Friday, December 27, 2013


Name?  Jocelyne Desforges

Age? (Feel free to ignore this question completely) 11 september 1947

Location? Live in the province of Quebec in Canada, also lived in Vancouver for a third of my life. 

How long have you been painting? I painted my very first canvas when I was ten years old. I had received a box of oil paints, linseed oil and turpentine for Christmas. I think that I always drew. As a child, I would ask my brothers to draw a line and I would make something out of it. When the lights went out, I always saw colors and patterns in the dark. Some were so beautiful, I never saw them elsewhere other than in my mind. I tried to reproduce some in vain.

Do you have a specific painting style? I don’t know if I have a particular style. It is my way, that’s all.

Do you paint as a career? I am a painter, an image maker, always have been. I suppose that that is a career but I’ve made money at doing almost everything else.

Do you paint full-time? I think about art full time.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a painter? As a painter, my greatest accomplishment has been at entertaining myself. I have always painted for myself. I have managed to stay alive, raised a son who is also a creator, to whom I gave a true appreciation of the visual arts and a great sense of humour.

What is your ultimate goal as a painter? As a painter my ultimate goal is to keep doing what I am doing. I believe that, just like a writer needs to put down words, I put down forms and colours that mean something to me. It happens, once in a while that someone really gets what you tried to do. When that happens, you might feel validated. You don’t feel so crazy after all.

What is your greatest challenge as a painter? As a painter, my greatest challenge is space. I like to work on big surfaces. To do that, you need space, light and enough money to cover your material. I have worked in the back of a store where I sold antiques to get by. The store was poorly lit and I would use a lot of colors to compensate for the lack of light. I got used to paint with electric blues and savage reds. I used whites as well to bring back the light from darkness.

What projects of yours have been recently published? I illustrated a magazine Buk Scene, a literary mag, inspired by the works of Charles Bukowski, which I published with Jan Hallers, a Dutch poet. We collected poetry from writers, who had had personal encounters with  Bukowski, others inspired by his work, also scholars who were into looking closely at his style and how it has affected American literature in a big way. We were invited to introduce the magazine at the 2009 Bukowski Symposium, in Germany. We really hoped that we could go on and on with the mag. At that time we tried to travel back and forth, from Canada to Holland . It was difficult to do, especially very costly. Our press is Purple Glow Press, which we named after one of Bukowski’s poem. We illustrated and published Unveiling the Myth by Abel Debritto. One Match Left by David Barker. The press is still alive, sometimes I’m  tempted to keep it going but it is on hold for now.

What are you currently working on and what inspired this work? I am inspired by mandalas, repetitions of patterns as mantras being recited. I like to tell stories in a circle, in spirals, in a series of characters, in squares placed side by side with elements relating to one another, in motion, sometimes in layers. It feels like I need to put my thoughts in order. Maybe I suffer from a compulsion??

Where can we find your work? My work lives with a lot of different people. I used to sell in galleries but dislikes the feeling of selling something that works for most. When I get that feeling, I am generally not doing the right thing. I feel it, something essential has been lost. I sold from my store for 6 years. Once in a while I have a show or get invited to join a group of local painters. Hopefully I sell something, then I go home and recover. It is difficult for me to be organized at that level. I actually like to paint book covers. The work is circulating, breathing and being used for pleasure. It accompanies words through space. I recently made a cover for Subhankar Das, have made one for Jenifer wills, often lend images for different poetry books.

I have worked in ceramics, set design, decoration of a theme village for children, sculpture.
I have had a long life and a lifelong of unpredictable challenges. Ha ha ha

       How often do you paint? I always have something going on.  I am not necessarily painting every day but I am always thinking about it. I can look at a painting for a month, then know what to do with it. Other times, it is done in a few hours. Then, paint five days in a row.

       How do you react to rejections? I don’t really feel bad about that. I know that my style is    sometimes irreverent, because of the subjects, not always the kind that you want to hang over your blue couch, but I have learned to accept that a long time ago. Such is my personality, complicated, often sad.

       How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication? It feels great. It feels like I’ve touched someone, somewhere. It is a form of validation. You feel like you have shared a part of yourself that was accepted, recognized as a human.

       What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a painter? You need to do it and love what you do. To stay sane you need to make enough money to feed yourself, not to take yourself so seriously. Art will live on no matter what. You need to play, play with words, use them any way you want, play with colors, think less, play with your food.

       What is your favorite book? Death on the Installment Plan of Céline.

       Who is your favorite author? Céline, followed by Dostoyevky, Bukowski and Fante. All for different reasons. Céline for madness, Dostoyevsky for depth, Bukowski for being human, Fante for comfort.

        If you could have dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why? Maybe God.

        What is the greatest occupational hazard for a painter? Taking oneself too seriously or not enough. Being stuck in a particular style and trying to justify it.

        What is your favorite word? I am not sure, maybe YES.

        What makes you laugh? Myself, when I forget that I can only be myself.

      What makes you cry? Children losing hope.

What is your preferred drink while you paint? When I paint I drink coffee.

Beach or Mountains? Mountains. I love fresh air.

Cats or Dogs? Cats but I’ll have a dog too, if I ever live away from the city.

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? Probably both for different reasons.

Jimi Hendrix or Frank Sinatra? Jimi

Shakespeare or Bukowski? Bukowski but Shakespeare needs a chance too.

     Please provide as much or as little of the following information as you’d like.

Facebook profile or page: Jocelyne Desforges or Buk Scene

      Books for sale and/or  I have painted Bukowski  and have tons of postcards printed from the original paintings.

And, there is this friend who recently asked me about the wild life in Canada. He seems interested in hearing about the kind of dangerous creatures inhabiting our Canadian forests.

Having been a tree planter in the Rockies, I do have a few memories which are worth retelling since they are legendary in nature and part of our favourite family tales.
One of those wild animals is the grizzly bear that can reach 12 feet in height, when standing.

I had heard all my life that one should play dead when facing such an encounter. I had practiced holding my breath, over and over while laying on the living room rug, pretending to be dead meat. Opinions vary. Others said that one should run, climb, even fight them with a stick in an attempt to remain alive or even spray them with bear spray.

One morning, going up the mountain with my load of baby trees hanging around my waist, I saw a beautiful grizzly mom with her cubs, standing tall, sniffing the air. That was in April 1992, mama bear and her cubs had just gotten out of their hibernation den, definitely hungry after the long snowy winter. She saw me and started walking backwards at first, and towards me when I stopped moving, frozen in fear. Now, she was running, even leaping in the air over fallen logs, blowing her magnificent juicy roar in my direction.

She was now coming down the mountain, standing twelve feet up in the air! Every hair on my body was erected, just like a porcupine, intuitively making myself bigger than life. Ankle bells are part of any smart tree planter's gear. Wild life can hear you coming from miles away and they will usually stay hidden and out of sight. That was not my fate. I was now  dancing on the spot with hundred of bells wrapped around my ankles, flapping my arms up and down like a crazy partridge, hoping that mama bear would choose to take her family away from this crazy damned fool. But she did not stop, she kept coming at me, leaving me no other alternative than to fight her with my bare fists since I had nothing else, not even a forty dollars can of bear spray. Me and the boys had emptied our pockets at a local bar in One Hundred Mile House. I quickly decided to take her on. I was going to drive her a solid punch right on the nose, immediately followed by an uppercut and a swift kick in the puss. When bent over in shock, I would give her a powerful knee kick  under her bear chin.  She would then turn around and tell her cubs, Kinou and Kitoche, to run back up the mountain and forget what they had just witnessed. The foxes would laugh at my victory and her loss, and we would smoke cigars and drink spruce beer. The mountain goats would make pot pies and I'd become a famous hero in Prince Rupert. Even the Sasquatch would come to fear me.
The eagles spiralled over the scene, all going haaaaaaawk! And I blacked out.
When I came to, 20 hares still wearing their white wintery fur coats danced around me for a long while laughing.

I often wondered if that really happened or if I just had been sleeping through this beautiful spring morning, up there in the Rockies.

I would have to leave my trees hidden under some fallen branches, so I wouldn't get fired.

1 comment:

  1. I am definitely not a writer but wrote the bear story for Catfish McDaris because he asked me to.