The Artful Collector: Where Are They Now? Spotlight on “Jael”

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Jael "Lennon Spex" Amazing Stories magazine interior, July 1992 (story by Paul di Fillippo). Oil on canvas, 20" x 16" You know the saying “Fortune favors the prepared mind””?  Well, Jael was teaching art at Clarke University in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1982 – pursuing portraiture, publishing and private commissions on the side –  when a chance meeting with SF authors C.J. Cherryh, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle at a symposium devoted to theoretical alien encounters (“Contact”) in Santa Cruz, CA persuaded her to move to the East coast to pursue a career in science fiction book illustration. Good call!

Optimistic, outgoing and dedicated, Jael was one of the few women who succeeded in that decade of expansion, as well into the next  . . . completing several hundred cover illustrations, and private commissions.  She was so versatile, she got jobs in the romance, mystery and young adult market as well as continuing to produce covers and interiors in the fantasy genre. Publishers were looking for artists who could depict characters (alien or human). . . realistically. She also worked equally well in pen-and-ink, and oil or acrylic for color paintings

Jael "Thomas and the Wise Men" Amazing Stories interior, Sept. 1991 (story by Kathryn Rusch) Oil on canvas, 14" x 10"
Jael “Thomas and the Wise Men” Amazing Stories interior, Sept. 1991 (story by Kathryn Rusch) Oil on canvas, 14″ x 10″

PLUS, Jael brought her own sense of style – fantasy and science fiction with an appealing innocence – that was well suited to depicting “lighter fare” as well as otherwise potentially grim subject matter.  Thirty years later, Jael is still drawing and painting in the SF field, and still remains a rarity: a female illustrative artist in a genre historically dominated by men.

She was always a ‘romantic’ however, and you can see that in one of her earlier assignments –  a project which involved the participation of a dozen artists – each of them charged with the job of creating a painting for a Piers Anthony calendar featuring “Rapunzel”.

Jael "Rapunzel" Xanth Calendar, "January" 1991 Acrylic, 24" x 19"
Jael “Rapunzel” Xanth Calendar, “January” 1991 Acrylic, 24″ x 19″

The artists had free rein to come up with whatever depiction suited their artistic styles and sensibilities, and Jael – no surprise – came up with an interpretation that was perfectly her own, softly mystical and beautiful!

Then came the big squeeze” starting in the mid 1990s.  Unwilling to turn “digital” and not really interested in the game industry, Jael ended up with extensive assignments for series of YA and children’s book covers, such as Strange Unsolved Mysteries for Tor, and the Masterworks Series of illustrated children’s classics for Barnes and Noble – which required interior and cover art.  She also returned to teaching, 1990-2002, in creative fine art and became a very popular participant in invitational and juried gallery and museum exhibits and science fiction conventions.

Jael "Dii Penates" 2001 Personal work, oil on board, 28" x 24"
Jael “Dii Penates” 2001 Personal work, oil on board, 28″ x 24″

It was during the late 1990s that Jael started turning more and more to expressing herself through personal works – and a style of painting that she only rarely expressed a decade earlier.  Far removed stylistically from her commercial work, these paintings combined figurative themes within an abstract framework, a style which she called “perceptualistic”  – inspired by a quote by William Blake, “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is: infinite. (from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell).

Far removed stylistically from her commercial work Her more realistic illustrative works, leavened by rich coloration and romanticism started to give way to paintings that were softly mystical.

Jael "Impro" personal work c. 2000 pastels 18" x 26"
Jael “Impro” personal work c. 2000 pastels 18″ x 26″

All the paintings Jael created for her “Perceptualistics series were intriguing, quirky, provocative, but all of them were amazingly unlike anything Jael had done before.

Varying in medium (oils to pastels) and complexity of concept,Several of her more “fine art” creations were featured in her compendium book of her life and art “Perceptualistics” (2002) which provided the first opportunity for many of her fans to see her new symbolist – surreal personal works. I’ve chosen a couple of them to show here: Dii Penates and Impro.  Her work has also been featured in The Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction And Fantasy Art Techniques (1996), Spectrum #3, 4, 8 (1996-2001), The Paper Tiger Fantasy Art Gallery (2002), and the Frank Collection Vols. 1, 2 (1999, 2003).

And whenever she was  invited to be “Artist Guest of Honor” – such as for BayCon in 2004, or LepreCon 33, in 2007 – she took the opportunity to create, and display these new-styled paintings “for the occasion.”

Jael "Requite" LepreCon
Jael “Requite” LepreConand disolay these new paintings, for the occasion .

Always mindful of her audience, in works she created specifically for display and potential sale at SF conventions, Jael often would mix more representational elements with abstraction, in such fashion never losing the appreciation of those who loved her strictly illustrative works.
In recent years, since moving to Florida, Jael has been turning to private commissions, including portraits, more specialized commercial projects and – as always – is still teaching.

Jael "Dii Penates" 2001 Personal work, oil on board, 28" x 24"
Jael “Dii Penates” 2001 Personal work, oil on board, 28″ x 24″

She has been busy completing a variety of commissions, ranging from those for Volume 1 of the Fantasy Art Book Series “Lands and Legends”, from Michael Publishing Company, the private venture of Malcolm Phifer that has involved around 140 illustrators of all kinds. . . to a commission for the owner of a Mercedes Benz dealership.  As she says, “Pretty cool stuff, eh?” And yes, she is always open for commissions!  🙂

Jael "Lovely Eve" Private commission, Jane & Howard Frank for their grandaughter, age 4-5
Jael “Lovely Eve” Private commission, Jane & Howard Frank for their grandaughter, age 4-5

In addition, Jael is still teaching one day a week, “because I love sharing.”  She is comfortable in teaching to all ages, but is particularly proud of her recent students, “adult, all doing their own thing, utilizing their own favorite medium, with me guiding each through their journey of exploration and techniques – We’ve had five years of exhibits (and) their work has become absolutely amazing!”

Her official “showcase” is open for viewing at www.Jael.net.

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