Jean Claude Roy \ Biography

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Jean Claude Roy was born in Rochefort-sur-Mer on the west coast of France in 1948. He knew from the age of seven that he wanted to be an artist, and was encouraged by his grandfather, a farmer of modest means who occasionally bought paintings at auctions. Jean Claude recalls attending early-morning produce markets with his grandparents and making his first "sculptures" from the coloured paper used to wrap apples and oranges.

At the age of 16, after technical lycee, he attended merchant marine training and took his first job at 17 as an apprentice electrician on a cable-repair boat. There followed several years at sea, with much time spent in the port of St John's, Newfoundland where his interest in art turned to landscape. In 1971 he emigrated to Newfoundland and for the next ten years worked as a marine electrician by day and an artist by night. He attended art classes for a total of two sessions, because he didn't like being told what to do. By 1973 he was selling in local galleries and he had his first solo exhibition in 1974. There followed two one-man shows at the provincial art gallery and representation in galleries in other parts of Canada. In 1982 he returned to France; he was eager to make a career as an artist in his own country and to try to live from his art alone. There followed several relatively difficult years during which he rebuilt the stone farmhouse in which he had grown up, cultivated his garden and orchard, and painted during every spare minute. He supplemented his income by giving lessons (but never told people what to do) and offering painting holidays to Canadian visitors. He maintained his ties with Newfoundland however, and in 1994 he established a second studio near St John's. He now divides his time between the two countries.

He describes his style as "expressionist-colourist"; he works most frequently in oils and with a palette knife. Since the late 1980's a characteristic of his landscapes has been the presence of the sun; this followed a discovery that putting a sun - initially a black sun - in the sky added light to the painting, and it has now come to form an important part of the compositon of each work.

He is a prolific artist by any measure; he loves working with the local stone of his region, and the stone walls that surround his property are works of art themselves, with "low income housing" for birds, sculptures made of the tools of his former trade and fruit trees which he grafts himself and trains over the face of the walls. He is also one of the uncommon painters who prefers to work outdoors, and has frequently done so in freezing weather. He paints every day, and often finds himself in the evening re-living a drive through the countryside, choosing a spot for the next day.By the time he arrives to do the painting, he says, most of the work of composition and colour has already been done and there remains the relatively quick job of putting the paint on canvas.