Josée Tellier Painter

Discuss how difficult it was initially for you to decide between art and music?

I had to decide between playing violin or visual art. In a way, visual art could be done anytime with many possibilities;  I was taking extra art classes in high school, experimenting sculpture, different art craft but meanwhile, always drawing in my books. Color pencils and oil pastels were one of my favorite gifts. Violin playing however was daily training, discipline. I was an early admittance to the Quebec Conservatory in Trois-Rivières and playing in the orchestra was so rich and such an emotive experience that I could not imagine myself loosing that feeling after working so hard and performing in concerts. I could not stop taking violin lessons and reaching higher level without  practicing more, having more different classes (theory, solfege, orchestra, etc…) As a teenager there was not much time left between school and the many hours of daily practice as well as  having all the music classes. Finally, I have been an orchestra player for more than 30 years. Emotion drives!

Swing! 102×102 cm, typical French Canadian architecture; ”mansard roof”

Public award in Salon des Arts Visuels de Brossard in 2016

The due to an accident you had a second chance – What was needed in the beginning to improve your art skill to a new level?

I took a first painting class in 2005 because felt  I needed to come back to my first love of colors. At that time, I was going to painting class with my violin  or having to bring my acrylic paint inside, in winter, during orchestra’s practices in Montreal Place des Arts. So, as a professional violinist, between  2005 to 2010, I was spending all my free time  painting. I developed health problems in 2010.  The bicycle accident came after 2 years of being sick.  After 3 main surgeries, I was trying  to go back to training for orchestra when that accident happened. My left shoulder could not stand  playing violin anymore. During those 2 years of not being able to play violin, the painting became my main activity. I was lucky to become a member of very good local association, the AAPARS, in 2010. I began to do exhibitions and I was also attending public demo-conferences. I also took a few classes with well known artists.  Though  self-taught by visiting museums and exhibits, taking a few painting classes and training with very good artists made me become Josée Tellier Artiste 3D.

Petit Champlain en Septembre, 61×122 cmOld Quebec city

You have a deep rooted, love of houses, discuss this in relations to your art practice.

My grandfather was living in a huge and beautiful house.  My father was drawing plans for our homes and watching him gave me the knowledge to do the same. I made all  the plans for managing my homes, made plans for building my garage or adding rooms to my house. I learned how to use all the tools  we needed to build a house and built it with my husband.  I feel sorry when I see how hard it is to protect our architecture from severe Canadian climate.

Manteau de mars, 61×91,5 cm. Patrimonial house of Beloeil, QC

Every year we lose many nice houses and for me, painting and preserving its memory is paying a tribute to our architecture. Also, when I was young, during the Christmas season, my father used to drive us around the  neighbourhood to watch the Christmas lights.

La Guignolée 76×91.5 cm, House to house collection for the poor tradition in Quebec winter season.

I clearly remember watching more than those lights. In my mind, I was imagining the story in each home , what the people were doing. So, my work  express  the 2 aspects of houses; first, the shell by sculpting and modelling the form then the mystery behind windows by adding iridescent sparkling glass….

Comment on how you paint your urban environment.

My love for beautiful houses brings me to visit villages or the historic districts of many towns in Canada and USA. The first thing I do  is  bring my camera and take pictures. BUT, I have funny stories about some of my works. Let  me tell you. A few years ago, I had a solo in Châteauguay.  I made few historic searches about very old  houses there. Well, some turned out to be  the oldest  in the Quebec province dating all the way back to the  settlement. I often use the houses  picture but I imagine different landscapes or just move the trees…. etc. what I did with that work.  Because of the technique of the stain glass I use and  the size of the work, I had to make changes in the windows.  I also made that painting with colors, I don’t use very often. I did put nice bushes and decided to make it as winter scene. At the opening of the exhibition, a lady I had never met before saw that work and began to cry. I was watching her tears and she just turned to me and smiled.  She was the new owner of that house. It was her deceased mom’s house.  I made the windows exactly how her mom wanted them to be restored, her mom’s preferred color and season! WOW!

Le temps des érables, 91.5×122 cm. Quebec artists are inspired by the wonderful  colors of the fall season.

How has Coronavirus effected your art work?

I was in Marseilles at International Contemporary Art Fair during that crazy week!!! My goal was to develop contacts in Europe. The show began and was cancelled after one day. OUCH! Much energy and money lost. Then, back to Canada all the art suppliers and galleries were closed. Even with a few confirmed commissioned works, I was unable to make them. The non standard wood panels had to be made and the factory is still unable to make them, maybe for  months. All the exhibitions or art activities have been cancelled until fall due to the  government decisions. For me, it is a bigger problem than I expected. Meeting the public is a huge part of my inspiration. Having nice talk with people and seeing other artists enrich my imagination. The goal of exhibiting is also what I call a positive stress. Without those two  levers I have some problems to go to my workshop. My inspiration  slows down… Even if the reopening of galleries began, the clients and tourists are not there yet and it will take a long time before the situation goes back to the level it was before covid 19.

The problem with my work is that the online selling is difficult because it does not show the 3D and as well  the effect of light rays on the stain glass. The amount of glass and where it is in the work is carefully determined by the composition.

Beautés classiques, dyptique, 122 x 183 cm

The windshield is made of glass.

Online, my work looks like that of  many other painters. My unicity is hard to show online. The mediums I use come from USA an Europe. It becomes harder to get them and is more expensive.  Actually, nobody knows how artists lives will be in 6 months. Too soon to get depressed!!! but I am sure all the art community will suffer in 2020. and beyond

What are you currently working on?

I  actually work on the works I began before going to France!! ,  mainly Quebec architecture. But I took nice pictures in Marseilles and I have a project for a graffiti series inspired by Le Panier of Marseilles. Old cars is also subject I began to put in my work recently.

Discuss the technique of the 3D art you use.

My drawing have to be more developed than just sketches to be able to build the form. I have to work flat and upside down. Not obvious when you have to sculpt a roof. I work on  wood  to be able to make openings  for stain glass insertion. I have many wood tools and  glass tools. Then, I build the base relief with many layers of marble dust in acrylic polymer.

Calèche fleurie, 76×76 cm

After many years I have developed different ways using personal combination of that medium wet, half wet, crusted, etc… to create texture effects. It is carving, modelling, sculpting, sculpting the modelling!!! Many layers have to dry during whole night or whole day. It may take up to 2 weeks to build one project to the painting step, up to 3 weeks for bigger ones. So, I work on many sculptures  at a time and it take  3 to 4 times longer than just painting.  Painting the sky when you have to jump over branches or any form is also challenging for blending colors.

How did this 3D approach come about for you?

I was painting near a window and I was looking at my brother in law stain glass work in that window. It was a nice sparkling. Then I remembered the story of Gazza Ladra, Rossini’s opera. The bird attracted by brilliance… The windows + glass + child fascination of lights + wood panel coming in the art market + my love of houses … all came at the same time that afternoon. I made experimentations on how to fix everything together and my first 3D with glass work was born … many weeks later!!!

Late in 2019 you won a prestigious art prize from Mondial Art.

Discuss the piece that won you this prize?

Matinée à Oak Bluffs, 76×91,5 cm , Historic ”gingerbread” houses of Martha’s Vineyard Island, MA, USA   this  work won the MAA prize.

I had nice pictures from a trip to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts  from years ago.  Last year, I felt like  painting some of those highly coloured houses. This place is well known for its Gingerbread houses with accentuated details with bright colours. I began to draw and discovered that one of my neighbours, at my winter workshop, came  from there. The guy was also a ”colourful”  man and a ”musician”.  I asked  if I could take pictures of him and his dogs. Then having fun talking with him, having fun  painting something related to this nice guy, all those elements made a difference. It has to be colourful! I got inspired by that man and his dogs! Mostly, when I do work for people I like, I am pretty happy with the result.

Discuss both the actual prize and how Mondial Art has supported your art practice.

France Malo, international Quebec artist, talked to me about MAA and how good the association was. I  sent my application and was selected! First, if you look at the level of the members, it is very high. Being selected was  an honour for me but also a responsibility: keeping the goal of being better and better and striving create the best I can create. It help an artist’s career to be recognized by other artists.  This is a dynamic association that has several different projects like making books, holding contests and organizing shows around the world. Also, the power of the group allows us  to participate  in international exhibitions at a lowered shared  cost. AND I GOT INTERVIEWED!!!! Thank you to Zoneone Arts and MAA for that opportunity. Honestly, for weeks I did not believe in winning that prize! For sure, such a  recognition will help me for the next step…

Comment on one or two pieces that have help you in the development of your art.

Beautés classiques, dyptique, 122 x 183 cm

November 2019, I made a big work for a contest- exhibition  with the AAPARS (Association des Artistes Peintres Affiliés de la Rive Sud).  That contest is under juried selection and the level is very high. The final jury is a highly professional one.  It is always a privilege to do that show but this time, I won the first figurative prize. For me, it was again a big surprise but I am very proud to have won at home. This brought new people to pay attention to my work and I have been invited to sign the Gold Book of my city, Beloeil, QC.

L’auberge de St-Placide, 61×61 cm, patrimonial house from Baie St-Paul, QC

That work won a gold medal at the 44th international contest of CASPQ in 2016 at Galeria La Pigna, Vatican, Italy. I met the owner and had a nice talk about restoring that historic house in Baie St-Paul, QC.


Josée Tellier

Deborah Blakeley, Melbourne, Australia

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, June 2020