Subsign: First, can you tell us a few things about yourself?
Laury: My name is Laury Denoyes, I am an artist and freelance illustrator from France. I completed my master’s degree at Beaux-Arts of Paris. I currently live in Biarritz, in the southwest of France where I am originally from.
I like art, travel, video games, interior design, animals, my dog, good food and good red wine or whisky.
Subsign: What was your childhood like? Do you think your experiences from childhood have influenced your present creative endeavors?
Laury: I had a happy childhood with both my parents and my younger sister, in Biarritz. My parents noticed early on how much I loved drawing and encouraged me to take painting classes. I joined at the age of 6 and kept going there every week with the same teacher until I had to move out of town for my studies at 19 years old. We were also lucky to travel a lot. We went almost every year to Thailand, where I have been over 10 times.
My maternal grand-mother was born in France to an immigrant Chinese family. She was the one that initially travelled to Thailand during her visits in Asia. The stories she shared with my parents also gave them a desire to travel more.
Due to the Asian side of my family as well as our trips, I started to become influenced by Asia. I was watching a lot of anime at the time and still am a fan of South Korean cinema. In 2019, I did an exchange program in South Korea at Hongik University for almost half a year. During my studies, I learned how to paint using traditional techniques with Korean ink. I loved Korea and I hope to go back there sometime in the future.
Some people can see those influences in my artworks, especially since I have been using silk which is common in Asian traditional paintings. Although I am influenced by Asia, the real inspirations and subjects of my paintings lie in other things. .
Another childhood experience that influenced me was where I grew up and the nature surrounding. My sister and I would always laugh at my mom because she knew all the scientific names of the plants during our walks.
But when I arrived in Paris, I quickly realized a lot of people didn’t even know the names of common wild animals or plants. In fact, a lot of them didn’t care about it at all. It is a small detail, but I think that is the moment I realized how big of a difference growing up in the countryside impacted my perspective. Growing up in such a beautiful city with the sea and mountains nearby inspired me a lot. We would go for hikes in the mountains or forests often in summer. In the evenings, we would watch the sunset over the sea on the cliffs nearby. Today, the cliffs near my home are eroding and it has become so touristy that they are now blocking access to it for safety. Witnessing all the changes on the local landscape, its disappearance and fragility has been interesting and inspiring for me from an artistic perspective.
Subsign: What did you want to be as a grown up?
Laury: I really wanted to be a vet for a long time until I was about 10 years old. I always loved animals. On top of all my painting classes, I also took seven years of horse-riding classes. I enjoyed taking them to the meadow. Quickly I realized that you have to be good at math and science in order to enter a veterinary school. Unfortunately, I was and still am terrible at math and sciences. Therefore, since my first option of working with animals wasn’t possible, I decided to pursue art. I didn’t really know what I would be doing with my art studies until about a year before graduating from my Master’s program.
Subsign: How does your workstation look like?
Laury: My workstation for the past 5 years looked like this. It tends to be a bit messy. It was at “Beaux Arts de Paris” university, where most students are lucky to have their own workspace.
I am currently arranging my next work-space. There is a nice big easel, a large table with a scanner but I still need to put the table part together and add shelves so you will only get to see the side with the easel.
Subsign: Do you have a work style? How would you describe it?
Laury: I think everyone naturally has a style without realizing it. You can nurture it, work on it and improve it but switching completely is hard. I used to enjoy doing hyper-realistic drawings when I was a teenager and have been told many times that I didn’t have a style because of it. But then once again, when you compare 2 hyper-realistic artists drawing from the same reference photo, I do think there are differences. Just because your style isn’t cartoonish doesn’t mean you don’t have a style.
I slowly got tired of drawing so realistically. Over the years I am moving towards a more abstract and minimalistic style. My personal artworks and my illustrations both tend to be light, evanescent, with both realistic and slightly more abstract areas. I paint with a lot of natural colors, nothing too flashy. Recently, I have been using mostly watercolors for both my artworks and illustrations, even though I used to paint with oil for years.
I’ve been painting and exploring mostly nature portraits as I like to call them, usually with no or few human representations.
When it comes to my commissioned illustration paintings, I have been doing a lot of scientific illustrations. It can be medical, botanical, planetary, etc or micro-biological such as the photos below. And yes, it is very paradoxal considering how bad I was at science and mathematics at school!
I also worked on different types of scientific illustrations such as some Planetary landscapes including ice caves on Mars for a research article in the Icarus International Journal of Solar System Studies. Somehow, the scientific illustrations kind of echo my personal work.
Subsign: Can you share with us how your creative process works?
Laury: If it isn’t commissioned, I like to take notes or sketches outside for inspiration and ideas of next paintings.
I prepare my own canvas, both for oil painting and for silk. I assemble the wooden frame myself and I stretch the canvas or silk myself. I used to make my own gesso as well.
For the silk, I also create my own glue and apply it by hand. For almost every painting, there are failed ones which I throw away. I save the frame, I remove the silk and replace it with a new one.
I don’t do drafts for my silk paintings – I find them useless as I can never reproduce exactly the same one and the pigments don’t react the same way on paper anyway. For oil painting it is the same process but at least I can paint over it when I fail.
Subsign: What is your favorite work you have done so far?
Laury: I tend to be hard on myself when it comes to painting. When I like one, a few months later I don’t like it as much anymore. There isn’t any painting that I am super proud of. I would say recently I like where my work is going, towards something less realistic, but also a bit more minimalistic.
Subsign: Who do you follow for inspiration?
Laury: Inspiration comes from various things and not only from people.
I like a lot of movies from Wes Anderson, Tim Burton, Bong Joon-Ho, Hayao Miyazaki etc.
When it comes to designs, I admire the Eames couple, Breuer, Wegner. I also like Kelly Wearstler for her interior designs and how she mixes shapes, patterns and colors I’d never have dared mixing.
I have always loved Monet and Turner’s paintings as well as some artworks from Hopper, Zao Wou Ki, Thierry de Cordier, Mama Anderson, Trevor Shimizu, Gerard Traquandi and more.
Subsign: What advice could you give to someone starting out in the creative field of work?
Laury: Don’t get discouraged if your artworks don’t come out well, and don’t compare yourself to others. You can find inspiration everywhere and not necessarily in other people’s artworks.
Subsign: If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Laura: To be able to significantly extend a pet’s lifespan, or to be able to teleport maybe.
Subsign: Can you recommend for our readers a book, a song and a movie?
Laury: It is a difficult question. One choice of each isn’t enough.
I would say currently, for a book, it would be Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life. It is a mycology book that came out last year and shows us the world from a fungal point of view. I didn’t know much about mycology before reading this book and there are so many mind-blowing facts in it. Plus, it’s easy to read!
A song: maybe Claire de lune, Debussy?
A movie: Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoké, as well as all of his other movies but I would love to recommend Korean cinema as well. That was actually the subject of my master’s thesis in 2020.
Subsign: If you could throw any kind of party, what would it be like and what would it be for?
Laury: I partied enough when I arrived in Paris, no more, thanks!
Now I prefer without a doubt having a nice home-made dinner with good friends, some music, maybe playing some board games together, or having a good talk. All of that can be paired with some wine or whiskey. Even better if you have a good view and a BBQ. That is my kind of party currently if it’s even considered as one!
Subsign: What famous people would you invite to the party and why?
Laury: Only good friends or family can make a great evening. If I really had to, I’d invite a great chef, not sure which one and not in any order but Eric Frechon, Thierry Marx, Alain Passard. In addition, I would invite some people with whom we would have interesting conversations such as those chefs, as well as Jane Goodall, Mona Chollet, Bong Joon-Ho etc.
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Thank you Laury for being a part of our Spotlight!