Category Archives: Jean Smith paintings

There’s something about these three together.

The Scarf #12 800
“The Scarf #12″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel). $100 USD plus shipping.

no hat #530 800
“No Hat #530″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel). $100 USD plus shipping.

No Hat #525 800

“No Hat #525″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel). $100 USD plus shipping.

 

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Video: Introduction

We have the evidence! Political art can change the world!

 

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The Scream vs Ruff Collar

 

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ruff collar #29 800 a

Ruff Collar #25

I didn’t set out to reference “The Scream” by Norwegian Expressionist Edvard Munch; in fact, “Ruff Collar #25” went through a lot of very different evolutionary stages before I stopped here. This is often the way it goes and one of the great things about painting (the way I paint).

I suppose that until an artist says if a painting is about something specific, it’s a matter of speculation — granted, some speculation is more informed than assumptions made by general viewers. I figure most artists aren’t terribly stuck on various interpretations of their work.

My painting is an addition to the “Ruff Collar” series I began in 2018, in which there aspects of fashion, history, class, and theatre — and against this backdrop, the ever-present knowledge that I am a feminist. That is to say, I bring along the historical context of my work as a cultural activist of the feminist variety, and that tends to be understood because I primarily exhibit my work here on FB, where you know me (or can get to know me). When I paint a woman it is not a man painting a woman.

As an older person who has been making art since the 70s (the portrait series began in 1973), I’ve found that the intensity of context (production and reaction over time) can’t be neatly summed up in an artist statement. So I tend not to write them. Let the young people wrestle with them. Let the Art World deal with them.

A sense of context is also what I consider to be fundamental in contemporary art which I tend to find a bit contrived and too clever, yet I sometimes surprise myself and enjoy the fact that I’ve created something within an existing genre.

No Hat #560 800

No Hat #560

It seems to me that contemporary portraiture is a combination of historically recognizable styles and techniques within one piece that push forward the recognition of a face in one of those styles because of the other styles. Recognition of the human face (not a specific person) relies on the profusion of faces (RL, paintings and photos) that the brain has previously processed. An example of this would be “No Hat #560” (above) — the painting I did yesterday. The position of the features (eyes, nostrils and mouth) are almost photographic, yet semi-obscured (eyes, nostril) and garishly over-painted (lips), but it’s the weird contrast of four simple strokes for the bangs (and several framing the face) that push the face to a strange realism.

Back to “Ruff Collar #25” and how it relates to “The Scream” which, without going back to look or research further, I interpret as a man screaming and I can’t say as I am too curious what he’s screaming about. Looks like fear. Just my impression.

The face in “Ruff Collar #25” is similar to “No Hat #560” in that the layer obscuring the features hints at a realism because of surrounding style — in this case the ruff collar, which is squeezing the face, giving it the shape of “The Scream” yet the mouth is pressed shut in a way that women are very familiar with. The constrictive nature of the collar — and by association fashion, history, class, and the general oppression of women — brings a sense of realism the the face (the woman) obscured beneath the thin layer of paint which represents make-up or a mask which refers to the way women are expected to behave.

Screaming is frowned upon.

“Ruff Collar” series

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Notes on Four Paintings

No Hat #373 800“No Hat #373″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

This was probably around the time I started considering each eye as a distinct way to convey different emotions simultaneously. I think prior to this I thought of the eyes as matching. Having said that, I don’t set out to convey specific emotions. They emerge, evolve and eventually stabilize based on how they jive with other elements in the painting — including color and composition. There are a few other things going on here — likely because I was thinking about the eyes differently. The mouth and nose are from a straight on perspective while the eyes are more from a semi-profile. There’s a weird pop art realism about the mouth that doesn’t carry over into the other feature, but it affects how everything else is seen. I think I’d been adding highlight for a while, but in this one it’s quite prevalent — especially how it’s used beside the nostrils to give the nose its length.

2 800
“She’s No Picnic #2″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

I did the first “No Picnic” around 2003 as a self-portrait. It was something someone said to me (you’re no picnic either) during an argument in the late 1990s and I think we both laughed and likely stopped arguing. The somewhat charming nature of the comment stuck with me and when I did the original painting I was angry about something specific (interpersonal dynamics) and the old-timey expression brought up both the long history of oppression and how idioms surface in a pinch to squelch rogue female outbursts.

Patriarchal conditionings strongly encourage women to look certain ways’ (pretty, sexy, calm, loving, approachable, passive, interested) and when episodes of injustice occur we might always be somewhat mindful that we are not supposed to look angry.

The kind of anger in this painting, is when you feel you’ve been unfairly dealt within a protected system that supports injustice to ensure that some other group benefits. This anger is hinged to understanding, but not accepting that you are unable to correct the misconceptions that other person apparently holds and really, showing them a display of anger like this might actually work against you, but since it’s all hopeless anyway, you go for it. That kind of anger.

Rarely would I delve back into the emotional landscape of a specific event to dredge up an emotion, but this is isolated within both the painting and my history, and yet highly transferable to anyone who cares to relate to the intensity.

Also, as far as titles (and other text) go, I don’t usually include language-based information. Obviously, as a writer, I could — and it seems popular to weight art with a titles as an informative element — but within the parameters of my online project I feel that because of the depth of my art-making history, working without overarching conceptualism is part of what I’m doing. This has to do with trusting me and trust is an important part of the project.

No Hat #501 800

“No Hat #501″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

I’d say this is mostly about the various amounts of specific colours and how they work together within the composition. The photo I’m working from is lit with a gold light on the left and a blue light on the right. With the face being mostly a yellow (to which purple is the complementary colour) I adjust the amount of the cooler colours (blue and purple) to push the yellow / the face adequately into the featured position. This is also accomplished by the use of the splayed / distressed brush I use for the hair — I suspect all those little parallel lines are interpreted as a singular plane of representation — a solid thing. And, considering how we regard hair culturally as a a unified shape rather than individual strands, i have that working in my favour as well.

It feels like a great luxury for me to have the bangs resonate with the ribbing of the turtleneck. One of the handful of things my mom taught me was that if you’re going to have something running off the top, you need to have something running off the bottom. Same with sides. Sometimes when I paint the top of the head and obviously the neck runs off the bottom, I consider other ways to achieve a compositional ‘running off the top’ whether it’s in the colour or texture of the background — or almost the reverse of the rule: neck and shoulders so pronounced, so overtly weighted on the bottom, that the sense of it being a human subject overwhelms the compositional rule. It also helps that blue recedes, pushing the face forward.

 

No Hat #368 800

“No Hat #368″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

The interruption in panel of reddish brown on the left (aka the hair) would have been done with the side of my hand sweeping left for whatever reason. One quick swipe on the edge of my little finger and down the hand. Obviously I knew the paint was still wet enough to move, and I would have been aware of what was beneath it, knowing it would be revealed — that is to say, I knew the background was dry. Why was I swiping away paint? There may have been a build up of paint, a bead of raised pigment that I avoid and remove as necessary. Some soft and or long brushes, depending on how much paint they’re loaded with, create a line on both traveling edges as opposed the their travelling breadth. It’s like a snow shovel that pushes snow to the outside as it scrapes along the sidewalk — and let’s face it, sometimes brushes are moving paint more than applying paint. So let’s get that out of the way (pardon the pun).

Anyway, I swiped and I guess there was a surplus of wet paint above the swipe. It looks like I held the painting upright to get that surplus to trickle across the newly exposed surface. I wasn’t essentially trying to achieve what was achieved, but since it’s there, let’s talk about it. I very frequently create a strong line on the right side where the hair meets the background, then, on the left side, I create a less strong line. In fact, I almost always do this since I watched a YouTube video of a convicted art forger who was demonstrating some of John Singer Sargent’s tricks. The right side, being a crisper line, pushes forward, while the blurrier line on the left recedes. It would be like taking a photo with a short depth of field (the are in focus), so that even a line set back by mere inches would be blurrier than the where the lens was focused. Doing this in a painting serves to inform our brain that we’re looking at something convincingly realistic. I like creating this in the brain to then work with looser features that are fortified by a touch of realism in various ways. So there is almost always some place on the surface of my paintings that works this way — in conflict or colluding with realism, foisting it forward to disagree with it in abstract nuances — all within the face and hair, a heightened arena of emotional revelations.

So, the hyperrealism of the drips (without any help from me… I did not articulate drips of paint; they arrived as themselves) pop out at us thus creating a good deal of space between them and where the reddish brown hair was wiped away, which is now even farther back than the farthest point on the painting (thanks to Sargent).

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Video: “It’s OK” – Brushes

Brushes and other facets of my painting process.

 

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Large

The Race 800
“The Race″ (16 x 20″ acrylic on canvas 1/2” profile) October 9, 2018. $350 USD plus shipping.

The Ride 800
“The Ride″ (16 x 20″ acrylic on canvas 1/2” profile) October 10, 2018. $350 USD plus shipping.

 

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Paper

No Hat #486 800
“No Hat #486″ (11 x 14” acrylic on paper) October 15, 2018. $100 USD plus shipping.
No Hat #487 800
“No Hat #487″ (11 x 14” acrylic on paper) October 15, 2018. $100 USD plus shipping.
No Hat #488 800.JPG
“No Hat #488″ (11 x 14” acrylic on paper) October 15, 2018. $100 USD plus shipping.

“The Hat” series began on paper (early 2016) and then moved onto canvas panel. I’ve stuck with the panels since the summer of 2016, but this morning I was checking out the paintings of an artist I like (after he liked one of my paintings on Instagram !) and the way he works with oil on aluminum – all squishy and slithery – made me want to go back to a smooth surface. I ‘primed’ the paper here with gel medium.

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Archiving Here and on FaceBook

Periodically, as pages here (and albums on FaceBook) get too long, I create new ways to organize what has turned out to be a performative, sequential art project. I didn’t foresee these elements at the outset, but they are both present, albeit in non-traditional ways.

Sequential, not only in terms of being exhibited almost daily right after they are completed, but also the way sub-series evolve while various numbers of those series have been made public. This is where having a long history (35 years) of making work public in various ways is very helpful.

Performative, in that, as a longstanding live performer, I regard my audience on FaceBook similarly. In fact, many of my FB friends have been at my live shows events over the years, so posting paintings feels connected to those events and those people. That I am here in my studio and my audience is able to comment on work I just completed is amazing!

I archive paintings in variety of ways. Archiving has become part of the project. That they are all represented on both platforms in at least two ways (Paintings and Currently Available or Paintings and SOLD), but more likely in several ways, means… that there is more than one way to enter the project. And then there are those who are only peripherally aware of any of this, who may only see random paintings as they pop into their newsfeeds. Perhaps it’s just more visual stimuli and they don’t make a distinction between my newest paintings and ones marked SOLD – or the people who I think I’m friends with who never see any of this because they blocked me or maybe they’re only on here twice a year! I don’t know! It’s all in my mind!

All paintings since the beginning of the project (January 2016) are archived. None have been removed. This runs counter to how artists are encouraged to present their work online, but this is a building project and every painting is necessary for the various calculations that take place monthly and annually. Also, it would seem disrespectful to the audience (some of whom have been involved from day one) to remove evidence based on the whimsical notion of quality increasing over time – this isn’t how the ‘new is best’ youth-oriented music industry functions, so why insist that it’s true in painting? Also, I’ve been painting portraits since 1973, so who’s to say which are the best?

Here on my artist site paintings available (by year), all paintings by month (most recent 3 months visible), and SOLD (3 chronological pages). I also make a video every month around the 15th of portraits available (with Mecca Normal songs).

Available 2018

Available 2017

Available 2016

SOLD since 08/18

SOLD 09/17 through 07/18

SOLD 01/16 through 08/17

The vast majority of my sales occur on FaceBook where you can find Photo Albums for Currently Available, SOLD, Paintings (by date range), and various series.

 

Foxes Available

 

Fox #16 800
“Fox #16″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel)
$100 USD plus shipping

Fox #17 800
“Fox #17″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel)
$100 USD plus shipping

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