I draw questions, not conclusions.
I draw questions, and we each come to our conclusions, so who is right? If I see what I see and you see what you see, how can we say one of us is right and the other is wrong? What happens if we share what we see with someone who holds a dissimilar view? In art we are intrigued by those different views, so why in life do we make alliances and enemies of those with dissimilar views? What happens if we don’t see the other’s view, in art we agree to disagree, so perhaps we can do this in life as well. In the art of life, we can share our dissimilar views and still be friends, stay open and creative, we can seek to understand each other better by understanding what we might not see or agree with. This may sound abstract, but life is abstract, and art mimics life. I am an abstract artist, it has somehow become the natural progression of my artistic journey, it’s part of who I am and what I do.
At this stage of my life, art making has become my everyday practice, my way into centering, grounding and finding meaning in my life. Making art excites me and enlivens me. I lose sleep over art, I chose art over almost everything else. I have a deep sense of gratitude for not only the ability and the means, but also for the inspiration to want to work, every day, day after day, and never running out of things to say. It’s a miracle, and I am indebted to the Gods and to the Muses who shine their all-embracing light of inspiration upon me. I know my life, and these artworks are temporary, but they are my temporary record, and my temporary gifts left to those who may enter into the journey of the artist. I’m consistently looking to the great masters who’ve come before, and to those living and working now. I love to look at their work, and learn something about their methods, insights and inspirations. I love that art spans times, and cultures, and languages, and art also connects the vast diversity of humans across time, cultures and languages. Art is a way for living cultures to learn something from the people of lost and forgotten cultures. The visual languages are the oldest form of written communication, written language evolved from the drawings scratched into sand or on to cave walls.
I look at the great masters, but also love the effortless way children express themselves, before they learn to draw, when they are preverbal in their ability to communicate. If there is such a thing as preverbal language or communication, then I guess you could say I’m a post verbal artist.
Art, my art, emerges from some unknown place and for unknown reasons. Life is also this way, emerging, existing, and eventually dematerializing back to its mysterious source. My art ranges from simple, small black ink paintings on paper, to large scale full color acrylic paintings on canvases and boards. My curiosity has driven me to try many other ways of making art, ceramics, glass, wood, metal, digital, earth art, writing, sound mixing, video, but I always return to the pen, or the brush. I go out into my world to discover and learn something new, then return to my studio to synthesize it, then I write about what I’ve learned, but I write with brush strokes rather than keystrokes.
Like most artists, my images are influenced and informed by a great variety of sources. By virtue of living in a digitally connected world, with access to an almost infinite archive of images and information, new information and art from around the world becomes instantly available to me. The images and inspirations I mine from this global conversation are infinite and awe inspiring to me. Nature is an endless source of inspiration, Nature is the greatest teacher and the only Master Artist.
Sometimes an image, feeling or impression from my imagination might be the inspiration to begin a work. I often feel like my mind takes in all this imagery, and remixes it into a visual language that’s all my own, but it’s a language that others seem to understand. Others will understand in their own way, and that’s fine with me because it’s my job to do the work and it’s the job of the viewer-participant to find their own emotions or understandings written into the artworks.
My art making process is technically simple, a few basic supplies, some brushes, any kind will do, some acrylic or enamel paints, the primary colors are all I ever buy now, red, yellow, blue, black, and white. The materials and imagery may change, but the language feels consistent to me.
My artist’s journey began 40+ years ago when I began learning to draw things in a representational style, I call it ‘drawing things that look like things’. I got to be very good at drawing this way but after 20-ish years of working that way I began to move towards a more abstract way of expressing myself. Why or how it changed is unknown, but I remember seeing a Motherwell painting, a Pollock, a Basquiat, and realizing that they were doing something that required further understanding on my part.
I found that I could not think my way to this new understanding, so I committed to working my way towards understanding, and discovered that feeling was the missing part of my understanding. I needed to learn to feel in new ways. It was a conscious decision from me to work harder than I’ve ever worked before, at something I was passionate about. In May of 2015, I left my job and came home to my little studio, and began to work every day, all day. The drawings began to pile up, soon it was 500, then a thousand, then two, then three. Two years later, I came out of my little studio with about 8000 small paintings, and with new a understanding, a new language, a new way of expressing not just thoughts, but also visions and feelings. When I wasn’t painting, I was out looking at nature, looking at light and shadow, taking thousands of digital photos and allowing those images and patterns to inform my mark making. I consciously sought to expand my vocabulary of mark making, I studied with a chinese ink brush master, he showed me his custom made brushes and some of his secrets, I showed him some of mine, we each tried the other’s way.
I’ve included portraits as part of what I do as an artist, because i see faces everywhere, I always have. For a time I thought it a curse, but now I see it as a gift. In a quantum universe, when I see a faces in the patterns of everyday life, I think of those faces as little beings I bring to life through the power of my imagination. The same thing happens in my paintings, the brush brings beings into a temporary existence. The images may take on a new meaning or a new life, or no life at all for the next viewer-participant who experiences the images. Seeing faces in the patterns of our living world, or in the brush strokes of my paintings, is a reminder to me that the whole world is alive and looking back at me.
I’d be happy to hear what you see and feel from your experience with my artworks.
God Bless and Good Fortune you,
Jeffrey C. Jacques
Lewiston, Maine USA 2017