Jeannie Lynn Paske is a self-taught artist from Portland, Oregon. She creates other-worldly art using mythical creatures, large monsters, and swirling colors. As we shelter-in-place, her art transports to fantasy worlds we long to visit. We are delighted to have an enchanting piece by her in our Mermay exhibition.
Interview by Waiton Farrell
WF: Hi Jeannie. How are you doing during shelter-in-place?
JLP: Hello, I’m doing okay physically, but am having somewhat of a more difficult time emotionally. Trying to balance the anxiety and worry I feel with the relief that I am healthy and have a home in which to take shelter. Since I normally work from home (my studio is in my converted garage) and am somewhat of a hermit, I feel grateful to have not had too much disruption in my day to day routine. I feel for those who are hurting right now though and am concerned about where this will take us all in the years ahead.
WF: Has this time at home been inspiring for your creative vision?
JLP: I have to be honest, it has been very difficult for me to focus, as I am concerned about friends and loved ones, but I am plugging away on multiple projects and am hopeful that things will eventually improve. My dogs are getting a lot of attention and they force me to get out of the house and go for several walks a day which I find both helpful and inspiring.
WF: Your blend of watercolor with pastel and other mediums creates a unique mist-like effect on your paintings, like a dream half-remembered. How did you discover your perfect combination to create this?
JLP: Thank you, I started with watercolor and ink exclusively not long after I dropped out of art school- mostly because they were much less expensive than acrylics or oils. I then discovered pastels and began to use them to layer on top of the paint as it helped to achieve more detail as well as a softness that I was looking for. Later I added charcoal and powdered pigment. The only downside to all of these things, is finding a fixative that isn’t horrible for the environment and my health. I currently use a spray varnish which requires multiple layers and has probably removed a few years from life, but it adds a beautiful gloss sheen that accentuates the pigments and saturates the colors.
WF: Your piece The Orbiting Sympathies of a Drifting Heart for MERMAY inspires multiple emotions, among them hope and longing. What was your mindset as you created it?
JLP: I think the current state of affairs had a lot to do with how this piece turned out. There is a sense of sadness, but also comfort as one creature consoles the other. I think this is something that most of us yearn for during times of uncertainty. I usually tend to wear my heart on my sleeve in many of my creations however, so this piece is not unlike the majority of those that have come before it. I am happy to hear that you also see hope in there, as that is something I am always striving to depict in my work. The balance of hope and despair in this picture is a mirror into my own personal struggle, in which I am always rooting for hope to come out ahead.
WF: You have multiple shows coming up in the next few months. What are you most excited about for the coming year?
JLP: Yes, I am so grateful to have the work for these shows to keep me distracted. In the year ahead, I hope to collaborate on a short film project and am looking forward to completing another illustrated book.
WF: What would you most like those that appreciate your work to know about it?
JLP: I guess my hope would be that they find a bit of solace in the work. Drawing and painting are one of the few things that help me feel grounded, as I am quite sensitive to the bombardment of activities that take place on this planet of ours. This world of peaceful creatures contemplating their surroundings is a reflection of how I process my own life and it offers me a bit of an escape from reality. If my art can assist just one other person in finding the doorway to this mysterious imaginary place, then I feel that I may have contributed something beneficial to society.
The Orbiting Sympathies of a Drifting Heart by Jeannie Lynn Paske is on view for Mermay through May 30, 2020.