I’m an enormous fan of Jean’s work and, if her sales are anything to go by, you probably are too. I’ve always been impressed by the way her subjects seem to emerge organically from the paper as if propelled by their own life force.
The subtitle of this new volume is Painting with spirit & vitality and it seems to me that this sums that ethos up perfectly. These are not animal portraits in the conventional sense, but rather the life and soul of those creatures. Jean has written books about mind and spirituality expressed through painting and that theme continues here. If you’re worried that it’s all a bit New Age, don’t be. This is firmly a book about painting animals that just happens to sidestep simple representation. A short section on Animal Meanings explains this clearly and a lot of the book is about getting to know your subject just as if it were human. If you have pets, you do that anyway, don’t you?
Technically, there’s a lot about colour and washes – Jean works about as loosely as you can – and that includes how to retain shape and form so that your results are anything but pure abstract. Some of these are startling: a cat whose face is the only delineated part, an elephant done in shades of green, fish that move in their pond because superseded form creates sinuousness.
What’s really remarkable is that you have to look twice to notice all this because the book absolutely lives up to that subtitle. These are real animals. Not just paintings of animals – it’s a heck of a trick to pull off.
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