Jean Claude Roy was born in 1948 in Rochefort-sur-Mer, France. He was encouraged to paint by his grandfather, a farmer of modest means who sometimes bought paintings at auction, and had encouraged a local artist to paint murals in his house. Jean Claude studied at the Lycée Technique de Saintes, France, from 1960 to 1966. While working as a marine electrician on a French cable ship, he became familiar with Newfoundland, and he emigrated there in 1971. Though he had known since an early age that he was an artist, it was at this time that he began to paint seriously. Between 1971 and 1982, he developed his career with four exhibitions in public galleries and representation by a number of commercial galleries.
In 1982, he returned to France, to his childhood village, and established himself as a full-time artist, but he always maintained his ties with Newfoundland. Since 1994 he has spent part of the year in each country.
His style can best be described as “expressionist - colourist”; he works most frequently with oils and a palette knife, and in recent years his paintings have become more densely colored. A major influence has been the work of Soutine. Since the late 1980s, a characteristic of his landscapes has been the presence of the sun; this followed a discovery that by putting the sun – initially a black sun – in the sky, it added light to the picture, and it has now come to form an important part of the composition of each work.
He is one of the rare artists who paints almost exclusively on site, and because he paints every day, he sometimes finds himself faced with rain, wind or snow. He feels that this is essential if he is to portray the total experience of the landscape. He also enjoys painting in company with other artists, and has painted with the same two colleagues for the past 25 years.
He says that his work is his diary: each painting is a record of what he saw and felt that day. During the evenings, he often finds himself reliving drives through the countryside, selecting a spot for the next day. By the time he sets up his easel the following day, the composition is in place, and all that remains is to put the paint on the canvas. He says that his best painting will be the one he does tomorrow.
He has recently completed two major projects: based on his own idea and inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, he drew the design for the French Shore Tapestry, a 222-foot long embroidery that depicts the history of a part of Newfoundland.
He has also published a book of paintings featuring every one of the approximately 800 communities in Newfoundland. Fluctuat Nec Mergitur, a 480 page book, was published by Breakwater Books in 2011. He is currently working on a second volume, of paintings of Labrador.
He has been a member of La Maison des Artistes, the French association of professional artists, since 1988. His paintings are found in private and public collections in North America and Europe, and he is represented by galleries in Canada, the United States, France and Britain.
Click on any of the thumbnails below to view a series of paintings of Newfoundland from Fluctuat Nec Mergitur.