Archived Story

A realistic view: only better

Published 10:19pm Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jacqueline Gnott, of South Bend, Ind., loves florals and could paint them every day.
“I replicate nature in its beauty—flowers, butterflies and develop these forms in full brilliant color,” Gnott said. “It’s obsessive-compulsive, very tight realism; I hone in and get every single detail of a leaf, a teacup.
“As far as technique, I work so carefully, so methodically, and I have planned everything out in advance in my head, step by step, using glazes. You see, I’m still too chicken to do it all in one layer. Everything is completely drawn out before I start. It’s already programmed into my brain how I’m going to do it. I’ve been doing it so long it’s become second nature. I can do a small watercolor in eight to 10 hours using a hair dryer to dry it between glazes; a full size painting 22-by-30 inches will take months.”
Gnott paints for a living and has a studio at the home she shares with her two black German shephards, Briar and Thorn.
“We get up and go to the park. Some days we take field trips and go to the beach. The goal is to tire them out enough so I can paint. Then we come home, and I paint.”
Gnott was born and raised in South Bend and graduated from Riley High School where she studied under local art legend Todd Hoover. “He was really cool, pushed the students, and his classes won more Scholastic Gold Key awards than other high school in the area,” said Gnott, who works to expand her artistic vision.
“I was painting stuff from my mother’s kitchen, the things I grew up with: tea-cups, canning things, doilies. Lately I’ve tried to do more fall wildflowers, like cattails from photographs that I take on my daily walks with the boys (dogs) at St. Patrick’s County Park, Potato Creek State Park, Warren Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.”
And Gnott has started to work in oil.
“I just needed a new challenge,” she said. “I had always thought about oils, but it was out of my comfort zone. Last winter, I thought it was a sign when I received some gift certificates for art supplies.”
She ordered oils and dove in.
“I still paint from light to dark, and use glazes, just like I do with watercolor,” she said. The drying time is slower and more frustrating so she plugs in a little ceramic heater, and dries the paint overnight.
“I’ve come to know that there is a place in the world for everyone. I feel very blessed that I can do what I do and that people love and buy my work. I love what I do and I am content.”
See Gnott’s work at  jacquelinegnott.blogspot.com.  Gnott will be featured for the Mother’s Day brunch at Fernwood Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve in Niles in May 2012.
After graduation, she went to IUSB (Indiana University South Bend) like so many other local kids, and studied drawing and printmaking under Alan Larkin, and watercolor with Harold Zisla. “Alan really taught me how to draw realistically in great detail. I tried printmaking but it was so complicated. I really preferred the simplicity of pigment, water, and brush.” Gnott graduated with a BA in fine art.
No one was teaching such meticulous rendering in watercolor locally—or doing it—in favor of a painterly, contemporary style. Gnott developed a tight, near photorealistic style. She had come across the intense ultra-meticulous watercolor still-lifes of artist John Stuart Ingel (Evansville, 1933)—often referred to as magic realism—in his book, The Eye and the Heart: Watercolors of John Stuart Ingle (Rizzoli International, 1988). “I was completely taken by those fantastic, lush still lifes—he was wonderful,” Gnott said. Sadly, Ingel, who referred to his own style as meticulous realism, passed away at the end of 2010.
At IUSB Gnott participated in a consortium program with IVY Tech, and did freelance advertising after graduation. When computers came in, she decided to do fine art exclusively; her first show was 25 years ago at the Colfax Cultural Center in South Bend Indiana. “I did the Leeper Park and Krasl art fairs for many years. It’s tough out there now.”
“When the internet came along I realized I didn’t have to deal with galleries, and art fairs became physically difficult. Now I have a blog; I do some commission work. I am a member of the web groups Daily Painters and Daily Paint Works where I sell my work.”
Asked about how she sees her style, Gnott said, “I love florals and could paint them every day.She knows she has to be ever expanding her horizons. “I was painting stuff from my mother’s kitchen, the things I grew up with: tea-cups, canning things, doilies. Lately I’ve tried to do more fall wild flowers, like cattails from photographs that I take on my daily walks with the boys at St. Patrick’s County Park, Potato Creek State Park, Warren Dunes State Park, and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.”
And Gnott has started to work in oil. “I just needed a new challenge. I had always thought about oils, but it was out of my comfort zone. Last winter I thought it was a sign when I received some gift certificates for art supplies.” She ordered oils and dove in. “I still paint from light to dark, and use glazes, just like I do with watercolor,” she said. The drying time is slower and more frustrating so she plugs in a little ceramic heater, and dries the paint overnight.
“I’ve come to know that there is a place in the world for everyone. I feel very blessed that I can do what I do and that people love and buy my work. I love what I do and I am content.”
You can see her work at jacquelinegnott.blogspot.com. Gnott will also be featured for the Mother’s Day brunch at Fernwood Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve in Niles, Michigan in May 2012.

Kathee Kiesselbach enjoys hearing from people about this column and you can reach her at katheek@comcast.net.

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