Essentialist-Artist: Edsel Labillois


If you get a chance to attend one of Edsel Labillois’ exhibitions, you would have agreed that he is indeed an Essentialist. With over twenty years of painting, the artist will tell you that his artwork is ‘a reduction of unecessary elements and stripping the composition down to only what needed to be present to the viewers.’

As one of Edsel Labillois’ collectors, I most enjoy his use of colors! Often times, the simplified shapes and lines are accompanied with unexpected texture on his canvas.  Recently, I have a chance to do a Q&A with the artist.

1) Pink Leaf Designs:  If the sky’s the limit, what piece of artwork would you create now?

Edsel Labillois:  Big trees made of fiberglass like the ones in my paintings. I’d create a massive installation in a warehouse and then have the trees spread outside as if being set free. I would leave them in school yards and public spaces across the country in the middle of the night. I’d hire a team of builders to keep making them and placing them farther and farther from home and photographing them as they were placed. They would then begin to show up in the middle of nowhere (otherwise known as North Dakota).

2) Pink Leaf Designs:  Name a place/ a thing/ a person usually inspires your work?

Edsel Labillois:  As far as places go, any where trees are.  Whether out running, hiking, traveling, or riding my motorcycle I’m always looking for that tree, or trees, with a certain quirkiness to them. Something that stands out like an interesting trunk or root or twisted branch. I usually don’t draw from life, but then reformulate the visual image into my work. I make trees how I think they should look by refining what I see. I like museums now and then, but I don’t live near any stellar ones. Plus, I find looking at too much art messes me up and sends me off track.

3) Pink Leaf Designs:  What LIVE celebrity would you like to send a piece of your work for FREE?

Edsel Labillois: It used to be Gwyneth Paltrow but now she’s too well known for her style and it would be gratuitous. I think I should have sent her something back in her ‘head in a box’ days when the movie Seven came out. Now maybe I’d send something to Thom Yorke, but I think the last Radiohead album was weak. So maybe I’d send something over to Kanye West or the guys from T.V. on the Radio.

4) Pink Leaf Designs:  What do you do to get inspired?

Edsel Labillois:  Get a show set up. Having that looming deadline inspires me to make as much art as my sleepless body can take. Once my eye starts twitching during the daylight hours I know I’ve had success.

5)  Pink Leaf Designs:  You get stuck creating art, what do you do to get unstuck?

Edsel Labillois:  Doodle.  Revisit my sketchbooks and erase and rework existing drawings. I can tell when I don’t have it some days, so I just pack it in and go read something or watch T.V. or play on my iPhone. Then I’ll try again later and then I can feel the flow and begin creating stuff I like.

6)  Pink Leaf Designs:  Which music CD are you listening now?

Edsel Labillois:  Kasabian (first album), T.V. on the Radio, The Black Angels, Queens of the Stone Age, MGMT (I love the lyrics to ‘Time to Pretend’ it’s such a sweet sounding song with a very dark theme. Kasabian kicks butt. I just saw T.V. on the Radio in Milwaukee and that was a great show.

7)  Pink Leaf Designs:  Which piece of artwork is your most favorite and why?


Edsel Labillois:   I picked ‘Rhythm 1’ because it’s the basis of what I want my art to be. Interestingly it has not been sold. I think I may have to take it off the market.

8)  Pink Leaf Designs: When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?

Edsel Labillois:  What I can remember is working on the leaves of a tree in kindergarten during recess. The teacher was trying to get me to finish up and go outside with everyone else, but I didn’t want to. She was annoyed as was I.  Leaves are people too. I also remember turning every class I had into art class because I would just doodle, sketch, erase, sketch more and pretend to listen. In high school I only took one art class as I didn’t like the teacher. I knew once I got to college I would study to be an artist and I did.

9)  Pink Leaf Designs:  What is in your tool box?


Edsel Labillois:  My toolbox came from my late father. We were digging around in a garage where he kept some of his things and I asked if I could have it. He said sure. He left a few of his tools in there that were used for making holes for doorknobs and other woodworking items. I still keep them in there along with everything I’ll need to set up a show.

10) Pink Leaf Designs:  What else would you like the readers know about your work?

Edsel Labillois:  I love painting. Especially oil on canvas.  Oils work best for me as the mixed colors will stay wet overnight so I don’t have to remix them. I try to get a painting done in one sitting, but sometimes it takes two, so it’s nice for that. I’d like to branch out into sculpture soon. I need to study up on some techniques, so I was thinking about dropping into the sculpture classes at UW Oshkosh sometime soon. I worked in bronze casting and steel assembly back in the day but I didn’t do enough in fiberglass to be proficient.

Check out Edsel’s next exhibit, or contact him for purchasing his artwork at


One response »

  1. Pingback: Trees Gallery « Pink Leaf Design Shop

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