Audette is an artist from Le Havre, Normandy, France. She worked in Paris as a graphic designer, but after years of city life she felt compelled to leave Paris behind and explore more of the world.
Volunteering through the site Workaway she first ventured to Spain for four months. With an opportunity to paint her first wall mural, Aude says, “Here I met my true self…”
She’s gone from Spain to couch surfing Europe, to Mexico and Guatemala, leaving her mark wherever she goes.
We’re drawn to Aude’s palette and the juxtaposition of animal forms on human structures. Her vivid colors bring her birds and other creatures beyond their natural forms like magical realism – true enough to be believable, but fantastic and slightly out of place perched delicately on a cinderblock wall.
Find out more, in Aude’s words:
How does painting fulfill you in ways that graphic design did not?
I was working as a graphic designer in Paris for four years. I liked my job (and still like it) but I get tired of that working-life in a big city. My daily routine became a jail that I had to get out of. So in September 2016 I left for a new life, full of unexpected adventures.
I didn’t really plan to paint while traveling like I am doing right now, it came to me on the way… and since I started it I can’t stop. When I arrive to a new place (generally I find them on the website Workaway) I first ask, “Where can I paint?” and if they are agree they provide me a wall, buy me the material, a place to stay and food, in other words I am doing volunteer artwork. For the moment I don’t get “paid” for my work and I think it makes me more free.
Unlike the graphic design that I still do professionally online, painting allows me to meet people who are interested in sharing art and to travel to places that welcome my art too – things that are less possible when money is involved.
What draws you to animal forms? Why are you drawn to paint them in such vivid color?
That’s a big question… I think I always have loved nature and the beautiful creatures that live in it. Nature is everything, it is perfect, I never get bored of observing and drawing her. I am just doing a pale imitation of mother earth. I am a happy person so I suppose the vivid colors come from that.
Can you speak a bit to the choice to connect painting and traveling?
It came naturally to me. In general I choose farms or places connected to nature to stay in, and in between I visit places like cities, archeological sites and other natural sites. Traveling feeds my curiosity while painting permits me to give something of myself to the places I stay – like a thank you gift.
I always feel so grateful to live like this and it’s all thanks to every person I know or meet on my way that supports me.
Where has your art taken you since you arrived in Guatemala? Where will it lead you next?
I arrived in Guatemala in mid October, met new friends, and we traveled around the country for two months. Thanks to one of them I was able to paint a full house at the beach.
My last stop here is a hostel in Semuc Champey that I will paint entirely until I return to Mexico mid January. In Mexico I plan to visit friends, paint murals, and give myself new adventures.
After that my plan is to go south to Argentina, taking time to paint and discover all the countries in between.
Photos courtesy of Aude Lefort.