Meet the Maker ~ Artist Benedicte Caillat

In The Foodie Bugle Shop we sell the cards of the very talented artist Benedicte Caillat, who lives in London and France.

When we decided to have a stationery section in the online shop, her work immediately sprang to mind to stock it.

Last year we interviewed her for the print edition of The Foodie Bugle Magazine, and this is what we found out about her training and work. She told us all about her passion for watercolours and how she came to sell her work, as well as what advice she would give to an aspiring artist ~ card maker.

Benedicte Caillat ~ Paintings From The Everyday Kitchen

I was born in France, near Grenoble, the second of  four girls, and spent the first eighteen years of my life moving from town to town in, very nearly, every corner of the country.  I then settled in Paris, where most of my family lived, for eight years, where I studied History of Art and Fine art. I then moved to London twelve years ago.

Today, I share my time between London where I live most of the year with my two daughters, and the south of France.  My parents bought a house there ten years ago so the whole family could gather for Christmases by roaring fires, for summer holidays hiding in the shade of the garden, or for whenever we can escape from our busy working lives.

I was introduced to watercolour painting by a friend of my mother’s when I was just nine years old, and have been painting ever since.

One of the best presents I ever received was a watercolour travel box, complete with its own folding palettes and mini bottle of water. I started taking it everywhere with me, writing travel journals. It was fifteen years ago, and I still use it all the time. Even now that the box is showing serious signs of wear and tear, I would not replace it for anything in the world!

I love doing illustrations from nature, or sitting at a terrace with a cup of coffee, doodling away. I take pictures when I need to work on more elaborate images, especially if I paint large formats in watercolour or acrylics – the other technique I use. The main focus of my work is colours, and a lot of my illustrations are about food: fruits and vegetables are an endless source of inspiration with such a wide range of different hues and colours and simple shapes. I come from a family where food is very important: my great-grand mother was a baker and a great cook, and we have been passed her recipes from generation to generation. I try to keep up this tradition, and it often becomes a subject of more illustrations.

When the family gather we spend a great deal of time planning meals, food shopping at local markets, visiting local producers, and then cooking what we have found from the stalls. Meal times are always shared and can drag on for hours especially during the winter months. I also love cooking when I have time: for everyday meals at home I have to find quick recipes but I always try to add a personal touch. I love cold months as it means homemade soups that are easy to cook and can last for a few days. Luckily my children love soup, which I serve with little grated cheese puffs or toasted bread with various toppings. I bake cakes and cookies every other day so my daughters have some when they come home from school. Chocolate cakes are always a favourite, but I try to vary with banana breads, lemon and poppy seed madeleines and vanilla cookies. I am always willing to try out new recipes and add my personal touch.

I started with watercolour paints, which is an easy medium which can be used anywhere, and was introduced to acrylics when I attended art school.  The two techniques are very different, and I tend to stick to one technique for months in a row, before I move on to a new project. Watercolour is more for small formats and illustrations – from which I print cards and paper products  – whereas acrylic is mostly used on raw canvases in larger formats, or for printmaking on paper, when I then use acrylic inks. All three techniques offer very different experiences, possibilities and results, and I can’t say than one is better or more fulfilling than the other as it really depends on what image I have in mind when painting.

When you are a professional artist, marketing is a full-time job in itself, and can get frustrating as while I am marketing, I am not creating anything new. Any way and idea must be explored, which is where social media is helpful, and I see marketing as successions of doors that I need to push open to see what opportunities are behind. Some doors don’t lead anywhere, some lead to more doors that all need to be opened until I find something useful. The pleasant part of it is that I get to build a large network of interesting people and exchange feedback with them on my work. I am focusing more on illustration work at the moment, for which I am represented by an agent, Advocate Art, but have some plans to exhibit paintings sometime next year.

My advice to any artist looking to turn professional is that if you really want to do art, you have to stick to it no matter what, as it can be difficult to create your own niche and the competition is tough. Although talent is important, determination is also a very important factor.  You need to be confident, and leave no stone unturned. But when you love what you are doing, it doesn’t seem that hard!

Further Information

The Foodie Bugle Shop:

Benedicte Caillat:

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