Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
To be short and sweet I recently moved to Austin, Texas after spending the last six years in Florida. I am originally from Quebec City, Canada. I had spent the first fifteen years of my adult life working as an art director in advertising. In search for a more creative and fulfilling life, I began eleven years ago my journey into Fine Arts. My husband and painter, Carmelo Blandino, put a paint brush in my hands and I never looked back. Painting was a vigorous eight years of training for what would become my true passion, Photography, … most specifically, digital composite. For the last three years I had devoted my entire life, my soul, and much more to develop what I call my “True voice”.
What brought you to photography?
To be honest, I didn’t know but I hated painting. A photographer and very good friend of mine, Ed Chappell had offered to let me borrow his small Canon G9. A month later, I returned his camera and showed him the first two pieces I had created using a camera and Photoshop. His reaction was very revealing. He gracefully gave me his camera and offered me to let me borrow any equipment I needed for my future projects. I INSTANTLY dropped the brushes and went full force in my new direction, photography.
Did your family and childhood affect your decision to become an artist?
I was born an artist. As a child, I was enjoying crafting and dancing. My parents were musicians, so the climate was favorable to my artistic nature. But I felt very different from the rest of my family … somehow, more sensitive… I had the urge to break free from the tribe at a very young age. I think my independence and originality was the driving force to become an artist.
Which photographers and other artists work do you admire and what about their work inspires you?
The list is long! But let’s say that Joan Mitchell was the first artist who made me feel the power of the Divine within her work. Standing in front of her paintings gave me that heart pounding desire to express myself artistically and to become more confident and bold.
Another artist who completely turned me upside down was Jerôme Martin. I saw one of his exhibitions at the Montreal Contemporary Museum of Fine Arts and I was floored by the intelligence and beauty behind his series called ECRANS. In that moment, standing in the middle of the room with my mouth open, I understood what my life purpose was. I was no longer searching!
Since then, many other artists touched my soul and continue to do so. I am very sensitive to beauty and intelligence. Art in all forms has the power to transform me. It gives me that energy force, that drive I need to surpass myself.
In your mind what makes a great photograph?
A great observer.
What challenges do you face as a photographer?
Do not under-estimate the genius power of naïveté behind your first works. A lack of technical skills forces you to be more creative and often, the results produces magical images.
Becoming technically skilled can be a curse. I find myself cut in the details and my work become more cerebral and repetitive. So, the biggest challenge for me is to keep myself in a position of uncertainty. It allows my true originality to shine through.
How do you over come a creative block?
I drink a lot of red wine and avoid looking at other artists’ work. I take a short trip, I play, I empty my mind and then the magic happens again.
When I am on a tight deadline where I MUST produce, I remind myself that ” crafting.”, “manipulating my medium”, is the way to make myself available to receive Divine intervention. By being present I have much more chance to receive. Hiding in fear is NOT an effective technique to overcome creative blocks.
And how do you go about planning a shoot?
It depends. A lot of my work is very spontaneous. I often produce a piece with the “image bank” that I have been creating for the last three years. But now I am working on projects that are more staged. This is where I put myself out of my comfort zone and transform my studio into a science lab. It’s pure chaos. Everything stops around me until I get some results. I run back and forth to Home Depot, meet with eccentric pet shop owners, beg professionals to help me… anything can go! Thinking about it, I could create a very funny documentary on the subject. It’s a surreal experience.
Would you tell us about your workspace?
When I left my painting years behind, I promised myself to create a studio I could put in a suitcase. I wanted to make sure I could take off spontaneously and work anywhere I wanted. My studio fits in a suitcase! I have an excellent camera and a few lenses, 2 speed light flashes, and my photography space is the size of a closet. I have a room in my house that became my studio. It is a smart,
compact, and efficient space. I have liberated myself from “stuff”. I live light and it allows me more time to create.
How important is the “creative community” to your art form?
This is a sensitive subject…to be honest, the creative community just started to acknowledge my work. Until about a year ago, I was a lonely sailer navigating the turbulent sea of the art world. It made me strong and independent. I am in a better position to choose and negotiate. I understood the value of believing in myself and I became more comfortable with the business aspect of my art career.
I am slowly developing a relationship with the creative community. It is a marriage I do not want to fail, so I take my time.
How does your art affect the way you see the world?
My life as an artist made me more humble. My ego so often got crushed that it made me understand it’s limitation. I see and live life with a much more open heart. Less and less judgment occupy my mind and I do see more beauty in the world. It’s all a question of perception, right?
How do you hope your art contributes?
My art is a tribute to nature. I hope to make the viewer feel the sense of freedom that nature proposes for us. I create an abode where it feels good to sojourn and revitalize oneself.
Within that space, the viewer can experience the brief sparkle of awakening to their true nature.
Where can we see your work, and would you like to share any upcoming projects?
From September 5 to Nov 9, 2013, I will be participating in the TEXAS BIENNIAL which will be held at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum in San Antonio. Also, I am presently the “online featured artist” with Verve Gallery in Santa Fe. I have representation in Canada, the U.S., and Europe. Next October , I will be presenting my work in Los Angeles at the Westgate Design Fair.
Any stories about your work you would like to share?
My biggest wish is to collaborate with other talented artists. My next step…installation art!
Thank you, Ysabel for sharing your work and your words. To learn more about Ysabel LeMay please visit her site. http://www.ysabellemay.com