Marie-Elaine Cusson lives on a street just off the bustle of Sherbrooke in Westmount, Montreal. The quiet of her upstairs rooms belies the action just around the corner. But the quiet is mostly in the late night hours when her family is sleeping. Then she and her dog, Cacouna, settle into her little studio of the kitchen and she gets to work.
I just spent a few days in Montreal with Marie and glimpsed her creative and family life. This is one of my favorite parts of my job—getting to know the artists I work with and understanding how they approach the creative process.
Marie rifled through portfolios, pulled up images on her iMac and served up frothy café au laits with ease, while sending off her three kids to soccer practice or the park. Soon we got down to business thinking up new ideas for her as we begin our work with her for Wild Apple.
All around were collections from the sea, found in the coastal Gaspé region of Quebec where the family has traveled every summer for years. Shells, seaglass, driftwood and sea anemones arranged in artful display accompanied family photos, small paintings, art by the children and favorite books. A large world map occupied an entire wall above the sofa. Photos of African children framed in the bathroom started our conversation about Marie’s time teaching in Burkina Faso the the Côte d’Ivoire.
Marie works in paint on canvas, or pencil and marker on illustration board, then moves to the computer to fully realize her art and design. Her studio walls continued the exhibits of favorite photographs, mementos of travel, and collections from the natural world.
Next week she and family head to the ocean. No doubt she’ll return with more treasures and lots of new paintings and drawings.