“The inter-connectivity of the natural world is what captivates me. I do not paint actual scenes or situations as a photographic camera would capture, rather, I paint an exploration of metaphysical realism from my perspective, as an observer of energy and light, where I attempt to transmute the energy and invite the light out of the darkness. I play with portraiture, placing New Zealand’s native birds upon pedestals; I admire their wisdom and integrity through the legends which have been told. They become personifications of the soul and my paintings manifest into expressions of the human condition, a reflection of the world that surrounds me and an interpretation of the way through.” – Jane Crisp
"A black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light" - Joseph Campbell.
Jane Crisp's art is inspired by, and imbued with, her love of the natural world. Born in Auckland, the artist moved to the more rural surrounds of the Waikato in the 1990s, and the wildlife of the region has provided the ideal subjects for her skills.
Crisp, who is largely self-taught, has been painting professionally for over a decade, and had her first solo show in 2003. Since that time, she has had numerous solo and joint exhibitions, and her work has garnered several awards, most notably the James Chapman Award at the 2004 Franklin Arts Festival. In 2008, Crisp was featured in Denis Robinson's book "New Zealand's Favourite Artists, volume 2".
Crisp has long been an admirer of the work of Raymond Harris-Ching, and it is no surprise that she, like Harris-Ching, has found wildlife an endlessly fascinating subject for study. Wild birds in particular are a major feature of her art. Living as she does within easy walking distance of native bush, birds of many varieties are frequent visitors to Crisp's garden. This idyllic retreat is a major influence on the artist, who is at her happiest working free from the interruptions of urban life, either photographing nature or working at her easel.
Crisp describes her work as an attempt to capture the reality of the natural world without reproducing specific instances. Although she uses a camera for her artistic studies, her finished paintings are built up as composites, often with the embellishment of found items from second-hand shops. The images become miniature stage plays, often with the finished composition arrived at by the artist's intuition alone, rather than from any specific scene. The combination of small living creature and antique treasure often lends something of the feel of traditional vanitas studies to the artist's canvases. The birds and other animals can almost be considered as portraits rather than simple wildlife studies, and the artist has the happy (and well-practised) knack of being able to capture the life in their eyes and the vitality in their poses.
The artist uses high-quality stretched Knickerbocker canvas, its smooth finely threaded surface being ideal for her precisely worked paintings. On this fabric she paints using high-quality acrylic, but using the paint in a way which is more in keeping with oil painting practice. Layers of thin translucent glaze are built up painstakingly, and Crisp's fine brushwork results in marvellously detailed images in which individual feathers, strands of fur, and other features stand out. By using this technique, Crisp effectively combines the best of both worlds: paintings with the finesse and archival quality of fine oil paintings, yet with the plasticity and quick-drying characteristics of acrylic which allow the artist to complete a work within a relatively short space of time.
Each new exhibition of Crisp's work shows advances towards some as yet intangible ideal. As such, every new work is an adventure for the artist, and she feels an excitement about where her art is heading. It is an excitement and adventure which we, as viewers of her art, are happy to share.
- James Dignan - Dunedin, New Zealand. Arts reviewer Otago Daily Times.
Discover a more in depth view of Jane and her processes through an interview with Quirky Fox : https://quirkyfox.co.nz/blogs/news/artist-interview-jane-crisp