Arts + Culture + PLAY Feature
French-Born Artist Isabelle Maynard
Finds a Home in Napa


Published On: April 02, 2023

Isabelle Maynard’s art interest originated during her youth while living in the French countryside. Within her small village, she was constantly aware of nature, and as a young child with artistic talent, she started capturing her observations on paper. “Nature was my safe place,” said Maynard. “And painting suddenly became obvious to me when I discovered it. I found a way to express myself, and life gave me the rest.”

“Gravity”, Diptych oil and graphite on canvas, size 63”x102”, 2022

Now a resident of both Toulouse, France, and Napa Valley, Maynard is an accomplished artist whose work is shown within several west coast galleries, such as 60SIX Gallery in San Francisco and Desta Gallery in Mill Valley. Her work is also displayed in various design showrooms, such as Kneedler Fauchère in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and Jennifer West in Seattle. Additionally, corporate companies such as Toulouse-based Airbus have placed her artwork in their private jets. This spring, from March 30 to May 5, her new exhibition, “Trace Elements,” will be shown at the Yountville Community Center Gallery. “It will be a very special evening where guests will be totally immersed in my world and my work,” said Maynard, who is quick to convey her appreciation to the Yountville Art Board for their support and dedication to promoting public art.

“The Travelers”, oil and graphite on canvas, size 63”x51”, 2023

Her artistic journey features many twists and turns of fate. She attended art school in her 20s with a dream of walking in the footsteps of her idols such as Cy Twombly, Willem De Kooning, Jay Defoe, Joan Mitchell, and other abstract expressionists. “I wanted to discover America, its big cities, and get lost in the unknown without any expectations, except to be in the present and enjoy every second of it,” said Maynard. Her dream came true when a fellow artist friend invited her to visit his Brooklyn atelier overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. She spent two glorious and inspirational months in New York before setting her sights on California, where some of her family resided. Her west coast journey started—and ended—within Napa Valley, the landscape of which reminded her of her Bordeaux childhood, and she never left.

“Napa’s grapevines remind me of Bordeaux, but the landscape here is so unique,” said Maynard, whose inspiration continues to derive from the great outdoors. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring Napa’s parks and trails. “The immensity of the nature surrounding the Valley is incomparable, so raw. It is like you’re touching the infinite sometimes with its expansive skylines. When you look at the trees, the sky, and the colors, everything is a constant inspiration. I love going for hikes as I need to feel close to nature. This is where I reset myself before going back to my paintings.”

Kneedler-Fauchère San Francisco

Maynard’s abstract artworks are an extension of her life; each expresses her feelings, struggles, and joys. Her paintings range from dark and intense shades of greys to dreamy, airy whites. Each begins with a process that includes a thin layer of plaster applied to the canvas, giving her the sense and touch of a blank page. She then expresses herself through subtle, delicate, brutal, or primal brushwork, expressing her feelings while leaving a tangible trace of her passion. Every canvas conveys Maynard’s state of mind at the time of creation.

“I have to be true to myself and let everything go; then my body becomes the brush, the pencil, the reflection of my soul.”