Atlanta-based artist Renée Bouchon is a Land of Belle favorite. Her approachable, abstract works add beautiful color and spirit to any interior they inhabit. Born and raised in New Orleans, Renée takes great inspiration from the eclectic city's celebration of art and music, and also from her travels, particularly those to Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Big Sur and New York. We sat down with the artist to learn about the thinking and process behind her works, her greatest inspirations, and what Renée's day-to-day looks like working as a fine artist.
What made you start painting?
I started painting professionally in 2007 as a secondary creative outlet from my current, fast-paced job in Advertising. As much as I loved the ad world, painting always seemed to be an escape for me and so eventually I transitioned to it full time.
Describe the look and feel of your work.
My work is predominately abstract created from oils, gouaches, acrylics, charcoals, pastels and inks...a true mixed medium dialogue. I’ve recently gotten into collage work which I love as well because if flexes a different creative muscle in terms of color relationships, shapes and composition. I focus on creating works with layers of varying hues all having a conversation with one another. You will almost always find rigid charcoal lines throughout my paintings to help deepen the story of texture and depth. I love the use of white and black against rich ochres, Moroccan blues, and bright vermillions. I enjoy creating unexpected colors that you can’t buy.
What is the creative process like for you?
My works are truly a dialogue I have with myself and the canvas. It could take months before a painting is finished because the evolution is slow and thoughtful. I want people to want to look at my paintings and see their own story in them. Layer after layer, uncovering and covering, leaning in and stepping back...
Which artists most inspire your work?
Rothko, Frankenthaler, Motherwell, de Kooning, Twombly, Diebenkorn, and Mitchell, to name a few. I'm very inspired by the 1940's art scene in NYC where so many of the abstract expressionist painters I admire came out of.
If you could pick three pieces of art to own (realistic or unrealistic e.g. the Mona Lisa lol), which would you pick?
Name three of your favorite museums in the world.
What does a typical work day look like?
There really is not a typical day. I strive and strive to get in a “routine." I usually check emails in the morning, inspo gather and then hit the canvas or paper and work until I need a recharge. I try and designate a day a week to focus on shipments. I also just hired a communications manager (yay!) who has GREATLY helped me with all of the admin things so I can fill a lot more of my day with what I truly love...
What's the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
Putting a little piece of yourself into the world making it that much more lovely and watching a client’s face when they see their painting for the first time. There truly is nothing better than to give joy and experience it being received.
What does your work space look like?
I was recently working out of a home studio which was a little upstairs bungalow with vaulted ceilings and hardwoods. It was quaint and cozy and so nice to be able to finish my morning coffee and trot right upstairs to begin my day. I recently moved into a larger studio which is big and open and has fabulous industrial style windows with amazing light, white walls and floors and high ceilings. It’s big and open and I feel like I can freely paint and not worry about what gets where. It’s wonderful. I’m excited to see what creations come of this fresh space.
What advice would you give others who want to run their own business creating art?
One key piece of advice I would give is that success does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of hard work, focus, patience and perseverance. With the rise of social media and everyone and anyone “picking up a paintbrush” and calling themselves artists, you need to find ways to cut through the clutter and really stand out and have your own voice, vision and POV and learn how to translate that back out into the world. It’s not easy and at times can feel downright impossible. When everyone is going right, go left. Also, there is an entirely separate business side of being a full time artist that lives outside of purely creating. You need to be able to see the full picture understand how to get your art seen and out into the world...it’s an intricate dance for sure and I’m definitely still figuring it out. Always stay inspired and learn how to glean little doses of inspiration from your everyday...it’s everywhere.
Alarm goes off at:
8 AM. I’m unfortunately not a morning person but envy everyone else who is...
Work starts at:
Honestly, every single day is different but I usually always begin by checking emails around 9 AM.
Work ends at:
I always struggle with this. I feel like it never really ends b/c even when I stop painting let’s say around 5 or so, I’m constantly gleaning inspiration from books, magazines, you name it. I have a very hard time turning my brain off from “work”...it’s in my DNA. It’s a blessing and a curse but I wouldn’t change that for a second.
Can't begin without a mug of coffee (with a splash of milk and brown sugar) in the morning and have recently been having a cup of tea mid-afternoon.
Highlight of your day:
When I get to paint. No commissions. No deadlines. No end goals. No to-do’s. But truly just paint for me and let the juices flow. It’s where the work I get the most excited about stems from.
Most annoying or challenging part of your day:
Working from home, love or hate?
The skill that doesn’t come naturally to you that you wish did:
Taking more risks.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you want to do?
I would love to work at a gallery or museum.
One quality that makes you good at what you do:
Having worked on the Account Management side of the ad world for as long as I did has helped me learn how to deal with clients, market myself and be smart about how to approach certain aspects of my business.