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Daily Inspiration: Meet Jennie Gallaine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennie Gallaine.

Hi Jennie, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
I am a French painter, born in Paris, and I moved to the USA very recently, in May 2019. So, sorry for my English, I assume that it might still not be perfect! I come from an artist family. My father is a Cabinet Maker and an Interior Designer, and my mother is an Instructor in Cartonnage, Bookbinding, Enamelling on Metal, and Bronze Casting. I hope I didn’t forget anything, she does so many things!

Even my grandfather, with absolutely no art background, was drawing, woodburning, and sculpting. I have been surrounded by art and crafts since childhood. As far as I remember, I have always been drawing, tinkering, and writing. I loved writing plays, being the decor and costumes designer, the director, and annoying my two sisters to become actresses! I was a specialist in “3 characters only plays!”

After high school, of course, I applied to enter an art school, and I was thrilled to take the entrance exam to the prestigious Art School ENSAAMA Olivier de Serres in Paris (France), from which I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in Interior Architecture. And as the path is not straight most of the time, I ended up working as a Graphic Designer instead of an Interior Architect! As I wanted to travel, I found a Graphic Designer job in Yaoundé, Cameroon, just after graduating. This marked the beginning of my graphic design career! Then I worked in advertising companies in France until I created my own graphic design business.

However, during all those years, I never surrendered my desire to paint. But I didn’t dare… Until Chantal, my ‘fairy godmother’ – actually, she is a real godmother, but my husband’s one! – ‘forced’ me to apply for an art exhibition! I will never be thankful enough! That was in 2016, I had nothing to show yet, I had to work hard to be ready, and… I was selected! Once again, this exhibition marked the beginning of a new branch on my intricate path!

Then I moved to the USA, following my husband. I was still working simultaneously as both painter and graphic designer (being self-employed is pretty convenient when you’re moving!) until the pandemic. This period has been complicated for my graphic design company. But on the other hand, it has proven to be the perfect time to reconsider my artistic facet! I am now essentially a painter. And I feel perfectly aligned for the first time in my life!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My biggest chance is to have my awesome husband and my two kids as unconditional support! They make my road the smoothest possible and I love them so much for that (and for many other things!) And the main obstacle has always been… me!

Full of doubt and lack of confidence. But if doubt can be a curb, I absolutely don’t want to reject it. I consider doubt as necessary to create, to reinvent constantly, to avoid staying in the comfort zone.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
As a painter, I have seen my art evolve since I moved to the USA, and my themes change. This is fascinating to realize the evolution for me! If each painting always tells a story (there are body parts, faces, and, recently, a profusion of plants, tangles of roots …), my art is now guided by nature and the relationship between humans and nature in a world undergoing a profound transformation. Although I have been really concerned about climate change for years now, nature entered my work very recently.

Maybe because nature is the simplest common denominator I have found between my old life in France and my new life in the USA. Something essential, pure, universal. Enveloping and reassuring. With which we must relearn to cohabit and which we must preserve. But if my painting tells stories, I don’t want it to be recognizable. Perhaps out of modesty. But also, to give free rein to the imagination of the beholder, complete freedom to in turn engage intimately in a dialogue with the image.

My process revolves around an alternation of long, almost meditative times, during which I listen to what the canvas tells me, and short, urgent, concentrated painting times, with intense physical investment, in a trancelike state. I noticed that I cannot listen to music while I’m painting, but I’m singing! Kind of a mantra. It might be inaudible! Fortunately, I’m alone during the entire process, which can be very long. No one ever saw me painting. Even my family!

Risk-taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
I basically don’t like risk. But it seems that my life decided differently, I lived and worked in France of course, but also in Cameroon, in Indonesia too, and now in the USA. I became a Graphic Designer after having said ‘yes’ to a travel opportunity. I became an illustrator, first to help a friend, then ending up as a professional illustrator, in my own company. And now I’m a painter, after saying “yes” to my “fairy godmother.”

So if I don’t consider myself as a risk-taker person, I’m definitely a ‘YES’ person!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Gael Mathieu, Nicolas Eon, Gallery 115, and Jennie Gallaine

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