Reflections on “After the Party” by Gretchen Jeens

Gretchen Jeens Artist Photo

Drawing and painting have always been a huge part of my life and as a youth my dream was to attend art school. But it wasn’t until I was in my mid 50’s that I was finally able to undertake a more fundamental education. Up until then I had raised a family while taking many art workshops, belonging to several artists groups, becoming a professional conservation, preservation and museum art framer, opening my own small framing business, and always enjoying the little time I had for simple, unconscious self-expression. When I finally did get the opportunity to study art in a more formal way I was surprised at the restrictions set in the institutional studio. Don’t get me wrong….I loved every minute spent in this inspiring institution and still miss it every day. But so many instructors put a reign on what I was used to after so many years…an individual, effortless, and expressive style. In school, conceptual, intellectual art making was the only way and the rules of technique had to be followed. Line. Shape. Form. Colour. Value. Yes an artist must learn these elements. But there’s also a freshness in the intuitive and unique vision of an individual’s interpretation. I was taught never to use line while rendering the figure…only form and shape. Line was illustration, not to be used in a truly executed painting. But line is where my instincts go. With the use of free flowing colour and controlled line I can meld realism into abstraction and vice versa. Now that I have my degree I have gone back to that simple, unconscious self-expression…hopefully with a little more artful knowledge.

 

         

 

Life is busy and so I am always drawing and painting in my mind. I hold my thoughts until I can get to the studio. My studio. My studio changes daily….from an easel in the front bedroom, to the kitchen table, the basement, the passenger seat in the car, my bed late in the evening. I am in so many places throughout the day that I just grab at whatever time will allow. My art supplies take up several shelving units in two separate spaces or a number of different canvas bags. I draw every day. Sometimes a two minute sketch in my journal, fleetingly for a half hour or an hour at my drawing desk, hopefully a full day of enervating process at the easel. I experiment a lot with the subject but am mostly intrigued with the female figure. Whenever I get the opportunity, I do life drawing with a live model, ideally in a formal studio but otherwise with anyone who is willing to sit….usually Nev (my husband) or myself (in a mirror). There is immeasurable value in drawing any human form but my emotional connection is with the female figure, perhaps because I can express my own reality and life experience. I create my own narratives by transforming gestures and poses from my own drawings, and sometimes images from magazines into observations and presentations that hopefully stir sentiment in the viewer.

 

         

 

“After the Party” is a reflection on simple but authentic moments in life. Renderings from my own experience and not unlike many others of us who lived through times when dancing, parties, dresses, dating, and love could be endearing or devastating. With the use of colour, line, and fanciful whimsy I hope to incite hidden meaning and a personal interpretation for every viewer. And a bit of fun in a sometimes sad world. The party goes on.

Special thanks to Gallery Artist Gretchen Jeens for this blog post!

 

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