... in the big leagues.
By Gilles Fisette
Pauline Boudreau is a rare breed. You might even say she is an endangered species. She is an outdoor artist. She deploys her easel in the wilderness much like the pre-impressionist and impressionist artists of the past. She prefers to paint live in front of the subject often in open country or near a stream.
« I can stay many hours in the same place. I leave in the morning with my supplies and my lunch. Stuart Main a friend of mine who is celebrating his 86th. birthday often joins me. Once I find a place that speaks to me, I set up my equipment and I paint. Yesterday I was on the banks of the Keybrook stream with Chantal Julien, another outdoor enthusiast with whom we participate in festivals outside Quebec. The weather was constantly changing. I had to adjust my colour palette many times to achieve my vision. »
Why don’t you work in the comfort of your studio?
« In the winter when the temperature is too cold then I don’t have a choice, I stay warm. After two or three weeks it’s as if I don’t know how to paint anymore. I need to get out again in my element. » Pauline Boudreau was born in the countryside of Sawyerville, in the Eastern Townships on her parents’ dairy farm. The eldest of eight children, a social worker by trade. She started painting at the age of 25 but has devoted all her time to painting in the last 35 years. Her resumé includes more than 2000 works of art, one third according to her estimate have been sold. If, in the begining she worked exclusively with watercolors, later she added oil medium to her pallet.
« One day I happen to visit an exhibit of the works of Jean-Paul Ladouceur, an exceptional watercolourist and past president of the Canadian Society of Watercolourists. When I saw his work, it changed my life. Later, I heard he was giving a workshop in Piedmont, I registered for his workshop, he was like a god to me. After that we lost touch for a dozen years. However, for the last four years of his life (he passed away in 1992), I would travel to Vimont from September to Mai to work with him and learn. In life you must take risks, I was a nobody, but he still worked with me. » « I really learned the hard way, I worked hard… when I would tell people I worked with Jean-Paul Ladouceur they were surprised. He had a reputation of never having anything nice to say. I would answer that I was there to learn and not to get compliments. »
Have you worked with other artists?
« I was very fortunate, everywhere I went the professional artists adopted me. It’s incredible how much I learned from by peers who were always willing to give me feedback on my work. I was lucky, not all artists are willing to help. »
« I was privileged to have been accepted in the ranks of many American artists, most notably from the Cap Ann School and Boston. I would make myself very small and I guess that took pity on me. Don Stone and Charles Movalli were some of the artists I hung around with. » Pauline Boudreau loves to paint landscapes when the snow is speared by the new vegetation, or when falls rainbow is replaced brown. Why?
« I am not a colourist. I do not paint flowers and I don’t want my work to reflect today’s trend. I am a dinosaur. »
And the next generation?
« Young outdoor artists are rare in Québec, there are a few in the United States. I will have to unearth one to help push my wheelchair when I am old and still painting outdoor. »