Jennifer Duncan

I have always been drawn to nature. Exploring the forest, stream and field life on a summer farm and in my neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, were how I filled my childhood days. I kept plants in my room; watering, trimming and watching. As a teen, I helped run my parent’s small commercial greenhouse. I potted plants and dead-picked leaves… and breathed in deeply. The earthy, humid smells of dirt, moss and plants were comforting and connected me to life.

The natural world has given me many things; inspiration and illness, beauty and burden, order and chaos. Flora and fauna hold mysteries that create opportunities for imagination – things that are real and those invented. Observation of the wilderness around me has taught me patience, the joy of discovery and accorded me an incurable curiosity. This enchantment with nature inspires my work. I walk daily with my dog, taking photos of odd bits of nature and collecting organic materials along the way to bring back to my studio, allowing me to then explore the imagery through process and a variety of materials.

My most recent series, “Magnolia Dream”, incorporates drawing with graphite and painting with watercolor, gouache, oil and wax, in a close up look at the Magnolia - branches, seed pods and flowers that grace my neighbor’s garden and enter my dreams at night.

The “Garden Variety” paintings were created from studies I did in preparation for a diptych commissioned by the INOVA Schar Cancer Center in Fairfax. Each work started as a color saturated, abstracted ground of ink and water-based media. Once the initial layers dried, I began to seek and find the hidden botanical imagery, pushing them forward on the surface with drawing and additional washes of color.

Sometimes inspiration comes at unexpected times, from unintended sources. The small studies in my series “The Space Between” were developed during a period of personal grief. The title for the series relates to the short bursts of creativity I managed between caring for (or caring about) my sister, as she fought a losing battle against late stage cancer last year. It also reflects the painting process I developed during that time. After pouring inks and high flow acrylics in a (mostly) random fashion on paper, I would seek out organic forms in my abstraction, draw them with pen and ink, and then isolate and paint the negative space between with white gesso. The plants I “found” on the painted paper were often those I had researched in Andrew Chevallier’s “Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine.” As family “shaman”, these were the plants I hoped could offer medical benefits.

Come visit me at my home studio, or at the “Artists’ Atelier” studio I share with 9 other artists at 756 Walker Road, Great Falls, VA. Open hours at the Atelier are Wednesdays (12-4pm) and Saturdays (10am-2pm) or whenever an artist is working.

I am now a member of Studio Gallery in Washington, DC.
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