“What I do is not a profession or work … it is more like dreaming,” says decorative painter Jocelyn Couvelaere, who recently relocated to Los Angeles from his native France to bring his craft to a growing number of important clients in the United States.
Couvelaere utilizes imagination and intuition to create a pure visual distillation of his client’s artistic fantasies. “For me, the client is king,” he says. “I take what he or she sees and feels and look at the surroundings to decide what and how I will paint.”
The possibilities are what have kept him busy for the past 12 years, with each client providing a new challenge. His projects have incorporated a wide range of disciplines, from trompe l’oeil to faux wood and marble finishes to more traditional impressionistic landscapes and fine art ornamentation.
Couvelaere’s remarkable murals, which combine a masterful interpretation of the Italian style with elements from different artistic schools, portray vibrant scenes with allegorical themes and pastoral settings. But it is the painting of children’s rooms that the artist says often presents some unique challenges, not to mention a chance to exercise his own fantasies.
Though he notes that painting kids’ rooms is quite popular, he says there is one major distinction—the trend is not universal. “I have never been called to paint a children’s room in France,” he observes. “This is only popular in America, especially Los Angeles. Here, things are more spectacular, more dramatic. Children like what they see in Hollywood.”
Aside from entertaining requests for iconic cartoon figures such as Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, Couvelaere has been commissioned to paint a room with simple cloud-filled skies and, one of his favorites, a medieval castle with knights on horseback riding towards it, which he painted for his two young sons.
Couvelaere can spend up to four weeks on one project, but he notes that sometimes the simplest paintings can have the most profound meaning for the client. His Blue Bird fresco (below left), painted on an old stone wall, is a naïf rendition of a bird flying to paradise. “This was painted in the bedroom of a man who wanted to see this before he went to sleep,” he says, “because it reminded him of his life before, traveling on a boat called the Blue Bird. He wanted to see it again in his dreams.”
Indeed getting paid to make dreams come true is beginning to pay off. Couvelaere has been sought by some big names in the industry to bring blank walls to life. He recently completed a lofty project in Santa Barbara for architect Thomas Landry and has also worked with interior designer Frank Pennino. More examples of his work can be seen at .