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Gretchen Durst Jacobs: Artist’s Statement

My artistic vision stems from a deep reverence for the natural world. By working primarily en plein air, out-of-doors, I can directly plug into the source that inspires my work. The experience of working en plein air, deepens and expands my relationship with the landscape, grounding me in the here and now. This creates a sense of urgency, the constant shift of light, atmosphere, weather, and seasons motivate me to paint and draw quickly. This urgency influences the gesture of my mark, the choice of color and color relationships. Consequently, many of my landscape drawings and paintings reveal an influence from the Abstract Expressionists. However, I am working from direct observation and for me, the mark/gesture is important and is a strong component of the process of working in plein air.

Growth, adaptation, rejuvenation, survival, cyclical movement and death are apparent in nature. I see and feel these principles in the undulating creeks and rivers, and in the linear elements of the forest. I also find them hiding within chaotically entangled branches of living and dead trees. I note how closely these organic systems mirror my bodily systems and I feel a connection as I am pulled deeply into the multi-layered ecosystems of the woods and water.

I want to evoke a yearning from the viewer - pulling them into the work, reminding them about their connection with nature by providing a metaphorical lifeline to our aging planet. Today, it's easy to become removed from nature, separating ourselves from it, and limiting our experience of the natural world as something we have to go to - outside of ourselves. My artwork serves as a reminder that we are of the earth, not separate but equal.

On a formal level, I am interested in the duality of the abstract and representational aspects of painting. I look for the play of figure/ground relationships in my work. I value the balance and the tension from the interactions of these relationships. Experimenting with issues of figure/ground leads me to construct and de-construct my drawings and paintings, pushing the boundaries of these relationships.

The formal issues of painting become the bones or the scaffolding from which I can hang the more esoteric aspects of painting and expose the sensuous qualities of the paint. Form and content inform and support each other and become inseparable. For me, each painting is another chance to resolve problems from the previous painting, and to push or discover new and unexpected potential. My next painting, holds the promise of folding content and form together in a seamless and powerful way.