How COVID-19 helped this Concordia student set his artistic path
It’s no wonder that Henri Bouchard has become successful so rapidly. His works are captivating, and make you fall in love with the images being depicted, like the human body and the environment. Bouchard is a third-year student in studio arts at Concordia.
Ever since COVID-19, he has had the time to develop his talent in painting and share it through social media. “I have a great audience,” said Bouchard. “It has grown since the first few times I posted my works online.” Before enrolling in university, he was already familiar with acrylics. Today, he predominantly works with oil paint, adding beeswax to make it dry faster, while still using acrylic paint for certain elements.
When COVID-19 shut down everything, causing people to stay in their homes, it was only the beginning for Bouchard. His mother rented a cottage in Saint-Anicet, where he stayed for a year, honing his craft. That’s where the magic took place: near the water, with breathtaking sunsets, all of which made him fall in love with the scenery.
Most of his paintings maintain the same colour palette. Bouchard is very much in love with pastel tones. However, this doesn’t hold him back from using darker tones, which are essential to creating contrast. “I’m crazy about pastel colors. There’s something about them that is so appealing to my eyes, and they are a necessity in my work,” said Bouchard.
Bouchard has attracted a variety of people online, especially on Instagram, where his page acts as a self-curated exhibition. He may not be the biggest fan of social media, but it has helped him and brought unexpected success: most of his canvases have already been sold.
“I once had an argument with my mother because I sold a painting to someone else instead of her,” said Bouchard. “She eventually understood that my clientele couldn’t revolve around family.” Something noteworthy about the artist is his portrayal of human bodies.
He also paints landscapes, but mainly portrays body parts. Freedom (2020) is a painting on a homemade canvas that displays the back of a person in blue tones, contrasted with light colors like pink, beige and white. “There has to be a presence of white; it brings brightness to the canvas,” added Bouchard.
Another remarkable work is Yu (2020) on homemade canvas, which illustrates Bouchard cheek-to-cheek with his girlfriend. This was inspired by a selfie they took together. On this canvas, skin details are highlighted with pink and blue, creating a vivid expression on both faces. When looking at it, one can tell that it was made with a lot of love.
“When I fall in love, I fall in love completely,” said Bouchard. “I’m really into romantic things, so maybe that can be something that viewers can see through my work.” This theme of romance can certainly be seen in Save my love (2020), where a woman is holding her partner dearly, capturing a tender, personal moment between two lovers.
In regards to his creative process, Bouchard often swaps his effort between works. He manages to start a canvas and proceed rapidly onto the next. This allows him to recharge and work on another painting, before getting back to the initial work he began. “Sometimes it’s good to step back for a few days, look at the work you’ve been working [on] and see what else can be added or modified,” said Bouchard.
When school began again, Bouchard relocated to Montreal, where he lives with his girlfriend. Here, he has the chance to work in his studio, a place where he is allowed to make a mess. “My workspace needs to be all over the place, it can’t be neat.”
For the moment, Bouchard envisions creating merchandise that promotes his artistic talent. During the summer, he established himself as a painter. Perhaps we’ll be able to see his future work in a gallery exhibition. “Living off my art is what I most desire, and with the audience that I have, it’s been so far very rewarding,” said Bouchard.
Photo courtesy of Ana Lucia Londono Flores