Portraits of Nature

The Artist’s Magazine: How and when did you start creating art?

Jocelyn Audette: I spent a lot of time creating art as a child. I distinctly remember paint-by-numbers when I was very young and being fascinated with how blocks of color came together to create an image. I had an incredible art teacher in high school who introduced me to etching, silkscreen, serigraph, aquatint and linoleum and wood block prints. I always wanted to be an artist.

TAM: Do you create art for a living?

JA: I worked as a writer in the computer industry for years, doing art on the side. But in 1993, I began tapering off the writing work and spending more and more time on art. I’m happy to say it’s a full-time effort now.

Corbett Peak (oil, 16×20), at right, was a finalist in the 2003 Art Competition.

TAM: What media and genres do you work in?

JA: My primary medium is oil painting, with watercolor a close second. I enjoy dabbling in new things and have recently done some encaustic paintings. My subject matter is mostly landscape?mountain portraits, the California coast, creeks, trees. The diversity of nature endlessly inspires me and I rarely include any man-made elements.

TAM: What’s your inspiration for Corbett Peak?

JA: I love being outdoors, exploring the natural environment. It’s usually when I’m out hiking, running or snowshoeing that I’m inspired to paint my next subject. In this case, I was snowshoeing with my dogs and had this incredible view of Corbett Peak right in front of me.

TAM: Describe your painting process.

JA: I work both from life (plein air painting) and from photographs that I take with my digital camera?about 50 percent each method. I’ve taken thousands of photos and my camera is always with me. The painting of Corbett Peak was from a photograph.

I draw the large shapes on the canvas or board but the details are painted without a sketch. I try not to be precise, but rather to capture the essence and feel of the subject. I may simplify, exaggerate, leave out, change color or move around elements in order to achieve this. My palette is colorful and I often use complementary colors.

TAM: How long do you spend on a typical painting?

JA: For plein air paintings, I typically finish the painting at the site, but sometimes do a bit of work later in the studio. For studio work, I usually complete a painting over the course of two days. I often do the bulk of the work on the first day, and find that getting a fresh perspective the second day helps me see what needs to be done to finish it.

I love working on large (6×3-foot) canvases; you feel that you can walk right into the painting. These can take up to a week. Often my favorite paintings come very quickly, in less than a day. This is true of Corbett Peak.

TAM: What are you working on currently?

JA: I’m continuing a series of mountain portraits, a series of trees and creek paintings and more “rockscapes.” I’m also working on a series of the California coast. I have an exhibit coming up of paintings I did of figurative sculptures, something completely new. Finally, I hope to do some encaustics this winter as well.

TAM: Why do you create art?

JA: Painting is a way to connect with and deeply explore the beauty of the world around me. A relationship develops and the images are forever imprinted on my memory. Each painting records experience and brings back the sights, sounds, smells and feelings I had about that place on that day. It’s all of this that I want to share with the viewers. To bring them memories of places I have experienced.

Contributing editor Butch Krieger is an artist and instructor in Port Angeles, Washington.

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