COLOUR OUTSIDE the LINES
Artist, Jeanne Aisthorpe-Smith is unlike anyone I have ever met. I want to describe her as “down-to-earth” and “joyful”, but the words fall short!
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing this incredible woman, and the honour of learning a small part of her story…
I’ve got to say that throughout our conversations, I made a direct correlation between the easy-warmth and vibrancy of Jeanne, to her artwork.
Jeanne was born in England, 1945. “I was brought up to colour inside the lines.” she states. But by the sounds of it, imagination and creativity came naturally to her from the start. Jeanne describes her childhood lovingly, mentioning a wonderful grandmother more than once. “I was an artistic child, I enjoyed creating things.” she told me. “My grandmother taught me to sew when I was four.”
I think the warmth Jeanne resonates (unbeknownst to her) comes naturally. Maybe it’s a result of her upbringing and family roots. Maybe it comes from her obvious love of nature and ability to find joy & appreciation in the little things in life.
Jeanne is an avid animal lover…dogs, cats, foxes… you name it! Though horses seem to hold special meaning for her artistically. “Horses are magical, graceful, fluid in movement, and sometimes idiots.” She added with a chuckle.
From 1992-1995 Jeanne discovered her fascination of colour while studying at the Victoria College of Art, BC (VCA). Taking a keen interest in Fauvism, a term used to describe the works of artists like Henri Matisse and Andre Derain in the early 20th century, characterized by strong colours and fierce brushwork. During Jeanne’s graduation year at VCA, her professor advised her to paint what she loved for her final project. She painted horses.
“When I came back here (Nova Scotia) I painted the blue horses”. This painting was the start of a five year focus on an incredible subject series.
In 1999 Jeanne found herself taking a closer look at local, rural architecture and forgotten dwellings, imagining the stories they held. Her attention, and art shifted to landscapes, predominantly from her vicinity in Nova Scotia’s gorgeous Annapolis Valley.
“I love to imagine the history and life these buildings have seen. They housed families and a history. They’re almost like living things. As old buildings are disappearing, replaced by more modern structures, I really want to preserve a part of their history.”
Looking at her paintings in person is an amazing experience. Jeanne’s skill as an artist and colourist is incredible. She captures texture and light by layering brilliant colours on canvas. “I’m not too concerned with what colour I start with, because I layer and build on it.” … “A tree isn’t just green, there are oranges, yellows and colours of all kinds if you really look.”
“I paint in layers because I feel it makes a painting much richer; you get more luminesence that way, it really lets the light in.”
Every piece I viewed left me smiling. “I want my paintings to give people a feeling of joy.”
Jeanne has a refreshing go-with-the-flow attitude. It seems to show in the way she paints as well. “There is a fluidity in painting; you can’t force art. Allow it to just be.” Jeanne explains that a painting will never look exactly the way she originally imagines. She begins with an idea and allows her art to take shape from there. “I let the painting tell me what to do.” she says. “I get to play in the paint.”
Jeanne’s work has been influenced by artists such as Arthur Schilling, Nicholai Fechin, Jean Jacks, Ted Harrison and Charlotte Beauchemin. She has worked with many mediums, but currently uses oils and acrylics.
If you’d like to find out more about fine artist Jeanne Aisthorpe-Smith you can visit her website at: www.novascotiaart.com; or view her pieces at The Harvest Gallery, Wolfville NS or The Teichert Gallery, Halifax NS.
Many of her paintings have found homes world wide, and we are happy to ship!
“I consider myself one of the fortunate people in the world who get to do what they love to do. I believe when that happens, work is no longer work but joy expressing. Then we are in the wellspring of our true service and everything becomes a Blessing in Life.”
WRITTEN BY: MEG CONNELL | RESOURCES & PHOTOS: JEANNE AISTHORPE-SMITH