An exciting mix of vivid pastel paintings make up a current exhibit in the Four Corners Gallery of Red Deer College’s library.
Featuring 10 pieces, ‘The Importance of Line’ by City artist Elena Rousseau runs through to Jan. 9.
Rousseau, who is originally from Romania, wrapped up her second year of visual arts studies at Red Deer College back in 2010 and has been boldly continuing her creative journey since. She met her Canadian husband several years ago while she was still working in Romania prior to settling in Red Deer.
These days, she’s studying English via the collaborative program at RDC and the University of Calgary as well, and is also working on a children’s book.
But her love of painting hasn’t diminished one whit as her range of interests and artistic pursuits flourish. Looking back on where her talents stem from, she describes her father as an artistic man at heart, but who didn’t really have the chances to apply those gifts.
“The return to the basics is the ground this project is built on,” explains Rousseau of The Importance of Line. “It explores the line as key element in drawing – in this case – the classical model. The line can unite or divide, can be clear, obvious or implied – the mere meeting place for planes of tone or colour. And, as if these are not enough, by hatching and crosshatching, the line can become tone or colour.”
Out of the several important elements in design is the line itself, and how it can be manipulated to convey all kinds of moods and sensibilities.
“It can suggest stability and solidity, or confusion, turbulence and turmoil. It can deliver a sensation of movement and energy or of tranquility and silence. Soft, curvy lines suggest relaxation and safety. In rendering the curves of the human body, they have an agreeable, sensual feel.”
Rousseau describes ‘line’ as the friend of an artist. “Through its quality, character or direction it can convey emotions, mood and expressivity.
“I’ve also tried to create shadows by just emphasizing the lines – when the line is stronger and darker, it will act like that certain area is shaded.” She adds that a painting’s tone can therefore be conveyed through how the line is utilized.
Rousseau is clearly a gifted artist. Each portrait captures a certain mood of the model; a personal snapshot in time. And as the pieces took shape, she became increasingly comfortable in the process of bringing them to fruition.
“They are in a style that I seem to be adopting more and more,” she adds.
The pieces in The Importance of Line were created over the span of about two years – she had to juggle her studies and volunteer work with finishing the portraits. But having time to finish the works and ‘revisit’ them for the occasional change before she declared them done is all part of the journey. “I do have some pieces that I started about six years ago, and I keep looking at them and thinking they’re just not done,” she explains with a laugh.
Meanwhile, she enjoys the constant sense of challenge that creating works of art provides. “One of my instructors once told me ‘Nothing gets done if you don’t get out of the comfort zone’. It’s a very true thing.”
She treasures the fact her work can bring happiness to viewers, and it’s a reminder of how impacting art can ultimately be.
“It’s all challenging, and you are always trying to better yourself and trying to achieve something new. You are also trying to represent things as you see them – what is important for you?”
Observing how others express themselves is also a source of inspiration. “I try and look at things from a different perspective.”
Living in Canada has also opened the doors to a sense of freedom when it comes to creating work. “You can express yourself anyway you want.”
Ultimately, there also always seems to be something that Rousseau want to say through her art. “It’s exciting,” she says. “It’s challenging and interesting – it’s like a game.”