As I’ve peered intently at nuanced color and movement in quiet, remote corners of our Hamilton landscape and other places along the northeastern corridor, passers-by have peered curiously at me and my canvases. Though a good bit of my practice is studio based and more abstract, my activity outside (en plein-air) is more traditional and a somewhat public event, inviting an approach from anyone nearby. This has been the case at unfamiliar, rocky shorelines as well as the soft, silted pathways along the Abbott Marshlands which I visit frequently because it offers complexity through rapidly changing water levels and textures, and proximity to home.
I am approached by people of all ages, individuals and groups, walkers, and drivers. We meet on pathways in the woods in the summer, by the marsh in snow and ice. Ranging from the quick thumbs up through a car window to longer conversations by the easel, we speak about appreciation for the scenery and personal connections to it.
Social media has offered yet another means of connection, usually a string of likes of a photo of me at the easel, with the painting against the view that informed it. Occasionally, that is initiated by someone asking permission to post a photo that they took of me working; through it, I can’t help feeling that we’ve become part of an ethereal thread linking my work through communities, marking a moment when the image belongs to everyone who has seen it during creation.
My compositions are often reconfigurations of what I see rather than a portrait of place. And yet, it’s become clear to me that these landscape paintings offer others a connection to something familiar and often serene, evocative of personal experience and interest. The conversations that I’ve had with architects, botanists, educators, conservationists, artists, curators, and collectors revolve around how they see their own passions reflected though my work. That adjacency has been rewarding on a personal and professional level, ultimately connecting me to a wider world than I ever expected.
Léni Paquet-Morante is a full-time painter and sculptor within the Johnson Atelier Studio Program, Hamilton, NJ. Her work focuses on shallow water systems from puddles and tidal fields to potholes and storm drains. She has lived in the Trenton area since 1984. Her work is in public and private collections internationally. Instagram @lenimakespaintings. Website www.lenimorante.com. Studio is open by appointment: cell 609-610-3631
Next exhibition of plein-air work is at Berkshire-Hathaway, 253 Nassau Street, Princeton. Mid Feb-April 2023. Reception TBA (see Events page on website for updates).
Currently in 2022 NJ Arts Annual at New Jersey State Museum, Trenton and 2023 NJ Arts Annual at Noyes Museum at Stockton University, Hammonton, NJ.
Written for Friends of the Abbott Marshlands. ©2023 Léni Paquet-Morante. Publish only with permission from the artist/writer.