In a previous article , I already confided to you my admiration for the work of the illustrator Sandrine Thommen . I try not to miss any of his works published in children's editions, they are real little pleasures for the eyes which arrive by surprise at the bookseller. His subtle approach to color, the humility of his line, the softness of his compositions make his work a real invitation to travel and escape...
This month, I reveal a report in his Strasbourg workshop, in order to share with you all the beauty and delicacy of his art.
When Sandrine came to greet me as I got off the train: I was immediately surprised by her clear eyes, the softness of her gaze and her calm presence. I am touched. We walk quietly towards his workshop and I already know that my return trip to Strasbourg is a gift.
When I arrived in the workshops, I was inspired by the calm that lulled the place. Around ten artists worked on his floor in absolute silence. I then understand that calm is an important element, one of the keys to his precise work. We end up settling in a studio that she shares with another artist. During our discussions I discovered his sketches, his travel notebooks, his original plates intended for his first books, until today.
I feel lucky, I am captivated by all these treasures that Sandrine generously gives me. I get the measure of very delicate, precise, meticulous work. I realize that his line is done with an ultra-fine brush, that it takes him whole days to complete. I am fascinated and afraid to handle these large and precious boards, as I feel the hours of work behind each painting. Sandrine does this precision work simply, calmly, taking the time. These great moments of concentration give way to a form of “meditation”. It seems to me that Sandrine practices it naturally by painting, perfecting, working on her colors, her compositions.
Cévennes board , September 2015
Sandrine particularly likes gouache painting. This medium provides density to the color and perfect opacity. But it is with dazzlement that I discover this colored pencil board, another technique that she recently rediscovered and which she also loves. Sandrine explains to me that it is the landscape of her childhood, her parents' house being small, with the large yellow mimosa against the house, which no longer exists today. This magnificent composition evokes the natural love in which Sandrine grew up, among chestnut trees, holm oaks and kiwi trees, then in the distance we see the horizon, as in most of her works.
Letter from Lafcadio Hearn , Reliefs magazine n°1 published in January 2016
Was her drawing talent a vocation? When I bring up the subject, it seems that it was not written. Sandrine had first thought of becoming a doctor, working in the humanitarian sector, something that came after good studies. Her imagination for drawing is born from her taste for literature: through the analysis of texts and her love of reading, she likes to visualize and create a universe. Encouraged by her mother who pushes her to invest in a path that is close to her heart, she discovered the Estienne school on the internet while she was still in the beautiful Cévennes region. This school makes her dream. Very motivated, she passed the competitive exam, left the Cévennes and began an “Arts Professions Upgrade” in the famous Parisian school. She continued her studies in this direction, at the School of Decorative Arts in Strasbourg.
During her studies, she discovered and became fascinated by the art of Persian miniatures and Chinese paintings. She finds a form of balance there: Sandrine lets herself be seduced by their aesthetic when she is touched by their story. She studies and observes their narrative, decorative, sometimes naive character, the sharpness of the shapes which stand out and this flat representation which offers great freedom of composition. “It is liberating not to represent space with strict rules of perspective and to envision it instead in terms of successive planes and atmospheric depth.”
The Sister of the Sun Tale by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani - Illustrated by Sandrine Thommen. Actes Sud Junior, September 2010
“The subtlety of the color is created at the end…” Sandrine tells me.
During a long trip to Japan, Sandrine observes and draws inspiration from everything: the people, the landscapes, the diversity of vegetation, the colors, the clothes, the food, the smells... Thanks to her sensitivity, Sandrine offers us representations of these scenes of life in the book “Things small and wonderful” . To the rhythm of the seasons, this calendar full of poetry transports us to our childhood sensations.
Small and wonderful things Written by Nathalie Dargent - Illustrated by Sandrine Thommen. Picquier Jeunesse, November 2014
The Kami of the Moon Written by Nathalie Dargent - Illustrated by Sandrine Thommen. Picquier Jeunesse, August 2011
And it is with great joy, excitement and impatience that I announce the arrival of Sandrine Thommen in Paris, at the boutique, for an exclusive signing session. His books will be available for sale and we will happily welcome you around a warm cocktail.
Visit our store:
Thursday, December 1 , from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Books available on our e-shop from December 5, 2016
See you soon,