< Retour à l'actualité

Meeting with an artist: Thierry Duval

In its portraits, Sennelier honors some of its favorite artists. Artists from all over the world and with singular universes. Discover the portrait of Thierry Duval, a great French watercolorist graduated from the Decorative Arts.

Can you tell us about your artistic background? 

Graduated from the Arts Décoratifs in 1982, illustrator, then creative in a large Parisian advertising agency, I paint since childhood. In 1990, a great Italian restaurant in Paris, the "Raffaélo", ordered me to make pastel copies of paintings by the Renaissance painter Raffael, which is perhaps where my taste for the great masters of academic painting came from. It is while preparing for the entrance exam to the Decorative Arts of Paris that I discovered the work of the painter Delacroix, and from there I developed my passion for watercolour.

What do you like the most about watercolour? 

My favorite technique in watercolour: washes. I love to build up my tones gradually, to increase in value and saturation until I get the best color value.

In your opinion, what is the most important art material for an artist and why? 

For me the most important material is the paper: (Arche 356gr fine grain) because it is like my house, my workshop, I know it perfectly, I know its absorption capacities, its behaviour with the liquid mask that I use permanently in my paintings.

Do you have a favourite colour or art material? 

My favorite colour is the neutral shade from Sennelier, it is a "strategic" colour, it allows me, by mixing it with any other colour to raise the value of the shade, to darken it without "breaking" the Hue of the colour.

How do you set up your palette of colours?

I work with a very limited colour palette: 8 to 9 colours at most. This palette is the result of 20 years of experience in watercolour and it has been reduced over the years of practice. I now master all the possible mixes with these colours and their aspect once dried on the paper.

Tell us more about your style (artistic universe) and your influences.

My style is similar to hyper-realism, but it goes beyond that: I like to represent places as faithfully as possible, as in a portrait that one would recognize immediately. But it is the poetry of places that I hope is magnified in my paintings.

What’s the best thing about being an artist today? And the most challenging one?

The best part of being an artist for me is the independence and freedom. To do what you want, what inspires you is a real luxury. I enjoy every day living from my passion and my art. The best part for me is that I no longer depend on a boss, and today on gallery owners. I now work for private collectors, no more pressure of deadlines and a number of works to create for an exhibition with a deadline. The most difficult aspect is the financial aspect which depends on the sales made because no help for the artists. 

Do you have an advice to share with beginners? 

One must believe in oneself and in one's art, work, work, work and more work, and not put "the cart before the horse": therefore not wait for fame before one's art is perfectly accomplished. Only work pays, and recognition will inevitably come.

Can you tell us about your actualities, your future projects?

Now I only work for private collectors. I regularly have articles in the professional press (for example the last issue of l'Art de l'Aquarelle). I am planning to publish my 4th book with the watercolors I have done in the last 5 years.

Follow Thierry Duval on :
More informations about Thierry Duval :

  • Since 2007 :
    •Participates in numerous exhibitions in France and abroad.
    •Awarded at the 11th biennial of the Salon de l'aquarelle de Belgique.
    •In November 2010, he exhibited two works at the Grand Palais in the framework of "Art en capital".
    •1st prize in painting at the 32nd Salon de Chartres 2011.
    •1st prize in painting at the 32nd Salon of St Germain les Corbeil 2011.
    Since 2011 :
    •Exhibition of his watercolors at the Suiha Gallery in Tokyo Japan.
    •Participated in the 2nd International Watercolor Biennial in Shanghai China.
    •Member of the French Watercolor Society from 2012 to 2013.
    •Since January 2009, member of the Taylor Foundation.