“I paint the skies with peace and passion, because that’s the way they paint me.” Jeni Bate lives in Salton City, California – though she grew up in Wales. As a child, she enjoyed painting, but as a teenager art gave way to academics.
In 2001, Jeni was working on photography but soon had an epiphany: “Now, you have to paint!” She subsequently studied in evening classes and at a teaching studio to hone her skills. One of the things that allowed Jeni to develop her voice quickly was having teachers who taught materials handling and composition, but not style; why, not just how. These are important aspects of her own teaching.
The sky is her primary subject – both now and in childhood paintings. Jeni began painting in watercolor, subsequently adding acrylics and oils. A series of errors progressed into her signature refractured watercolor technique. She later met quilters who likened her reorganized images to ‘refractured quilting’, so she stole the word. The use of that terminology for that technique was recognized by the international collage magazine ‘Kolaj’ in 2016.
As the years have progressed, she developed her technique to meld acrylic with refractured watercolor and frequently adding poetry, written for and included in the painting. Poetry was part of her Welsh cultural heritage, and this is one of three ways that she puts the two sides of her creativity together. Her work continues to develop towards more abstract compositions. Occasional workshops and technique specific lessons (e.g., learning how to use a jigsaw) have influenced her progress.
Jeni believes that her role as an artist is to make people think twice about the sky. How it works, how we underappreciate and pollute it, and how it is ultimately, where we live.