Hollis Jeffcoat has been a professional artist for 35 years. She has studied artists like Glotto, Cezanne and Matisse who taught her structure and along the way she also learned small or large changes could make all the difference in finding what she was looking to create. For Jeffcoat, painting is not about illustrating an idea but finding the essence through experimentation.
"Even if it means losing a painting altogether," she stated. "Better that than leaving something partially realized."
Since returning to Sanibel in 2008, Jeffcoat has expressed her deep love for nature with paintings of the Gulf, sunsets and mangrove islands. She then explored her visions and childhood memories of swimming in the Gulf and presented "Grande Meduse" in 2011 at Watson MacRae Gallery on Sanibel.
Eaux Salees I by Hollis Jeffcoat
"Jeffcoat never settles,said Maureen Watson, owner of Watson MacRae. "Over the years she has continued to push herself to make the best paintings she can never trying to paint what might sell, but being true to her vision and feelings about her subject."
This dedicated artist to whom "painting is like breathing," Jefffcoat underwent major heart surgery last summer that left her unable to get in the studio and paint. Unstoppable, she began using manageable mediums in her work -- colored pencils to watercolors -- and watched her work progress as she recovered.
"It wasn't going to defeat me," said Jeffcoat, who taught herself how to paint with her left hand following a surgery in 2006. "I can look at the earlier paintings and remember physically what was going on at the time."
It is the work she created before the operation, when she was bed ridden and through the months of continuing recovery, that will be on exhibit at Watson MacRae. "Aqua Journey," as it's titled, is a solo exhibit of Jeffcoat's recent work. The mediums, supports and size changed during her recovery, but the imagery remained constant underwater creatures and exploration.
"Whenever a gallery devotes the entire space to one artists, it is a big commitment," said Watson. "And therefore, a statement about the artists' talent, stature and exceptional work. In the three years I've owned the gallery, I've only had three solo exhibits -- Nicolas Carone, Mary Keogh and now Hollis Jeffcoat."
Through Jeffcoat's trial, she went deeper into the creative spirit and gives a look into the process, dedication and heart of an extra-ordinary artists. To be able to paint well is difficult and painting abstractly is even more so.
"Hollis Jeffcoat is an extraordinary abstract painter and I want people to be able to see and feel really good paintings," said Watson. "People try to figure out what an abstract painting is supposed to be. It is a natural thing our brains want to do, but abstract paintings are meant to be felt. I want people to feel what Jeffcoat is expressing."
There will be an opening reception for Aqua Journey from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 14 at Watson MacRae Gallery. In addition, an artist talk with Jeffcoat will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 17 at the gallery, which is expected to full capacity.
"As with most artists," said Watson, "Jeffcoat will speak about her work the technical aspects of creating the paintings and the inspiration. But in this talk she will also speak about making art before, during and after her open-heart surgery how it impacted the creative process, the imagery and how it changed the way she paints."
Jeffcoat said it has truly been a journey creating this solo exhibit. "I feel like I have a new lease on life. My heart is fixed and I have more energy day by day and can do all kinds of things."