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How They See - Issue #28: François Bonnel on finding a pleasure in painting


How They See

January 23 · Issue #28 · View online

How They See will allow you to meet artists from all over the globe and understand their perception of art.

Published irregularly.

The first thing that crossed my mind when I was writing the foreword to interview with François Bonnel is that abstract art is very flexible in terms of form and a message artist would like to send. For some people, this statement may sound like a cliché and not be much revealing, but it makes more sense in the context of interviews presented at How They See.
Just last week I had published my discussion with Ioannis Lassithiotakis, abstract artist from Greece. He is using colours and shapes to convey a deeper message. François art is on a different side, more emotional and without philosophy or another context. The joy of playing with colours, shapes and following the passion he believes is definitely visible in his paintings. One can literally feel the soothing sensations and positive emotions. 
I can’t argue with François comment that: “…painting is a pure pleasure, there is nothing to lose”. 
You can follow François Bonnel on Instagram and learn more by visiting his website.

I thought for a while about opening up questions for our interview and decided that I couldn’t help asking this particular one. Côtes du Rhône wine is one of my favourites. What are your preferences?
I live in Toulouse, in the heart of a region where there are many wines. The wines of the South-West of France are extremely numerous and …good!
Minervois, Fronton, Gaillac or Cahors…but I have a preference for the “Haut-Medoc” of the Bordeaux region for red wines, and the white wines of the Loire.
You started to paint, to decompress after having worked in advertising. How did painting help you?
Painting has always been an outlet for me. For me it doesn’t require a great deal of concentration, but when I paint, I listen to music, I don’t think about things or events that I don’t like, I simply enjoy drawing a curve with the material and playing with colours. Just like children do…it’s very playful.
François Bonnel, Simulation expo, Galerie Miami
François Bonnel, Simulation expo, Galerie Miami
At the end of August, I interviewed Monica Perez, an abstract artist based in Los Angeles, USA. While preparing for our interview, I was struck by how similar your professional histories are: from the advertising industry to a successful artistic career. Why did you decide to take the plunge and become a full-time painter?
This decision was an obvious one! After 25 years of working in a professional sector, the pleasure was no longer there…I simply wondered: 
“What could make me want to get up every morning, ”…Painting and photography?
But to be able to live from one’s passion is not an evidence. A lot of people thought I was crazy…
But my wife and my 2 boys (15 and 11 at the time) encouraged me.
I gave myself 18 months to see if the project was “viable”.
Two years later, I consider it the best decision I ever made! I am very grateful to the galleries, social networks, and collectors for loving my paintings and believing in me.
I was once told that putting the first mark on a blank canvas is like an act of courage. You have fought your inner fears. From this point of view, what battles do you have to fight as an artist?
I don’t see things from that angle. When I’m in front of a blank canvas, I don’t feel like a driver on the edge of a cliff! But rather like a wine lover who is going to open a bottle and enjoy himself! There is no risk …painting is a pure pleasure, there is nothing to lose.
I read that you have tried figurative painting. Why did you switch to abstraction?
Probably because that’s the style of painting I prefer to look at. Abstraction, and especially minimalism, offer my imagination limitless opportunities.
François Bonnel, Back in black
François Bonnel, Back in black
How do you approach a creative process: is it spontaneous or do you plan thoroughly?
It’s a mix of both…I must admit that thanks to Instagram, I have the opportunity to see dozens of works by other artists every day that I appreciate and that creates an incredible infatuation in me. Often I materialize an idea on my Mac, I try out colour or shape associations, different framing…then once I’m in front of my canvas, I compose from memory. I always leave some room for improvisation.
Chuck Close says: “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us get down to work! What is your approach to inspiration?
Inspiration is a mystery! But in France, there’s a saying which goes: "Appetite comes with eating”.
Where I join Chuck Close is that personally, I don’t wait for inspiration to come to me. I go looking for it again and again!
On your website, I found a lot of pictures. Are they related to your painting?
I love taking pictures, and thanks to the quality of smartphones it’s getting easier and easier. Nowadays everyone can take pictures. Personally, the only common point I see with my painting is perhaps the importance of composition. But I have never made a painting from one of my photos.
What do you consider as a success? 
In my opinion, success must lead to something positive… If the feeling of happiness, of well-being, is reached and that it can be shared, then it is a success…
François Bonnel, Baby let's make it real
François Bonnel, Baby let's make it real
Can you give some advice to a self-taught artist or designer?
Always work, paint, draw, compose for yourself…never create something if you say “I do it for others !”
Be sincere with others and with yourself.
To create relentlessly, every day, without fear of failure…that makes you progress.
…and be patient!
And finally: “Never listen to advice!”
What is your favourite colour?
In fact, I don’t have the same “favourite colour” if it’s to paint a canvas, paint my living room, dress up or choose a car…
They are all indispensable.
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