The CentreTown Buzz, June 13, 2014 Two senior artists share their wisdom by Stephen Thirlwall
(2) Paul Saindon
Paul Saindon is a man with a mission. He has been holding painting workshops at almost all branches of the Ottawa Public Library throughout the spring to share his learning and techniques. In these sessions, he goes over both the basics of beginning a painting and important insights into how to achieve a mature level through knowing how to properly use watercolour, acrylic and oil media; the various tools (brushes, trowels, and putty knives); working surfaces (stretched canvas, board, glass); and other necessary props (carrying bags, easels, palettes) in conjunction with essential principles of light, perception, and colour. Saindon studied with the Ottawa School of Art, but then pursued his own experimentation, drawing on experiences of other artists.
This program is quite unique for Saindon, who, while he had professionally worked as a school teacher, as an artist (now full time), he usually works in the background. He keeps present but not really noticed. As he rides on a bus or sits in a cafe, he draws continually with pen or charcoal, catching the setting and the movement of people within it. While living in Gloucester East, he sometimes visits Centretown. Standing in a small nook along the Bank Street, he quietly paints, nearly invisible to those passing. He observes, takes photos or does pencil or paint sketches from which he develops larger works.
Saindon produces a considerable number of beautiful landscapes, both urban and natural, with majestic mountains, billowing clouds, sweeping fields, quiet forests at midnight in the winter, and village and city streetscapes. He gave examples showing final works and a series of slides covering the main steps in development of the paintings.
I can now understand why he is a master at capturing and displaying light. Saindon makes full use of the fact that the contrast of light and darkness, and the tones in between, are the primary means by which humans visually see and comprehend things. The first step in his painting is to mark the different areas of light and dark, with a few simple lines. Then he begins to lay on paint in each area, giving colour to the patches of light and darkness.
At each following step, he refines his colour selection (shade and intensity) and details of the features in the picture. Saindon emphasizes that each colour strongly influences the colour next to it. He displayed how one colour can cause optical illusion in the shade of a neighbouring colour. If you don’t pay attention to this, you may not portray the colours you want.
Personally, I am moved most by his portraits. Not only do they exhibit exquisite light in human form, they capture something close to the essence of the real people he paints. His portrait catalogue includes nudes, musicians, friends, family, and people on the street. Some are presented in interesting home settings (“indoor landscapes”). For him, capturing “essences” does not mean portraying the subject in hyperrealism. Instead his paintings have a partial impressionistic feel.
He strongly argues “Don’t paint all that you see, just the essential parts that get your message or image across.” Also, he can replicate the nuances of individuals to such a degree that if you knew the person in the painting, but only their back was shown, you would still recognize them.
His next mission is to write a book in French on painting “en plein air.”
Artiste figuratif peignant principalement à l'acrylique; ses sujets préférés sont les figures (musiciens), les intérieurs et les paysages peints en plein air. /Figurative artist painting primarily in acrylic. His favorite subjects are figures (musicians), interiors and landscapes (plein air).