Jane MacNeill is an award-winning artist living and working near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. She was born in 1971 in Aberdeen, and grew up in Aviemore. She studied at Edinburgh College of Art and graduated in 1998 with a First Class BA(Hons) degree in Drawing and Painting and a postgraduate MFA (Master of Fine Art). Her work can be found in the public collections of the Wakefield Gallery, The Royal Scottish Academy and Edinburgh College of Art, and in many private collections worldwide. Awards include the Richard Ford Scholarship for travel to Madrid, awarded by the Royal Academy, and the James Cumming Award for Draughtsmanship, awarded by the Royal Scottish Academy.
“I was brought up just outside Aviemore in what is now the Cairngorms National Park, where walks in the mountains and forests had a profound influence on my outlook on the world. I have lived in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and spent time in Madrid and in Orkney. I now live and work on Culloden Moor in the Scottish Highlands, near Inverness.
As an artist, I am motivated by the calm and quiet moments of being in the landscape. It is a process that feeds itself, as the act of drawing often takes me to wild and lonely places where I sit for long enough to become still and focussed. It is a kind of meditation. I draw and sketch using pastels, watercolours, inks, acrylic paint, whatever seems appropriate at the time. I take my drawings and photographs home to my studio, where I aim to develop oil paintings from the information I have gathered. I work on wood supports since rubbing, scumbling and sanding are a regular part of my process, as well as the laying on of many layers of paint.
When painting I am constantly on the lookout for ways to simplify the image in front of me, to distill, to filter out the details and reduce the elements to what I consider to be most important. I want to use less information to say more, whilst hopefully striking a balance between recognisable things and a certain simplicity of form. The sense of peace I look for is there for the asking when drawing outside, or painting in my studio, when the thing I am looking for is revealed through focus and hard work. That thing is the moment when the mind becomes empty because it is full of the mountain, or the tree, or the bird. To look outwards into the face of a mountain, to feel that distance, and to be aware of space and the subsequent silence inside one’s own mind; that is what I am looking for, that is the golden thread.”