Jen Collee studied fine art at Glasgow School of Art and was awarded a first for her dissertation in Historical and Critical studies and has also gained an honours degree in science. She currently works from her Edinburgh studio and has exhibited at the Scottish National Gallery, Visual Art Scotland and the Scottish Society of Artists show alongside the Glasgow Art Fair, the Edinburgh Festival and Art London. Her work hangs in many public and private collections worldwide.
She drew horses constantly as a child, so from a very early age so is very familiar with their anatomy. The large scale animal paintings came about after a commission of a 7’ friesian cow for the Television presenter Gabby Logan; this large scale work has since lead to tremendous success.
I first remembering drawing animals on my bedroom wall with a biro around the age of two and then defacing the inner leaf of many books, there did seem to be a shortage of sketchbooks in the 60s. Drawing was something that came naturally and easily to me and born with an obsession with animals and particularly horses I drew them constantly. The other great love in my life were the family holidays in Crail and the sea so for 18 years I spent every hour possible outside on the beach mesmerised but with sea life and shells. I resisted all expectations to go art college from school and headed to university study the sciences with a special interest in maths, physics and zoology but looking and rendering were always in my blood so spent another four years studying fine art at the Glasgow School of Art.
In 2001 Diana Bruce who owned the Mainhill Gallery spotted a horse painting of mine at the VAS exhibition in the scottish National Gallery and took my paintings of horses and friesian cows to the Art London exhibitions. A commission for a 7’ Fresian cow for the television celebrity Gaby Logan in 2002 brought about a series of large scale works of horses, cows and stags. It was especially the vitality and energy of these beasts that excited me and capturing the movement was more important to me than detail. These large scale works have seen tremendous success with many public and private collectors nationally and internationally.
My childhood holidays were all spent in Crail, Fife and I lived every moment I could outside on the beach, I absolutely adored the place. Latterly Tiree, Uist and the west coast have inspired me.
Loving the outdoors I have always loved landscape painting.
And the waters edge has become my latest muse.
The line that divides the human space from the wilderness of sea, that huge body of water empty of human presence as far as the eye can see with its changing moods meets the solid shore. The shift in kinetic energy and the metaphoric edge of nature and culture invites a playfulness.
The visual world is to me is that sea of rhythms, energies, and mathematical proportions. The fractal structures are there and the golden mean. Precise colour is very important, how it conveys time and place or when abstracted how it energises and reacts with other colours to create space or tension or light.
Our mind divides the world up into objects, then into subjects with boundary and significance. Landscape painting permits a full focus on formal aesthetics and a considerable amount of mark making. So I can move from close realistic observation to wild energetic gestures“
Sometimes my painting closely relates to how we see the landscape always attempting to capture with minimal effort the essence of what I see rather than the laborious detail which I feel sometimes weights the emotion. At other times I like to reduce to the most simple and powerful forms and relationships to emphasise their nature. One very good piece of advice from a Glasgow tutor was to never use artistic artifice, marks, drips, splashes, as decoration but only when they really mean and earn their place, so playing close attention to this distinction is crucial.