Jenny Oldknow: New Works

September 16, 2020

 

One of the truly wonderful and life-changing experiences that we are grateful for in our work at the Vision and Art Project is the opportunity it affords to keep in touch with the increasing number of diverse and interesting visual artists that we have been profiling over the years.

 

Back in late 2016 we had the good fortune to connect with the richly prolific British artist Jenny Oldknow, who at the time was in the process of dramatically evolving her working methods and painting style to accommodate vision loss due to Stargardt’s disease, an early onset form of macular degeneration. Our feature article from that period of time can be found here.

 

It was exciting at that time to see where Jenny had been steering her work, to witness the many decisions she had made to adapt and evolve as an artist, and to see her incorporate the many new strategies and methods and ways of thinking that allowed her to continue to paint and draw in the face of increased vision loss. Until her early twenties, prior to being diagnosed with Stargardt’s, she produced often small, finely rendered, immaculately detailed representational drawings of landscapes and animals. As her vision began to deteriorate, she began to work more abstractly, on dramatically larger canvases, and with bigger brushes and vivid color.

 

Here below are examples of two of her earlier works that she completed before vision loss (left and center), and one example of how she was working when last we talked with her in 2016 (far right):

 


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When we reached out to Jenny a few weeks ago, we were thrilled (though not surprised) to discover that she had yet again ventured forth as an artist, evolving and growing, bringing together her long-standing love for carefully seen details with her relatively newly wrought “post-macular” explorations of abstraction through color, shape, and mark. In bringing these two sensibilities together and bolstered through the scaffolding of under her well trained eye, she has discovered a rich, magical land of color and form, enabled and brought forth through her keen sense for delicately placed brushstrokes, and her clear reverence for the world around her. The three images below, samples of her recent work, come alive, and begin to reconcile the controlled and well seen with the wildly vivid and original.

 


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When we look at this evolution with images side by side, below, it is not hard to see echoes of her early vision carry forward from insect to abstraction, and abstraction to form and light.

 


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In addition to evolving her personal work, Jenny has put together a visually rich and information-packed series of demonstrations for her online e-courses and Sketch Club, available at her website https://www.jennyoldknow.com/

 

We look forward to the opportunity to connect with Jenny again, and to hear more about her journey, and the path that brought her to this point of inflection in her work.

 

--Brian Schumacher

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