Artist Profile by Catherine Joyce
The Low Down to Hull and Back News, 2006
Christine Leger calls herself a "rebel realist". Her intense, deftly realized paintings of nature - of flowers, birds and wildlife - draw comparisons with photography. "I take this as a compliment. I know that abstraction has redefined Art but the real world is so beautiful, I want to paint it as it is. I want to learn how to hone my craft to truly see and capture it."
Born in Edmonton in 1975, Christine grew up in Ottawa. Both her parents hail from the Maritimes where the family returned each summer to her father's Acadian roots and to the Colpitts settlement of her mother's people just outside of Moncton. Such roots, deep in the land, first drew Christine to the Gatineau Hills four years ago - to establish her studio and to begin her own family with husband Paul, a computer specialist and avid supporter of her work. They now have two children, Adam and Sage.
Largely self-taught, Christine began her creative journey as a poet in the literary arts program at Canterbury High School. "I always wrote but in a sense my poems were verbal paintings. I found myself wanting to do something more immediate, something that anyone - from a young child to an old person - could understand."
Her realist style - a kind of extreme or surreal romantic realism - attracts people. "I don't paint for other artists. I paint for those who are looking from a pure place - no dogma, no theories. I am after a clear connection." Her paintings have been selling since she was 20 and are in private collections around the world. In both 2003 and 2005 she was chosen to paint one of the "tulip masterpieces" for the Artists' Tulip Bed featured during the Canadian Tulip Festival.
The path has not always been straightforward. For five years Christine was married to Canadian poet, Patrick White. "Two artists living together can be charged with a difficult dynamic. What I learned from Patrick is to produce. No matter what happens, you always paint another picture, write another poem. In creativity, the act alone is key. Not thinking, not dreaming but doing.
"You have to dedicate yourself to Art. It's like a long distance journey - like learning to ride a horse. It takes time.
"I work hard. But I don't play the suicide card. You see so many talented artists who believe they have to suffer for their art- the idea that to be authentic you have to be tortured like Van Gogh who sold no paintings in his lifetime. Life is tough enough. You have to do the work. And if you're lucky, like I am, with a supportive family - your work comes back to you as renewal, as joy."
Christine credits the home-birth of her children. "Having a baby is the most creative act. You go to the fire. You are no longer 'Christine' but this life force - inside Nature, inside that Beauty-Truth connection every artist seeks. With children you live on an organic level where Art - and all of life - is put into perspective."
Christine Leger's Studio is at 335 River Road - look for the gigantic tulip.