Throughout human existence, a myriad of people have delved into the rich and enigmatic depths that form the creative medium that is visual art. The vast fluidity and boundless possibilities within this medium welcomes those with the intrinsic wonder to search deeper. Through music, meditation, dance and ceremony, Australian artist – Jewels Stevens – channels the inner depths to create visually luxurious and intoxicating paintings.
Jewels’ love affair with oil paint began when she was twelve years old, after discovering a book in the school library on the Australian surrealist painter, James Gleeson. “His art was my first real inspiration to use oil paint. Besides that, it was most likely the finger painting I did in pre-school that really started my affinity with the viscous nature of this delicious medium.” Now thirty-six years old, Jewels' creative practice continues to evolve.
Through her paintings, Jewels creates a visual discourse that speaks of her exploration in this world, both internally and externally. Her artworks blend intensely rich and vibrant colour with an atmospheric composition that expresses each piece’s unique emotion. “Each painting taps into a different story, song, place or mindscape. Quite often it’s the story of what’s been happening in my life, it unconsciously seems to sneak in via this abstract language.”
Jewels’ approach to her artistic process is both structured and spontaneous. “Sometimes I attack the canvas allowing a spontaneous, energetic flow to emerge and other times I work from drawings or images I’ve found for inspiration. I’m highly driven by colour.” She allows her intuition to lead her, which opens a channel for the creative energy to flow.
After completing a visual arts degree, Jewels studied graphic and fashion design and worked as a graphic designer for a year before deciding to go back to painting. “I wanted more creative freedom and the beautiful immediacy of playing with paint, so I decided to go back to my roots and give a painting career a good crack.”
Taking a break between her career change, Jewels decided to travel the world for inspiration. “All I did on my travels was visit gallery after gallery. The Louvre, The Tate, Pompidou, MOMA… and it was the paintings that really spoke to me. I felt a primal urge that this is what I needed to be doing.”
Jewels has been actively dedicated to her craft and has been exhibiting her work in Australia and internationally for the past decade. She is currently represented by Jacob Hoerner Galleries in Melbourne, who have shown her work for the past eight years. Her paintings were exhibited at the Singapore Art Fair last year with Jacob Hoerner Galleries, and her stunning artworks have been shown in Iceland and the USA, where she has had studio residencies.
After residing in Melbourne for fifteen years, Jewels made the transition to Northern New South Wales earlier this year, in search of a more sustainable way of life. “I try to live consciously and sustainably on this planet. My move out of the city was a way to live in alignment with my beliefs- which include being sustainably conscious.”
Living in the sub-tropical rainforest without phone reception has given the artist the space for her creative essence to flow and manifest. Jewels is inspired and nourished by the visual beauty of where she lives and strives to apply sustainable practices to all areas of her painting process. “I try to be conscious about the paints that I use- where the pigments come from, what they are made of and their impact on the environment and whether it is a sustainable material.” She makes much of her own paint and only uses canvases that are constructed from sustainable plantation timber.
Vibrant colour and organic formations within nature stimulate Jewels’ motivation for painting, and through these phenomena, the artist translates her visions of this world. “I want to express the poetry of the world, the abstraction of it’s sublime creations- like music and dance and other realms of consciousness.”
With her love for bright colours, especially neon pink, the artist’s eclectic personal style and radical self-expression expresses her deep passion for creativity. “I think my style just naturally becomes an extension of my art. People often tell me that I look like I’ve just stepped out of one of my paintings.”
Always striving to broaden her knowledge and develop her artistic skills, Jewels is currently undertaking a course to learn the painting techniques of the great masters, such as egg tempera- a painting medium that consists of coloured pigments, resin, solvents and egg yolk. “Hopefully with these new levels of skills I’ll bring more dimension and light awareness into my work. I want to create bigger, bolder and brighter paintings.”
For Jewels, painting is a way of life and her love for the craft drives her to further succeed in her chosen career path. In a society where making a living from art is a challenging profession, Jewels continues to expand her creative dimensions. “It’s hard in this society to trust that you can make a living from art, but I think with the right amount of passion and faith in oneself, anyone can do it.”