Guest artist for November – Yaeli Ohana
Should You only Paint for Yourself?
By Margaret Vickers
It was a homecoming of sorts when guest abstract artist Yaeli Ohana did a presentation of her work for the November meeting (2022) of the Lane Cove Art Society. She had grown up in the area. Today with more than twenty years as an artist/educator Yaeli’s passion for abstract mark making continues. She received a Bachelor of Design and Visual Communication at the University of Technology in 1995. A Master in Fine Arts in painting was obtained at the Pratt Institute in New York in 2002. She has exhibited internationally for over twenty-five years. Today she is an arts/educator spreading her passion for creative mark making and has taught at the NSW Art Gallery, the Willoughby arts centre and the Brett Whiteley studio to name but a few establishments.
In her powerpoint presentation Yaeli commented that it was the work of Hieronymous Bosch (1450-1516), a Dutch painter from Brabant that really “grabbed her.” His artwork especially Garden of Earthly Delights in the Museo del Prado mesmerized her. Did these early art experiences surface later in her career path?
Yaeli’s own abstract marks result from a mixed media approach using acrylics, watercolours, archival pens and sometimes earth pigments. She loves to create “deep space” and is inspired to create the moods of the landscape. The horizon beckons her because for Yaeli it is a place where the imagination is free. It may in part account for the body of work titled Postcards to the Sea which saw the creation of 450 postcard artworks. They depicted a smorgasboard of images that oscillated between the macro and micro views of the world. As a result, images of distant horizons juxtaposed the rich, inner world of rockpools. Scale was being manipulated to underpin Yaeli’s response to the ocean.
It was fascinating to hear that acrylics became her preferred painting material when she was in New York. Oils took too long to dry in a cold winter! Yaeli is a pragmatic artist.
Poetry and text surface in her artwork as it adds not only a visual richness but also a mental layer of meaning. Yaeli remarked, “words can evoke moods. The more personal you make the work the stronger it is. Only paint for yourself.”
The theme of Love was centre stage in another body of her work as she is drawn to stories about love and it may have been triggered when she viewed early in her career the artwork of Hieronymous Bosch. Flowers were the focus of another body of art. They were embedded in abstract watercolour layers. The image of the flowers were created using pencil, brown and black pens.
Mistakes can be your friend in the creative process. When Yaeli mopped up some spilt ink with Japanese rice paper she was impressed with the abstract marks that were made on the paper! This is a technique that is now embedded in Yaeli’s mixed media repertoire. She put ink on plexiglass (a hard plastic) and laid a canvas over the top, in effect producing underlayers of monoprints thus enriching the visual marks in the finished work.
Exploring a sense of place trying to capture the mood of what lies in the inner and outer watershed of environments is the driver of Yaeli’s creative marks. Maybe as artists we too could achieve a richer visual if our art aimed to capture a deeper and more personal authentic mark. Thank you Yaeli for allowing us, the Lane Cove Art Society to share in your unique abstract art journey.