Gilles Letourneau
Born January, 1959
Currently lives and works in South Portland, Maine

I was born in St. Come, Canada and raised in Portland Maine, having moved to Maine at a young age with my parents who were looking for better opportunities. My mother would hold art parties mostly with finger paints on Saturday afternoons for neighborhood kids. I remember her telling dismayed onlookers in a French accent when things got really messy “Don’t worry it’s just paper and paint, let them play”. That was my intro to art and I loved every session.
Along with a love of art I had a strong aptitude for mathematics and so I ultimately pursued a degree in Architecture at Syracuse University. Working through college and afterwards as a licensed Architect in Maine, developing renderings in watercolor and creating paintings for family and friends, was always an endeared activity. Oil paints became my medium of choice a few years ago.

My early inspirations with oils stem from a brief study of Rembrandt’s late portraits especially the brush work and the way he applied highlights to gold and metallic objects with quite an abstract result. I wondered “Isn’t all painting ‘abstract’ to some extent?

Working with Diane Dahlke at the Maine College of Art, I began a series I call “Micro Abstraction”. My work explores the line between abstraction and realism. This concept differs from what’s called ‘Abstract-realism’ seen in the work of James Kandt, and to some extent William Turner because the abstract areas are clearly confined to patches of thick paint while the subject matter provides context and takes on a carefully crafted realism.
This series called “Micro Abstraction, Helmets” depicts historic war helmets and masks at different stages of corrosion. Though the helmets were originally crafted with great care, time has marred their beauty bearing scars of decay while leaving other areas almost untouched to display their original beauty. See if you can see hints of the battle scene and figurines in the intricate areas.

The paintings are completed in different mediums. I use heavy weave canvas or gesso boards. In some cases metal leaf is sparingly applied.  I find that canvas allows me to apply thick paints and create a heavy robust feeling.  The board provides a perfect surface for smooth metallic effects using thin layers of paint, washes and metal leaf.

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