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Self portrait, 1999
oil on canvas, 35" x 48"

Jennifer O’Connell
Plattsburgh, NY
Plattsburgh State

Painting and drawing are direct and responsive to immediate sensations, capable of infinitely translating truth and emotion unique to the artist. In art, Nature is the entity to which I respond strongly through landscape and the figure. Nature is an all-encompassing masterpiece on its own. Coexisting with other creatures, only we have the ability to create. Inevitablv, ourselves and our relationships with others form screens through which only we see , and from which we create.

Painting people is so responsive because of my interest in understanding their uniqueness. The colors and the manner of painting are expressions alone, but are linked always to the temperament of the artist and the emotional response to the subject.

When I paint people, I mix the colors while looking and thinking about that person. Art is a reflection of the levels of reality you perceive, but those perceptions change from one moment to the next. In other words, when you observe a subject, the truth of it is always present, but constantly in flux. The truth is an intangible existence, feeling, or quality that emerges through the act of painting and response. To retain the impulse and spontaneity of the subject, I must have something to react to. I paint from life or a sketch, a strong memory, and a great emotion. There is great honesty in emotion, so that painting from it cannot be superficial; however, it is important to filter your experience. The painting should be a concentrated emotion and must project the discovered truth as purely as possible through composition, color, and gesture. Technical skills are necessary to react in a beautiful way to the subject through paint. Art reflects the unique vision sifted from the layers of reality. You must throw yourself fully, honestly, and completely into receiving and creating it. This will result in the creation of the truest art. In the end, you find a true projection of yourself, harmonized with what you perceived in the subject you painted. You will always capture something new.

When I began art classes, it was here at college where I was given a traditional, technical drawing background. I worked this way until I went away to study in England a year later. While I was there I began drawing and painting in a loose, expressive, more non-objective style, which was completely spontaneous and emotional. The emotional and figural elements of that work feed my painting now. After my experience in England, I returned to a representational style, having gained another perspective on my work. By stepping over the division between objective and non-objective art, I discovered a lot of space in between the two. My art is the convergence of the emotional spontaneity of the work from England, with the traditional representational background from which I started.


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