A typical day, then, involves looking at the news or Instagram (“not gonna lie”) to see what exists out in the digital sphere. Then, she’ll make some “fun connections” between these different worlds. After an idea has spawned, she’ll contact some models and get them to sit for her; they can be friends, friends of friends, or even total strangers. “Sometimes, they reach out to me to offer to pose and that humbles and flatters me every time!” she says. In a past life, Roxanne also worked as a hair and makeup artist, which is a skillset that certainly helps when it comes to prepping for the shoot. The final stage of the process involves toying around with her iPad until she’s happy with the result, which will later be used as a reference point for oil painting.
Roxanne’s paintings are incredibly personal, and often she will draw from her past experiences – the good and the bad. She sees this as the easiest way to form a subject and navigate the process of making art. “So in a sense, every portrait I paint, you can find me in it, personality-wise,” she says. In order for her to feel pleased with a painting, she has to be honest with herself and what she’s marking on the canvas. The Scream is a good example of this, which is a piece inspired by both Edvard Munch’s The Scream and by the depersonalisation episodes she had as a teenager. “They’re basically a really unpleasant out-of-body experience where you don’t know if you’re even real or if you belong in your own body,” she explains. “It’s the worst and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”
Roxanne eventually realised that the episodes were related to her weed-smoking habit, so she was able to prevent them in the end. Yet, at the time, in the early 2000s, coupled with the fact that she wasn’t able to talk to her friends or mum about her experiences – nor were there answers available on the internet – it was a challenging time. It’s also something that can reappear at any time. “It’s such a vicious loophole situation, it’s hard to snap out of,” she says. “So long story short, I feel it was worth talking about.”
You’d be hard pressed not to feel moved after learning more about the story behind Roxanne’s artworks. And equally, she hopes that you – her audience – will feel some emotion while observing her pieces, because “that’s what every artist wants”, as she puts it. In her case, though, it’s not all about hardship and the past; she also hopes the viewer will have a laugh, too, or experience a “moment of introspection”. Clearly, she’s doing something right, and the future is looking busy and promising for this hugely talented self-taught artist. She was recently commissioned to create four pieces for the rooms of a new hotel in Montréal, and soon she’ll be showing some pieces at the affordable art fair in Hamburg with the gallery MeetFrida. Keep your eyes on this one!