In the constant battle that occurs in my artistic mind, I’m torn between representational works, and abstract. Of course, my mind leans heavily toward the abstract, but in the artist, Jill English, I not only found a balance between the two worlds, but a new appreciation for the form of a face. A true sense of deep expressive humanity pours through all her canvases.
It’s a beautiful morning while I speak with Jill; I imagine endlessly rolling grasslands, and long black highways cutting through the landscape. Bleak perhaps, but a haven of inspirational support for her work.
Without fail, I ask the question I ask all the artists I profile-
“Sometimes I feel as though art is a big piece of gum that I’ve stepped on. Once you’ve stepped on it- good luck getting it off! Art chose me.”
“The highs of being an artist are obvious; a painting that moves people, a fabulous art show, a donated work that raises money for a good cause. Behind the scenes, however, there are all of the hours I’m haunted by an image that brews within. I see beauty and I want to pour it all over a canvas– the bigger the better! Inspiration does not always strike when it’s convenient and I am a slave to it!”
Her monumental smile brightens the room, as she answers-
What is your greatest inspiration for your work?
“Beauty. I recently finished a series of abstracts based on some rock sculptures I photographed in Hawaii. The anonymous artist who built the sculptures left a shiny mark on my soul- such beauty and so temporary.”
“The beauty theme is not always jewel-tone and happy. I took all of the old love notes I had from my first love, soaked them in water until they were pulp and mixed them with paint to create a work I titled, “When A Man Loves A Woman.” This piece was an act of remembering the beauty and letting go of everything else.”
Amazingly cathartic! What attracted you to the style you work in presently?
“I have been on a black & white kick as of late. The work is a fusion of both my realism and abstract styles. I take a gorgeous subject and a blank canvas and I build the form with random paint splatter until it feels right! I have wanted to accomplish a blend of my styles for sometime now.”
Jill, I simply must know- What are your processes in creating your work?
“I like to paint large. So my first process is to clear a space in my studio that allows me the room I need to get to work. In more cases than not I let the paint tell me where it wants to go, therefore, the canvas is not always on an easel. Sometimes it’s flat on the floor, other times it leans, but every time is at the mercy of the paint.”
“I collect things that make texture in my studio. A child’s toy car with wheels dipped in paint and rolled across a canvas is one of my latest fascinations. I don’t need to be unique – that does not drive me. If bubble wrap gets the job done then I’ll use bubble wrap. I am driven by the voice of the canvas and by the heart of the paint!”
Fantastic! That is what I hear from most all the artists I speak with- a deep calling from the canvas…If you could change anything about your work, or style, what would it be?
“It would be far easier on me to fit the mold. If I could create a body of work that paired up nicely and people knew immediately- that’s a Jill English -then everyone would know where to slot me and all would be right in Jill’s art world! But that is not the case. As I mentioned earlier I am a slave to inspiration and there is no common denominator.”
In a world of many “artist’s” being unique is essential- What makes your work unique among your peers?
“Texture! All of my work is textured. At first glance one might look at my portfolio and say she doesn’t know who she is as an artist! I say, look closely and be surprised! My work is for the thinking set!”
“Everyday the world tells us, “Look but don’t touch!” Materialism, things, stuff everywhere… but don’t touch! I poke fun at this by creating work that beckons to be touched!”
“There is more depth to my work than merely poking fun. I use a variety of materials to create texture on a canvas like, leaves, junk mail, coffee grounds, gesso, and so on. With that said, I’ll leave it to the viewer to figure out the rest on a piece-by-piece basis. The story is there for inquisitive souls.”
What is some advice you’d give to emerging artists?
“Get a day job! I am married to an incredible artist. He is a man who can play any stringed instrument and a man who can paint me into a corner. He also happens to be a physician. We both knew from a young age that if we were going to be able to indulge our artistic inclinations that we had to be able to pay for it. Art is expensive. The cliché starving artist is not sexy or glamorous. Our world today is digital and contrary to the way things may have been, art is even more competitive now than ever before. I am one of millions of artists online. I am a tiny drop in a sea of talent that is so vast it could overwhelm me if I let it. But I don’t let it. I don’t have to. I have a job that pays for my art! I understand this is not popular advice. I too was young and idealistic and thought my voice was too strong and too passionate to be denied. I am happy for those who can truly make a living doing the art that they love but for the rest of us, we work two jobs!”
Sound advice! Jill- How has your work contributed to the forward motion of art today?
“I would like to think it has…. I do not teach art, but a few times certain children have strongly connected with my work and so I have invited them to my studio to paint. One boy in particular, Ian, loves using the shop vac on blow mode to blast paint everywhere and create works that “look like exploding bombs.” He is amazing. He will do incredible things as an artist. I plant seeds when I see the ground is fertile!”
That is incredible Jill! How do you see the future of your work panning out?
“Interesting question Kenneth! I have done (and still do) the gallery thing, I sell online, and I participate in shows every now and then. One goal I have is to sell a painting in every country on the planet. I have a distance to go before that goal is met but I am making a dent! I sold a few this year to Bahrain—so exciting! Outside of that I can only control the work I produce. I meet every blank canvas with the intention of besting myself and touching souls!”
Indeed! If you could meet any other artist to chat with, who & why?
“Modigliani. His work resonates with me! I am a huge Pollock fan as well but it is Amedeo Modigliani who strikes a chord with me. I think it is because he paints beauty with truth. His works are beautiful but haunting and soulful and I feel like there is a story with every work. He makes me want in! I have questions for him!”
And, much like James Lipton from the Actor’s Studio; my final question-
What’s your favorite color?
Vermilion red! ….(long pause and a sigh) Phthalo blue! Burnt umber, Black!
For more information about Jill English visit- JillEnglish.com