Jeanette Lafontine is a Norwegian artist who creates bold and colourful landscape paintings that transport her viewers to dreamlike settings. Her expressive take on the traditional composition of a mountain-scape gives her work an ethereal quality, in which the familiar becomes infused with the unfamiliar.
Jeanette’s paintings have a distinctive feeling of freedom to them. Her dynamic use of colour and gestural brushwork capture the feel of a place, as well as the time of day. Jeanette has recently joined the platform, and our curators have her down as an artist to watch in 2022.
We spoke to Jeanette about all things painting, the evolution of her practice and what’s in store for her next.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Do you paint from memory or are you representing specific places in your paintings?
I do find inspiration in the real world, but in the end, I am not attempting to capture something about a particular place or time. That said, the Nordic landscape often makes itself known in my work, even though my colour palette is not limited to earthy tones.
Although my works are drawn from the landscape, they are more about a notion or an idea of a landscape. I am interested in the process of making a painting, and my method becomes a search for images, and landscape as a concept allows me to work quite intuitively, but at the same time demands some kind of discipline. I paint with acrylic, and that is quite unforgiving because it dries quickly.
I am not attempting to represent specific places in my paintings, but still, I am hoping for the viewer to find something they can connect to – something familiar.
What draws you to painting mountainous landscapes?
I use the landscape motifs as a source for painterly invention. The mountainous landscapes are very present in my work, but also trees, forests, seascapes, and meadows are recurring themes.
Mountains can also be the focal point or they can be more secluded. I believe I am drawn to paint mountainous landscapes because they represent something I can relate to. They are a natural part of the landscape I know. The shape of a mountain in its abstract form is quite simplistic. It is not per se a complicated shape, and sometimes you just need a line to define it in a painting or a drawing. On the other hand, within this simplicity, there are endless ways how to form a mountain in a painting. It is never-ending.
Numerous artists throughout history have been mesmerised by the mountain scenery. This most immoveable totem of our landscape, the mountain, have long been a subject of awe and mystery. Mountains can convey the infinite, they can be places for reverie, and inspire our minds with their grandeur.
They are tempting and mysterious, but at the same time dramatic and violent in nature.
How has your practice evolved over the years?
I have been working with lots of different materials and techniques, but quite early, I became more drawn to painting and the possibilities that lie within this medium. And now I can’t see myself doing anything else. I love painting, and how different elements like colours, and shapes – which are rather abstract in their own sense – are making a pictorial space that can trigger our imagination, but also the physical qualities of a painting.
What’s an average day like in your studio?
My days are both creative and administrative, so each day varies depending on what tasks have to be done on a particular day. But usually, I start my day going through my emails, preparing shipments, and preparing content to post on social media. When I am in my studio, I have full focus on my work. I can use different approaches when I am painting. Sometimes my process begins by making a series of drawings on paper. These drawings can be rough sketches of a location, a view, or they can be intuitive sketches – either way, they are an approximation of a specific moment, or of something half-remembered. These sketches are drawn fast, and therefore allow me to maybe ‘discover’ or give new ideas to my paintings because they help me let go. When moving on to the paint this somehow changes. Then it is serious all of a sudden. But still, it is the best feeling. It is challenging. I love to paint because it is not easy.
Other works are more intuitive and solely led by intuitively painted gestures. I still need to prepare myself for this process also, because they are quite energy demanding. For me intuitively is not thoughtless, and I need to be even more focused. Otherwise, it is all a mess.
How do you come up with the titles for your paintings?
A title can have a direct reference to the painting, eg. Yellow Mountain, Pink Sky. I also sometimes use titles that do not necessarily refer to the image at all but can add new meaning to the work. The titles most often are to do with nature, seasons and time.
I also write down some ideas for titles when I come up with something, it can also be something I read or hear, and sometimes I have two references I combine in a new title.
I do not start a painting with a title in mind, though. The painting always comes first, then the title. And when deciding the title, it is just based on a feeling. It somehow feels right.
What/Who are your key influences?
I find inspiration in the Nordic landscapes, but also from other places when I am travelling. It can be the change of seasons, a picnic or a walk in nature. Numerous artists influence me. These change over time, depending on where I am in my own work, but I constantly enjoy discovering new art and artists that somehow resonates with me.
Jeanette Lafontine in the studio
Who are some Rise Art artists with work you’re enjoying at the moment?
Are you currently working on any exciting new projects?
I am currently working on some new compositions for my next paintings, and I have a few ideas I am eager to implement in my work. Painting is a process of constant discovery.