Feb 032008

Jacquelyn L. Berl (also known under the artistic monicker “Ascender“, see more works on her website and blog) is a versatile and prolific artist with a strong drive towards finding an original signature style. She creates art with a seemingly unlimited assortment of media, fusing various schools and trends into a conglomerate body of work. I would categorize her style as gravitating towards the surreal, often with fabulous qualities; it characterizes in various degrees her mixed media works, collages, ink, watercolor and oil paintings. To my mind Berl achieves best results with the more combinative efforts, and while the more traditional artwork exhibits engaging pristine and figurative qualities, it is in the more complex and “dirty” pieces that her creative potential finds a unique outlet.

collage mixed media landscape

Viewing the “Scatterlings (c),” which, according to the artist, “combine actual foliage with watercolor and color pencil mediums” is a rich and magical experience — not surprising considering the “mythical animals and fairies” populating these pieces. In a way it replicates the ritual of reading a fairy tale to a child: each night the infant would ask for another reading of the same story and each time the story would sound different. It is possible to see each scatterling as a meta-illustration of a fairy-tale, existing or not. Perhaps even more radically, each piece is indeed a fairy tale, only of a visual kind. This would make sense considering the arduous process, taking up to a year, of making (“writing”) them.

collage mixed media forest

Technically they may be seen as Pollock‘s logical continuation: he painted while putting the canvas on the floor, letting gravity participate in the process, and Jaqueline similarly alludes to gravity, which forces the leaves and the plants she uses down to earth. Thus she may be proposing an idealized artistic view of the physical world around us, everyday objects being the media and the ground they rest upon the surface. But even without this allegory, her artwork bears a purely visual resemblance to abstract expressionism, all the while retaining the concrete form of the inserted magical characters (visit her blog for close ups) — the result is a fascinating surreal mishmash.

collage mixed media castle

Clever use of perspective, compositional rhythm and color toning, combined with actual flora creates a bewitching effect of three-dimensionality. I cannot decide whether the artist panders to the younger audience by incorporating real objects, seeking to emulate depth with actual depth on the paper, but it certainly appeals to the child in me, evoking an inner smile. I also think that it is this kind of works of art that more than usual encourages children to want to become artists — it could be the appeal of using objects found in nature, something every playful kid does as a matter of fact anyway.

  4 Responses to “Jacquelyn L. Berl: “Scatterlings””

  1. I am speechless. Thank you so much for your kind and generous thoughts and comments on my work. It is fascinating to see what a professional thinks and feels when looking at my work and allows me know that I am on the right journey. Thanks again for taking the time to view and write on my work.

  2. Excellent review, I’m a fan of Ascender’s blog and its good to see her getting this exposure

  3. Ascender’s work is uniformly wonderful. How excellent to see her reviewed here.

  4. Ascender: You are welcome, and it is a pleasure writing about your work. and as a bonus I learned a lot about less traditional art forms.

    Crafty Green Poet: Thank you. You have a cool sounding nickname, feel free to share its meaning with us :).

    AnnieElf: I tend to agree with you, though personally I prefer Ascender’s collages, mixed media and pointillist (which I also plan to review) works. Plus, I wanted to go for the kind of art I haven’t encountered before. To think about it, maybe that explains the preference.

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