I am delighted to publish our latest AppArt Mobile Artist interview, this time with Claude Panneton. Bobbi McMurry our wonderful editor for this column has put together a very thorough interview. I am sure you will all enjoy this very much. (Foreword by Joanne Carter).
“We all look at so very many images each and every day but I actually remember the first time I noticed one of Claude Panneton’s images, which was an entry into our second “Infinite Challenge”. His surreal solutions were unique and painterly, with each telling a separate story all derived from the single image. Since that time I’ve seen Claude’s artistic growth continue to flourish as a result of continual exploration and dedication. I know you’ll enjoy getting to know Claude a little bit better through this wonderful interview!”
Would you tell us more about your art background and transition (if appropriate) to working with mobile hardware, i.e. iPhone, iPad, tablets
My first artistic passions were music and theater, which I focused on from age six to my late teens. While I ultimately passed over my dream of acting in favor of a more “secure” future, music still is an important part of my life and there’s a special gratification I get from being on stage with my band Six-of-One. I did draw and paint quite a bit in my twenties, but settled into family life and a professional public relations career, which gave little time for personal artistic pursuits. I was, however, always interested in photography, and visual arts. Though I had no formal photography training, I did seem to have a good eye for composition and for story telling. Mobile photography was a natural and practical introduction to what has now become a true passion. In 2010, I purchased my first iPhone and began taking photos of pretty much anything I saw. Shortly after, I joined Instagram, and quickly realized its immense potential for self-expression. It was also there that I began to interact with talented artists and photographers. I began editing on my iPhone and, shortly after, graduated to an iPad mini, which I still use for editing.
Please describe your style of art and your portrayals
I would describe my style of art as eclectic realism, which tells stories from the heart. Although I believe I don’t really have one unique “style”, I’ve been told that my work is easily recognizable. I pride myself on varying my approach to individual pieces depending on the story I wish to tell. My pieces are mostly autobiographical. They are my stories, feelings, struggles and joys, interpreted through self-portraits, collaborations with models and natural landscapes. Although self-portraits play a large role in much of my work, it is my work with models and collaborators that truly inspires me. I tend to prefer a more realistic style than abstract, although, as a result of influences around me, many of which are part of TheAppWhisperer community, I have begun to experiment a bit with more abstract concepts.
How are you inspired, motivated and nourished in your work?
Human connection and nature are my primary inspiration. From the beginning, my mobile art has been inspired by my relationships. I often say that creating mobile art “kept me sane”. It’s a form of therapy I suppose. While I edit, I don’t remember what I think about and perhaps I’m not really thinking at all. For me, it’s about being in the moment. I have tried to keep the motivation for creating routed in my love of the work and pride in constantly improving and creating something that people feel something about or relate to on a personal level. In all honesty, like many artists, I imagine, my motivation for creating is to make connections. In publishing my work, I hope to show those vulnerable inner bits of myself to the world and hope someone relates and connects.
Inspiration comes from within, but for me, nature and those who touch my life infuse the nourishment that brings out my best work. My two children, Alex and Emma, inspire my personal growth and discipline. Other artists and photographers inspire my creative growth. I have been fortunate to collaborate with some very talented and wonderful people, including a brief creative partnership with fellow Canadian Kirsten Fenton, (CLAUSTEN.com) who you’ve featured onTheAppwhisperer.comon numerous occasions. I wish I could mention each one here but it’s safe to say all have helped me grow as a person and as an artist.
The partnership,CLAUSTEN.com, culminated in a handful of awards, includingBest of Show at the Color of Humanity Art Gallery and a second place prize at the Charity Gala in support of “Inspiration Corporation” (http://www.inspirationcorp.org/blog/inspired-artists)an organization that helps Chicago’s homeless.Kirsten and I even wrote a song together; (https://m.soundcloud.com/packmulemonday/life-by-the-sea-april-1-2015)
Of late, I have been more motivated to create with a view to attain commercial success and greater public exposure. But right now, art is my retirement plan. It’s a time-consuming passion for which patience is required as I focus on the few remaining years of my professional career before retirement and helping my kids through university. I’ve divulged how old I am, haven’t I?
In the meantime, this fall, I’m planning to work with my daughter who is studying Social Work in college, to create a program for disadvantaged youth. My hope is to teach mobile editing to a small group to give them an opportunity to create art in what is one of the most accessible mediums I know. With some support from the mobile art community, I hope, ultimately, to publish a book of their art. Stay tuned!
How often do you create images? Do you feel under pressure to produce more and more or do you not subscribe to this? If yes, does this sense of urgency help you in your creation process?
I create every day. While I wouldn’t admit to feeling pressure to produce a large quantity of work, I suppose my strong desire to extract the emotions I need to express do sometimes give a sense of urgency to my creative process. I’ve tried to slow down considerably over the past year or so. I’ve been known to complete a full edit in about thirtyminutes. And, probably, some of my earlier work shows this lack of patience. But I do like to work fast. It’s a stream of consciousness process for me. I think that creating anything has to flow and come on its own. I do have some reservations, beyond a healthy level of self-doubt, about getting into the commercial market, if only because of the pressure to create. If I am not feeling it, it’s not happening.
Do you adapt a similar ‘routine’ to creating your images or do you change and vary your process depending on the piece?
Yes, I’m a bit of sucker for routine. My process is fairly consistent. I usually begin with the masking process with my raw assets my photographs. Once I’ve formulated the composition, I go through the embellishing process adding elements, small details, etc., usually in Art Studio or iColorama. More and more, I try to keep my editsas simple as possible, being conscious of resolution issues. My final step is always tone and light. I believe this is the key to a compelling piece and I spend a considerable amount of time tweaking tone, color, sharpness, etc.
Do you have a particular methodology in your work? Do you allow a specific time frame to complete an image? Do you need to work in a certain creative environment?
I’ve described my methodology in the previous question, but I can say that I have no prescribed timeframe to complete images. They may be created in hours, days or several minutes, depending on their complexity. Some of my best edits have been one app, twenty minutes…Done. It all starts with a good photograph, doesn’t it?
Do photographic images feature in your work, what form do these take?
My photos are the foundation of my work, especially my landscape pieces. After studying at the Ottawa School of Photographic Arts last year, I committed to taking more time to develop my photography skills. This is where I fully admit that, while my art is primarily based on mobile photography, I am slowly gravitating to more pure photography, using DSLR cameras. I still prefer to edit on mobile devices, however. I think there’s room for a mix of technologies in the creative process.
Do you use any additional hardware to help you create your art, such as a stylus? Can you also tell us about any other hardware you use including, software, accessories including batteries, chargers, lenses, storage. Do you have a favorite tool?
I like things simple. I use an iPad mini and iPhone 5S to edit. I have tried using a stylus and a digital paintbrush, but still prefer finger editing. I use my Ollo clip on occasion but no other iPhone attachments. I store my work on an external drive from my iMac. I find the less “stuff” I have, the happier I am.
Where do you share your images within social media channels? How do you manage social media, sharing, learning, competitions etc. vs. creating art?
I began sharing my images on Instagram and now share my work primarily on Flickr, Instagram, Eye Em and my own Facebook page as well as several Facebook group pages. I am developing a professional website which I hope to publish this fall. I’d say that my biggest frustration is my lack of time. I’ve realized that keeping current, interacting with and supporting other artists, entering competitions and creating is a full-time job, not to mention, expensive! So I’ve set limits for myself. No artists’ career was built in a day. I think that, with perseverance, kindness to myself and others, and a little luck, I’ll achieve whatever level of success I consider personally rewarding.
Are you motivated by competitions/competitiveness or does your satisfaction come from within? How do you involve yourself in competitions, shows, challenges and what are your reasons for doing so?
I struggle a bit with the competitive circuit. I don’t believe competitiveness motivates my creativity. The satisfaction, as I’ve indicated, comes from my connection and love of the work. Nevertheless, it’s through competitions, submissions to art calls, etc., that I am pushed to improve. When I see what’s out there I find there is a great deal of inspiration to be had. My work was recently displayed at the Louvre in Paris as part of the Exposure Award 2015 photo exposition. I’ve also recently received honorable mentions at theJCC International Mobile Device Photography competitionand the water themed cover competition for iPhotographer Magazine.As my professional career nears its end, and my kids complete university, I’ll have more time and resources to devote to entering competitions, exhibiting, and commercializing my work.
What causes you to pause and take stock of your existing work? How has mobile technology and connectedness changed the way you see? This can be both literally how you see, and how you see yourself and your work. Creative people were more isolated, in the past, and had to deal with less intuitive tools, digitally and in natural media.
Social and technological connectivity have completely changed how I see my work. On any given day, I see what amazing work people are creating and it does make me look very critically at my own. Believe me, there have been days I’ve said “that’s it! I’ll never be as good as that! I quit!” This passes, however, when I remember why I create. The tools are improving all the time and I try to keep up with the latest trends and involve myself in communities, like TheAppWhisperer, where I can learn and share. This isn’t always easy for me as I’m actually very introverted and quite shy, deep down. I hate to impose on people, so I’ve been very grateful for those who have taken the initiative and the time to connect with me to teach and share their knowledge. And I’ve tried to be helpful to others and to share what I know too.
How hasTheAppWhisperer.com helped you with your art?
Clearly,TheAppWhisperer.comhas had a huge influence on my work. Having my work included among the amazingly talented artists in the Flickr Showcase group on occasion has given me a tremendous amount of confidence. The various AppWhisperer Facebook groups are a constant source of inspiration and feedback. It’s given me a sense of community, which I don’t find on photo sharing social media sites. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity to share my thoughts through this interview, and, while I prefer to speak through my art, this has been an excellent exercise in self-reflection. I’m so grateful Bobbi. Thank you.