Artist Spotlight: Jivan Lee

Standing Tree, 36" x 48", 2012
"Being an artist who lives to paint this world and its natural environment leaves me with profound gratitude towards all that inspires my work. As such, in addition to choosing the highest quality materials, wherever possible I also prefer those that are socially responsible and environmentally friendly." ~Jivan Lee

New Mexico based painter and instructor, Jivan Lee, builds his sculptural paintings with the best of tools and paint, keeping his mind open to what the subject matter has to say rather than what his intellect might say.  And, his process, art, and career have flourished.  

Since 2007, Jivan Lee took to painting full time.  After college at Bard and graduate school in environmental policy, Jivan found that painting had stolen his heart, and he blended his appreciation for sustainable, environmentally friendly materials with his love of the natural world.  In his outdoor studio now, Jivan captures the world with intense color, bold brushwork and a tangible presence to his work. His earlier work was "neater", he explains, "but everything changed when I move to Taos, NM."  It was a dream, and the work of painter, Louisa Mcelwain that brought him to using such strong brush and palette knife work.  For a time, Jivan wasn't even using brushes, but he is working now with a combination of knives and brushes.  Artist Lynn Boggess, another palette knife painter, exposed Jivan to the concept of sculpting on the canvas; "work that looks like reality from a distance, but up close it is just the color on the canvas," he explains.  It is this sculptural meeting between heavy bodied paint and nature that Jivan is known for now.  
Around the Bend, 24" x 30", 2011, Featured in Plein Air Magazine

In his work, oils have taken a precedence over any other paint, primarily because they are so basic and natural in themselves.  The walnut oil paint that Jivan uses is like putting "dirt on the canvas" he jokes, but there is some truth to that.  Getting down to the earth's vantage point is where he wants to be.  Jivan likes to connect with the world or person, set aside what he thinks he knows about something and see what is there to find, more than just observing the subject.  It is this perspective that takes Jivan to places other artists can't climb.  He finds what feels good to paint and just does it, setting aside the thinking for a time so that the devotion to the subject and it's intent comes across in paint.

Morning Daisies, 20"x 24", 2011
In his pursuit of natural materials, Jivan also uses natural bristle brushes for laying in large color mass.  However, synthetics hold up to the quick approach he takes, keeping their shape and retaining suppleness longer than natrual hair.  With such fast alla prima work, brushes need to be able to sit in a paint for a time, sit in the sun for a bit, and keep their resilience when washed or pounded on the canvas.  Synthetics are also easier on the animal environment and can last longer than bristle if cared for well. 

Besides the full time work of plein air that keeps Jivan in the NM environment, he is adjunct faculty at the University of New Mexico.  To see more of Jivan's work and gallery shows, log on to his website: or follow him on Twitter:  @JivanLeeFineArt

Keep Painting,

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.