“I realized that I was not on earth to please anyone, that I was there to enjoy the ride and do what makes me happy, and most of all that being the best version of myself (and true to me) was the best way to inspire and help others.”
– Marie-Chloé Duval
Visual Artist, Painter and Photographer
Marie-Chloé Duval is a Visual Artist, Painter and Photographer who was born and raised in Saint-Pascal (Québec). She has always been creative and a passion for photography began to grow throughout several trips around the world. Her photography work is a way of expressing herself and sharing her vision of the world. It is a way to both show all of the details she admires about the world and also illustrate her values and convictions. She aims to inspire a dialogue about humanity and to denounce inequalities.
After enjoying photography for several years, Marie-Chloé was drawn to a more direct contact with the medium. This started with wood panels she found in Montréal alleys and leftovers of wall painting. Marie-Chloé is self-taught, learning many through trial and error. As she moved from one painting to the next, her passion developed and became more defined. Keeping her painting in the shadow, one single day changed it all. Unexpectedly, her landlord, an art lover, who fell in love with a piece, acknowledged her secret passion. At that moment, Marie-Chloé thought: “What if my paintings are actually good- what if people other than my mom loved them?”. So, after completing her Masters Degree in Criminology, she took a leap of faith and decided to focus on her art as a career. From that point, her creative journey is history. Marie-Chloé is inspired 24/7 saying it gusts from anywhere and everywhere. Her need to create is tangible. Read on to find out more about Marie-Chloé and her work or head to her Facebook, Instagram or Website for more.
How did you get started in following your dream?
I would love to have the exact explanation, but the truth is that I do not understand how it all happened. During the winter in Quebec, I was at my parent’s home and I decided to start painting on recycled wood pieces with our left over house paint. I just loved it. The rest is history, I still do not understand how painting became so present in my life, but it did… to a point that it is now my main focus.
For the young autodidact artist I am, the outcome of my art practice, which was at first a way to spend the cold winter days, is more than I could ever imagine. During these past three years, I have had to pinch myself repeatedly: so many great things have happened that it often felt unreal. From my first painting in my parents basement in 2013 to having a few pieces showcased in the lobby of a dental clinic, I went on to exhibit my art in increasingly large groups in the USA, Canada and solo shows, and had my work featured in newspapers and on television. As I started to gain recognition from experienced artists and interest from art galleries, I took part in my first symposium. Painting all day surrounded by other passionate artists brought light to the fact that art is exactly what I was meant to do. I had found the way I wanted to live and to realize my life’s goals. Indeed, through my paintings, I can create a dialogue about social issues and instigate love in a more powerful way than I had ever been able to do before. I have the intention to shock people, to force them to react and analyse how they feel, and to create timeless discussions.
In fact, I would have laughed at anyone who would have told me 4 years ago that I would be an artist. I was going in a totally different direction. I was doing my bachelor, thinking about my academic career back then. Yet, I started painting and it became so obvious that I had found something so strong that I had to pursue this direction.
When did you decide to follow this path and why?
A year ago, my friend asked me: “what gives you energy?”.
Not long after, my professor asked me: “what do you wake up wanting to do?”.
Painting was the answer to both questions.
As I am writing these lines, I am exhilarated; I found what drives me in life. I can now see all my past thoughts, actions and relationships through this new lens, and they make more sense to me as I define myself as an artist. For many years, I envied those who could spend 10 hours a day working on a project, forgetting their outside distractions. But today, I am that person. When I am creating, I become absorbed and I never count my hours. Yet, I would not feel complete painting meaningless subject matter, and not using my art to be a change-maker. A Master’s degree in criminology, numerous travels and dozens of paintings later, I have come to two main conclusions. First, my formal education in criminology has enhanced my interest towards social justice, human rights, public policies and taboos. Second, my provocative and sensitive creations represent the most suitable way to create awareness about the issues I care about.
As I wrote before, this journey is still new to me. It is all coming along but certainly unexpected!
What has helped you in the process of following your dream?
From an outside perspective, my previous degrees in criminology may appear worlds apart from the one I intend to complete. However, they are strongly related. Being a student taught me how to work for my goals, how to be a citizen, and that I intend to leave an art legacy for the next generations. I understood that my desire to make our society more open-minded and egalitarian is core to who I am. My Masters in criminology has thoroughly trained me in the art and science of analyzing and interpreting social issues and human interactions. They are two central themes in my creative process, and in the message that I am eager to share with my art.
Today it is completely clear that my career, and indeed my life, will be filled with art, passion and activism. In fact, I now realize that I never changed my career plan, only the journey and the tools I will use to get there.
I was one lucky woman to have such incredible support from my friends and family. Changing from a safe plan to say the least to a less secure one, was a scary move. However, I did many pros and cons lists until I realized that I was not on earth to please anyone, that I was there to enjoy the ride and do what makes me happy, and most of all that being the best version of myself (and true to me) was the best way to inspire and help others. I then just decide to tell my friends and family. It was a great moment. My brother was all but surprised- he said that he knew already and was on board. Having your brilliant and rational brother by your side for such a dreamy plan really gives you wings. My parents were also so proud, my mom cried when I told them at dinner. She said that she was so proud that I was following my dreams and that I was brave enough to do it, even though it sure was not going to be easy. In fact, having them around sure made things quite easier.
Did anyone know about your dream?
And yes people knew about my dream. I believe that talking about it makes it more real and that once you say it out loud, you have got to go and follow it. So I talked a lottttt about it, I asked for opinions, various perspectives or just to talk about life. At that moment in my life I was in a relationship with a smart and rational man. He helped me believe in this dream like no one. I owe him a lot. Coming from a business person, this faith in my work and my art potential meant more than ever. He bought me paint and brushes for every other occasion and it sure helped me believe in my work and in the fact that being an artist was actually a career.
What are the top five resources that have helped you along your
1) No doubts my family. They have been and are awesome.They support me and always help me in moments of doubt.
2) My determination and faith in what is going to happen, or should I say my positivism. I do not know why, but I am so sure that everything will be ok when I have doubts that I always keep pushing and working for what I want.
3) Books, I read a lot and I get inspired by the bio that I read or I get tricks from business and entrepreneur books.
5) Internet, my media social network helped me like craycray! I had a great and positive responses to my work and fans that have been there to always support my work. Having strangers email to tell me they liked my work is something so powerful that I cannot explain.
6) My travels, they help me with inspiration, reflection and they always teach me so much about life and when I return I am so excited to get back to my paintings that they are great to reaffirm my passion!
What inspires you and what message are you trying to share with your work?
I paint to tell you a story, to show you my vision of the world, but also to let you imagine and rethink your own. I am eager to create artwork that will shock people, force them to react and analyse how they feel, and create a timeless discussion about humanity, relationships and society.
The themes I studied during my Criminology Master’s are the starting point for my paintings. I focus on issues I believe lack sufficient public attention and translate them into images. My art is well-suited to shine a light on social issues or facts because of the vivid images I use, and my realistic/abstract style. I have come to develop a very personal style that allies the intensity of the black and white contrasts, the intrigue of the realistic/abstract style, and the accessibility of bold but soulful forms. As figurative images meet abstract and dripping touches, the viewer is left with her own interpretation and emotion. Working in monochrome helps to present themes that are delicate (violence, sexuality, death) with calmness and sensitivity. I paint about life and death, about human mistakes, and stereotypes. I paint guns to represent the permanent way in which life can change in a flash, but also to show that a single action cannot be the defining aspect of a person’s life. I paint crows to raise the contrast between quick judgments, preconceptions and reality, and I paint bodies to express that our minds can live in the prison of our own body or enjoy the freedom of movement of our flesh and bones.
My creative process is as chaotic as my mind is. I express myself with my brushes, my hands or with a knife; whatever tools feel right at the moment. I use acrylic for its flow, and mostly because I am eager to paint the next layer of stories. I know a piece is done when I look at her and feel she can be on her own. It is all about the feelings. Once it is done, I just hope that she will touch someone as much as she touched me. I want my art to convey emotion, but moreover, to create emotions.
What challenges have you encountered and how have you overcome
I never see limits. I do not take no as a no and I never give up. I was refused in 8 MFAs (Master of Fine Arts) but I learned from it and I realized that it pushed me even more to prove me right, to prove to myself that I was going to make it. I take what it teaches me about me or my work and I use it for the next move.
I am not the kind of person to do what is normal. I write to people, I ask questions, I get involved in projects and this really helps me to reach my goals.
How do you overcome the fear and vulnerability of sharing your work?
Never really had it. I mean, I sure did because it is scary but I always think about this quote: being loved by everyone means being loved by anyone. And then I think about how I would rather my work be liked by few, for the right reasons, than by everyone for the wrong ones!
How do you deal with criticism?
I love critisim, sometimes to make fun of, but most of the time to take what I believe can push me further in my practice. If I can evolve, I am always up for it!
What does your creativity mean to you?
It is who I am. I see the world with such a creative sense, I always think a lot and ideas are not just on the surface. If I have an idea it is always getting big and intense! It is core to who I am.
What is it that you love about what you do?
Everything. I love the contact with people. I love being inspired by everything and being allowed to follow this inspiration. I love that sitting on a bench to think is part of my job. I love that I don’t fit into the 8-5 job and neither in the “normal lifestyle”. I love that I get to meet soooo many people and get to work with artists that are just as passionate and that we share our passion. I love that the people I meet are brave and inspiring. I love that I can share my message and give emotion to people. I love to work with kids and adults. I love to learn on a daily basis. I love that it is always in motion and evolving. I love the journey I achieve. I also love the quiet of my studio, the smell of paint and the textures. I love the moment of pride and the moment of fear when I am scared I do not know how to paint anymore but then it is just like riding a bike and you never lose it. I love how simple and authentic it is and I love to be part of this community. I love the work of others and I love that art is such a wierd, complex and beautiful concept.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Be authentic and trust your guts!
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back?
Do the same, following your instinct was a great move!
What have you learned in the process of following your dream?
Everything! But seriously, I have learned that life should always be about doing what you love and to being the best version of yourself. You should never forget that if you get a chance to find your passion or have your dreams come true, helping others on this path should be part of your dream.
What are you most excited for in the future?
Learning and creating more and always.
Visual Artist, Painter and Photographer
*Photos of Marie-Chloé taken by Jonathan Rose
*Photos of the work taken by the artist