Jill Slaymaker


I have been making narrative figure-based art most of my life.  My mother was a painter, and much of my suburban childhood in the Midwest was spent laying on the floor next to her easel, drawing girls from a Sears catalog.  My current paintings, drawings, collages and books are semi-autobiographical, and include dark humor and social commentary.   

Using oil, acrylic, ink, gouache and metal leaf on wood and paper, I depict people in traditional societal roles, with a subversive twist.  The women struggle to fit into their prescribed roles as perfect mother, trophy wife and good girl. In part, these paintings are about freedom, and the passage of time.

I am most inspired by folk art from India, Iran and Mexico, as well as outsider art from everywhere.  Like many artists,  I think of myself as an outsider, though I am educated and not currently insane. The characters in my paintings are usually lonely misfits, a bit lost in a chaotic world.  

My process for creating these images is to paint with India ink in small books, working fast, allowing images to appear on the page almost unedited.  I often don't fully understand their meanings until years later, when they have been transformed into larger paintings, with added details that begin to suggest stories. 

Recently, I've been placing the figures in lush natural surroundings, based on my photography and on-site sketches.  Juxtaposing the beauty, abundance and mystery of nature with urban angst is an attempt to 'heal' these agitated figures, as well as to express my environmental views.

I have begun a new series, "Illustrating my Hallucinations," which includes painting over journal pages and other forms of personal, handwritten text, mounted on wood.  I write daily and obsessively, and am happy to have found a way to include the writing in my visual art practise.

I have experimented with a variety of media and techniques over the years, including iron oxide, beeswax, paraffin, slate, blood, mosaic, sound, found objects, charcoal, etching, aquatint, lithography and chine colle.