Touchstone oil painter Jeanne Garant paints abstractly. For a painter like Jeanne, abstract means to focus on a particular shape and color noticed at any given moment and then to discard the rest. She draws from the jumble of life rather than trying to capture it all in a photographic or three-dimensional way. Garant's attitude in creating the flat or one-perspective paintings, 275 Stripes, mirrors that of New England painter Milton Avery. “I try to construct a picture in which shapes, spaces, colors, form a set of unique relationships, independent of any subject matter. At the same time I try to capture and translate the excitement and emotion aroused in me by the impact with the original idea.”
Growing up in a small New Hampshire city, Garant was influenced in subtle ways by her family environment. Her father was a carpenter and her mother a clothing designer. She recalls some of these influences:
Clapboard houses protecting denizens from the winter’s cold.
Wooden floor planks lined up in logical order.
The subdued colors of a cloudy day.
Delicately striped cotton ticking pillow fabric.
Boldly striped awnings shading out hot summer sun.
The clean edge of a shadow slanting across a sunlit door.
These visual experiences emerge in Garant’s generally tranquil paintings, which are minimal in color (black, white, gray, brown with a small punch of color) and shape (rectangular panels and lines), but generous in paint. “Sometimes it comes easy and is great fun,” she says. “But sometimes it just won't cooperate and is hard work. I like it both ways and look forward to exercising my passion in my home studio and in my Torpedo Factory studio.“ Her simple compositions often belie the complexity that comes with changing colors multiple times and carefully applying tape to maintain straight lines. It’s a long process that requires patience to complete.
Eventually Garant left New Hampshire and moved with her husband to Washington DC, raised two sons and earned a degree in Art History from George Mason University. She began taking studio art classes in silkscreen printing and commercial design--which launched her printmaking career that focused on architecturally precise shapes and subdued color. Printing with several Torpedo Factory Printmaking groups she stayed with this medium from 1980-2000, and then switched to painting, collage and encaustic (happily discarding the need to frame works under glass). After trying pastels and acrylics, she settled in to using oils on canvas and wood panels. Garant often mixes cold wax with her oils to gain texture, to reduce sheen, and to make the paint dry faster. Cold wax also allows for scratching into and revealing previous layers and can be manipulated with a mist of Gamsol, a solvent. –Rosemary Luckett
To view Jeanne Garant’s contemporary compositions, visit 275 Stripes at Touchstone Gallery from May 3-28. Wed-Fri 11-6 and Sat-Sun 12-5. Opening Reception is Friday, May 5 from 6-8:30 pm. Meet the Artist Saturday, May 20, 1 - 3 pm; 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20001; http://www.touchstonegallery.com; email@example.com