Artist enlivens care centre with nature scenes
Paul Jelley started career in newspaper graphics
By: Scott Hayes
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 09, 2013 06:00 am
There’s nothing that can stop Paul Jelley’s love of painting gorgeous and grand nature scenes, not even a heart attack.
In fact, three heart attacks and some mobility issues can’t keep him from his palette and his canvases and the immense fields of his creativity.
“I’ve always painted ever since I was a kid,” he said. “Since Grade 8, I’ve been interested in what you would call old master painting. I learned that mainly through an exhaustive study of art history. I’ve been studying for quite a few years.”
It shows. The 60-year-old former graphics specialist with the Edmonton Journal is now a resident of the Citadel Care Centre. While receiving health care in the assisted living ward, he’s filled the walls of the hallways with his numerous works, mostly gorgeous renderings of nature scenes from across North America.
If you’ve never seen Koyukuk River in Alaska or Katherine Lake in the Yukon or the mountains of Montana then Jelley has you covered.
“I choose my subject matter mainly because … I’m like most people. I find nature very appealing to look at. It’s got a universal appeal. Everybody likes the mountains, the national parks … it’s the immensity of nature,” he said.
His naturalistic style was influenced by the Hudson River School of American landscape painters. This allows him to take each realistic image’s highly saturated warm and bright colours and add a romanticist’s sensibility. Each piece is so polished and precise that it looks as if it was done with an airbrush.
“I took lessons from two Italian guys – a man called Morello and his brother – that did restorations of old master paintings. I learned more from them in a few days than I would at any art school.”
The painting has been keeping his hands, his head and his heart busy during his convalescence. He hopes to be out and living independently again within the year. Each painting represents about a month’s worth of work and there are about 20 paintings on display with more on the go all the time.
If the nature scenes don’t appeal to any of the other people receiving care or their visitors, they certainly would appreciate the Matisse-inspired Lady in Purple or Jelley’s rendition of a Russian folk tale or the ancient Greek and Roman scenes such as Christ and the Women of Samaria.
“Those Russian fairy tales … most people like them but some people think they’re kind of weird,” he laughs.
Take one look at his view of Catopaxi, a volcano in the Andes mountains, and you’ll understand Jelley’s comment about the immensity of nature and its universal appeal.
This one scene shows the mountains, several waterfalls, and a “perpetual rainbow” – in the artist’s words – the visual effect resulting from the constant spray off the waterfalls. It’s a jubilant sight not just because of the subject matter but also because of those rich colours.
“I think colour should be joyous,” Jelley says. “There’s a lot of sadness and tragedy in life, but I find art can be therapeutic for people to look at. For me, painting brings me a lot of joy and happiness. It’s a nice antidote to some of the things that one might be going through.”