I’ve always had a love for both big, bold landscapes and the intimate beauty of flowers. I draw my inspiration from the natural world and find that the act of capturing my vision on canvas infuses a bit of myself into the work. – Jean Rupprecht
I first discovered artist Jean Rupprecht, when I visited her studio during the May Open House at the Dilworth Artisan Station. I was immediately drawn to the color of clouds in the painting above. Over the past few months, we’ve met so many talented artists who call Charlotte home and I hope that you all will enjoy reading about Jean’s inspiration and artistic process.
When did you first become interesting in art?
Art has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was that kid who constantly covered my notebook pages with drawings and doodles while listening to the teacher because keeping my hands busy actually helped me to listen. Art class was by far my favorite class in high school and I briefly considered majoring in art in college, before my very practical parents steered me in a different direction. About six years ago, as my kids were getting older and more independent, I signed up for oil painting classes and realized I’d found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
How would you describe your painting style?
My painting style moves between realism and painterly and is imbued with color. In my work, I try to express my belief that life is full of beauty in both grand vistas and small, intimate vignettes.
What would you say is your biggest inspiration when it comes to your work?
My biggest inspiration is the natural world. I love the play of golden light, the deep blue of a vast sky, towering cumulus clouds, the shimmer of a marsh, and the whorl of petals that forms the center of a peony. Even my still-life paintings contain fruit or flowers mixed in with man-made objects.
Are there artists who inspire you?
My current favorite living artists are Richard Oversmith (Impressionistic landscapes), Tim Horn (captures beautiful light on buildings), Kenny Harris (moody interiors), Jeremy Lipking (figures in the landscape), and Daniel Keys (lush floral still life). Artists from the past would be Lawren Harris (part of the Canadian Group of Seven), Aldro Hibbard (New England Plein Air artist), and my “whose painting would I buy if I had all the money in the world” artist Edward Hopper.
Do you have a particular color or color palette that you like to use in your paintings?
I was taught early on to use a warm and cool of each primary color so my standard palette includes Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Ultramarine Blue, and Cobalt Blue. I also add Yellow Ochre, Pthalo Green, Burnt Sienna, and Titanium White. Beyond that, I like throwing in new colors on a regular basis to see what that adds to the mix, plus lately, I’ve been using Kings Blue (Old Holland) which makes a gorgeous sky color.
Some artists prefer to paint in their studios and other en plein air, you do both. What aspects do you enjoy about painting en plein air versus painting in your studio?
I try to get out and do en Plein air painting once a week because I love feeling a connection with what I am creating. There is something deeply satisfying about being outdoors and fully engaging my senses. The sounds and smells and the feeling of the breeze blowing (except when it blows over my easel and my painting lands face down in the dirt…true story!) all make me feel like I’m part of the scene I am capturing. I find it exhilarating when I’m racing to capture the light and shadow before it all changes. In that short time I strive to capture the immediacy of the moment and every time I go back to look at that raw painting, I relieve the experience.
Most of the time I paint in the studio using reference photos that I’ve taken for my landscape paintings or arranged objects for my still life. The advantage of studio painting is that I can be more thoughtful and deliberate, building the paint layers over several sessions and taking the time to think through what my next decision will be. In my case, it results in a more polished painting but not quite as immersive an experience
Do you tend to work on one piece at a time, or several paintings at once?
I currently have five paintings in various stages of completion: a barn, swimming Koi, big sky landscape, and two florals that I started with real flowers but got interrupted and will have to finish from photos since the flowers are long gone. I move between pieces/subjects which keeps up my interest and helps me with problem-solving. Often times I’ll get stuck on a portion of a painting and when I move to a different canvas the answer to the previous problem will often rise up from my subconscious.
Your portfolio includes landscapes, still life, and florals, which do you enjoy painting the most and why?
I enjoy painting many different subjects, but florals are my favorite. Before I started oil painting I spent fifteen years hybridizing daylilies on our 1.5-acre property in the Albany, NY area and growing the best ones in mixed perennial beds. We were even a tour garden for the local daylily society. So my love for flowers of all kinds has deep…ROOTS! (a little gardening humor there). My favorite place to buy flowers for painting is Trader Joe’s. They have a great variety of colorful flowers including Peonies that I always watch for in the early summer.
Is there a particular feeling that you want to evoke in those who view your pieces?
I’ve been told that my paintings make people feel happy and if that is so, I am pleased. The world can be a dark and unsettling place with much to cause concern and even despair. If I can bring some color and light into someone’s life, make them focus for a few minutes on the wonder and beauty of God’s creation, then I consider my painting to be a success.
When did you first move into the Dilworth Artisan Station and what do you enjoy most about being surrounded by fellow artists?
I moved into Dilworth Artisan Station (studio 206) in February of this year and it has been the highlight of my journey as an artist. I share space with my two talented studio mates Patty Russell and Holt McLean Cleaver. After several years of working out of my home (in “The Room Formerly Known as The Dining Room”) it is such a joy to have a dedicated space for painting and to not be interrupted by the dog/cat/teenagers/husband. I also love the creative energy of so many artists gathered together in one place. It’s an incredibly supportive community and I’m honored to be a part of it.