Name: Blanche Montclair
City/Town: Vernon (Normandy), France
Places Travelled & Lived: I have lived in Bordeaux, Suresnes and Puteaux (two small towns near Paris), Ipswich (UK) and now in Vernon. I also travelled in France, Spain, England, Italy, Mauritania, Germany, Austria and Belgium.
Favourite Books: The Dune saga by Frank Herbert; Autre-Monde, a fantasy saga by French author Maxime Chattam; Wang by Pierre Bordage; The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox; Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey; Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; Arthur Conan Doyle’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes; Edgar A. Poe’s short stories.
Favourite Artists: Hieronymus Bosch, William Blake, Gustav Klimt and Otto Dix.
Favourite Eras of History: Middle Ages, Byzantine Empire, First World War and Post–Second World War.
Favourite Films: Inception and The Prestige by Christopher Nolan, Kurt Wimmer’s Equilibrium, John Boorman’s Excalibur, David Fincher’s Fight Club and Albert Lewin’s Picture of Dorian Gray.
Favourite Television: Merlin, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Dexter, Sanctuary, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Numb3rs, American Horror Story: Asylum, Rome, Murdoch Mysteries and Haven.
Favourite Music: Muse, Depeche Mode, Rammstein, Indochine, The Scorpions and several other hard-rock bands (for their energy), Enigma and Era. I also like classical and New Wave. I am quite sound sensitive in general, given that I often work in music.
Fashion Style: Casual and rock, with a lot of black.
Favourite Places: I literally fell in love with Great Britain, especially London. Many British places, buildings and landscapes are wonderful, but what makes this country dear to my heart is the people. I got the impression their relation to creativity and to the individual is quite different from France! I really hope that one day I’ll go back there and finally stay!
Education: Humanities and Politics.
Occupation: Blogger, self-taught artist and writer.
R Bl.-Mt.Cl. I, a blog devoted to films, television series and books reviews, as well as to some thought about sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural universes or storytelling and the themes that inspired those universes. It is less creative than II, but it’s going to evolve.
R Bl.-Mt.Cl. II is my creative blog. I post my favorite paintings, sketches and drawings that I have created since I was a teen. For better insight into my artwork, you can also visit my Facebook page.
What would one find in the pages of your Paperblanks® journal?
As I started to use Paperblanks® journals a few years ago during my studies, I didn’t want to write anything too “serious” on these wonderful pages. So I first used these journals as diaries. I evolved in time, as I decided to use them for small fictions I was writing in my free time, and later as sketchbooks and as bank-ideas for my blogs. I think the pages of my Paperblanks® journals give you access to my passions, my experimentations and the universes I create. You can actually read my mind on these pages!
Are there any note-worthy examples of your art you’d like to share?
I draw, paint and write a lot, but I’ve never shared my creative writings on the Internet fearing someone could steal my ideas! Paperblanks® has the great “privilege” of having an insight in my journals and notes, as no one did before!
I’d like to add that people I met were inspiring too. I recently had an experience as a volunteer writer at a British charity organization. Due to my training, I often wrote about international issues for young people and my illustration had a political content. I also had the opportunity of writing and illustrating book reviews under another name. I’ve worked with creative, dynamic and talented young volunteers and managers who are very involved in their projects and keen to help others. I felt that I was at the right place (maybe because it corresponds to my mentality) and could share many geeky interests, including some opinions about cinema, books, creation and so on. Thanks to those wonderful individuals, I explored other areas of creative work: I participated in shooting sessions, as a photographer, and in a creative filming workshop – semiotics, codes in sci-fi and horror films, storyboarding and screenplay of a short film. Due to my interest in storytelling, I tend to consider filming to be a total art; allowing you to tell a story the way you want to through picture and sound. Alas, I had to come back to France and abandon both a wonderful team and a great project I was really interested in. This time in England remains one of my best memories, because it stimulated my creativity anew.
Do you have any personal philosophies you’ve come to develop about writing, art, creation or culture?
Honestly, I don’t have one in particular. I never went to an art school, so I didn’t develop any specific philosophy about creation as influenced by a creative atmosphere or by a teacher. I am quite instinctive regarding creation. It is like a feeling. There is a large part of thinking, preparation and experimentation, of course, depending on what I am doing – writing, drawing or painting – but I really need to feel what I am doing.
However, I remain conscious that as a self-learner in drawing and painting, each new drawing and painting is a challenge in itself. I think I would have benefited from some advice on improving my work and my way of working. My experience in Britain has been useful in the sense that it allowed me to focus my creativity.
Do you have any specific themes you refer to frequently?
Regarding my drawings and paintings, they often refer to the short fictions I used to write for my own pleasure, sometimes historical stories, sci-fi or anticipations and other times only pure imagination or “experimentation”. It evolved quite slowly, depending on the time I could spend on it. I like representing human beings, their emotions and attachment to each other. I like expressing love, interest or fear in my drawings. Since I started to paint, I discovered a certain sense of sensuality that later influenced my drawing.
I don’t know why but I often paint trees and human-like trees on my canvases… I’ve always been seduced by twisted and tortured shapes of trees and branches, perhaps because it gives me an ideal way to work my technique. In addition, I see forests as places full of life and mystery, trees as a symbol of life triumphing. After my time in England last year I also rediscovered my interest in the Middle Ages, medieval imagery and fantasy. I will explore these themes in my next paintings as I’d like to be darker and technically more complex now that I am more confident.
My writings, blogs or fiction are mostly devoted to sci-fi (anticipation or supernatural), what in France we call univers de l’imaginaire (imaginary world). These stories are my favorites because you can combine credible and imaginary facts or you can let your imagination completely go and create a whole universe. Whatever the kind of fiction,I explore themes like difference and loneliness, for personal reasons. I often create tormented characters, facing violence in many forms and questioning their place in this world. Emotion, sensation and feeling also matter to me. One important dimension of my storytelling vision is allowing someone to not only read a good story but feel it, too. I like dark atmospheres and tense situations, both for aesthetic reasons and because they highlight qualities and flaws of main characters. Of course, there is no need to be totally sad and tearful! I never neglect humor, and I always try to express my characters’ emotions and thoughts in a stylish way!
No matter what type of creative art you make, what or who first inspired you to make it an essential part of your life?
I was a very creative kid and teen! My early interest in storytelling led me to write and to draw, and I used to have notebooks full of little tales and colourful illustrations. I also experimented with other forms of art. For instance, I painted some backgrounds for and performed as both an actor and singer in my school shows until the age of fifteen. At this time I had a wonderful and brilliant literature teacher who made me understand I couldn’t live without writing and drawing. I wrote and illustrated many fictions for myself, but some of them took the form of booklets printed at my school’s workshop. When I was a teenager I also attended an acting course at a local organization and I really enjoyed it.
As you can see, creativity has always been an essential part of my life. I had to give up acting because of school. After my A-Level, I sacrificed a lot to my studies and neglected my writings. I “reasonably” chose not to study arts or graphic design, as I was focused on being sure of having a stable job after university. Although I learnt a lot, this situation pained me terribly because I knew what I was missing. I continued drawing as I was bored during some lectures, but I hadn’t time enough to devote to my writings. I finally decided, thanks to my experience in Britain, that I couldn’t neglect this part of my life anymore. I chose to share my interests and, as I regained some self-confidence, my creations through my blogs and online social media.
I want to improve myself and pursue my writing and drawing projects. I also wrote my first novel (in French). It’s a thriller mixing police investigation, supernatural creatures, funny and original characters, romance and even a “bromance”! I recently submitted it to some publishing houses and I am still crossing my fingers! After all, my writings cannot lie in a drawer for eternity!
I knew as a kid that creating would be a huge part of my life because it makes me happy, and I am seriously considering making a living of it. Now I plan to learn more in this area, like graphic design for instance, and I am ready to seize any opportunity of participating in creative projects and sharing my interests with others.
How did you find Paperblanks®?
I found Paperblanks® by chance, during holy days in Britain. I was in a bookstore and the wonderful covers of these journals immediately attracted me. Several years later, I received my first journal as a Christmas gift. I know it seems quite obvious, but I like writing or drawing on inspiring medium that relates to me personally and stimulates my imagination.
What sets Paperblanks® apart from other journals you’ve used?
Their outstanding design! They’re so gorgeous that you can’t let them lie in a drawer. They look wonderful in a library among books! In addition, writing or drawing on such quality paper is absolutely delightful.
Do you have a favourite Paperblanks® design?
I like the medieval-inspired journals like the Book of Kells and the Lindau Gospels. As I was filling the pages of my Lindau Gospel journal, I had the impression this wonderful cover added some touch of magic and mystery to my writings. Unfortunately, I still haven’t found a copy of Gutenberg Bible! I also like Embellished Manuscripts, but I care more about the authors than about their appearances. The one reproducing Blake’s poems is my favorite, both for its wonderful color and Blake’s angry writing that touches me a lot.
Do you have any advice for other creative people?
I think I have to remain humble because I am only a self-learner. So I don’t know if I am qualified to give advice, but there is one thing I’d like to say. Don’t be reasonable too early, or don’t let reason totally smother your creative side. Become reasonable as you have some achievement that makes you feel fulfilled. Then, you can give your advice truly, sincerely and without bitterness to people who need comfort, help and support.