The first time I saw Jeni Lee’s artwork in person, it was an unseasonably cool and rainy day. I ducked into her basement studio where paintings greeted me with soft bursts of diffuse, bright color. I thought of reflections on a windy pond, or dappled sunlight peeking through gaps in a forest’s leafy canopy. I spent the afternoon soaking up the artist’s encounters with the natural world.
Inspired by land, sea, and sky, Lee’s work (largely acrylic paintings on panel) abstracts her impressions of landscape. An absence of definitive outlines merges boundaries not only between forms, but between viewer and painting: The work can seep into us like a distant memory.
Artist residencies in Kauai, New Mexico, Vermont, and Central Oregon have helped fill Lee with experiences of “rich landscapes” to fuel her paintings, but Portland has a continuing importance to her artistic life as well. Lee is a regular participant in the annual Portland Open Studios event, received her BFA from Portland State University, and has been known to take paintings outside in the infamous Portland rain to let the weather literally interact with her work.
Jeni Lee has lived and traveled in the some of the most diverse landscapes of the West, including the coastal countryside, high mountain valleys, and the lush Northwest. Jeni works daily out of her Portland art studio and shows her work locally and beyond. Follow on www.jenileeart.com and Instagram @jenileeart.
Of her own work, Jeni says, “I often roam the landscapes, collecting colors and forms for my work. I invite those experiences, with the paint, to emerge on the canvas, unfolding layers and evoking associations. Mary Oliver’s poetry reminds me of this process, of not only surrounding oneself in the emotion and elements of nature, but allowing the work to be about our relationship to it.”