Nature as a Point of Departure

ARTIST STATEMENT: Kathleen Dunn Jacobs

Our altered environment due to climate change is a reality we all must confront. My paintings relate to my culture antithetically, for example, they portray serenity rather than anxiety. My artistic response to these times is to connect with the outside natural world by painting the landscape as a way to grapple with dire realities of today and reflect my belief in nature’s abiding beauty, grace and order. I embrace the knowledge that nothing in nature—or in life—remains fixed. What I see when I look to the landscape is order within the randomness. I use nature as a point of departure for my work—as a means for conveying my own idea of order—I begin by painting the landscape from life, looking to nature as my ultimate source of authenticity. 

 In formal matters of painting, Italian artist Georgio Morandi would come to influence me largely because of his emphasis on close tonal colors and compositional structure within his work. Morandi’s Landscapes are almost void of anything “natural,” and rather manifests the rational and intellectual process he went through in order to decipher his subject, which is the structure of the natural landscape. I see a combination of randomness and pattern in the landscape, and within my paintings, I seek to portray both. My intent is to carefully divide space, and to often establish simple shapes of flattened mass. Deep space is not always my concern, but space within the flat picture plane is, with the positive shapes filled in with closely related tones of color to portray serenity and structure. I often combine abstracted form with the natural pattern, sequence and order that I see. I am deeply engaged by the specifics of what I chose to paint, but not driven by the desire to replicate the appearances of actuality. 

I strive to always to reveal the orderly, logical formal relationships that can be extracted from the randomness of mere appearance—an aspiration that links me to Cézanne and Chardin as much as the Cubists. Because of the respect and concern I feel for the natural environment, I want my paintings to give proper bearing to their subject matter, nature. This is fitting, as nature is eternally relevant to all human beings now and to future generations.