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Shana Rowe Jackson

Growing up in a world of uncertainty, anxiety, and trauma, art was always my safe haven. Through creating, I have been able to move past the negativity in my life; I create the world that I want to see. My paintings are often idyllic. Pretty and happy, I create worlds of stability, tranquility, and peace. I begin by deeply studying my photo references, then I infuse my own memories and feelings. The result is a mix of photo-realism and nostalgia.

Nothing puts my life into perspective like experiencing the vastness of the sky. Because of that, in this series, I have chosen the landscape for a subject with a particular emphasis on the sky. I have lived in Maine my whole life. The light and atmosphere of Maine skies is unique; it is the Eastern-most state of the United States, where the sun first hits. This light, which shifts with the changing seasons, carries with it a familiarity and can be seen in my work.

The Maine landscape has also shaped the scale of my work. My paintings are based off my own photographs; glimpses of a place and time for me, my own memories. I have a desire to fit something very large—the sky itself—into a small format, and still have it feel spacious and even inhabitable. When creating larger works, I compose them in a way to make the viewer feel like they are there and part of the memory that is unfolding. This is done to emphasize the mood behind these scenes.

The artists that I have been looking at imbue a unique sense of color, light, and atmosphere in their work. Claude Monet’s paintings of the House of Parliament, haystacks, and waterlilies (painted multiple times with different lighting) connect to my artistic practice of close looking and attention to light and transience. Like Monet, I have rendered the same spot in my backyard during different times of the day and evening. I have also drawn inspiration from the Dutch masters and their ability to create landscapes in which massive skies and clouds overshadow luminous bands of the landscape below. In drawing inspiration from my surroundings, my work resonates with Hudson River School artists like Thomas Cole, whose grand landscapes encompass attention to detail and a sense of place. Recently my compositions have been influenced by Rackstraw Downes and his unique use of perspective. Other contemporary landscape artists like Jeff Aeling and Kimberly Casebeer have influenced my understanding of how the sky affects the landscape.

I chose a variety because no two skies are the same. Because of this, each of my sky paintings is individual and made in conjunction with my memories and my longing for a world that is as perfect as the sky above. When these pieces come together, my hope is that the viewer and I will be standing under the same sky.

See more of Shana's work on her website and on social media.

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