Born and raised in Corbeil Ontario, I lived a very simple life. Not rich, nor poor, just comfortable.
Working in the bush every evening and weekend, (if my parents could help it), I became very knowledgeable of the ecosystems from an early age. I enjoy all aspects of nature, which, in turn, seemed to separate me from my peers. So, instead, I would escape from reality into the world of art – it had always been there to listen and to show me all the places I could imagine.
Even before I could hold a paint brush, I was painting; whether it be with my hands, or standing on the table, painting with my feet. The colours were magic, and my imagination drew the path.
What truly peaked my interest in the arts, was cartoons – here rules don’t exist, and proportions are a myth. Characters and their many exaggerated expressions were so fun to illustrate, and made my friends excited to have their characters drawn next. I started doing what I would like to call graphic novels, based off of some toys my brother and I had at the time – little mice from “Littlest Pet Shops”. My mouse was grey and white, and named Snowball, and my brother’s was pink, and we named him Patch.
Through grades 5 to 8, I illustrated comics and stories which I named, “Face Palm.” They were both loved and ridiculed, as the characters of my classmates were animals, instead of people.
Not until I started working as a lifeguard, did the comics of the characters really become popular and seen for just how great they could be. The comic series was then named, “Work Place Shenanigans”, as most of the comics were exaggerated incidents from my work place.
I never really thought I had many influences or was inspired by other artists, but I do remember wanting to draw like Neil Buchanan, from the TV show, “Art Attack”. Although I didn’t feel that I had many artists to look up to, or that I was truly moved by, I did look up to my Mémère a great deal.
Mémère, Patricia Clarke-Champagne, born March 11th 1933 – January 20th, 2020. She truly was just an amazing woman! I could go on about her many achievements, but the thing I got most from her was the love for art. Mémère saw beauty in everything, and was able to share her visions with me through painting.
I got into watercolour at the age of 10, and took art lessons for the very first time. Though Theresa Solomon was the lady who taught me how to use the tools to create the art work, it was my Mémère who taught me patience and care. My Mémère was always encouraging of my talent, even as a career… she knew in her heart that sharing my talent would be where I could make the most out of life. She will forever be in my heart and always be the guiding spirit in my pieces.
I can sometimes hear my Mémère over my shoulder telling me, “Slow down, take your time. Do you know just how good your art could be if you took your time?” Her laugh is still contagious in my mind, anytime I look through her sketchbooks at her attempts to create people and caricatures just like I did.
Today, I have ongoing love and support from family and friends. I cannot be happier with where my art is going and how I have begun to develop my skills in character illustration. I have another comic in the works, as well as doing DnD (Dungeons and Dragons) characters for friends.
© Studio Gillian – Gillian Hebert – 2020-2021