Toronto based realistic Painter; Malinda Prud’homme

“It is my sincerest hope to make women feel empowered and uniquely beautiful just as they are.”

-Malinda Prud’homme

Malinda Prudhomme - Head Shot

Even though I’d been making art my entire life it never became a professional goal until my mid 20s. I’d always wanted to become a teacher because I loved learning and wanted to instill that passion in our youth. People generally like to say that high school “was the best time of their life”. It was the opposite for me. I didn’t fit in socially and was often bullied. In some cases my teachers even took part in ridiculing me and it wasn’t long before I realized kindness and maturity have nothing to do with age. Because of my personal experiences I wanted to become a teacher that students would feel comfortable coming to with their problems. I wanted to be there for those who had no one else to talk to. I worked my hardest to achieve this goal and while I do have all the necessary education and more, it just wasn’t meant to be. After I graduated the teaching market in Ontario was incredibly flooded and it was impossible for me to find work.

After years of feeling like my dreams were unattainable I decided it was time to start a new dream, a dream that had been within me all along but seemed too“unrealistic” to ever give it a try. If my “realistic” dream wasn’t panning out then it was time to go big! I’d already been making art part time so thanks to the support of my family I decided to go full-time. With that support and years of hard work and dedication I am proud to say I have been a full-time professional artist for 4 years now.

What keeps me so motivated is the message I try to spread using my artwork and my online presence. It is my sincerest hope to make women feel empowered and uniquely beautiful just as they are. The amazing feedback from fans that I’m fortunate to receive really keeps me passionate and excited about my work.

Q4 - Malinda Prudhomme - True Beauty - Alisha Gauveau“True Beauty”, “Alisha Gauvreau”

IFWA..You mentioned you were dissatisfied with the way the medias represent women. What do you disagree with?

I disagree with the lack of variety we see in our media. Quite often the women portrayed in magazines and advertisements fit into the stereotypical “norms” for beauty. Generally they are thin, young, and predominantly white. These women are gorgeous but so are others! I believe ALL women, regardless of age, size, ethnicity, and personal style, are beautiful in their own unique way. My message is not one the condemns the beauty of women who fall under societal norms but rather encourages all women to see themselves as beautiful. I would love to see larger women and women of different ethnicity incorporated into our mainstream media. I feel that variety is not only beautiful, but is the key to solving the epidemic of low self-esteem a lot of today’s women suffer from.

Q3 - Malinda Prudhomme - Curvy Beauties

-Curvy Beauties

IFWA..Do you see an evolution , or is it still the same as when you first noticed it?

I have definitely seen things change since starting my practice. A trend that’s becoming more popular is the acceptance that women come in all different shapes and sizes and that these shapes and sizes do not necessarily correlate to their health and certainly do not impact their ability to be beautiful. Perhaps I’m seeing this because I surround myself with like-minded people and am interested in topics that follow this type of thinking but I truly believe it is becoming more common and I can only hope that this continues.

IFWA..Did you ever had any difficulty working as a woman, to find work, or be accepted as a portraitist ? If so, what did you do to help you go through the difficulties ?

It’s hard for me to say whether or not I’ve been held back as an artist because I’m a woman. Honestly I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had a good amount of work from the beginning. I think my skill speaks for itself and people who don’t respect women would likely not find my work interesting anyways as it revolves around the well-being of women. The only thing that I’ve noticed is how my language is interpreted differently, very likely because I’m a woman. I’m quite confident about my skill and my work. I would never dream of thinking I’m perfect or even better than others, in fact I never compare myself to other artists, but I have come a long way over the years and I’m proud of that. On occasion I’ll receive comments saying I’m “arrogant” or “pretentious” which is always from someone who doesn’t follow my practice. It’s frustrating that a woman’s confidence is seen as arrogance. But then again, I try not to take too much of what is said from strangers to heart. No matter what you do ,there will always be someone out there who dislikes you. You just have to be self-aware and know you’re doing the best you can do.

Q6 - Malinda Prudhomme - Colour Inspired - RAW

–Color inspired, RAW

IFWA..I must say your pencil drawings are quite touching…How is it working in black and white compared with color, or is it a question of medium?

Thank you! It can sometimes be a question of medium. For example if someone requests a charcoal drawing they’ll obviously be receiving an image in black and white but then again I do sometimes make the choice to do black and white with something like oil paints just because it gives off a different emotion. At this point in time I believe I prefer to work with color. The brightness and variety makes me very happy. But I can say from experience that working in black and white is much easier. Your eyes aren’t required to take in as much information. You’re focusing on darks and lights rather than colors as well as darks and lights. I think in the end it’s all a matter of preferences and I’m certainly willing to do whatever my clients wish.

Q5 - Malinda Prudhomme - A Mark Of Beauty

A Mark of Beauty

IFWA.. Your portraits of women really captures their personality . Who are those women and why them? 

Oh, I’m so glad to hear that. Thank you! When I first began doing portraiture I had to prove my skill so I would often work from images of models and actresses who had inspired me in some way. Now that I’ve gathered a following and people are confident in my skills I am able to put calls out to the public for images. Generally when I’m working on a new series I’ll post throughout social media asking for submissions of beauty stating that all women are welcome to apply. From these submissions I am able to choose, sometimes at random, who will be represented in my new works. I LOVE this! This was certainly a goal I had in mind when I first started because I truly want to show “everyday” women just how stunning they really are. So yes! They absolutely can be people I don’t know and have been! Anyone can submit to my calls! The more the merrier. :)

Q1 - Malinda Prudhomme - One And The Same

–One and the same

IFWA..Are you tempted to work with other medias then the ones you are using -mostly oil and acrylic -, say sculpture, clay, photography ?

You’re right! Most of my work is done using acrylic paint and oil paints. BUT I’m also a Mixed Media Artist so from time to time I like to pull out quite a few of my different supplies and put them together in a new series or artwork. I use pencil, charcoal, pastel, watercolor paint, gouache paint, encaustic (wax) paint, and have just begun learning airbrush. As far as sculpture and photography go … No, I’m not tempted to use them. My father is a sculptor but that just never appealed to me. I prefer working in the 2 dimensional plane. I do LOVE taking photographs, especially when I’m traveling, but I believe my shots are better used as reference photos for my artwork rather then incorporated directly into a piece. But you never know! Perhaps that will change in the future.

IFWA..Do you have any interest in working with other artist , collaborating on a common project / exhibition / performance? 

It’s definitely fun to work on collaborations with other artists as long as they have a similar work ethic. I take my work seriously so I would expect anyone I work with to feel the same way. Putting together a show with another artist and maybe creating a collaborative piece for it would certainly be something I’d be interested in.

IFWA..Is there a particular piece of work you are really satisfied with ? If so, why?

One of my favorite pieces to date is “True Beauty” ‘Delena Providence’. Why am I so satisfied with it? Hmm that’s a tough one. I believe it’s because of the look I achieved with the eyes. They are very mesmerizing. Another reason I might be so drawn to this piece is because it depicts a young woman who’s been in my life since I was toddler and I always felt she was special and worthy of being honored in this way. It could also be because this piece took a very long time to complete, putting in each strand of hair one at a time, so there is a sense of accomplishment and time well spent. And lastly because of the variety in her skin tone. Such bright whites and the dark shadows all taking shape harmoniously in one portrait is a bit of a rare thing and I like how it turned out in this piece.

Q9 - Malinda Prudhomme - True Beauty - Delena Providence

“True Beauty”,‘Delena Providence’

IFWA..What direction is your work taking , now?

I currently have an abundance of commissions I must complete so I haven’t allowed myself to go too overboard with planning original artwork/series. I do know that I would like to continue proving that a variety of women are beautiful using “everyday” women. I think that in order to change things up.

I’d like to start including geometric shapes with my portraits as a way of contrasting my realistic portrait style. I also plan to work on wood when I find the time in order to allow some of the natural grain to show through. In all truth I have a huge list of ideas I’d like to get to but for now it’s time to pay the bills. Working on commissions, while isn’t as creative, has it’s own rewards. There’s nothing like creating something that will be cherished and passed down from generation to generation.

On a smaller,scale, I’ve done collaborative works with my fan base, many of which are artists themselves. I held a contest this past year where anyone was able to take my initial drawing and turn it into their own artwork. It was amazing seeing all the different outcomes. You can check it out HERE.


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ALEJANDRA HIDALGO : The Natural Installations

 Interviewed and Translated in English, French and Spanish by Séverine Grosjean, Edited by Yoon Joo Lee

 After studying geography, international relations and sociology in different countries (France, Spain, Portugal, Ecuador, Peru),  Séverine Grosjean works as a freelance cultural journalist. She has published articles in  french, Canadian, British, Mexican, Chilean magazines. She is preparing to inaugurate her  first photography exhibition as curator in Paris in october. 

“Alejandra has insisted that her work was a tribute to the Guatemalan culture…..”

 Alejandra Hidalgo entered the world of creation by different doors like poetry, performance or photography. After much time and perseverance, she seems to have found in the installation what resonates with her.

Alejandra Hidalgo

 In 2003 she was asked to live in a house where she would also create. This will be called “In another time …” After  two months of work, research and 7000 baked (tortillas). It is a monumental installation without specific forms, but whose branches play and spread out  in every inch of the space. This work has created some controversy. In a country like Guatemala, where 40% of children under 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition, some people did not understand the use of this staple food in Guatemala, exposed for a moment and then thrown away. Alejandra has insisted that her work was a tribute to the Guatemalan culture and thousands of women daily cooking tortillas. Right or wrong, that is the question…

Alejandra Hidalgo 1

  It will inspire her,again in 2015 in an installation titled “Dreamlike” in an exhibition suggested by the G & T Foundation, “The interrupted dream.” Taking the form of a spiral from the ground up, dreams are transformed, they transform us and keep us constantly in motion, leaving one point and developing. She redefines the structure, the experimental barriers in a limited space giving the shape of a tree and it unconsciously as she says. In Christianity, the tree is the symbol of knowledge of good and evil and the Mayan culture by the Ceiba, the sacred tree, the pride of the Mayan civilization.

Alejandra Hidalgo 2

 With her work, “Footprints in the three times” composed by 5100 baked (tortillas) representing the number of pregnant girls aged 10 to 14  after being abused, most of the time by a parent, the work is much more committed. She carries a sociopolitical act giving shape to daily violence but unfortunately remaining silent. She allows a reflection on this issue but also on solidarity between the victims and the people fighting with them. This work is a metaphor linking violence and tortillas, food every day for Guatemalan. Activism and aesthetics of Alejandra’s work exposes the issue of commitment.

Alejandra Hidalgo 3

 In other works, Alejandra offers environmental awareness. Indeed, in an installation called “Acidosis”, she uses orange peels to recreate a space and reclaiming it. She creates forms and guide the viewer’s perception, walking with this natural material in a built landscape. There is an interaction, a mutual exchange, an atmosphere where the public may feel confused by this accumulation merging art and life.

Today, Alejandra Hidalgo continues this reflection on what it means to be Guatemalan, and the relationship between our individual consciousness and our collective consciousness.

Lean More about  Alejandra Hidalgo here. Check out her Facebook page, too!
Presented by the International Foundation for Women Artists.


 Interview in French

Alejandra Hidalgo est entrée dans le monde de la création par  différentes portes comme la poésie, la performance ou la photographie. Après beaucoup de temps et de persévérance, elle semble avoir trouvé dans l’installation  ce qui lui correspond.

En 2003, il lui  a été demandé d’habiter l’espace d’une maison de deux étages. Ce qui s’intitulera «Dans un autre temps…” lui prendra deux mois de travail, de recherche  et 7000 tortillas cuites. C’est une installation monumentale sans formes bien précises, mais dont les branches jouent, sortent, se propagent dans les moindres  recoins de l’espace. Ce travail a créé une certaine controverse. Dans un pays comme le Guatemala, où 40% des enfants de moins de 5 ans souffrent de malnutrition chronique, certaines personnes n’ont pas  compris l’utilisation  de cet aliment de base au  Guatemala, exposé pendant un moment puis jeté à la poubelle. Alejandra a insisté sur le fait que son travail était un hommage à la culture guatémaltèque et aux milliers de femmes  cuisinant quotidiennement des tortillas. Valide ou non telle est la question.

Elle s’en inspirera de nouveau en 2015 dans une installation intitulée “Onirique” dans une exposition proposée par la fondation G & T, ” Le  rêve interrompu.” Prenant la forme d’une spirale venant de la terre vers le haut, les rêves se transforment , ils nous transforment et nous gardent constamment en mouvement, sortant d’un point et gradissant, se développant.  Elle redéfinit dans ce travail la structure, les barrières expérimentales dans un espace limité lui donnant la forme d’un arbre et cela inconsciemment  comme elle le déclare. Dans la religion chrétienne, l’arbre est le symbole de la connaissance, du bien et du mal et dans la culture maya  par la Ceiba,  l’arbre sacré, de la fierté de la civilisation Maya.

Avec son oeuvre,”Empreintes dans les trois temps” composée de 5100 tortillas représentant le nombre de  jeunes filles enceintes  entre 10 et 14 ans après avoir été abusées, la plupart du temps par un de ses parents, le travail de Alejandra est beaucoup plus engagé. Elle réalise un acte sociopolitique donnant forme à une violence quotidienne alimentant le pays mais restant malheureusement silencieuse. Elle permet une réflexion  sur cette problématique mais aussi sur la  solidarité entre les victimes et les personnes qui se battent avec elles. Ce travail est une métaphore liant la violence et les tortillas, nourriture de tous les jours pour les  Guatémaltèques. Le militantisme et  l’esthétique du  travail d’Alejandra expose  la question de l’engagement .

Dans d’autres travaux, Alejandra offre une conscience environnementale. En effet, dans une  installation  appelée “Acidose”, elle utilise des peaux d’orange pour recréer un espace et la réappropriation de ce dernier. Elle créent des formes et  guide la perception du spectateur se promenant  avec cette matière naturelle dans un paysage construit. Il ya une interaction, un échange mutuel, une atmosphère où le public peut se sentir confus par cette accumulation fusionnant l’ art et la vie.

Aujourd’hui, Alejandra Hidalgo continue cette réflexion sur ce que signifie d’être Guatémaltèque  et la relation entre notre conscience individuelle et notre conscience collective.

Lean More about  Alejandra Hidalgo here. Check out her Facebook page, too!
Presented by the International Foundation for Women Artists.

Interview in Spanish :

Alejandra Hidalgo entró en el mundo de la creación por diferentes puertas como  la poesía, la performance y la fotografía. Después de mucho  tiempo y perseverancia, parece haber encontrado en  la instalación monumental  lo que le corresponde.

En el 2003, se le pidió  habitar un espacio en una casa de dos pisos. La que se llamara “En  otro tiempo…”. Dos meses de trabajo, de  investigación, de interrogaciones y 7.000 tortillas cocinadas más tarde, una  instalación gigantesca sin formas  muy definidas, pero cuyas ramas juegan, salen, se extienden en los rincones del espacio. Este trabajo creó cierta controversia. De hecho, en un país como Guatemala, donde el 40% de los niños menores de 5 años padecen malnutrición crónica, algunas personas no entendieron  el uso estropeado  de este alimento  básico de Guatemala, expuesto por un momento y tirado en la basura. Alejandra insistió en que su trabajo fue un homenaje a la cultura guatemalteca a través del consumo de tortilla reuniendo a  todos los guatemaltecos y en especial  rendir un  homenaje a las miles de mujeres que cocinan todos los días tortillas, siendo la base alimenticia de miles de guatemaltecos. Válida o no válida  es la pregunta?

Ella se inspirara  de nuevo de esta acción en el 2015 en una exposición de la fundación   G & T titulado “El Sueno interrumpido”. Se redefine la estructura, las barreras experimentadas en un espacio más limitado dándole  la forma de un árbol y esto inconscientemente porque como lo declara ”no era mi propósito”. Símbolo del conocimiento, del bien y del mal, el árbol representa la vida en la religión cristiana como en la cultura maya por la Ceiba, el árbol sagrado, motivo de orgullo para los Mayas.

El titulo de la pieza es “ensueno”,  una espiral que sale de la tierra hacia arriba, los sueños dan vueltas en nosotros, nos transforman y nos mantienen en constante movimiento, salen de un punto y crecen, se expanden. Las tortillas tienen marcado el sueno de miles de mujeres que a diario se paran frente al comal.

Con la obra titulada “ Huellas en los tres tiempos” compuesta de 5100 tortillas.una cifra no  inocente ya que representa el numero de casos de ninas entre 10 y 14 anos embarazadas despuès de haber sido abusadas, la mayoria del tiempo por uno de sus parientes, el trabajo  de Alejandra es mucho màs comprometido. A traves de este homenaje, realiza un acto socio-politico dando forma a una violencia que alimenta cotidiamente  el pais y que por desgracia se queda callado . Ella  permite  una reflexion “ politica”  por la visibilidad de esta problematica pero tambien de la solidaridad entre las victimas y las personas luchando con ellas.  Este trabajo es una metafora vinculando la violencia diaria y las toritllas, alimento del dia a dia de los guatemaltecos. Sin duda, con la relacion del militantismo y la estetica de su trabajo, Alejandra expone la cuestion del compromiso apelando las emociones del publico.

En otros trabajos, Alejandra ofrece una consciencia  ambiental. De hecho, en otra instalación monumental titulada “Acidosis”, utiliza la cáscara de naranja para recrear un espacio y la reapropiación de este. Utiliza el material encontrado en las calles para crear formas y orientar la percepción que tenemos de este objeto natural en un paisaje no natural. Se trata de una interacción, de un intercambio mutuo. Recrea una  atmósfera donde el público puede sentirse confundido por esta acumulación fusionando el  arte y la  vida.

Hoy, Alejandra Hidalgo continúa esta reflexión sobre lo que significa ser guatemalteca hoy en día y de la relación entre nuestra  conciencia individual y la de los demás.
Lean More about  Alejandra Hidalgo here. Check out her Facebook page, too!
Presented by the International Foundation for Women Artists.

Lucy Christiana, Lady Duff Gordon

By Jiin Kim


Lucile in 1919, photographed by Arnold Genthe

Lucy Christiana, Lady Duff-Gordon (née Sutherland) (13 June 1863 – 20 April 1935) was a leading fashion designer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, best known as “Lucile”, her professional name. Lucile, the first British-based designer to achieve international acclaim, was a widely acknowledged innovator in couture styles as well as in fashion industry public relations.


Evening dress, Spring 1913, Lucile (1863–1935)

Apart from originating the “mannequin parade”, a precursor to the modern fashion show, and training the first professional models, she launched liberating slit skirts and low necklines, popularized less restrictive corsets and promoted alluring and pared-down lingerie.Opening branches of her London house, Lucile Ltd, in Paris, New York City, and Chicago, her business became the first global couture brand, dressing a trend-setting clientele of royalty, nobility and stage and film personalities. Duff-Gordon is also remembered as a survivor of the sinking of Titanic in 1912, and as the losing party in the precedent-setting 1917 contract law case of Wood v. Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, in which Judge Benjamin N. Cardozo wrote the opinion for New York’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals.


George St garden, mannequin parade, 1913

 In 1912, Duff-Gordon travelled to America on business in connection with the New York branch of Lucile Ltd. She and her husband, Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, booked first class passage on the ocean liner RMS Titanic under the names “Mr. and Mrs. Morgan”, a possible explanation being that they hoped to avoid publicity on landing in New York. Lucile’s secretary, Laura Mabel Francatelli, nicknamed “Franks”, accompanied the couple. On 14 April, at 11:40 pm the Titanic struck an iceberg and began to sink. During the evacuation, the Duff-Gordons and Francatelli escaped in Lifeboat 1. Although the boat was designed to hold 40 people, it was lowered with only 12 (seven of them male crew).


RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912.

Some time after the ship sank, while afloat in boat 1, Lucile reportedly commented to her secretary, “There is your beautiful nightdress gone.” A fireman, annoyed by her comment, replied that while the couple could replace their property, he and the other crew members had lost everything in the sinking. Cosmo Duff-Gordon then offered each of the men £5 to aid them until they received new assignments. While on the RMS Carpathia, the Cunard liner that rescued Titanic’s survivors, Cosmo Duff-Gordon presented the men from boat 1 with cheques drawn on his bank in London (Coutts). This action later spawned gossip that the Duff-Gordons bribed the crew in their boat not to return to save swimmers out of fear it would be swamped.

These rumours were fuelled by the tabloid press in the United States and, eventually, in the United Kingdom. On 17 May, Cosmo Duff-Gordon testified in London at the hearings of the British Board of Trade inquiry into the disaster. On 20 May, Lucile took the stand. Their testimony attracted the largest crowds during the inquiry.

Cosmo Duff-Gordon faced tough criticism during cross-examination while his wife had it slightly easier. Dressed in black, with a large, veiled hat, she told the court she remembered little about what happened in the lifeboat on the night of the sinking and could not recall specific conversations. Lawyers did not seem to have pressed her very hard. Lucile noted that for the rest of her husband’s life he was broken-hearted over the negative coverage by the “yellow press” during his cross-examination at the inquiry. The final report by the inquiry determined that the Duff-Gordons did not deter the crew from any attempt at rescue.

The Titanic episode is one of the most tangible aspects of Lucile’s life, thanks partly to motion pictures. The films, however, portrayed her without great attention to accuracy: in cameo by Harriette Johns in A Night to Remember (1958), produced by William MacQuitty, and again by Rosalind Ayres in James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster Titanic. In the latter film, the role of Lucile’s husband Cosmo was portrayed by the actress’ own husband, Martin Jarvis. In the 2012 British miniseries Titanic, Lucile was played by Sylvestra Le Touzel.


Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon (Lucile) New York, 1916

A faded grey silk kimono with typical Fortuny style black cord edging, for some time thought to have been worn by Lucile as she escaped the Titanic, is now understood to have belonged to her daughter Esme, Countess of Halsbury. The distinctive print on that garment, designed by Mariano Fortuny, dates the item to post World War One. Fortuny suffered from failing sales following business problems in 1915, when his business assets were seized. The company reopened with a new name later that year, and following further changes, opened a new factory in 1919 with more commercial designs using new patented techniques. Letters written by Lucile reveal the features of two bathrobes she wore off the Titanic. One was pink, one purple, and both were chosen “for warmth.” One was a partially made garment she described as grabbing in a rush from the Paris branch of her salon. She also described wearing a pair of pink Yantorny slippers, a blue head wrap and a squirrel coat and her ‘motor hat’. An apron said to have been worn by Lucile’s secretary, Laura Francatelli, can be seen at the Maritime Museum in Liverpool, and her life-jacket was sold, along with correspondence about her experiences in the disaster, at Christie’s, London, in 2007.

Lucile had another close call three years after surviving the Titanic when she booked passage aboard the RMS Lusitania on its last voyage. It was reported in the press that she cancelled her trip due to illness. The Lusitania was sunk by a German torpedo on 7 May 1915.


Afternoon gown light organza, 1917, Lady Duff-Gordon


Lily Elsie (a) (left) & Lady Diana Manners The Great Love (1918), Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon

Lucy Duff-Gordon’s connection to her design empire began to disintegrate following a restructuring of Lucile, Ltd in 1918–19. An acrimonious battle emerged in the press, culminating in Duff Gordon’s public acknowledgment that since Spring 1921 many Lucile dresses had not been designed by her. By September 1922 she had ceased designing for the company, which gradually diminished in success after her departure. Meanwhile, its founder (who continued to be known as Lucile) worked from private premises designing personally for individual clients. She was briefly associated with the firm of Reville, Ltd., maintained a ready-to-wear shop of her own and lent her name to a wholesale operation in America.


Daily Sketch, London, 4th January 1919

Lucile also continued as a fashion columnist and critic after her design career ended, contributing to London’s Daily Sketch and Daily Express (1922-1930), and she penned her best-selling autobiography Discretions and Indiscretions in 1932. She died of breast cancer, complicated by pneumonia, in a Putney, London nursing home in 1935 at the age of 71. The date of her death, 20 April, was the fourth anniversary of her husband’s death.


Rodin’s Lover, Heather Webb’s New Book

 Heather Webb Smiling

Author Bio:

 Heather Webb writes historical novels for Penguin and HarperCollins, which have been translated to three languages and have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan magazine, France magazine, and Reuters News Book Talk. BECOMING JOSEPHINE follows the life and times of Josephine Bonaparte set to the backdrop of the French Revolution, and RODIN’S LOVER chronicles the passionate and tragic story of Camille Claudel, sculptor, collaborator, and lover to the famed Auguste Rodin. A FALL OF POPPIES releases in 2016. Heather is also a freelance editor and contributor to award-winning writing sites and She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

 Heather Webb book cover

1) What was the starting point of your interest for Camille Claudel?

I fell in love with Camille while in my French film class in college. The film, simply called Camille Claudel, was multiple award-winning in Europe and the U.S. with stars Isabelle Adjani and Gérard Depardieu playing the roles of Camille and Rodin. Their tragic love story gripped me and I swooned at the beauty they created both together and separately. After the film, I became rather obsessed with sculpture in general. Many years later, I had not forgotten Camille, and knew I wanted to delve more into her life. It has been an incredible experience spending time exploring her brilliant mind, and ultimately sharing her story.

2) Did you have to go to Paris to find details for your book?

I did, though it was mostly to satisfy my need to see all of the beautiful pieces in person at the Musée Rodin and the Musée d’Orsay. In terms of the bulk of my research, I read as many biographies about Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin as I could get my hands on. I layered this knowledge with other books like For the Soul of France and From the Revolution to the Belle Époque in addition to “How to” books on sculpture. I spent some time in a 101 sculpture class, getting my hands in the clay and learning about the tools. Finally, I studied both Camille’s and Rodin’s works extensively through photos, as well as in person at several museums including those I mentioned in Paris, along with a few in the United States that exhibit smaller collections.

3) Has your opinion about Rodin changed after writing about him?

I’ve never seen Rodin as the villain that many ardent Claudel lovers have portrayed him to be. He signed her pieces with his signature, yes, but this was not only typical but expected in the artist-student relationship, as well as in the atelier setting. He loved Camille completely, and devoted much of his time —even after they split—to helping her career advance, as well as keeping her afloat financially. He had his faults, certainly, but she did as well, as do we all. As for a change in opinion? I grew to love him while learning about his life and his style, determination, and passion almost as much as I love Camille. Almost, but not quite.

4) Are there details of her life you were surprised or horrified to find?

The most horrifying thing I learned was that Camille lived thirty years of her life in this asylum that barely fed her enough to stay alive, that was frigid in the winters and sweltering in the summers. Camille’s beloved brother Paul visited her only a handful of times after she was committed. That broke my heart for her just a little more.

5) I bet you saw the movie with Isabelle Adjani and Gerard  Depardieu from director Bruno Nuytten . Was the film accurate or adapted too much to please a larger audience?

I absolutely adored this film. As I mentioned above, it was my first introduction to Camille Claudel and really to Rodin as well. The film is fairly accurate. The director did a wonderful job capturing the era as well as dealing with the time lapses in their relationship. The one thing I would say isn’t entirely true is that the film paints Rodin in a bit of playboy light. While he did have lovers and worshipped the female form, all of my research indicated that while in love with Camille, he was very taken by her—obsessed even. I didn’t really get that sensibility in this film. The director really painted Camille as the forlorn one and though she was deeply in love as well, the scales seemed tipped in the other direction in my reading.

6) Do you have a favorite moment in her life story?

I have two. The moment she realizes she is in love with a genius—like herself, and also the moment she wins the Salon prize for Sakuntala. Her winning was really the beginning of her being respected on a broader scale.

7) Do you find similarities between your life and hers as a female artist?

Absolutely! In fact, I found it comical, at times, how similar an artist’s frustrations and triumphs are to those of a writer. We love and live to create. And then there’s this incredible struggle to be discovered and recognized, well-reviewed. The rollercoaster of emotions a writer goes through are exactly the same as an artist’s when there’s a less-than-positive review, when a commission doesn’t come through, or when a piece isn’t shaping the way we would like it to.

8) Was it difficult to find information about her life? Did you encounter blocks or stops?

There weren’t as many sources as I would have liked, but on the other hand, having questions leaves room for invention—for the fiction to take over—so it actually worked in my favor.

9) What do you think of her, now?

If possible, I love her more now than I did when I began. She feels like a family member or friend that I want to protect. I am proud of her and the beauty she created to share with the world. I hope my novel introduces her to many many more so they may appreciate her as I do.

10) What are you working on next? Do you already have another project started?

I have two things in the works. The first is an anthology that will be released by HarperCollins called A FALL OF POPPIES which centers on WWI’s Armistice Day. The second is a novel set during Belle Époque Paris once again and is shaping up to be a bit of a Gothic thriller. It’s a retelling of a popular story and I’m very excited about it! That’s all I can share about the novel for now.

Learn more about Heather Webb on her Website and follow her updates via her Facebook page and Twitter.

Buy this book here.

Presented by the International Foundation for Women Artists.

Valeria Thomas, art and plastic


Recycling is an essential part of her life.

Valeria Thomas, French artist,passionate of melted plastic , began working with plastic bags in 2002 with the challenge of making “something” with the many bags that can not be recycled and are declared “public enemy No.1” for the environment.

And after a few trials with the iron… it melts. And it’s beautiful!

Valeria then splurged  into the creation of small objects, starting with jewelry, then larger pieces, then assembling them with the sewing machine, welding them, molding them. She creates fashion accessories,house decorations and real pictures. Her latest creations are sculptures of jellyfish, with this wonderful material.

A network of supporters has formed around her project in the city of Les Lilas (near Paris) where she lives. She collects bags sorted by color, cutting them, composes and overlaps and melts them with the heat of the iron!

The resulting surfaces are bold colors , graphic. Renewing her original profession : textile design.

Today, plastic bags are rarer in France, it’s true, and that’s good for the environment! However, ValeriaThomas still has a few years of recycling ahead of her… And when they disappeared completely ? She will do something else!

3 coupelles


La récup fait partie de sa vie depuis toujours !

Valéria Thomas, artiste française, passionnée de plastique fondu, commence en 2002 avec le défi de fabriquer « quelque chose » avec les nombreux sacs plastiques qui, non recyclables sont déclarés « ennemis publics n°1 » pour l’environnement !

Et après quelques essais avec un fer à repasser… ça fond. Et c’est beau !
Valéria se lance alors dans la création d’objets de petite taille, à commencer par des bijoux. Puis des surfaces plus grandes, modelées ensuite en les cousant, en les soudant, les moulant. Elle réalise alors des accessoires de mode, de décoration, puis de vrais tableaux. À présent, ses dernières creations sont des sculptures de méduses, avec ce merveilleux matériau.

Un véritable réseau se forme autour de son projet dans la ville des Lilas (près de Paris) où elle habite. Elle récupère des sacs qu’elle trie ensuite par couleur, découpe, compose et superpose, puis fais fondre à la chaleur d’un fer à repasser !
Les surfaces obtenues sont solides et naturellement colorées, graphiques. Ainsi elle renoue avec son métier d’origine : le design textile.

Aujourd’hui les sacs plastique se font plus rares, c’est vrai, et c’est tant mieux pour l’environnement ! Cependant, Valéria Thomas a encore quelques belles années de récup devant elle… Et lorsqu’ils auront totalement disparu ? Elle fera autre chose !