Artist Interview – Christelle Bilodeau

Janice K. Johnson

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Christelle Bilodeau and I’m a portrait artist based in Quebec, Canada. I specialize in pencil portraits.


Why do you do what you do?

Drawing is my biggest passion. It is visceral, I have to draw. I miss it when I skip a day or two!


What inspires your art?

Mostly music, but cinema is also a big inspiration. I watch a lot of movies when I’m drawing – it keeps me focused for some reason.


How and when did you get into art?

It all started when I was a child. I enjoyed drawing horses and I finally took painting lessons when I was 10. I got interested in portraiture when I was 14-15, I started by painting portraits but I eventually traded my paint brushes for graphite pencils and I’ve been improving ever since.


How has your practice changed over time?

I’m constantly improving and exploring new techniques. Here are a few examples; I used to draw on plain white printer paper, I used to blend using my fingers and tissues, and the day I discovered stumps, my whole life changed!


What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve created? Why?

My absolute favorite will always be the drawing Paul McCartney autographed. I’ve improved a lot since then but this portrait holds a very special place in my heart. Meeting him was a monumental turning point in my life.


What’s the best piece of art advice you’ve been given?

Stop comparing your drawings to others.


What’s one art tip/technique you can share with us that you find really helpful?

Get a proper work surface (drawing table, easel, etc.) and a good chair! You don’t need a big art studio, your work area can be in the corner of a room. But a dedicated workspace is a must if you want to be able to focus and work for hours at a time.


Do you have any secret tips or techniques you use to salvage a piece when you make a mistake?

Take a step back. Wait a day and go back to your drawing table –  it always helps. You’ll see things more clearly.


What is your favorite Strathmore paper? Why?

Strathmore Drawing paper, 400 series medium surface. The texture is ideal – not too smooth, not too rough, perfect for blending graphite, and since it is not bumpy, you can easily draw straight lines. It is easy to damage paper with an eraser but this one is almost impossible to tear, which is a big plus.


What art materials could you not live without?

The basics: pencils and paper! Couldn’t do anything without them!


Who are your biggest influences (or who were when you started doing art)?

I try not to compare myself to other graphite portrait artists, but one of my favorite visual artist is Andy Warhol. He saw beauty in everyone and everything. He appreciated the tiniest flaws in every person and that was beauty to him. Our works are completely different but we do share the same goal: we want beauty to be reflected in our art.


What’s the most common art-related question you get from your followers?

How long does it take to get good at it? Well, the answer is, I don’t know! It varies, practice is key and how fast you’ll improve depends on how many hours a week you’re willing to devote to your passion.

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