My Mornings always start the same. A huge cup of tea and a good session online. I look for inspiration, new artists and processes that make me think WOW!
May your Tears Water the Lilies, courtesy of The Big in the Small
As soon as I stumbled on Toronto based artist, Sebastien Leduc, and his bubble filled world, I was transfixed!
Recently I have become more drawn to fluid art. I love the unpredictability of the process. It seems like quite a freeing way to create. As the artist, you set it all up but then have to take a step back and almost just let the process itself take over. This way of working is, to me, daunting and exciting all rolled into one! When I came across Seb’s colourful, eye catching bubble pieces, I put down the tea and instantly knew I needed to know more!
Last Minute Change of Heart, courtesy of The Big in the Small
Can you explain the process of creating your work? The finished pieces look really intriguing!
The process is deceptively simple. Milk, oil and colour – I mix all three in a bowl in order to create all my pieces. The milk acts as a vector for colour, and the oil encapsulates it all into bubbles. I then capture the micro-interactions using a camera equipped with a macro lens.
What inspires your work?
First and foremost, I’m inspired by the process. I must have repeated it over ten thousand times so far, and no matter how many times I repeat it, the results are always different. That’s what is the most fascinating to me. It’s very repetitive, it’s very labour intensive, but it’s absolutely captivating.
It would drive most people bonkers, but I’m absolutely obsessed with it. And at this point, I’m not just doing it on a daily basis because I enjoy it, I’m doing it on a daily basis because I HAVE to.
Atop the Spire of Unknowing, courtesy of The Big in the Small
I love your use of colour, do you plan out a set scheme beforehand or does it evolve organically, as you create?
I always start a studio session with a game plan, which starts with a colour scheme.
What equipment do you use?
Essentially, I use a DSLR camera, a macro lens, a tripod, lighting equipment, syringes, bowls and ungodly amounts of liquids.
The Sunlight in your Arms, courtesy of The Big in the Small
How did you discover this process?
Oh, it was a total fluke! Back in 2016, I had planned a full week to record an album at my recording studio with one of my former music bands. But on day one of that recording session, the computer’s hard drive died. And I was told by the computer repair guy it would take a full week to restore it.
So, in order to make the most of my time, I decided to record music videos for that upcoming album. That being said, I did not have any budget for props or actors, so I looked around the house for inspiration. And after a few days of experimenting with liquids, I had figured out how to create bubbles out of milk, oil and colour!
Since then, I sold all my music gear, dismantled my recording studio and dove head first into Bubble Art. That’s all I’ve been doing since then!
Does the time vary to make each piece or do you need to work within a certain time frame to get the best results?
The lifecycle of what happens in the bowl after I’ve mixed all liquids can range from 10 minutes to 3 hours. The liquids move, the bubbles pop. Everything billows and flows at a fast-to-slow rate. But the results within the first few seconds will look different from the pieces that are created 10, 30, 60 or 120 minutes later into the process. Essentially, the Second Law of Thermodynamics that states that in a system, every element wants to go back to its most basic form. That’s what’s at the base of my process. I create a temporary micro universe; the way it all self-organises and decays is based on a specific set of rules. It’s what dictates what happens under my lens.
Pink Variations, courtesy of The Big in the Small
From one set up are you able to capture multiple pieces?
It really depends. Sometimes, no good pieces emerge. Sometimes two distinctive ones might arise out of one set up.
Is there much of a learning curve working in the way you do?
Yes. The process is deceptively simple. I’ve even heard comments such as “this is child’s play!” or “anyone could do this!” – and I’m fully cognizant that this is what it might look like.
But, I’m always trying to learn new techniques, incorporate new additives that might create a different look and feel, or effect… I need to invest a lot of time and money into research and development. I mean, over the last year, I’ve spent over $30k in different types of liquids and other matter in order to experiment. And it’s an ongoing process.
So yes, the learning curve is extremely high. Every time I incorporate a new element, I need to relearn everything, because it will have an effect on the fluid dynamics of the whole mixture. It’s an ongoing process of learning. I need to isolate, understand and master every factor that can have an impact on the final composition.
Not only must I be good at mixing liquids together in an optimal way… I also need to master lighting for macro, as well as be extremely quick at handling a camera, because I need to swiftly move the tripod, zoom in, frame the shot, focus and take a picture before the composition fizzles away.
Come Together, courtesy of The Big in the Small
Have you ever had any failed attempts?
Oh, I fail every day. Multiple times. Again and again.
As I just alluded to, a lot of time is spent tweaking and understanding the process. So I must fail many times before I can fully control and master any new element being incorporated.
But then again, what I might describe as “failure” now is not what I would have called failure earlier in my career. When I started doing Bubble Art, I was less selective with my final pieces. Now that I have poured the liquids together over tens of thousands of times, I have become very picky with what ends up being published.
Was there a favourite piece (or pieces) that you worked on? Why?
Typically, my favourite piece is always the latest one I created and the next one I have in my mind.
But my absolute favourite pieces, I keep for my personal collection.
It Wasn’t ALL Better in the Past, courtesy of The Big in the Small
Your work has an otherworldly quality to it. As a viewer I have no idea of the true size or scale of it, which I like… It could be a close up within an ocean of bubbles, or it could be created in a cereal bowl! Do you have favourite vessels for creating in? Or, like your work, are your environments always evolving and changing?
I’m aware that my art form is hard to scale. And it is something I quite enjoy about it! I really enjoy that people can’t scale it, which adds to the intrigue. What are they looking at specifically? They don’t know exactly how it’s made, what they’re looking at or how big or small it is.
To answer your question, I have a very exhaustive collection of recipients. But I tend to be very loyal to the first bowl I ever used.
A Strange New Day Dawns, courtesy of The Big in the Small
Sebastien Leduc’s work is captivating and fun, but don’t take my word for it.. Check it out for yourself using the links below!
Artist Sebastien Leduc from The Big in the Small
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**All images are owned by the artist; Sebastien Leduc (The Big in the Small). They have granted permissions for their use in this interview. They retain full copyright.