"We were outside of town and no one else was around for miles. We thought we were alone when, out of nowhere, this lady came hiking out of the deeper, harder to hike part of the canyon. She was worn out from her long hike and climbing and hadn’t anticipated the distance. When she came across my husband and I, she asked us for a ride out of the canyon.”
- IMAGE BY JANE SCHELDEN
- FIELD OF DREAMS: Based in Shell Beach, Schelden has been painting for most of her life and mixes her own colors.
This may sound like the opening to a Cormac McCarthy novel, but the actual story is far less ominous. It’s the story of how two artists met—Erin Hanson and Jayne Schelden. Hanson, whose work is often exhibited at Paso Robles’ Studios on the Park, paints lurid scenes of vast landscapes. Up until they met, Schelden had painted landscapes before but rarely with the same bold colors and impressionistic style that Hanson employs. That day in Boy Scout Canyon, right outside of Boulder City, Nev., changed everything.
“I like her art so much,” Schelden told New Times. “I thought, ‘I’m gonna change my own around.’ I loved it so much I decided to use more color in my work.”
That’s precisely what Schelden has done. Her new exhibit, which you can currently see at Linnaea’s Café, contains more than a dozen local landscapes in striking shades. Along the walls of the cafe, you can see Morro Bay cast in a luminous glow of vivid pinks; Hollister Peak set in a whirl of greens, blues, and yellows; and the seaside of Shell Beach composed with a lustrous mix of earthy browns and sharp cerulean. They are familiar scenes, but ones wrought with a unique and emotional intensity.
Schelden lives in Shell Beach, but she frequently takes walks and hikes throughout the many diverse natural settings that SLO County has to offer. She brings a camera with her on the off chance she sees a scene worthy of capture. Sometimes that scene will be one of the Central Coast’s many brilliant sunsets, or it may be a rich juxtaposition of field and sea—the latter of which you can see in Schelden’s paintings like Morro Bay Sunset. There is an embarrassment of picturesque locations in the region, but with Schelden, that doesn’t always equate to a painting. She’s more selective, with a photographer’s eye for compelling compositions.
- IMAGE BY JANE SCHELDEN
- BEFORE SUNSET: Jayne Schelden’s latest exhibit explores local landscapes with vivid colors, as seen in 'Palisades Sunset.'
“I was walking on the beach towards Arroyo Grande,” she said. “I turned around and looked to Pirates’ Cove. I haven’t got a lot from that area. The colors were fantastic. I look so much. Sometimes five minutes makes the difference.”
Ranches, beaches, sun-kissed valleys, azure skies—Schelden covers them all. With light layers of oils, she distills these strong settings with a breezy, impasto style. On the canvas, her wide brushstrokes capture these dynamic scenes with effective gusto. But what really stands out is what inspired this series of paintings in the first place— the color.
Schelden mixes her own colors, which can sometimes range between 30 or more for a single painting. If you look closely at any one of her paintings at Linnaea’s, what appear to be broad blocks of pink, green, or blue are a complex mélange of violets, fuchsia, turquoises, olive, and periwinkle that deepen the intensity of each tree, field, hill, or sea instead of overpowering the canvas. Combined with Schelden’s style, these vibrant colors enhance the emotional impact of her paintings.
On the Central Coast, landscapes can be a little old hat and even edge towards blandness. This is because most try for verisimilitude when nothing can quite match the stunning quality of those landscapes outside of actually being there in person, seeing that sunset or that seascape with the naked eye. Schelden’s work evades this trap. Her paintings are, above all else, a resonant impression entirely her own.
“I want to grow,” she said. “I see so many different things I want to paint, and they are not all exactly the same. It’s not just the location. There are a lot of different ways to paint a tree. That’s part of what’s so exciting. You can take a photograph and paint it a hundred different ways. That’s what makes me excited about painting.”
Jessica Peña mixes her own instant mac and cheese, which is almost the same as mixing her own colors. You can contact her at email@example.com.