The Artist’s Way: Jamie Nares, Multidisciplinary Artist

In this special feature, T photographed and interviewed 34 artists from various disciplines about 24 hours in their creative lives.

Article by M H Miller

Jamie Nares, photographed at her studio in Long Island City, Queens, on October 6, 2021. Photography by Sean Donnola.Jamie Nares, photographed at her studio in Long Island City, Queens, on October 6, 2021. Photography by Sean Donnola.

In 1992, I started making paintings with one brushstroke. It seemed like there was enough going on within a single brushstroke to keep me interested. I wanted it to look blown on, like the pigment used for those hands in cave drawings. It was all about speed, touch, timing. It’s difficult to be precise. When I first started doing these one-brushstroke paintings, if I didn’t like what I’d done, I’d get down on my hands and knees with a can of mineral spirits and a bunch of rags and wipe it off. By the time I’d finished that, I’d lost the kind of muscle memory of what I was trying to do. And it’s very important to the paintings that they be a transference of some accumulation of muscle memories from the body to the brush.

So, I was searching for a way to be able to wipe that slate clean but quickly. And I came up with this method where I prepared the canvas with a surface that was very smooth and tough. And if I don’t like my brushstroke, which is most of the time, I can just squeegee it clean without losing that muscle memory of what my intentions are. The brushstroke itself gets made in a matter of seconds, even if I work on it all day or over a couple of days.

It’s interesting to think about how things have changed since 1992. It sounds almost trite or clever, but I’ve discovered why I create the paintings. Through making them, I’ve not only learned who I am, I’ve learned what’s important to me as an artist. My deepest being is contained within the brushstrokes — in a very unhidden way. It’s all there. Nothing is added or subtracted; it just is what it is, complete with foibles or what have you. I think my trans nature is very much there for all to see. The brushstrokes — they’re strong and delicate at the same time. They’re imprints of my body, transmitted through the hand or wrist, coming from my complete being, body and mind. When I revisit some of the older paintings, it seems like my truer nature is still there for all to see. And it’s something quite pleasing for me to look back on now. It’s like I knew myself better than I thought I did.

This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our seventh edition, Page 76 of T Australia with the headline: “The Artist’s Way”