Jean Hall is a graduate of Edinburgh College of Art and was employed as an Art & Design Lecturer in a College environment for sixteen years. After leaving teaching nearly ten years ago she has been painting and exhibiting on a full-time basis both nationally and internationally.
“My work has evolved over the years but it consistently refers to the energy inherent in stillness of form and composition.
Considerable in-depth study of the quiet, meditative qualities of Eastern philosophies continues to confirm a deeply held preference for the still and calm – these paintings are not intended to be lively or to contain movement.
Although the colour is vibrant and the use of pattern rich and intense, my own creative process originates from quiet and stillness – taking the attention away from constant external stimulus to calm contemplation. The spiritual aspects of Indian and Japanese art are a constant source of aesthetic inspiration for me, reflecting the ever-lasting qualities of stillness in human beings and balancing out the emphasis on noise and distraction constantly present in the world.
Articles and items are chosen for the paintings because they have some resonance for me – they will have qualities such as balance, beauty, and craftsmanship. Fabric and textiles are especially important; members of my family spent time in India and their houses contained exotic, interesting objects and artefacts from the Far East. Even as a child I had a deep appreciation for the decoration on ceramics, carpets and textiles and my present work is inspired in large part by recollections of particular pieces of fabric, their patterns, colours and designs. I still develop tapestry and embroidery designs alongside the paintings.
The act of painting is, in itself, a meditative act, encouraging a richness and depth of introspection that is rewarding on a constant basis. The process demands and encourages an exploration of ideas through repetition and experimentation. Motifs are developed over time and are fused and combined through the use of traditional painting techniques, woodblock printing and hand-made stamps. These processes make a connection between the textile printing process and traditional easel painting.
Although a music lover and a keen pianist I almost always work in silence to “hear” myself making the paintings. These aspects of my work are emphasized again in the preference for vertical and/or horizontal compositions and in a frame-like effect in some paintings. I like to use a flattened and deliberately distorted perspective creating an ambiguity in the space around objects or figures. This approach is derived from a deep interest in Japanese paintings, prints and decoration. There is no intention to describe a real room or physical space; rather this device is used to concentrate the viewer’s eye on the placing of the objects, colours and shapes within the overall composition in an effort to enhance the contemplative nature of the painting.
I use oil paint as I find its versatility, longer drying time and its potential to be both transparent and opaque necessary to develop rich fabric-like surfaces and effects. My fascination with printed and embroidered textiles led me to develop a technique whereby cut pieces of linoleum or other materials are used to print with onto the surface of the painting alongside more traditional methods of applying the paint. This gives a block-like and variegated effect that fluctuates depending on the thickness of paint applied and the underlying surface.”