As a live painter, Joseph Cantin paints original works of art in real time. He takes moments like standing before an ocean sunset or a newlywed couple’s first dance and translates them into paintings completed while the action is unfolding before him. He works at live events, such as anniversaries, weddings and concerts, as well as out in nature in front of a beach or a mountain outlook. He also completes commissions for painted images of photographs that a client might wish to have rendered.
Cantin collaborates with clients to fulfill their vision and then makes it his own with his distinct eye for movement, light and the ability to paint the emotionality of a real moment. He paints from a place of deep feeling and engages the viewer by translating that feeling onto his canvases.
You can view Cantin’s original one of a kind paintings (these are all available for sale) and also view a digital collection of his past original works (these are all sold).
Basic Criteria and Collaboration with Client
After a client establishes contact with Cantin, the next step is to plan a cohesive approach to the painting process. This involves building a relationship with the client and a few key criteria. Cantin asks the client to provide three things: a basic idea, the colors desired for the scene, and reference images.
Cantin discusses the initial ideas the client envisions for the painting and collaborates with them to create a distinctive and unique outline for the work. He enjoys the approach of working with a client, allowing him to learn more about them and their specific desires for the image so that he can paint in accordance with the customer’s vision and build on it with his creative expertise. By participating in collaboration, Cantin fosters a space in which one-of-a-kind images and designs can emerge and that customers will treasure.
In order to determine the best color palette for a work, Cantin specifically inquires about its intended location. This allows him to cater the colors of the work to the particular space in which it will be hung. For example, if he is painting for a beach house, he would likely stay away from colors such as red or yellow, as they might clash with the cool tones with which a beach house is typically decorated. Conversely, if he were commissioned to create a painting for a mountain cabin, he might utilize red and yellow paints for the warmth and woodiness of that space.
The principles of color theory come into play in this portion of the planning process. Cantin works to create what is called “color harmony,” or the use of specific color combinations that are visually pleasing. The goal is to create an image that will complement its surroundings before he begins the physical work of painting.
In requesting reference images from a client, Cantin hopes to collect images that convey the client’s ideas in a visual and precise way. If there is a certain pictorial element, perspective, color scheme, etc., that the client is hoping will be represented in the painting, they can provide examples of these things. Based on the images, Cantin can form a well-rounded idea of what the client is looking for. This ensures that anything the client feels is essential to the work is not overlooked. Cantin can merge these images with the basic collaborated idea and decided color palette to guarantee that the client is satisfied and receiving the painting that they and the artist have envisioned together.
Preliminary Sketches and Digital Images
With the three basic criteria, Cantin will create a sketch of what he plans to paint and present it to the client before beginning the painting process. This, of course, is something that can be revised and altered by the artist to ensure it is to the customer’s satisfaction. Cantin also has the ability to use a graphic design program to both rework preliminary images and digitally insert them into their destined locations.
If the client wants to see how an image will function in its intended room, then Cantin can take a photograph of the room and virtually place either an image with like colors or a preliminary sketch onto the wall. In this way, the client is able to see how the painting would look in the space, and Cantin is able to create the most accurate color harmonies.
If a client sends Cantin a specific photograph that they want rendered, but they would like to see a different background in the final painting, Cantin can manipulate the digital image by changing the background into anything the client would like, while retaining the main subject. Technology opens the door to a multitude of possibilities in communication between client and painter and is another step in assuring that the client’s vision is pictured in the final product.
Acrylic Paints as Ideal Live Painting Medium
Cantin chooses to work with acrylic paints for his live paintings. Acrylics dry very quickly, so they function well within the context of live painting. Oil paints are known for their rich colors that add depth and tonal value to paintings and require fewer layers of paint to achieve a full-bodied effect. However, each layer of paint takes a day or more to dry, making the medium unsuitable for live painting. Moreover, oil paints have the tendency to crack and yellow over time, eventually needing to be restored, while acrylics are much more durable paints known to uphold their visual integrity over time.
While Cantin does not exclude oil paints within the broad spectrum of his work, as seen in his Amaryllis painting, acrylic paints allow him the flexibility to work quickly, applying many layers in the few hours it takes him to complete a live painting. Upon the painting’s completion, Cantin can place it directly into the hands of the client, without the need for additional drying time. While acrylics do not have the same richness as oil paint in a single layer, the use of multiple layers reveals equivalent depth and tonal value. This allows for a wide berth of rich detail and intensity of color in a much shorter time. Additionally, the higher number of layers allows for acute attention to movement and light within the paintings. The level of detail with which Cantin renders the flickering of the sun’s rays or a swelling wave merge into a dynamic and engaged scene.
Painting as an Emotional Act
Perhaps the most important thing to note about Cantin’s painting process is the emotion with which he works. He can often be seen by the seaside, easel and paints before him, immersed in the act of his brush. Before Cantin sets up to paint, he requests photos of the space in which he is to work and/or performs a site visit. This way he knows what to expect in the actual space before arriving with his equipment. When it is time to begin painting, the process will typically take about two to three hours, depending on the canvas size requested by the customer and level of intricacy of what he is being asked to paint. He works quickly, but with ease, allowing the moments to unfurl naturally as he paints, seeking to capture the feeling of watching sandpipers flitting through the dunes or a father-daughter dance and translates it onto canvas through his paintbrush.
When standing before a scene, Cantin works to internalize a spontaneous moment of natural beauty. It could be the prophetic feeling of one-ness, nostalgia and ease that tinges every ocean sunset, or the inescapable realization that we humans are infinitesimal in comparison to the great mountain ranges. It could be the love filling the room as a bride and groom take the first step into a new life together, or the elation and sadness that mingle at a concert’s end. Joseph Cantin works in emotion and renders those grand feelings life elicits from us onto a canvas. He creates pause, a stillness within that emotion, and, by translating it into a painting, constructs a way to relive it again and again.
Cantin as a Worldly Painter
While many of Cantin’s paintings have showcased the world nearest to him, such as the Florida coastline and the Blue Ridge Mountains, he is by no means limited to these environments. Cantin’s live painting technique is ready for volcanoes in Hawaii or a Parisian wedding. His painting process is accessible because it is portable. He does not need the silence and stillness of a workshop, but thrives on open air and natural splendor that he can see, feel, and paint in real time. The world is Joseph Cantin’s studio, and there is so much waiting to be painted by him.
If you are moved by Cantin’s painting process and want to see it in action, he is available to contact by phone, e-mail, or through the company website here. You can also view the SunscapesArt Facebook page here, which tracks many of Cantin’s live painting projects. He is available for weddings, anniversaries, concerts, or any live event you’d like memorialized. Anything you can think of, Cantin will find a way to depict it, and you will walk away with an original work of art to hang as a painted memory.