An Early Start Predominantly a self taught artist, Jeanne Illenye demonstrated her aptitude early. Only a brief four years after her birth in 1957, Jeanne picked up a paintbrush and dabbled quite intuitively in her mother’s oil paints exhibiting an affinity for color mixing, and completed her first painting. Jeanne’s early fascination with the natural world was blossoming as well as a desire to interpret that beauty artistically. However, instructors always discouraged her attempts at realism by stating that it was strictly a camera’s function. Nevertheless, Jeanne’s enthusiasm to portray the nuances of our natural world in a respectfully realistic manner continued to grow along with an acknowledgement of nature’s delicate transience.
Inspired by the Dutch Masters It wasn’t until her introduction to the 17th century Dutch floral masterpieces at an exhibit in New York that Jeanne gained confidence to commit more fully to following her inner voice. Thus, a monumental attempt was begun to study every aspect of the dense, voluptuous florals by Cornelius and Gerard van Spaendonck, Jan van Dael, Jan van Os and the loosely casual arrangements of Jan van Huysum, in compositions of her own construction but that paid homage to those works she adored. Conversely, an appetite for simplicity revealed the paintings of American masters Robert Spear Dunning, Raphaelle Peale and William McCloskey, all of whom Jeanne emulated in her more rustic fruit arrangements.
Selling “Little Gems” Online As a reprieve from the intensity of creating larger paintings which took months to complete, Jeanne began a series of small paintings 4 to 10 inches known as her “Little Gems”. In an effort to clear out accumulated inventory after Jeanne and her husband relocated from New Jersey to Michigan, she began selling online and was met with such success that she joined a group of daily painters, producing nearly a painting per day. This afforded Jeanne an opportunity to refine her technical skills and experiment in new presentations by cropping her classical still lifes and repainting them as a whole thus creating an exciting new tension.
Evolution Transitioning further, Jeanne has begun to periodically lighten her palette and occasionally alter the perspective on her subjects, yet always relying on her classical roots such as employing the Hogarth Curve in varying forms within her compositions, sensitivity to light and shadow, a base of earth tones applied in thin glazes, to ultimately produce larger, fresher paintings. It is in these newest works where simplification of format and intensification of focus continue to reveal lighter, more emphatic paintings that simultaneously retain a delicacy of touch and sensitivity of spirit for which Jeanne is recognized. Perennial inspiration from her bountiful gardens, a reverence for nature and an acute awareness of the effects of time upon her subjects are what identify Jeanne Illenye’s work as both endearing and enduring as she captures nature’s transient beauty.