“I paint the skies with peace and passion, because that’s the way they paint me.”
As humans, the sky is like birth and death–the one thing that unites us all. It is where we live (albeit at ground level), it is our first breath, our next breath, our last breath. It is the most common placement of the existence of “heaven” or whatever afterlife we may believe in. It is the most important part of our world, the most changing, the instigator of most physical changes. And the weather is always in the news coverage. Ancient Romans regarded the hour before dawn and after sunset as holy hours separate from the rest of the day; we still connect with that feeling. Most people enjoy a beautiful sunset and those that rise early enough, a beautiful dawn. Clouds are much maligned bringers of unpleasant weather, but rain is a necessary part of the ecosystem and the clouds that bring them can be a beautiful composition of art.
I also describe the creation of the refractured watercolours thus: I start with an abstract subject–the sky, and paint it realistically (though loosely). Then I cut it up and rearrange it to give a level of impressionism. The cutting is also a reminder that we do not look at anything in its entirety–but view the whole as smaller pieces, which we must mentally integrate together to get an entire scene. The addition of poetry further guides the viewer into the interpretation.
Jeni Bate works out of her studio in Salton City, California–though she grew up in Wales. As a child she enjoyed painting, but as a teenager brushes were set aside for left-brain activities resulting in a move to California in 1995.
In 2001, Bate had an opportunity to work on photography skills but soon had an epiphany: “Now, you have to paint!” The sky featured regularly in her early paintings, and gained ground as she found it to be one not only of personal fascination and variety but of universal appeal.
She started painting with watercolours, soon adding acrylics and oils. A series of errors gave her inspiration ultimately progressed into her signature refractured watercolour technique. After a few years, she was approached by quilters who likened her reorganized images to a technique called “refractured quilting”, so she reused the name.
Adjustments to her technique stretched to incorporating acrylic with refractured watercolour and optionally adding poetry, a creative force since the age of 7, written for and included in the painting.
Bate sells artwork at art fairs in southern and central California, Arizona and Nevada, and works with galleries in that area. She also has occasional solo shows at various locations. Her work is in private, public and corporate collections across 7 countries.