Yael Talleyrand, an artist based in Port-au-Prince will no doubt be among the ones being celebrated the same way the artists from last century are being lauded at auctions and exhibitions.
In Part I of my interview with her, we talked about how she got her start, and we also discussed about where business meets art. Now, follow along as we talk about creative blocks, and her future as a visual artist.
Kreyolicious: When people think of visual art…they don’t think that just like writers can have creative blocks a painter can have creative block too. I know I didn’t even think about until recently when I started to interview visual artists. Do you experience blocks?
Of course. Usually it happens when I am asked to paint something specific. It’s like being forced to talk about something you have no opinion about. Also, if I am painting about something that confuses me or that I have mixed feelings about.
Kreyolicious: How do you usually deal with this?
Then I just switch pieces and work on something else. It is very rare that I will not want to paint at all.
Kreyolicious: Do you have any unfinished paintings?
I dont think of paintings in terms of finished or unfinished unless its a commission. A lot of time I thought I was done with a piece, and later on ended up needing to make drastic changes to it for it to convey what I wanted to say. Sometimes I start painting on impulse, based on something I am feeling very strongly at that particular moment and later on, as the feeling fades off, I lose motivation to finish the piece or stop feeling as if it is relevant. In that case I either start over or let the piece be and forget about it.
Kreyolicious: Are you particularly picky when it comes to choosing tools to paint? What are some of your must-haves?
Not as picky as some masters, but I love for my oils to be rich in pigments. I like for my gesso to be creamy and do not like to have to substitute it for house paint, like some artists do here due to the lack of materials — or soap for brush cleaner. I like sharp square paintbrushes, long and flexible palette knives, lots of blades, and I love having access to art stores not to feel limited in any way whatsoever in my choice of materials. I’ve found it however to be very confining to think like this and it creates blocks. I’ve been recently in some situation where I’ve had to create work with absolutely none of the materials I am used to, painting with a spoon and hibiscus tea as ink for instance.
Kreyolicious: Do you feel that there are misconceptions about female visual artists out there?
Women tend to be underestimated in all fields. Art included.
Kreyolicious: I was shocked to see Paul Gaugin and Van Gogh on a list of artists who died broke. But these are people who lived decades and centuries ago. I think that not only artists these days are more keen to making their artistic lives sustainable, but there are a whole lot more outlets and opportunities in our day. Does the business woman in you ever have to fight with the artist in you and vice versa?
I am emotionally attached to my work, thus making it very hard for me to see as the business it needs to be to allow me to live off of it. The reason why positions such as patrons, managers and advisers for artists exist is because it isn’t obvious for the individual creating to be able to handle all the different aspects surrounding their work by themselves. And I would lie if i said I didnt struggle with that every day, but I am getting closer and closer and having that balance.
Kreyolicious: What’s the best thing that’s happened to you so far?
As an artist? I guess being blessed with hundreds of creatively inclined people as my entourage and getting to constantly gravitate from art space to art space learning more and more from other artist. Other artist help me grow considerably.
Kreyolicious: Where do you hope to take your career?
The art world is magical, best is to keep creating and letting the destination be a surprise. I definitely want to do something relating to art education in Haiti, as well as owning a gallery or art store there. As for the rest I am leaving it up to the Universe.
Kreyolicious: What advice would you give the Yael of five years ago maybe…in terms of what’s coming ahead?
I really wish there was an actual way for me to go back five years and tell that Yael that it isn’t necessary to try to morph herself into something that is socially acceptable, an artist needs to learn to accept their true nature in order to produce the best and truest work they can. Back then I was very confused as to why I was so hard for me to be “normal”, or why I had no interest in so many things everyone seemed to die for; that confusion created a nightmare: it was very hard for me to accept what I felt were the right calling to follow, the right decision to make. But to be honest, I would probably not even say anything because going through that nightmare taught me so much—and am not sure I would’ve wanted to avoid it.
This concludes Part II of the interview with Yael Talleyrand. Did you miss out PART I? GO HERE.