Friday, February 5, 2016

Claire Wendling Interview Notes

Claire Wendling Interview Notes

Claire Wendling Interview with Bobby Chiu | Schoolism

I just finished my first week of "365 Days of Sketching Challenge," where I was doing studies of Claire Wendling, a talented French illustrator living in Angouleme.  I decided watching this interview would be a great way to end the week, it has been on my list for a while and I finally took some time to watch it during my son's afternoon nap.  Out of curiosity, and for anyone else wondering, I did a quick Google search for "How old is Claire Wendling?" and found out she is 48 years old this year.  After watching the interview, I realized it couldn't be more perfect to watch at this time when I am making goals and working on my own path back to art, because she had a point in her life where she had to do the same thing.  I found out we share other things in common as well (which I am sure many other artists are familiar with): a shy childhood, love of animals, unsure where career path would go, struggled with math.  More personally, we also share a common struggle, to get back on our feet after an illness, and dealing with a recovery period.  For me, after my illness I had an added challenge of adjusting to motherhood.  I am so thankful that Claire shared about her illness and recovery.  I feel comforted to know someone who went through the same thing, but always wish no one would ever have to go through it.  I have a deep understanding where she was at that time, and deeply empathize with the challenging thoughts she expressed about living with illness, some of which I catalogued below.  I remember telling my husband, before I heard this interview, the same thing about not being able to draw/create was like loosing a leg, but he didn't believe me until I showed him this interview.  I can honestly say it is by the grace of God that I am back on my feet again.  Of course, I must say I love hearing from Claire also because she is a female artist too!

Below are some of my favorite encouragements, quotes & tips gleaned from the interview, enjoy!

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- "When you are young you are full of a lot of envy, because you have to learn everything."  When you are old you have to invent something new and be better than the day before.

- First subject remembered drawing: dog on a chalk board, small pelican figurine

- First frustration: could visualize, but not draw a crocodile.

- Draws from memory first, then checks anatomy and ideas in books afterward to check what went wrong and to correct.  Forces working with brain first, to create instead of copy.

- Career Direction:  comic book collaboration with a writer friend (6-8 years), film art at Warner Brothers, personal art books published.

- Career Gap & Eventual Recovery:  home sick and alone in US so moved back to Angouleme stopped drawing for three years mostly because life full of pain and fear.

Claire:  "I didn't know why I was drawing, I didn't know how to draw, and I didn't know why I wanted to draw.  For one year I couldn't think, I couldn't watch T.V.  I realized after that was like loosing an arm or a leg, I missed something a capacity, an ability.  Before I was saying I don't need to draw for living, if I don't draw I can live, that's not so important, but it's weird it's like something is missing, something is not beating inside you anymore.  It's like you're not truthful.  I was not useful anymore for myself.  I don't need to draw everyday, I know that... but if I can't, I know something is broken inside me."

She became so sick at one point wasn't sure if would live or die.  "Every night I was going to bed saying, tomorrow will be better.  For three years I had problems, I had pain, and I was fed up...I didn't want to know."  

Healing: after two weeks in the hospital.

Bobby:  "And when you found out that you are coming back, you're going to live, everything is great again or starting to become great.  What about your art?"

Claire:  "It's not like that...before you had accepted you were going to die, so you have to allow yourself to live again."

"And so I tried to draw again, quite soon, I was afraid at first because I had forgotten so much.  I had lost three years...but you know people were telling me, you know, "drawing is like a bicycle you don't forget it."  Okay yeah, but you can fall off.  So I tried hard to remember why I was drawing.  It was so important to me.  And how to draw anyway."

Bobby:  "So you gave yourself some goals."

Claire:  "It took me a few months to adjust...a friend told me if you don't know what to draw, be your own client.  So I asked myself to draw every day on a single theme."  She picked fairies, because she already knew them.  "Every day I was at my after day I could experience pleasure again, so that was great, that was really great."

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