Jeannette Hayes has been the President of the Pastel Society since 2016. She was born in Sweden 1962 and studied Foundation Studies at the Royal Berkshire College of Art before gaining a degree in fine art/ painting at Kingston University 1982-85. As well as being a member of the Pastel Society, Jeannette is also a member of the Chelsea Art Society.
“When I was seven and living in Spain, I temporarily lost my hearing. It took several months for my hearing to return, during which time I found great solace in being creative. As well as painting and drawing, I was encouraged at school to make puppets. Being creative became a form of communication and it was no surprise to my parents that after A levels, I enrolled at the Royal Berkshire College of Art and Design and subsequently Kingston University.
“My work then and for many years after was representational & figurative, but the lure of the abstract grew ever stronger as the new millennium approached. A trip to Morrocco with friends in December 2002 proved a real turning point: the bright sunshine and vivid colours of North Africa inspired me to embrace a much more vivid palette in my work & as such marked a new departure.
My work post-2002 features a much brighter and wider palette than was the case in previous years, although there were some emotionally dark days in the decade to 2010 when a more sombre palette prevailed. The decade to 2020 was marked by an ever deeper exploration of the abstract as I travelled throughout Europe and the UK. Of particular note were trips to Portugal, Greece, Scotland & Cornwall.
Sometimes one doesn’t need to go abroad to experience a different culture! When I am not away from home, the Oxfordshire light & the view from my studio in the Vale of the White Horse are a constant inspiration.
Although I have worked with oil all my artistic life, I find it isn’t easy to use without making a mess (oil painting, especially while listening to music, is something I have always really enjoyed. I have been known to literally throw myself at large canvases…), so there were a few years after graduation when I was restricted to working in water colour, pastels and charcoal before I had access to my own studio space, after which I could make as much mess as I liked.
I have always loved the immediacy of working with pure pigment and soft pastels in particular: layering, smudging, moving. There’s a physicality to working with any medium, but because pastels can be applied directly to paper without the intermediary of a brush, gesture becomes colour, easel becomes floor. Some of my best work has literally been done lying down, my eyes tracking the pastel’s journey as it leaves its trail across a sheet of 400gsm A2.
I suspect the way I see the world was greatly affected by not being able to hear anything when I was small. Friends sometimes have to see my work from a distance to see what I can see from only a few inches away.Jeann