Jackie Battenfield



My fascination with painting branches and leaves originated from a week I spent at a rural meditation retreat in the 90′s. Spring was slowly awakening the landscape from its winter bareness. For hours each day I sat next to a window, in silence. As my city mindset quieted, I was transfixed as tender buds and leaves daily transformed a gnarly elm tree outside. My paintings evoke the immediacy of that experience. My hand slowly reanimates the twisting and branching line of a tree limb, the subtle curve of a bamboo stalk, or the concentric marks radiating out from a single stone dropped into still water.

The process is meditative; I pay close attention to each leaf or branch as I build it. The images come from my photographs of trees and leaves, which I painstakingly draw onto large sheets of translucent drafting film, taking care to stay true to the original images without editing the forms. I then mix two pigments to an ink-like consistency and shape each element from a puddle of paint across the film’s nonabsorbent surface to. As this paint mixture dries, the pigments reassert themselves, separating and forming unexpected and distinctive abstract patterns. Color is an exploration of relationships between pigments, often arrived at after hundreds of color studies. Different levels of color concentration and separation are caused by different pigment origins, weights, and by the shapes of forms into which they are painted. I accentuate the contrast between figure and ground, by eliminating any background and adhere the painting to a panel that allows light to play behind the translucent painted surface.

These works draw upon two natural but disparate processes: the gestural unfolding and leafing of a branching tree limb, and the physical properties and behaviors of pigments. My intention is to create conditions under which I can observe the laws of nature. Form is dematerialized and re-assembled as a means of exploring color, the aliveness of a natural gesture made of repeated yet individual forms, and a felt-sense of the passage of time.

Jackie Battenfield headshot