Jean Claude Roy once said, “I’ll dig my tomb with my paint brush,” and it’s more than a morbid declaration, it’s a clear depiction of his passion as an artist. Like a diary, his paintings represent the visual recordings of his life, reflecting what he has seen over time and how he felt each day.
As an ‘expressionist-colourist,’ Roy’s defining quality is his ability to paint landscapes on-site, using mostly oils and a palette knife. “Every day of my life is a painting and this is why I try to paint outside in any kind of weather,” he says. The season, the climate and his mood are directly portrayed in his paintings. One day he looked up at the sun for so long, all he could see was black. He felt the urge to replace the yellow sun on his canvas with a black dot, and eventually it led to his signature mark.
Roy is considered a self-taught artist. He briefly attended art school until he quit because he didn’t like being told what to do. Although many students learn to find their style in a classroom, Jean Claude Roy believes the power lies in your own observations. “If you want to develop your own style, you have to do it yourself,” he says. You have to attend exhibits, wander outside, and analyze every detail of your surroundings. “Technique can be taught, but not creation. You either have it or you don’t,” he proclaims. In his eyes, you become an artist by painting every single day.
“I’ll dig my tomb with my paint brush.”
“I’ve kept every empty tube of paint since I started painting,” he shares. He is deeply connected to his work and always strives to be better. He believes artists begin to fade away by age 70, which is why he pushes himself every day. Although he’s a master at capturing landscapes, a simple scene is not good enough for him. When he can’t find the right subject, he will return again and again until he discovers a new way to look at the scene. If he’s looking at a village filled with tents, he’ll learn how to paint tents. For him, the painting is not complete until it reaches your heart and makes you feel something.