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Jeni BateArtist Jeni Bate
Salton City CA 92275 United Stateshome Home Phone: 3107201552home
Jeni Bate lives in Salton City, California – though she grew up in Wales. As a child, she enjoyed painting, but as a teenager art gave way to academics.
In 2001, Jeni was working on photography but soon had an epiphany: “Now, you have to paint!” .
The sky is her primary subject – both now and in childhood paintings.
Jeni began painting in watercolor, subsequently adding acrylics and oils. A series of errors progressed into her signature refractured watercolor technique. She later met quilters who likened her reorganized images to ‘refractured quilting’, so she stole the word.
As the years have progressed she developed her technique to meld acrylic with refractured watercolor and frequently adding poetry, written for and included in the painting. Her work continues to develop towards more abstract compositions.
One of the things that allowed Jeni to develop her voice quickly was having teachers who taught materials handling and composition, but not style; why, not just how. These are important aspects of her teaching.
“I paint the skies with peace and passion, because that’s the way they paint me.”
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. In fact, the sky
is where we live – we just live there at ground level. 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.
I have been painting skyscapes for nineteen years in many different mediums: initially watercolor, then
moving to acrylic, oil, refractured watercolor/watercolor collage and mixtures of the above.
The refractured watercolor medium starts as transparent watercolor on watercolor paper. I paint each sky
or water reflection sometimes up to fifteen times, depending on the size I am working to. Each variant is in
slightly different colors and because it is wet in wet it is always a little different each time. Then I cut them
and collage back together. I like to juxtapose pieces that have a partially matched edge which gives an
interesting mix of flow and clash. Finally, I may add foreground – often the hills and reflections in the initial
inspiration – dawn off my back porch looking across the Salton Sea, sometimes random horizons, sometime
no land, just trees, sometimes words are incorporated.
I also describe the creation of the refractured watercolors 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.
My move to including words is one of the ways I have found of combining that other half of my creativity –
poetry. I will create a painting, write a poem about it and paint it into the painting. Another step in my
journey to depict skies is to not fill the entire panel with refractured watercolor, and then finish the uncollaged
area in acrylic. The latter step into increasingly mixed media is also a step towards – or back to –
abstraction. The other way of combining my creativity is in poetry and painting books.