By Bonnie Gangelhoff
Jacquelyn Bischak remembers well the morning recently that she and her daughter, Tatiana, went out on their customary morning walk and she witnessed a captivating scene. Tatiana, still in her nightshirt and a little sleepy, stopped for a second, reached for a dogwood blossom, and held it up to her face. Bischak recalls blurting out to her daughter, “Hold it. I have to get my camera.” Her daughter joked back to her mom, “Don’t you ever stop?”
Indeed, Bischak’s daughter and her husband, Mark, are all too familiar with her penchant for “holding” moments when the light is perfect and the mood compelling. The Michigan-based painter admits she relishes keeping her two main models close to home. Bischak eventually titled the early morning scene of her daughter and the dogwood REVERIE (shown at right), and it is currently on view through December 15 in a group figurative show at Waterhouse Gallery in Santa Barbara, CA.
The amazing thing to know about Bischak is that she didn’t start showing her work nationally until a few years ago. On a whim, she entered the Oil Painters of America National Juried Exhibition held in 2007 at Whistle Pik Gallery in Fredericksburg, TX, and was accepted into the prestigious event. However, although she has only begun gaining notice in some of the top national shows, Bischak is a self-described “life-long artist.” For starters, she studied painting and drawing at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, but it was during a time when there wasn’t much room for women realist painters in Michigan, she says. Thus, after graduation Bischak entered the commercial illustration field, working for advertising agencies such as Leo Burnett and specializing in auto industry clients. But she continued to draw, paint, and develop her visual voice in her spare time.
In 1998, her family moved from the small farming community of Milford to Frankfort, MI. With the move came a shift in her professional goals, and she became a full-time fine artist, painting in a number of different genres. As her daughter moved into her teen years, she began to focus her talents more and more on figurative works. “I think the biggest attraction for me to figurative painting is that it involves human emotion,” Bischak says. “And I’m drawn to oil because no other medium is so suited for the display of human emotion.”
Over the years, it should come as no surprise that she has been drawn to the dark, realistic style of the turn-of-the-century American masters as well as the European William Bouguereau—an artist she admires for his amazing ability to paint human flesh. Bischak’s main mission: “I want to stay focused on beauty but without too much sentiment,” she says. “I want my paintings to be an emotional experience for viewers, and I want it to be positive.”
Legacy Gallery, Jackson, WY, and Scottsdale, AZ, and www.jacquelynbischak.com.
Great American Figurative Exhibition, Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA, through December 15.
International Guild of Realism Juried Exhibition, J. Willott Gallery, Palm Desert, CA, February 8-26.
Group show, Legacy Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ, March 2010.