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Studio Visit With Artist, Loralee Jade

Studio Visit With Artist, Loralee Jade

This week on the journal we visit artist Loralee Jade. Currently residing on the North West coast of Tasmania. Here we talk about her creative practice, painting, artistic influences and daily life. 

Where are you originally from and where are you residing currently?
I’m actually living in the house I grew up in at the moment which is in Turners Beach on the North West coast of Tasmania.   
Do you have a morning / evening routine?
I used to be very disciplined and have a full routine of meditation and yoga in the mornings but now my approach is much simpler just a coffee on the couch with my partner and our puppy Babaganoush. Our evenings are much the same, cuddles and herbal tea on the couch to end the day.
What is a normal day like for you?
I wake around 7, have coffee and cuddle on the couch. I don’t have a particular order to my day, it's more dependent on how I’m feeling. I aim to work in the studio for at least 4 hours - sometimes it’s longer, sometimes I’m just not feeling it so I don’t push it. I take Babaganoush to the beach for a run, hit the gym or do yoga. Somewhere in there, I find some time to cook dinner for my partner and I. We’re currently obsessed with Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook.
Can you tell us about your space, do you have a favourite area(s) within it?
I currently live in my childhood home. It’s a really old house so it’s got super high ceilings and huge amounts of space. There are so many memories in the fabric of this home which has been really interesting to explore as an adult.
My studio is in my house, which is actually my childhood bedroom, which I love! I have an armchair by the window that gets the mid morning sun that I love to flick through art books and ponder my paintings in. I spend a lot of my time just sitting with Baba and watching the light move across the paintings.
What is your approach to your home space?
It’s really important for me to feel at ease in my home, I get overstimulated easily so I like to have a minimalist approach to my home space. Light open space, a neutral earthy colour palette, natural materials, lots of plants and multiple nooks to laze and snack in.
How do you like to spend your downtime?
Besides painting, reading is my favourite way to spend an afternoon. Getting lost in a novel is one of my most favourite feelings. I also think it helps mental health, to get outside of your own life for a while. I’m currently reading the Neapolitan Novel series by Elena Ferrante and they’re mind blowing. They talk about friendship in a way that both sparks joy and breaks your heart all at once. 
Do you have a favourite object / piece of furniture; is there a story behind it?
My favourite piece in my home is a painting by Giorgia Bel titled ‘With you I would go’. It’s a tenderly painted landscape with dusty tones of orange and mauve. Giorgia’s thin layers of paint make that wild and raw energy of a landscape feel simple, at ease and effortless. I don’t feel like I’ve landed in a place until I’ve hung this work.
What was your journey to becoming an artist, do you have an early memory of what sparked this?
I’m one of 4 kids, we didn’t have a lot when I was young so my mum had to be very resourceful. She’d always be making something for us kids or the house, painting and decorating our rooms to our chosen themes, making boxes for us to paint, sewing our clothes. I think watching her make the things she wanted instead of looking externally ingrained in me that it was possible with the right skills to build anything you wanted. Art making has always been a way for me to not only express myself but to explore different parts of who I am. 
How do you like to spark creativity?
It sounds so cliche but it always comes down to a feeling. Whether it’s music, literature, a conversation or nature if there’s a strong feeling aroused in me then I’ll get the urge to paint it. If I’m feeling stuck creatively I listen to music I’ve not heard before, something lyrically moving always gets me going.
How do you like to practice self-care?
My answer to this changes so often. I struggle with my mental health a lot. I used to be so disciplined and have all these steps and tools to help myself but they started to feel very limiting and no longer worked for me. Now I take everything slowly. I get out of bed when I want to, I eat only when it feels good for me, I let myself change my mind, I listen to my body and let myself be slow. Long baths and walks on the beach, cuddles with my puppy, remembering to breathe into my belly, drinking water. My self care is very simple and no fuss these days.
How do you like to unwind before bed?
I think this might be my favourite time of day, a sense of satisfaction for the day and not needing to be anywhere else but home. Reading in bed with my partner then listening to a guided meditation to fall to sleep is by far my favourite way to unwind. 
Do you have a favourite go-to recipe?
Absolutely! I love cooking, at the moment it would be roasted whole cauliflower with green parsley tahini sauce from Ottolenghi's simple cookbook.
When you are feeling flat, what’s something that brings you back to yourself?
Moving my body. Depending on the situation it could look like simply shaking my arms and legs, a walk outside, making a huge painting, yoga or a full gym session. Changing the focus from my mind to my body is the greatest tool I’ve learned.
Who are your biggest artistic influences?
There are so many but at the moment I’d say Helen Frankenthaler, Maja Ruznic, Amber Wallis, Adam Lee, Alice Neave and Loren Ardrich.
Can you tell us about your favourite medium?
Up until a few months ago I’d say oil paint hands down. However, I’ve started painting on silk with watered down acrylic and it’s such a magical experience. The silk requires an immediacy that I wasn’t achieving in my oil paintings. The stain of the fabric is mesmerising and fast which forces you to stay in your body and react to its fluidity rather than step back and into an analytical state. I’m really enjoying the rawness of these works.
Do you have a favourite time of day to paint?
Mid morning to early afternoon, when the sun hits my studio and I’ve felt into the day with multiple cups of tea and art books. I also like to know that I have time to really get into it, if I’ve got a limited amount of time to paint I find that I can’t get lost in the process which is where the magic is.
How would you describe your practice? 
My art practice is driven by the yearning to expand and hold open a single thought, impulse or feeling. I’m driven by the yearning to temporarily stop the momentum of time to spend time with and celebrate the parts of myself that I do not understand or are afraid to confront. To touch them gently even just for a little while. It’s a practice of self acceptance and a documentation of my life.
How is your art informed by your environment?
My art is completely informed by my environment. I don’t plan paintings or even have an idea of what they might say. I use the process of making to determine what needs to happen. Whatever is happening in my space, physically, emotionally or spiritually all come through into the work. A change in my environment inevitably informs my practice.
How do you like to explore nature in your practice? 
Living here in Tasmania I’m surrounded by nature, with paddocks and creeks surrounding my house and still being just a short walk from the beach the natural world is my reality.
I don’t consciously explore nature in my practice but as I was saying about my environments leaking into my work, I think the materials and colours that I use bring a natural element in. I use raw linens, calico and silk with deep blues, greens, earthy browns, ochres and hints of mauve and sienna.
I’ve tried to not put my work in boxes, and label it as landscape or portrait however, more recently the works are depicting bodies of water, land mass and shorelines, the places where environments come together. Like the edge of a mountain and a river or the river meeting the ocean.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I have a few bodies of work happening at once. I’m working on a large series of silk paintings for a duo show with Adam Leng at Hake House Gallery in Sydney opening in October. And a collection of smaller works for Brisbanes, Gallery Raye later this year. 
Photography captured by Sandy PowellLoralee Jade.
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