In order to break the rules, you must first master them. Belgian-born artist Isabelle Scheltjens is living proof of this. With their vibrant colors and surprising color combinations, her artworks make you breathe a different kind of happiness.
With her striking hand-made portraits and her unique technique, she has managed to break the boundaries of one of the most unique and challenging mediums an artist can work with: glass.
Exclusive Life Magazine sat down with Isabelle for an interview meant to explore her technique, inspirations, and one-of-a-kind creations.
WHAT SPARKED THE ARTISTIC FLAME IN YOU?
I was a creative person even as a child and I have always been very interested in art, proportions, aesthetics and beauty. My parents encouraged me to keep this spark alive by pursuing an artistic education, so I studied at SISA, the Antwerp City Institute for Decorative Arts and Crafts.
HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR UNIQUE TECHNIQUE? WHAT WAS THE ROAD, THE PROCESS THAT LED TO YOU BEING DUBBED “THE QUEEN OF DOTS” IN THE ARTISTIC WORLD?
My first encountered with glass as an artistic medium took place in the studio of my husband Dirk Neefs, who is a glass artisan that handcrafts magnificent stained-glass windows for various purposes such as churches, monuments, as well as for interior design. I was inspired, particularly by the colours, and started playing with the glass and exploring. After creating my first work (a portrait of my youngest daughter) I realized that glass was – though difficult – a rewarding and a special material to work with. The result was amazing and intriguing – for myself and others. I had intuitively developed a unique style. However, the artistic maturity I currently have wasn’t something that happened over night. It took years of intense practice and juxtaposing countless of pieces of coloured glass to refine my method and truly master the colour theory. In time, I developed a unique glass-fusing technique, whereby pieces of glass in different colours, sizes and textures are melted together at approximately 800°C to form a completely new colour from a distance. With this technique, I have been able to achieve striking optical effects, capturing the dance of light and colour in a way that plays on the perceptive ability of the eye and mind of the viewer.
WHAT MADE YOU THINK ABOUT STARTING TO CUT GLASS INTO SMALL PIECES TO CREATE PORTRAITS?
I was inspired by the classical technique of pointillism. Pointillists used small, distinct dots of pure colour on their canvases, placed in close proximity to one another. And the brain of the viewer blured them into new colours. I use a similar technique, using layers of coloured glass. I have adapted, reinvented and re-contextualized pointillism to create my contemporary style portraits. Thousands of pieces of glass are arranged in specific patterns to form the optical impression of a new image featuring intricate detail, lighting, and shadows. The seemingly random forms and colours on the surface of the canvas come together to form a distinct, expressive, tactile image.
WHAT ARE THE PROPERTIES OF GLASS THAT MAKE IT SUCH AN INSPIRING AND EFFECTIVE MEDIUM OF ARTISTIC EXPRESSION FOR YOU?
Oh, people rarely think of glass or give it the respect it deserves. Glass is a versatile artistic medium, uniting several contrasting properties which make it a delight to work with. Resilient yet fragile. Modest yet expressive. Delicate yet powerful. Light yet heavy. Glass is perfect for expressing the ambiguous relationship between distance and proximity, between appearance and reality. These are themes I explore intensely in my work.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND YOUR WORKS?
My artworks can be purchased in galleries across the world. Dubai, Saint-Tropez, Paris, Copenhagen, Monaco, New York , London – to name but a few. I have taken part in countless exhibitions in all parts of the globe. Although I have been in the artistic world for almost a decade now, it was only in June of this year that I decided to open my own personal gallery in Puerto Banus (Marbella-Spain). It’s called BLIZZ ART GALLERY. I am both proud and excited about this project and I am certain that many more will follow. I invite all people who want to breathe in a moment of beauty and calm to visit BLIZZ!