My life and my art are old friends. We are linked in a mutual appreciation of the natural world, both evolving and maturing together. I was fortunate to have found once more, in the second half of my life, the friend of my youth whom it seems had never left me.
A visit to Australia in 2005 turned my life around. Walking downhill to a river in the intense afternoon light, I could see a myriad of colours in the water unlike any I had seen before. It was as if a rainbow had been pulled out of the sky into the water. It was the catalyst that sparked my desire to paint once more. With more time on my hands as my children were older, I promised myself I would start painting again as soon as I returned to the UK.
Painting has sharpened my observation of colours in the natural world. I am at peace in the outdoors, the wilder the better. I am attracted to light in nature, and try to portray it with colour, because I see light as having both form and colour.
I enjoy depicting movement, and wildlife has plenty of it. When painting wildlife, my aim is to bring out the nobility along with the mobility. I see strength and character in animals, whether on the move or standing still. I enjoy painting both.
They say the eye is the window to the soul. As with writing, art too, can connect with the heart. It is what motivates myself as an artist to paint what I do. My earlier works, done in Kenya where I was born, were painted in oils in a fairly realistic manner. The boy in blue is an example. I was commissioned to paint this from a photograph in the late 1970’s. In portraying the boy’s brave and defiant stance, I was faced with what his world must be like, and what may have happened to him. A harsh subject but a certain reality.
Nowadays I mostly paint in an impressionistic manner. I use watercolours or acrylics with a vocabulary of techniques, textures and colours to represent light, atmosphere and movement. I layer glazes of transparent colour to create glowing effects or imply depth. I do not always use brushes. Sometimes I will pour paint in thin layers on the canvas, applying each layer once the previous one has dried, and controlling it by tilting the canvas. Other times I will use thick paint or texture to give a rugged feel to a subject.
In the end it is about making the right marks, but not becoming too comfortable with my work. About expanding into new territories, but never forgetting to look back to where I came from, and why I paint what I paint.
It is about my own development through the subjects I paint. Some will be successful, some not. A tree may yield good fruit, sometimes not. But a tree will keep on yielding while it has life. So it is with art.
To find out more about Jabeen's art visit her website