Updated on Nov 6, 2023

Le Nid atelier: Marie-Michèle Desmarais’s Endearing Menagerie

It’s not only the spirit of the animals that shines through in her black and white charcoal portraits that will inspire a range of emotions in young and old alike; The luminous soul and passion of this Magog artist vibrate under each stroke of her pencil to give life and personality to every animal she draws.

By Natalie Sicard

The first time I spoke to her, she had been working through the night on a charcoal drawing of some sea turtles, a special 40 × 68-inch order, which took her about 50 hours to complete. The artist likes to work on her originals in large format, either on paper or on canvas. They are then photographed and printed using inkjet on high quality archive paper.

Her most popular size prints measure 8 × 10, 12 × 18 and 24 × 36 inches, and are sent out to different outlets throughout Québec, of which, the 1840 counter of the Maison Simons. She also has different points of sale in Ontario and the United States.

Her orders have skyrocketed in recent years, so much so that she’s left her work as a speech therapist, which she had been doing part-time since she started her business, but full-time for 13 years. “Living the dream!” she says, laughing. An expression which makes this very talented yet quite modest artist smile. But, sometimes, when friends drop by unexpectedly for a cup of coffee, she has to tell them that she is too busy! If the life of an artist and to earn a living with one’s art is the dream of so many, they often forget all the hard work behind a successful enterprise. She has a lot to say about that! Besides creating, there’s a lot of ordering, wrapping and delivery logistics management to deal with. Luckily, both her parents are able to help out. In fact, it’s somewhat thanks to them that she’s developed her “animal fibre.”

An Animal … and Artistic Fibre

When she was very young, her parents bought a “lifetime pass” for the Zoo de Granby. They would take her there every day for a morning walk, and to say hello to Toutounne the elephant as well as to the other park animals. “My connection with the animal world was inspired by those days”; And her mother, an artist as well, just like her grandmother, initiated her at a very young age to art. “I’ve been drawing since I was a small child.” Although her studies gave her a degree in speech therapy, she also went to Concordia University to attend classes in their Fine Arts program. It was at that time that one of her professors encouraged her to hone her drawing techniques and skills. However, at that time, she didn’t pursue her studies in this field.

It all started years later when she was looking for a piece of art to decorate the room of the little girl she was expecting. When she couldn’t find anything she liked, she started drawing cute baby animals. Visiting friends fell in love with her portraits and soon commissioned her. This is how the LE NID Atelier collection of illustrations began. Her inspiration also comes from the reactions of her two daughters, who started talking to these little animals, wishing them good morning or good night! And they’re not the only ones: “Children tend to chat with them, but so do grownups.” She herself sometimes takes a break in front of her giraffe, inspired by the serenity it radiates.

LE NID Atelier is organized in collections: Les Adorables — these babies are perfect for children’s rooms, The Majestics like the polar bear or the moose for a headboard or on a living room wall. Her latest collection of animal duos and trios, Social Animal, is inspired by what confinement has made us experience: “I think we’ve all come to realize what a vital and intrinsic need we have to socialize.” Her more recent Bord de Mer and Fusain Boréal collections offer illustrations of animals from the boreal forest and our oceans, where each animal has its own personality and each new piece is quickly gone. She is very active with her customers. Through her newsletter, she launches contests and raffles off a poster every month.

All the details : https://lenidatelier.com

Her Book of Addresses

The café and restaurant La Shop on rue Principale in Magog is surely a place where you might run into her. She has a permanent exhibit of her originals as she constantly adds and replaces pieces. She organizes her vernissages here as well. A very friendly place where you can enjoy a meal as you discover her work.

The Mount-Orford trails are part of her morning routine. She heads for a 4 to 6 km morning run, at least three times a week.

The trails at the Marais la Rivière aux Cerises are also among her favourite points of interest. “It is a very rejuvenating place and there’s always a pretty exhibition to visit inside the pavilion.”

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