A Vigilant Artist

CEDAR HILL, TX — An artist is defined as one who works in or is skilled in any of the fine arts: painting, drawing, sculpting, etc., or a person who does anything very well, with imagination and a feeling for form and effect. Art conveys, via an aesthetically satisfying rendition, something valuable — a thought or emotion, a scene, a message — something that moves the heart and soul of the artist. Traditionally, we think of artists working with paints, pencils, pen and ink, charcoal or clay or stone. Yet we speak of musicians, lyricists, dancers and even some authors as artists. Art just seems to pour out of the soul of some more so than others.

For Jacquelyn Moore, former Cedar Hill art teacher, the motivation behind her art has always been a search for eternal truth. “My pursuit of truth has been the single most humbling experience of my life,” Jacquelyn revealed. “I focused my initial artwork on this experience. I created a project to portray my pursuit of truth. Unfortunately, some of those pieces were stolen.” Her pursuit included searching through myths, many religions and their histories, traveling to many countries to do so. After some time, she found herself returning to her roots of faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of Christianity.

Creating a multimedia work of three pieces, she made a lattice with prayer beads surrounding a circle of three colors — blue, red and yellow — which she saw as the Trinity spinning toward her. “I felt God wanted to reveal Himself to me, and I tried to capture the advent of God’s revelation.” Jacquelyn describes her periods of creativity as vigils — a watch, often kept with prayers.

Much of her artwork is born out of periods of deep concern and prayer. Her thesis project for the departments of Religious Studies and Art at University of Montana is called Goshen Revisited and contains eight watercolor paintings. She used only red and green, mixing these colors to create the other colors she needed, forming geometrical squares made up of eight triangles in a particular mathematical sequence. “Some of the pieces have bands and strips of brilliant color (still made of only red and green) to define abstract circles and triangles, some of which form a Star of David,” Jacquelyn explained.

The workings of her mind are as intricate as her designs, thoughts flashing with rapidity, clarity and creativity mimicked in her artwork. As she speaks, explaining her intention and pointing out its fulfillment, the pieces leap to life with a meaning mysteriously held in check until Jacquelyn weaves her tale.

Even though these particular works are rendered in watercolors, they manage to convey texture and depth through tiny, minutely shaded triangles and squares, which in turn shape a three-dimensional theme of astounding precision and vitality — a story come to life. “The final piece has a red background with ‘blue’ circles, like the parting of the Red Sea, with some ‘red tape’ being broken, one with a triangle and a tear drop painted with rich color that grows lighter as though fading,” Jacquelyn explained.

“Throughout the ages most beautiful architecture was created using the golden mean or the golden ratio — a divine proportion encountered when taking ratios of distance or measurement. It is most commonly recognized in a nautilus, a ram’s horn, DNA and the shape of the Milky Way. I have endeavored to follow this golden mean in my artwork,” Jacquelyn remarked. To do so, she meticulously plotted out her measurements using the mathematical formula, which Leonardo Da Vinci used in creating his Vitruvian Man. The formula is j/1=1/j-1, j (phi) equaling 1.618 … or in a more laymen-like formula: a + b is to a as a is to b. “A more modern example of the golden mean are Palladian windows and architecture created by Venetian Andrea Palladio, used by Thomas Jefferson in Monticello and the University of Virginia,” Jacquelyn said.

The result of her use of the golden mean is paintings and other art mediums

of varied rectangular pieces incorporating the perfect curl of a nautilus. This is especially evident in the quilts she has most recently created. “It’s been very arduous trying to achieve a state of perfect communion. These are panels with two sides of a heart overlapping

in the Fibonacci sequence,” explained Jacquelyn. The Fibonacci formula is F(n) = F(n-1) + F(n-2), recognizable to math aficionados.

Over Jacquelyn’s mantel hangs a piece called Hostage, begun when two American soldiers were taken hostage in Kuwait on January 26, 1992. “This piece was birthed from my prayer vigil for their safety and release,” Jacquelyn revealed. “Terry Anderson was released on the very day I took the completed work off my art board.” The painting is of her mother’s iron bedstead, seemingly lost in a garden of baby’s breath and lilies. Jacquelyn submitted one of her three pieces about the first Gulf war to the State Fair of Texas, where the painting, bedecked in yellow ribbons, won honorable mention. “As I worked, I prayed against ill treatment and humiliation. I asked that returning vets from the Gulf would not be subjected to the treatment and stigma Vietnam vets suffered,” she remarked.

Jacquelyn’s first foray into the world of art came when her fifth-grade teacher asked Jacquelyn to draw a child sitting under a tree reading. “I used charcoal, and the drawing became the cover of a magazine for teachers. I liked the quiet, right-brain buzz of the contemplative state I found when thinking and drawing.”

The summer before she began college  in the late ’60s, Jacquelyn took a course on watercolors in Montanna from Robert Artwood of Tennessee. “I learned to create highlights by using mid-tones and shadowing, painting mostly landscapes.” Jacquelyn’s mind is finely tuned to the aesthetic world of beauty and the spiritual arena, something she believes began in the womb. She and her brother, John, are half-identical twins — a very rare thing indeed. “We are called half- identical, because we shared the same placenta. I think John and I are even more closely connected and aware of each other than other twins often are,” Jacquelyn remarked.

Her faith is anchored in her understanding of the Word of God and her vivid visceral experiences portrayed in her art/prayer vigils. Not only has she created paintings and quilts, she has drawn a storybook on black paper, using pastels, and designed stained-glass windows, some with the constellations. Inspired by her brother, recently retired from the Montana National Guard, her latest quilt incorporates the digital camouflage colors of his uniform and an actual uniform of a woman, for whom she has prayed, who serves with a medevac unit, soon to be deployed on her second tour with the Montana National Guard. Truly, her unique artwork captures her intensity of proportion, prayer and passion.

Written by Beverly Shay.