If you mix daisies, yoga, an iPad with a few tubes of paint you can start to get a sense of the Corinne Blouin "art vibe", AKA Coblou. We chatted with Coblou for our Ottawa Art's News "Female February" and explored her budding artistic career and what makes her tick.
Read more about this interesting blooming artist below!
Artwork Copyright Coblou.
Ottawa Arts News - How long have you been making art?
Coblou - "I’ve been creating since I was a child. My first memory of creating anything is sewing and drawing with my grandmas as early as 4 years old. Sewing was my first introduction to creating. Later I moved on to designing and making my own costumes. I started drawing because I needed to visualize the outfits I wanted to make. In parallel, I was obsessed with the cirque du soleil. I was so in awe of the costumes, makeup, intricate decor and especially the music! It was truly my dream world. I would use any materials I could find in order to create things. I made myself a dress out of old shopping bags and a backpack out of starburst wrappers. It didn’t really matter what the medium was, I just impulsively made things all the time.
In my teen years, I was feeling really overwhelmed emotionally so music quickly became my go-to for healing. I randomly found this giant book of gig posters at a local book store. I was so inspired by all the stylistic, surreal illustration work I saw so I quickly began drawing every day. I would draw while jamming to music I discovered from the book. Around the same time, I became enveloped in street art. I loved how it was accessible to everyone and not held down by institutionalized rules of what "Art" is. I realized I preferred emotion-based, surreal self-expression. Not long after, I discovered that my yoga/meditation practice was helping me access a unique illustration style from deep within me. I kept following my intuition while creating, allowed myself to explore everything that sparked my interest and never looked back!"
Ottawa Arts News - I noticed you use digital tools to create your art how does that work when you paint at a live show? Do you lean into that design element of your skill set or do you separate the two camps "analogue VS digital”?
Coblou - "The use of digital tools comes from my schooling in graphic design. I studied for 3 years and we only used computers as our medium. My goal when I signed up for school was to create posters and album art for musicians so learning a digital medium was a must in order to translate the look I wanted to achieve. That being said, there’s something really special about analogue and I’ve always loved working organically with my hands. I quickly started to feel really restricted by working strictly digital. My computer screen was just too small for me to express what I needed to express.
I started to explore ink and paint a lot more and fell in love with the flow it got me in. Being able to use my full body while creating was liberating which is partially why I started to explore painting walls and larger scale surfaces. When I paint a live show I usually stick to my organic mediums. I do a lot of digital work for clients so live shows are a space for me to get away from my screen and get into that organic flow state! I’m currently exploring ways to actually mix them together but it has yet to become clear in my process. I’m forever evolving in the ways I want to express myself so I don’t like to put too many restrictions on just one way of doing. I think it’s important for artists to freely explore multiple mediums without feeling bad about it"
Ottawa Arts News - What is your favourite experience as an artist to date, can you please describe it?
Coblou - "My favourite experience as an artist to date is by far all the amazing people I get to meet through my art. I’ve had clients/collaborators who became close friends and every person I meet has a story to share and something I can learn from. It’s really amazing to cross paths with people who help me grow as a person and if it wasn’t for my art I would have never met them. I also love the fact that I get to contribute such a vulnerable part of myself to others, even if it was really scary at first. In return, I noticed others confide in me with some vulnerable parts of themselves too. There’s a certain level of trust I get to build with my clients that I don’t think I could do if I were doing anything else. Being able to contribute to other people’s lives this way just fills me up with so much joy because art is my healer. I feel truly blessed to be doing what I do"
Ottawa Arts News - Do you feel women are underrepresented as artists in the history books?
Coblou - "I think so. I took 2 general art history classes in school and all the painters we talked about were men. I come from the graphic art and street art scenes, I can confidently say these spaces are very male dominated too. I started young, so for the first couple of years, I stayed pretty incognito. I just focused on my style and did my own thing anyway. It’s funny, I’ve actually had a few people tell me they thought I was a man when they saw my work before meeting me in person. (Which kind of supports the argument!)
My best advice is to build your confidence beyond gender. Focus on the work you’re creating. Your passion and love for the craft will outweigh any gendered barrier. You really just have to show up as you are and let your work speak for itself. I also think it’s important for women artists to encourage each other and acknowledge that there’s enough space for everyone. This mindset also goes beyond gender. If your work is true to you, abundance will come your way. I’ve been nurtured by amazing female, male and non-binary artists who encouraged me to work hard and just share my passion with others as much as I can. The more you put yourself out there, the more you’ll attract people who will see your potential beyond how you choose to identify"
Ottawa Arts News - How do you put your art into action to create a positive social impact?
Coblou - "For me, art has always been a tool I use to help manage my emotional wellbeing. When I first started to explore my own art practice and meeting more artist friends, I noticed a pattern of negative self-talk surrounding our artistic expression. I quickly noticed SO many adults do this too and I wondered why? Why do we put so many barriers to something that is so natural and healing? This made me really sad but also encouraged me to do the opposite. I don’t think art needs to be exclusive in order to be meaningful which is why I love street art so much.
It’s not confined by anything and I didn’t want to confine myself. I quickly made it my mission to encourage others to share their work by sharing my own alongside them. I want people to feel as if I’m a safe space for sharing creativity. I also realized that I could spread a message with what I drew and a big part of my practice became about encouraging others to use creation as a tool to make themselves feel better; self-healing through art. My overall approach is to help others understand that we are allowed to use our art as a way to evolve as individuals. I think creating is a given birthright for everyone and we all have access to channelling our creativity if we choose. The problem right now is that a lot of us decide to label art as ‘’good’’ or ‘’bad’’ but we forget that it’s about how we feel in the moment of creation. I guess my form of social activism is just showing others that they can do this too while coping with their emotions in a healthy way and creating deeper connections with others in the process"
Ottawa Arts News - Do you have any formal training or are you self taught? Can you describe your creative process and how you overcome the artists worst enemy procrastination?
Coblou - "I have training in graphic design but my program was very technical. We only had a few drawing classes where we had to draw geometric shapes and apples and stuff. So, I would say overall I’m mostly self-taught. My style comes largely from my yoga/meditation practice. I channel my style by practising both yoga and art as one. I like to capture moments of mindfulness that I’ve experienced in my own reality. Over time, I developed a flowy way of moving my hand/body as I create and now it’s like second nature. Being outdoors and connecting to the earth is also a big influence. I realized there’s so much diversity in plants and animals I can never run out of subjects to interpret!
I feel like procrastination comes from boredom. I get bored easily and I love to learn so I recently signed myself up for a more traditional painting class. It’s important to always challenge ourselves as artists and to just be open minded. Procrastination can also come from being afraid of vulnerability. Art is a very vulnerable thing and we fear judgement so much that sometimes, we prefer to just not do anything at all. This mindset numbs so many brilliant minds. That’s why I chose to integrate my yoga practice so closely with my art practice because it helps me stay grounded within myself and my art. I choose to see the creative process as a self-nurturing practice and to focus on my emotional wellbeing AS I create. It's definitely practising and I have to remind myself of that especially when I create for clients, but it helps so much. I wouldn’t have such a developed art practice if I didn’t have my yoga practice also. It just allows me to explore myself in such a deep way that the art simply pours out of me very naturally. I become a direct channel for creation"
Ottawa Arts News - Any exciting new work or shows you want to share with others?
Coblou - "I’m currently working on a series of digital illustrations that has yet to be named! I’m trying to capture very specific moments of mindfulness and explore human connection integrated with the symbolism of nature connection. I’m exploring something a lot softer than my usual body of work. It feels sort of like a reconciliation with the gentle, introspective side of myself that I want to carry into the world these days. I’m also doing workshops where I integrate yoga and art together to give my community an in-depth feel of my process and allow them to try it out for themselves! I finally feel like I’ve refined my personal practice enough to be able to share it with others in a practical way, so they can keep doing on their own time too and hopefully grow and get to know themselves on a deeper level as I did. I’m also doing art direction for a local art collective called Music.Art.Ppl. Together we curate various events and transform spaces for our community to come together and share their artistic talents. This gives me the opportunity to provide a platform for artists who are just getting started and deserve to be showing their works in public"
For more information visit instagram @coblou
For workshops and webshop Coblou's website visit www.coblou.com :)