By Joshua Kelly
Michelle Jardines can’t avoid painting. “I like to think that painting chose me; I didn’t choose it,” she says. “My life has always brought me back to this place of painting.”
Jardines puts more effort into her work than an average painter. “The Old Masters painted with oils. They mixed their own palettes and formulas like a mad scientist to a canvas, as I like to think, and that fascinates me. I mix my own pigments like they did,” she explains.
Yet she balances this laborious task with time spent outside of the studio, with family or fly-fishing. In fact, for Jardines, fly-fishing is a key part of her studio process. “This is very much needed for my work,” she says. “I need the solitude and nature for inspiration.”
For Jardines, painting is not just an art form or a time-consuming chore; it is a language, the way she connects with others, and her way of belonging. “It’s how I express my emotions and ideas through a physical form and not just a thought. It’s how I speak, my form of language — it’s how others understand me,” she says.
Art is often the language of expression for deep emotions, particularly emotions dealing with loss and the wondering and reconstructive periods that follow those times. “I experienced an incredible loss a little over two years ago that sent me into a spiral of healing,” Jardines says.
Her latest series, “Forlorn Fog,” was a meditation on not just loss but also the process of grieving that follows. “In this series, my hope is to express the process of finding, accepting, and healing,” she says.
The works, teasing familiar shapes and silhouettes, just obscured by the haze of the fog, provide an odd comfort and the idea of moving past and thinking about what is to come after, rather than being bogged down in the emotional weight of the past. “All that comes and goes away is the heart of beauty, and the dissipation of this fog eventually clears a new path,” Jardines says.
For Jardines, the reconstructive time following her loss is starting to come to an end, and although she feels there is still more work she could do in her latest series, she is considering putting it aside after Artisphere.
“Sometimes you just have to let go and move on, even if you think you’re not ready,” she says. “You just need to jump that cliff and dive straight into life and see what is underneath the murky waters.”
She recently returned home to Cuba and wants to introduce that experience in her works soon. “Going back to my roots grounded me when I was in the midst of healing, and I’m excited to see what comes from it,” she says.
Booth No. 88