeral urn on the bench, and on its side, two daisies very close to it. Further, there is a candle in the shape of torch which releases a flame in the shape of cross. The piano represents my father in human form; one can see there the head, the nose, the eyes, the belly and a leg with his foot in the keyboard. A kind of coffin filled with beauty! The moon represents the end of the one day lifetime, the end of the lifetime of a body... The body of my father! The man who sat close to the piano, it is me: his son!

There seems to be a lot of passion and sensuality in all your artwork. What do you consider that makes your work unique?
I believe, that the fact of having created a style from all the others makes my painting unique... I joined together all the styles to do one, my style! It is probably one of the reasons of my success; my repertory is larger… The one who buys only cubism will find it in my style, even thing for all the other purchasers of different styles, my style gathers them all!

Which challenges do you confront as an artist?
Those which I assert myself personally.

Which is your most important unfulfilled wish? What do you aspire to as an artist?
To lead the human being to accept what cannot change... To change what can be, and the knowledge to make the difference of it! To what do I aspire... Universal love, daily happiness, magic of the life and peace of the soul!

In what ways do you feel the Internet affects art, today or in the future? Do you feel the Internet is more positive or negative or neither in this aspect?
I believe that the Internet is very positive for all the artists... It is a door open on the whole world! It is also an incredible tool for publicity... Today, I sell my paintings throughout the world, thanks to the Internet; I have fans in every nook and cranny of the sphere! It is brilliant...

What about your immediate plans for the future. What are your working on at present? Would you give us a preview?
At present, I am on holiday. I will start again to paint from November 1st, and I usually finish around May 31st of each year! I only produce 20 paintings per annum, therefore my works are rare and my dimension increases continuously... It is good for the collectors! (Smile) I very seldom plan... Life gets busy with that for me!
I will have a determining contest for my career in Paris, France, in 2004. I will represent my country, Canada, over there! The International of Paris is the number one world event world for visual arts. If I gain this prize, my financial future is ensured and that of my children too. The value of my paintings will be multiplied by 10, and will double every year. I do not like the jet set, but a recognition like that, it is always flattering! To be recognized like the world number one also. Despite everything, I believe that several painters deserve and can aspire to this honor. I remain the two feet well on ground!

How do you feel you have been blessed personally from embracing the life of an artist?

I thank Gods each day for their kindness towards me and I hope to be able one day to give back all these benefits that life brought to me. For me, to win the contest in Paris would mean financial implication even more important on my part with an aim of helping the poor and destitute peoples of my country! More and more, Canada divides between people who are either very rich or very poor, and those which suffer most from it are the children who do not eat any more according to their hunger. The homeless people are another layer of society that are in need, they need moral support, food, and a roof on the head. For me, social sharing and implication start there! I am very committed in my community and I would like to make even more... For us!

Finally, what advice would you give a young painter just starting and wondering where to begin?
He or she must start by believing in it... It is fundamental! To believe in him or her, and to give 110% of himself (herself). To believe that he or she is the best in the world! When it is known that our product is unique and good for the company, that it makes smile and not cry... One is always gaining! Life will take care of the remainder. Rely on life and all will go well for you! I have practiced this trade for more than twenty-five years and I have been succeeding for only five years; therefore, it was often tough... But, I always believed in it and I am persuaded that my larger force was there.

Dear Michel, Our viewers and I appreciate your time and responses to my questions. Best Regards!
Thanks to all of you.


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