Cosmocreole talks to a talented artist and illustrator, Chantale Grange, who runs The Art Soothe Instagram page and website www.theartsoothe.com. Her Instagram page aims to provide art that soothes hence the caption ‘Soothing your way through the chaos’.
After completing her A’levels in Seychelles, including A’level Art, Chantale pursued further studies and graduated with an LLB in Law and started a career in Law as a legal advisor and consultant. However, she’s always had a yearning to paint as a hobby.
“Life is full of chaotic information, stress and pressures that sometimes you need to adopt an activity that brings calmness and serenity to your mind and body. And that is exactly what painting does for me.”
How did you become an artist?
There came a moment in my life when I had a lot of time to myself. So time, coupled with searching for something to occupy this time, is what led me back to this original passion of mine. It is a marvelous and rare thing to have time to sit and decide ‘what do I really want to do today? what do I really want to put all my energy into today?’ Life moves so fast, and when you do get a moment to slow down and check-in with yourself, it is really important to take such an opportunity. And painting was the activity I decided to go into. So I bought myself some basic watercolour pencils from a supermarket and created a set of colourful foliage.
Fast forward a few years, and I am sharing new artwork almost daily on my Instagram page @the_art_soothe. My website showcases my creations, and I have met an amazing network of artists and creatives online. I am very happy to have had this chance to go back into that world of colours and creativity.
Did you receive any formal training?
I completed and passed A level Art in Seychelles. However, I have always loved drawing and painting, and it was the obvious choice when faced with art or computer studies at school. After my post-compulsory education, I moved into the field of legal services. I graduated with an LLB in Law and started a career in Law as a Legal Advisor and consultant.
I always had a yearning to keep painting as a hobby. In the end, I think having a good background in art studies does help when it comes to technique, but you also need to have a passion for creating; you need to continuously be practising and trying new methods of expressing your art. Many members of my family are also very good at drawing, so perhaps it is all hereditary.
How would you describe your style?
This is a hard question for me as my art is something that is fluid and changes depending on my mood. I love colour, I enjoy painting plants and flowers, but sometimes my style can be more abstract. But overall, my art is lively, happy and colourful. Sometimes I paint something that captures a moment in time and is very sentimental to me or to someone else. Sometimes I simply paint whatever comes to mind.
When it comes to materials, how do you choose?
I paint on watercolour paper using watercolour pigment, sometimes mixed with gouache paint and pen ink. I repurpose a lot of objects around the house, for example, old jars to hold the water for the brushes; I reuse paper to sketch and do colour swatches and old cloth to clean the paintbrushes.
When it comes to the type of paper, watercolour paper is preferred, but there are many different paper compositions, such as textured or fine-grained, which changes the look of your art. I have been referred to as a ‘paper hoarder’, and I keep items that I think I can paint on to create something colourful from something ordinary.
What colours are in your palette, and what mediums do you use?
I use mostly watercolour paint, which I mix with gouache paint and sometimes draw with pen ink. My colour palette is varied and depends on the tone of the artwork I am creating—bold colours for a more vibrant drawing—pastel colours for a more minimalist piece.
Through these mediums, I am able to create bookmarks, cards, cutouts and portraits. Once I have completed a drawing, I scan the artwork at a high resolution, allowing me to digitalise the art and use it to create cards, icons for websites and blogs, logos, and so on.
Have you always used watercolour?
At school, the main medium was acrylic or gouache and, of course, pencil. Once you get the hang of mixing and manipulating pigment to reach the opacity and consistency you require, the rest is up to your imagination. I find that watercolour allows you to experiment easily with the different styles of painting, such as creating gradients and layering colours. I love the moody, slightly romantic and artsy look of watercolour.
Who are your artistic influences?
I can list all the classical artists such as Monet, Cézanne, Kahlo, who were obviously amazing artists, and even today, there are so many amazing modern artists creating visual masterpieces, either digitally or through the more traditional means. There are also brilliant artists in Seychelles who create mind-blowing pieces inspired by the island’s flora and fauna. But there are also artists or illustrators who create on a smaller scale—artwork for books, products, posters, websites, greeting cards, logos, to name a few; they too possess impressive skillsets and have a great portfolio of creations.
Instagram and Pinterest are two platforms that can provide a huge amount of inspiration, and you can discover artists who share their passion for art through tutorials and blogs. I also enjoy painting the creations of other creatives.
What are the long term goals for your art?
The interest in my artwork came as a surprise to me as I was initially very reluctant to showcase my creations online. But I started an Instagram page in 2019, and I have watched it grow as well as noted how the quality of my work improved.
From there on, my following also expanded, and with Covid sending everyone home to work and do some gardening, many people decided to either launch into their own artistic exploit or to find something creative and unique to gift to others. I am happy to see such a growing interest in the field of Art in Seychelles led by young professionals who are looking for ways to share their creations with others.
I do currently accept art commission requests for personalised illustrations, and I am grateful to have had a chance to work on some wonderful projects as a way of evolving my skills, for example, in the creation of artwork for seasonal menus, custom artwork for business cards and custom portraits.
I would like to also interact more with people and to learn what type of art-related activity they would like to engage in so that I can develop a few projects in line with this. Whether it be customised colouring books or online tutorials, there are many options that can be worked on.
It is widely known that art is a therapy that can help both adults and children so I would like to eventually focus on that through my work and website. In the long term, I hope to create a few tutorials that will make people feel more at ease to pick up a paintbrush and create a wonderful activity to do as a family or on your own as a hobby. I have published a few tutorials through the Seychelles Nation newspaper and on my website and would love to create a few more and be part of this creative wave in Seychelles and internationally.
My main goal is to bring that same soothing experience that I get from creating to the people who view my work. Art can be an outlet that calms the mind, almost like a meditation process. I find that I have a desire to paint and to create when I am feeling stressed or have a lot on my mind. Painting simply allows me to put everything into perspective and to also take a moment for myself to simply be calm and centered. It is something that has helped me a lot as someone who suffers from bouts of anxiety and may help others who are finding it hard to cope with daily pressures, the pandemic, and with just life in general. My work in the legal field can be very demanding and restrictive, and having a side project such as The Art Soothe has really been one of the best things I could have done.
Covid has terrorised us all in one way or another but on the other hand, it has given us a chance to practice slow living, to enjoy the small things, nature and to just be calm and content. Taking up a hobby that can be turned into a business could allow you to truly do something you enjoy. Be bold and get creative!