Banal to Beautiful: A Conversation with Charlotte Gosselin

By Abigail Brewer

* feature image is from Le Vent

“Working on daily life, it can be really banal, but I try to treat it with sensibility so that [...] even if it’s basic, you can feel something,” says Charlotte Gosselin, a rising young artist from Sherbrooke on the Montréal art scene. Her words perfectly convey what I felt looking at her website.

Gosselin somehow takes the banal image of wind swirling past a power line on a snowy landscape from ordinary to extraordinary. In Le Vent, she makes the wind feel alive and merciless against a bleak background, undefined except for the power line. The black, white, and grey strokes undulate in various directions, bearing down darkly from the edges of the piece to wrap around the power line on the right side; they drift across the undefined, more lightly-rendered ground in a powerful juxtaposition of nature and modernity, seeming to place the two at once in harmony and at odds with each other.

Le Vent

I’m particularly curious about Gosselin’s choice of medium and style, as most of her works seem to be done in a striking monochrome palette. In response to my query, Gosselin replies that her works are mainly rendered in technical pen, which reflects her evolution in art style over the years, moving from “more colourful work when I was younger” to “only pen.” She discovered the medium during a comic art residency in Québec, where she fell in love with the “way the lines were matching the pen.” Gosselin uses it both in her illustrations of daily life and in larger abstract works. She still occasionally uses pops of colour when she “feels like there’s too much black and white,” often drawing with coloured pencil, watercolour, or gouache. 

from Je Prends Feu Trop Souvent (2021-2022)

When I ask about her artistic process, she explains that it varies between her works. Her illustrations are sometimes completed very quickly, in “two seconds,” and are observational and deliberate, as she chooses a subject she sees and “makes it important.” “I take my ideas from my daily life, and I don’t really search for ideas,” Gosselin says, referring to her illustrations, such as Ils sont arrivés par dizaines: “they come from how I feel.” Gosselin hopes that these depictions of daily life can show how she sees the world, as she attempts to take the scenes of daily life from mundane to something more sensitive and emotive. I admire her use of chiaroscuro, or the treatment of light and shading in a work, as it is a particularly effective and impressive way to depict these scenes of daily life in an artistic yet accessible way; it works perfectly within her monochrome and sparsely colored illustrations to convey Gosselin’s view of the space and to form the scene an object is placed in.

Ils Sont Arrivés Par Dizaines, 2021.

In contrast to these quick sketches, Gosselin’s abstract works are often much larger and more time-consuming—her large exhibition work Janvier (Ciel 5) took forty hours in total. When I inquire about how she interprets meaning through her works, she replies that while her illustrations don’t necessarily have a specific intention behind them, in her abstract works, “it’s kind of the process that I like and that makes me feel good.”.

These works are much more meditative and therapeutic. Janvier (Ciel 5) is an excellent example of this drawn-out emotional expression. By examining the work, three feet by six feet in size and intricately detailed, “you can see how I was feeling that day,” Gosselin explains to me. The work moves from a calm, uniform balance of shading at the top to a darker, more angry section towards the middle and in the lower right corner. 

Janvier (Ciel 5), ink drawing, 2021.

Detail of Janvier (Ciel 5), ink drawing, 2021.

Gosselin’s abstract pieces allow her to process her emotions, through their spontaneity  and exploration of her mental health and emotions. Feelings are very important to her art, “not only problematic feelings, but all feelings, [...] and sensibilities.” 

“I am working on a graphic novel right now about this. It’s about ‘ça m'habite,’” she explains, meaning the emotions that inhabit me. The name of the book is Je prends feu trop souvent, and  it will be coming out mid-March of 2022.

from Je Prends Feu Trop Souvent
from Je Prends Feu Trop Souvent

In the future, Gosselin looks forward to switching to creating more big works, rather than her previous focus on smaller illustrations. “I could never be bored in life because I can always draw,” she says to me, simply but effectively conveying the love for art that I felt throughout our conversation. 

You can check out more of Charlotte Gosselin’s work at her website, Instagram, or facebook

*Thanks to our translator, Agathe Nolla, for aiding with this interview.

Community-Building Artistry with Carlos Salamanca
The Figural and the Fantastical: A Glimpse into the Art World of Brent Cleveland