Everyone’s work is deeply idiosyncratic: in our regular Spotlight segment we explore artists’ experiences and inspiration to understand what defines and inspires their unique styles. Thierry Lafontaine surprised us not only by how in depth his answers to our questions were but also the wide variety of styles and techniques in his commissions. This is only a small selection of his work, be sure to check out more at the links below.
I was born in Brazil and adopted at the age of 2 weeks. I grew up in Quebec. I always loved learning and I have always been fascinated by life and discovering new things. I studied a lot of things on my life. I went to college in Sciences, then did Film Studies. After I studied wine, Comic Books, Art, and then Animation.
One day someone asked me what would I do if I would win the lottery and have so much money that I wouldn't need to work and could do absolutely anything that I wanted all day. The answer that I came up to for this question, I would just learn all my life. When I realized that the reason why I kept studying different things and was getting bored of every job I had after a few months was because I just enjoyed always learning about new things, I felt like I had learn a pretty useful thing about myself. I almost became a lot of things, I almost went in the army, almost became a computer programmer, ad 3d modeller, a business man, I worked in the wine industry and as wine adviser for years but after a few months I always felt my heart whispering in my hear to do something new.
One thing that I always did was to follow my heart. When you follow your heart you take an unknown path and your brain and your logic tell you that this is the wrong path and that you shouldn't be doing that. It also looks like you are doing the wrong thing when you follow your heart but it feels right. There is that faint silent voice inside of you that guides you and that tells you that you are doing the right thing and there is the loud voices of your brain and your logic telling you that you aren't and showing you proofs that you aren't. Follow your heart doesn't make any logical sense, but it feels right. When I found art, I was 24 years old. I realized that it was it was the perfect job for me because artists are eternal students and that if one day I wanted to learn about any subject I could study it, draw it, and paint about it. If the next day I was interested in something completely different, then I could just switch and learn, paint, and draw about that new subject. When I was 28 I was sleeping on tutor's floor and spending my days learning and doing art while all my friends were buying houses, getting married, and having kids. It sure looked like I wasn't doing the right thing, but it felt right because I was following my heart.
After years of hard work, persistence, determination, and blindly following my heart I accidentally started teaching. At the time I wasn't really in touch with my intuition as I am right now so I had to break ever thing that I was learning into rational explanations in order to assimilate it so it was easy to explain to others what I was doing when I was drawing. I started developing a passion for Life Drawing (which is drawing the human models) and was going to extra Life Drawing sessions for over 20 hours a week. When my classmates were asking me how do you draw this and that it was easy for me to be like here is what I am thinking about when I draw this thing, or here is how this part works. My classmates started telling me that I was explaining this in a very clear way and that is how I discovered that affinity to teach. I wouldn't consider myself a teacher, but more of a learner. I just love learning so much. I became very efficient at learning with time, it is my passion and I constantly try to find new ways to learn and to become better and better at it. My true passion is learning and art is a never ending learning journey so I know I learning found my calling. Picasso said that the meaning of life is to find your gift, and the purpose of life is to give it away, I can say by experience that it is true. I also believe that the more you learn about art, the more you learn about yourself, and the more you learn about yourself, the more you know about others. My gift is my insatiable passion for learning and giving it away is accompanying others that also follow their heart and walk a few steps on their path to becoming a better artist with them and share with them the gems that I found on my path. I love company, I crossed path with hundreds of artists along the way and anyone that is committed to becoming a better artists and that really wants to learn can contact me. I often take apprentices that move in with me for a month or so and we learn together and for the time being, our paths to become better artists join and become one.
I have many passions, such as learning, nature, spirituality, communication, storytelling, shamanism, plants, and I always find new passions. I work as a Concept Artists and Character Designer on films and love doing illustrations for children's books. I am working on publishing my own books soon.
Nature is the best teacher. I live in Canada, in the country, in the forest. I am surrounded by trees and wildlife and I feel that this type of environment is very important to me. I feel this deep connection to nature and I found my environment to be very inspiring. When I have artists blocks, I just go outside and take a walk. I do landscape painting and keep seeing interesting things that I want to paint. I love the quietness, the smell of nature, and to feel like I am not in my environment, but part of it. I think that it is important to love where you live and that nowadays, with the internet, artists can live anywhere and do work for anyone on the planet.
My greatest inspiration is Nature. It is fascinating to me and and a bottomless well of knowledge and novelty. It never ceases to amaze me and whenever I take the time to observe it I fell that it teaches me new things. I believe in something called the Gaia Hypothesis also known as the Gaia theory or the Gaia principle. It proposes that living organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic and self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet. The originality of the Gaia hypothesis relies on the assessment that there is a planetary homeostasis balance that is actively pursued with the goal of keeping the optimal conditions for life. I believe that our planet and nature is conscious living organism that I am part of so when I run out of inspiration I just meditate on this connection and I instantly feel inspired. I also know that when you believe something, it doesn't matter whether it is true or not, because the effect it has on you is real no matter if that belief is true or not.
One piece that has been significant in my artistic development is called Lady of the Forest. This piece is significant for me because painting it was a special experience for me. By the end of the painting, I wasn't the same artist than at the beginning. I started this piece with the intent of learning how to paint foliage. I wanted Nature to teach me how to paint foliage. I observed Nature and entered into this internal dialogue in my head and spend the next few hours in a meditation like state trying different ways to paint foliage and failing over and over and no matter how many times I fail I just kept going and going and trying and trying until I reach something called a flow state. In positive psychology, flow, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one's sense of space and time. By the end of the painting I had came up with two new different painting technique and a new way to use my digital pen. Every time that I look at this piece, I remember how amazing the experience of painting it was.
I share something called The Gift with my students. The Gift is the ability to see beyond the surface of things, to see the essence of things, to see the invisible relationships that fill the seemingly empty space between things. I think the mission of the artists is to use this gift to manifest physically the wonders of the invisible world of his imagination. It think the most useful skill for an artist is his ability to see beyond the surface of things and see wonders where most people see nothing or banality.
You can find my work here:
You might also like...