We were proud to interview Jackson Hole artist Michèle Jenkinson yesterday in New Mexico. Jackson Hole is a leading western town in the art world, and Michèle has rightfully gathered acclaim from peers and clients alike. Michèle retired from her legal career in New York City several years ago and now enjoys spending time painting in Wyoming and New Mexico painting, riding horses and enjoying nature. We asked Michèle about her art and her life in Jackson Hole.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I feel like I am one of the luckiest people on this planet. I have always wanted to be an artist but wasn’t able to indulge my passion until I retired and moved out to Jackson Hole. And I am now living my dream — being in a vibrant art community surrounded by spectacularly inspiring vistas.
Why do you do what you do?
Very simply, it makes me happy. On the days I know I will be painting, I pop out of bed and can’t wait to start the day.
What is your background as an artist?
I studied painting in the late 70’s at The Cooper Union, a small but highly respected art school in Manhattan. I then took a 30 year hiatus while I earned a living as a corporate lawyer at the law firm of Paul, Weiss. Although I had received an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts at The Cooper Union, back then the art world was focused on “conceptual art;” realistic depictions of nature were pretty much looked down upon. So about seven years ago, when I knew I would be moving out to JH and would have the opportunity to start painting again, I started taking classes at The Art Students League in Manhattan. Then, when I moved to JH in 2013, I joined a weekly plein air painting group and started to paint outdoors on a regular basis. I also paint pretty regularly in New Mexico, where I am lucky enough to spend a few months a year. I currently have some of my paintings on exhibit at the Blue Dome Gallery in Silver City, NM.
Why do you paint Jackson Hole scenes?
They just call to me. I’m not sure I can add to that statement without sounding trite.
What prompted you to use oil paint as a medium?
Oil paint is a very sensuous medium. It can be thick or thin, and move from one texture to another effortlessly. Participating in the painting process with oils is an active experience, with much give and take. I find that with watercolor or other less forgiving mediums, I get bored with how careful and precise one needs to be. Working with oils always has an aspect of adventure.
What has been a seminal experience in your career as a Jackson Hole artist?
I have been overwhelmed with how supportive the artist community is in JH. Being invited to join the Teton Plein Air Painters put me in contact with so many painters here in JH, and painting with the group has been a tremendously motivating experience.
If a guest to Jackson Hole has two hours to spend visiting art galleries, what recommendations do you have?
My personal favorites in town are Astoria Fine Art Gallery, Legacy Gallery and Mountain Trails Gallery. It’s always a treat to wander around those venues. A bit north of town is Trio Fine Arts, which showcases three terrific artists — Kathryn Mapes Turner, Jennifer Hoffman and Bill Sawczuk. And of course there’s the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which is a do-not-miss experience for anyone interested in amazing paintings of the outdoors.
I will be exhibiting some of my paintings here in town this summer (August/September 2017) at Pearl Street Bagels which, for those out-of-towners unfamiliar with this venue, is a terrific exhibit space for Jackson Hole artists. And for those who aren’t able to get to the show, my paintings can be viewed on my website — www.mjenkinsonart.com
12″ X 16″ Oil
11″ X 14″ Oil
11″ X 14″ Oil